Saturday, September 27, 2008

Boston Legal / The Shield / ER - Sept. 27, 2008


The long goodbye

A lot of new TV series will fall by the wayside 
this season. But there are three trusty veterans 
that are on their way out, too.

By Eric Kohanik

Call it “the long goodbye.”

The fall season is barely under way. And, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around (either the Canadian or American one), a number of new series will have bitten the dust. It’s just the way TV does business.

But this season will also say goodbye to some trusty veterans. And the TV landscape will be a little less vibrant without them.

Boston Legal will close the law offices of Crane, Poole & Schmidt for good after the 13 episodes of its fifth season finish up their run. This is a comedy/drama that has always been one of ABC’s most underappreciated shows – by viewers and network bosses – ever since its debut in October 2004.

A spinoff of a much more serious legal drama called The Practice, the saga of lawyers Alan Shore (James Spader), DennyCrane (William Shatner) and the rest of their colourful crew started off on Sunday nights, in the primo slot after Desperate Housewives. The show was elbowed out of the way midseason by ABC, which wanted to introduce viewers to a hot new medical drama: Grey’s Anatomy.

Of course, Grey’s Anatomy caught on and Boston Legal was shelved, returning the next fall on Tuesdays before being shuffled to Wednesdays and then back to Tuesdays.

This season, it airs on Mondays. At least it has Dancing With the Stars as a lead-in.

Maybe ABC brass never got Boston Legal’s offbeat sense of humour. Or maybe the occasional pink-flamingo costume simply hit too close to home. In any case, we’ll miss Denny and Alan’s Scotch-and-cigars ritual at the end of each episode.

Over in the cable world, the transgressions of Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his unorthodox squad of cops have been simply mesmerizing ever since The Shield made its debut in 2002. Finding where they were has often been a difficult task, though.

Although The Shield enjoyed a steady American cable home on FX, it was bounced around on broadcast and cable channels in Canada before landing on Showcase, where it is now serving up its seventh season.

Producers and actors say Mackey will finally get what he deserves when the final 13 episodes wrap up in November. Just what he deserves, though, is still debatable.

When it comes to TV longevity, though, there aren’t many series with the staying power of NBC’s ER. When it began in 1994, few predicted that the action inside Chicago’s fictional County General Hospital would win the head-to-head clash with CBS’s rookie hospital drama, Chicago Hope. Even fewer could ever have foreseen that ER would last for 15 seasons, thanks to ongoing transfusions of new acting blood.

Some of the old blood – like Dr. John Carter (Noah Wyle) – will be back for ER’s farewell crop of caseloads. Even so, there’s no escaping the fact that “the long goodbye” will finally fill the halls of County General, too.

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