Boston Legal

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Television series
German title Boston Legal
Original title Boston Legal
Boston Legal Logo.jpg
Country of production United States
original language English
Year (s) 2004-2008
20th Century Fox Television
length 42 minutes
Episodes 101 in 5 seasons ( list )
genre Lawyer Series, Dramedy
idea David E. Kelley
music Danny Lux
First broadcast Oct 3, 2004 (USA) on ABC
first broadcast
Sept. 27, 2006 on VOX

Boston Legal is an American law series directed by David E. Kelley that premiered on the ABC television network from 2004 to 2008. A changing ensemble of idiosyncratic characters plays around the main actors James Spader and William Shatner , including Betty White , John Larroquette and Taraji P. Henson . Stylistically, the series ties in with Kelley's predecessor series such as Picket Fences or Ally McBeal , dealing with social issues within a humorous, broken staging. Although the series never reached a large audience, like its predecessors, it received unanimous praise and prizes, including several Emmys and Golden Globe Awards .


As an offshoot of the award-winning Practice - The Lawyers, Boston Legal shows the day-to-day work of the highly respected Boston law firm Crane, Poole & Schmidt , which deals with both civil and criminal law. The series thus builds a bridge from the previous format, which consistently and controversially dealt with the unattractive side of American criminal law, to the idiosyncratic characters from Ally McBeal .

As a rule, two cases in a sequence are supervised and closed in parallel by different teams of lawyers. Only from the third season onwards there are longer story arcs: The complex process surrounding the murder of Judge Hooper's wife is followed over several episodes. Denny Crane falls in love with the short "dwarf" Bethany Horowitz and starts something with her mother, to whom he was already engaged in the past. An intimate enmity develops between Brad Chase and Jeffrey Coho, which also revolves around their bed mate Denise Bauer. When Denise becomes pregnant and finds out that the child is Brad, Jeffrey Coho leaves the firm. Denise and Brad get married. In the fourth season, the team is supported by Carl Sack, who replaces Paul Lewiston, as well as Katie Lloyd, Lorraine Weller and Whitney Rome. Jerry Espenson is assigned a permanent role. Clarence Bell rose from assistant to lawyer. In the fifth season, the office team is reduced and Lorraine, Whitney and Clarence leave the company. Jerry wins the senior partner election. At the end of the season, the law firm went bankrupt, which is why Zhu Corp. bought up and renamed Chang, Poole & Schmidt . Denny marries Alan and Carl Shirley during a double wedding in Nimmo Bay, executed by Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia , who had previously bumped into Alan and Denny in a trial and happens to be on vacation in Nimmo Bay.

Almost every episode ends with a scotch and a cigar with a more or less profound dialogue between Alan Shore and Denny Crane on the balcony of Denny's office at the "blue hour". The “judgments” of the episode are often recapitulated and commented on. Part of the humor comes from their radically different views: Shore is a staunch Democrat , while Denny Crane is a conservative Republican . During these last minutes of each episode, Crane and Shore often take a stand on the political and social controversies of the time from their very own point of view. In addition to current topics such as B. Hurricane Katrina or the Iraq war , there are also "long-running hits" such as the American gun law , the US health system, poverty and homelessness, and abortion .


In the last season of the “mother series” The Practice , the characters Alan Shore ( James Spader ), Denny Crane ( William Shatner ), Tara Wilson ( Rhona Mitra ) and Sally Heep ( Lake Bell ) were introduced, who then acted as Brad with Mark Valley Chase formed the core cast of the Boston Legal pilot . In the following there was a lot of comings and goings of many actors. For example, Lake Bell, Monica Potter and Rhona Mitra got out during the first season , the latter being briefly performed as a supporting actress, and Candice Bergen was added. Julie Bowen , Justin Mentell and Ryan Michelle Bathe completed the ensemble from season 2, the latter two again only for a few episodes. At the beginning of the third season, Craig Bierko (as Jeffrey Coho) and Constance Zimmer (as Claire Simms) joined the regular cast, but said goodbye to the series after half (Bierko) and the entire (Zimmer) season. With the fourth season, the contracts of Julie Bowen (Denise Bauer), Mark Valley (Brad Chase) and René Auberjonois (Paul Lewiston) were not renewed without giving a reason, the characters dropped out of the series, but completed a few guest appearances. Instead, John Larroquette , Gary Anthony Williams , Saffron Burrows , Tara Summers and Christian Clemenson took over , whose guest appearances as Jerry "The Hand" Espenson have already won awards. Thus, at the beginning of the fourth season, only Spader and Shatner remained from the pilot line-up.

