One of the finest series to come out of America in the last few years is Boston Legal. Sadly it’s fanbase in the UK is probably a fraction of the higher profile Desperate Housewives or Ugly Betty as it’s hidden away on Living TV and now Virgin 1 (where??).
It’s a crime worthy of the series itself.
Created by Ally McBeal’s David E Kelly, it stars William Shatner as the brilliant-yet-bonkers attorney Denny Crane and James Spader as brilliant-yet-highly unethical Alan Shore.
Plots don’t unfold so much as explode onto the screen at breakneck speed. Nifty editing and a superb theme tune help things rattle along nicely.
Humour and the odd dash of pathos combine to tell stories that at first seem ludicrous but which more often than not shed light on aspects of the human condition and post 9/11 America that deserve an airing on primetime television.
There are also a myriad of intertextual in-jokes that make it clear the characters know they’re in a TV show – in one scene, a character even watches as the credits slide off-screen.
I love it.
And yet to be a fan in the UK is a traumatic experience. Trying to keep track of when and where an episode is going to turn up next is almost as bad as when Oz was screened by Channel Four.
A few months back Living TV kindly repeated season two nightly so the DVD recorder was working overtime. Then it came to an end and…nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not a sign of season three.
Then along came Virgin 1 and they started screening it from the beginning a few weeks back at 9pm on a Sunday. This isn’t the best time as it clashes with a few other decent series on the main terrestrial channels (and BBC Four), but beggars can’t be choosers.
So, imagine my surprise when I glanced through the listings the other night only to see that season three is three quarters of the way through back over on Living. At 3am. I’m hoping this is a prelude to the appearance of season 4, just started in America, but I’ve a feeling this could be an early-2008 kinda thing.
Anyway, while I still think there should be laws against this sort of thing, and crazy scheduling isn’t uncommon in our multichannel world, I’m moaning when I suppose I should be thankful we have so much to choose from. Thanks to Virgin I can see where it all started and that’s no bad thing…
[The clip below is from a first season episode screened last night on Virgin…great stuff…]