main actor

figure actor Main role (after episodes) Supporting role (after episodes) Voice actor
Alan Shore P James Spader 001–101 (seasons 1–5) Benjamin Völz
Denny Crane P. William Shatner 001–101 (seasons 1–5) Hartmut Neugebauer
Brad Chase Mark Valley 001–68 (seasons 1–3) 69-70 (season 4) Torsten Michaelis
Tara Wilson P Rhona Mitra 001–17 (season 1) 18-20 (season 2) Tanja Geke
Lori Colson Monica Potter 001–17 (season 1) 18-20, 22 (season 2) Maud Ackermann
Sally Heep P Lake Bell 001–12 (season 1) 49-50 (season 3) Solveig Duda
Shirley Schmidt Candice Mountains 011–101 (seasons 1–5) Regine Albrecht (episodes 11-23) ,
Dagmar Dempe (episodes 36-101)
Paul Lewiston René Auberjonois 013–68 (seasons 1–3) 1–12, 76, 95, 100–101 (seasons 1, 4–5) Horst Sachtleben
Denise Bauer Julie Bowen 018–68 (seasons 2–3) 95 (season 5) Claudia Lössl
Garrett Wells Justin Mentell 018–33 (season 2) Robin Kahnmeyer
Sara Holt Ryan Michelle Bathe 018–33 (season 2) Uschi Hugo
Jeffrey Coho Craig Bierko 046–59 (season 3) Tobias Kluckert
Claire Simms Constance room 052-68 (season 3) 46–51 (season 3) Claudia Urbschat
Clarence Bell Gary Anthony Williams 055–88 (seasons 3–4) 46–54 (season 3) Olaf Reichmann
Jerry Espenson Christian Clemenson 069–101 (seasons 4–5) 27–29, 39, 41, 45, 49, 51–54, 60, 64–68 (seasons 2–3) Gerald Schaale
Carl Sack John Larroquette 069–101 (seasons 4–5) Michael Brennicke
Lorraine Weller Saffron Burrows 069- 088 (season 4) Katrin Zimmermann
Katie Lloyd Tara Summers 069–101 (seasons 4–5) Veronika Neugebauer
Whitney Rome Taraji P. Henson 072-88 (season 4) Tanja Geke
Catherine Piper P Betty White 012–22, 30–31, 37, 48, 94, 99 (seasons 1–3, 5) Christel Merian

Figures marked with a superscript “P” have already been introduced in the The Practice series.

Guest and supporting actors

The important guest and supporting actors include:

In episode 16, the lawyers from Boston Legal meet Steven Harper ( Chi McBride ), the principal of Winslow High School from the series Boston Public, also produced by David E. Kelley . Its school building can also be seen regularly in city views. There, in turn, there was already a crossover in the first season with Boston Legal's direct predecessor Practice - The Lawyers . Guest appearances of this kind between his series have been typical for Kelley since the early 1990s with Picket Fences or Chicago Hope . In fan circles, the common world of his series is referred to as the "Kelley-Versum" (see also David E. Kelley # remarks ).

Stylistic devices

Basically, the series is told in a very humorous way, with both slapstick and subtle jokes. For this purpose, narrative conventions are often deliberately undermined (“breaking the fourth wall ”). In addition, Boston Legal made clear references to current political events in the USA. The high point was the presidential election campaign between John McCain and Barack Obama , which took place for the first broadcast of last season and was repeatedly discussed in the dialogues. Formally, the series is characterized by a permanent change in the image section, even during conversations.

Allusions to the actors

William Shatner (Denny Crane) repeatedly mentions his role as Captain Kirk , for example he mentions in the episode Nothing Goes Through the masses of journalists that he was captain of his own spaceship. When opened, Crane's flip phone makes the same tone as Kirk's communicator in Starship Enterprise . But these are not the only allusions: Alan Shore (James Spader) reads a book about the extinction of wild salmon after a fishing trip and quotes from it “Dance on the ecological volcano .” Denny suddenly looks up and asks: “Did you just say Vulcans ? “In another episode, Denny shoots a homeless man named Kirk.

Other actors also played in the Star Trek universe: René Auberjonois (Paul Lewiston) previously played the leading role of Constable Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine . His opponent was Armin Shimerman (Judge Hooper) as the bartender Quark . In the course of a trial, Paul Lewiston rebukes and threatens Judge Hooper in the same way that Odo Quark suspected and threatened in the Star Trek series. Additionally, the following Star Trek actors appeared in Boston Legal : Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine, Spaceship Voyager ), Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro Laren, The Next Century ), Scott Bakula (Captain Jonathan Archer, Enterprise ) and Ethan Phillips (Neelix, spaceship Voyager ).

Speaking to Ivan Tiggs ( Tom Selleck ), Shirley's ex-husband, Denny notes that they have something in common: “We're both main characters; Stars in our own series. ”This alludes to both Shatner's Star Trek era and Selleck's legendary role as Detective Magnum in the series of the same name. Denny then continues: “But the star doesn't just have one main wife, that doesn't work. Well, sometimes at the end of an episode it looks like he's got something long-term, but next week she's gone and another one is coming. This is how you keep the audience interested! ”The fact is that both series characters, Magnum and Kirk, are designed as women heroes.

Candice Bergen (Shirley Schmidt) casually mentions her Oscar nomination in Bella Blue (episode 57) during a plea: "Wherever penguins march, I didn't get my Oscar nomination for that." In episode 87 (season 4), Carl says Sack (John Larroquette) "... and so I lose my Humanitas Prize ", referring to the 1995 award given to Larroquette. Mark Valley (Brad Chase) also refers to his real past: Both Valley and his character in the series served in the military - Valley himself in the Army, his series character in the Marine Corps - and took part in Operation Desert Storm part.

Rupert Everett, guest actor in episodes 18 and 19 as Malcolm Holmes, already had this last name in the movie Sherlock Holmes - The Silk Stocking Murderer .

Ironic self-awareness

Boston Legal is characterized by many self-deprecating swipes at its own production. On the Season Two Episode Under Fire , Denny says to Alan as they discuss settling the settlement with a homeless man, “Let me get into the game. I can do it, I won an Emmy ”. At the end of the sequence Schutzlos welcomes Alan Shore when he evening meet on the office balcony Denny Crane after winning a case, this with the words: "I have hardly seen you in this episode." A similar gag there for coinciding resulted in 40 Alan Shore and Chelina Hall, who last appeared in season one. Chelina says: “God, the last time I saw you there…”, Alan: (interrupts her) “… I think it was a Sunday and then I stopped being shown and you made movies, then I got a slot on Tuesday and ... ", Chelina: (interrupts him)" ... here we are, like in the old episodes! ", Alan:" Exactly ". In the same episode, Melissa mentions to Alan: "Don't do anything with her - she only has a guest role."

In the final episodes of the second and third seasons, the original also refers to the next "season" ( English season , but also " series season "); The double meaning could not be transferred into the German dubbing and it was translated literally as “season”. In the fourth season, the balcony conversation at the end of episode 17 and at the beginning of episode 18 alludes to the brief postponement of the broadcast date from Tuesday to Wednesday.

In episode 46, the characters Coho and Simms join the cast as lawyers. Denny Crane greets them in the foyer and points out that in order to be "the new ones" they actually had to "appear in the last episode", the first episode of the third season. He welcomes you "to Boston Legal " (not in Boston) and with Denny's words "Start the music!" The opening credits begin . The episode Knockout of the third season ends with the usual balcony scene. Denny and Alan puff their cigars, with a thick cloud of smoke rising into the sky at the end. Coughing mixes into the closing music - obviously from one of the "musicians". In the episode Schlagende Arguments in the third season, Lincoln visits Meyer Schmidt in the evening in the office and wants to invite her to dinner. But when she refuses, he pulls a gun to influence Shirley's decision and finally remarks: “I bet if this were a movie, then one of these dark and mysterious pieces of music would start now” - and one of these promptly says “dark - mysterious music ”. As a result, pants down Jerry Espenson wants his old job at the law firm Crane, Poole & Schmidt back and tries to convince Shirley it. So even at the thought of it he had a melody in his head. Shirley then asks him to hum that tune. The Boston Legal topic "intoned" by Jerry is promptly heard and the opening credits begin.

In the fifth season there are some allusions to the fact that it is the last season of the series: In episode 95, Jerry says in an incendiary speech in front of the administrative office of the office that "the broadcaster no longer wants her anyway" and that he wants Alan and maybe Denny wants to take away to shoot a " spin-off ". In addition, a direct reference is made to the fourth wall later . For example, Carl Sack mentions during a court hearing in episode 99 that “the only series worth seeing in which the stars are over 50 is Bo - I can't tell, otherwise the bars would bend” (in the original: “Gee, I can 't say it, that would be breaking the wall. ")

Character overdraft

The strong exaggeration of the characters on the fine line between eccentricity and caricature is also typical . The best example of this is Denny Crane: He is suffering from the first signs of senility. Furthermore, he is a legend and therefore believes that the mere mention of his name inspires awe in his opponents. Due to Crane's increasing forgetfulness and his frequent sexual escapades, Crane's colleagues try to prevent him from entering the courtroom alone.

As a further expression of their exaggeration, the figures appear more or less disguised and not always in the context of costume parties. Denny Crane and Alan Shore can be seen several times disguised as pink flamingos , in episode 51 together with Claire Simms also as Lennon Sisters - with pink women's clothes and black wigs. Alan Shore also appears as Chicken, walking around with a Christmas star on his head in one episode of the first season. For the costume party of the third season he dresses up as Shirley Schmidt, which in turn can be seen once as a rabbit, a witch and once as a grim reaper. Brad Chase also appears at a party in a Buzz Lightyear costume earlier on. Denise Bauer had previously compared him to this character from Toy Story . At a later party, Jeffrey Coho and Brad Chase both appear as Buzz Lightyear without knowing it beforehand. During the balcony scene at the end of the episode, the two were still fighting in their costumes in the parking lot under the balcony.



Before the premiere, the series ran under the working title Fleet Street to Bostoner Strasse, where the offices of Crane, Poole & Schmidt are located. With regard to the previous series, the title The Practice: Fleet Street was still considered, but was ultimately dropped in favor of Boston Legal . The British author and barrister John Mortimer , who was responsible for the Rumpole of the Bailey lawyer series in Great Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, was hired as a consultant .

The pilot of the series was written around the two characters Alan Shore and Tara Wilson from Practice - The Lawyers with guest appearances by William Shatner , Lake Bell and Mark Valley . He centered in particular on Larry Miller as Edwin Poole and John Michael Higgins as senior partner Jerry Austin. Monica Potter later added the cast as junior partner Lori Colson and René Auberjonois ' Paul Lewiston replaced Higgins in the following. On November 30th, Candice Bergen was announced as the actress of Shirley Schmidt after the producers wanted to introduce the character for a long time.

A suitable high-rise was actually found in Boston for taking exterior shots of the office building . The address of the post-modern building, which was built in 1989 according to a design by John Burgee and Philip Johnson and which has won several architecture prizes, is also his own name: "500 Boylston Street" (see also Wikipedia ). However, it is on St James Avenue and is enclosed by Boylston, Berkeley and Clarendon Streets. The blue building in the right background during the opening credits is the John Hancock Tower . Studio recordings were shot in California .


Boston Legal was produced by 20th Century Fox Television for the American television network ABC , where it was broadcast from October 3, 2004. After the fourth season only brought moderate ratings, the production of a final fifth season of 13 episodes was announced in May 2008, which was broadcast until December 8, 2008. The series was able to just exceed the threshold of 100 episodes, which is a prerequisite for syndication on American television.

Originally, the German television broadcaster VOX wanted to broadcast the series from spring 2006 in prime time . The German premiere took place on September 27, 2006 at 10:05 p.m. The first three seasons were broadcast on Wednesdays until January 23, 2008 without interruption on the same broadcasting slot. As with Kelley's similarly positioned Ally McBeal , VOX wanted to give viewers time to warm up to the satirical tone, which is unusual for US-American formats. The last two seasons were broadcast on Vox on Mondays at 11.10 p.m. from October 5, 2009 to June 7, 2010.


Nominations are marked with a superscript "N". A detailed list can be found in the IMDb .

Golden Globe

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama : James Spader (2005 N )
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television : William Shatner (2005, 2007 N , 2008 N )
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television : Candice Bergen (2006 N )


  • Outstanding Drama Series (2007 N , 2008 N )
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series : James Spader (2005, 2007, 2008 N )
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series : William Shatner (2005, 2006 N , 2007 N , 2008 N )
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series : Candice Bergen (2006 N , 2008 N )
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series : Christian Clemenson (2006, 2007 N ), Michael J. Fox (2006 N )
  • Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series : Nikki Valko, Ken Miller (2006 N )
  • Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series : Arlene Sanford (2008 N )
  • Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series : Phil Neel (2006 N ), Julius Ramsay (2008 N )
  • Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Series : Craig Hunter, Peter Kelsey, Clark King, William Butler (2006)
  • Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (one-hour) : Clark King, Peter R. Kelsey, Dave Rawlinson (2008 N )


  • In the episode Hostage of the Past (episode 62, season 3) Denny Crane remembers his father and himself. This takes place in the form of several excerpts from the episode The Defender of the American series Studio One , in which William Shatner himself played. These were underlaid with the song And So It Goes by Billy Joel .
  • Candice Bergen and William Shatner also played together in Miss Undercover .
  • There is an internet presence for the fictitious law firm Crane, Poole & Schmidt ( ).

Additional information


  • Christian Humberg : All About Boston Legal. Königswinter: Heel Verlag 2008, ISBN 978-3-89880-891-0 .
  • Katja Kanzler: “To Sue and Make Noise”: Civic Didacticism and Comic Spectacle in Boston Legal. In: Laurenz Volkmann (Ed.): Education and the USA. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter 2011, ISBN 978-3-8253-5918-8 , pp. 153-66.
  • Claudia Maaß, Marcus Schotte: "Pull a rabbit out of your hat": Overcoming strategies in the BOSTON LEGAL series of lawyers. In: Claudia Lillge [u. a.] (Ed.): The new American television series. From Twin Peaks to Mad Men. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink 2014, ISBN 978-3-7705-5690-8 , pp. 209–228.

Web links


  1. Valleys, Bowens and Auberjonois eliminated
  2. The mirror
  3. The press
  4. tv feature film
  6. ^ Alan Parchament: Marketing, Legal Factors Influence TV'S Name Game , The Buffalo News . July 19, 2004. Retrieved December 10, 2008. 
  7. ^ The Christian Science Monitor: In appreciation of John Mortimer . In: The Christian Science Monitor .
  8. ABC press release: Candice Bergen Joins the Cast of ABC's 'Boston Legal' . The Futon Critic . November 30, 2004. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
  9. Rice, Lynette. [1] "Legal Aid". " Entertainment Weekly " Online, January 10, of 2005.
  10. 2004-05 Final audience and ratings figures , Hollywood Reporter . May 27, 2005. Archived from the original on December 26, 2005. 
  11. 2005-06 primetime wrap , Hollywood Reporter . May 26, 2006. Archived from the original on May 29, 2006. 
  12. Hollywood Reporter: 2006-07 primetime wrap . May 25, 2007. Archived from the original on May 28, 2007. 
  13. Season Program Rankings . ABC Medianet. May 28, 2008. Retrieved June 2, 2008.
  14. Season Program Rankings from 09/22/08 through 05/17/09 . ABC Medianet. May 19, 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  15. Christian Junklewitz: Boston Legal: Last season with only 13 episodes. In: . May 15, 2008, accessed July 1, 2020 .
  16. Zap2It . In: Zap2It .
  17. Uwe Mantel: Vox joins the last “Boston Legal” season seamlessly. In: . January 14, 2010, accessed July 1, 2020 .