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Boston Legal

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Boston Legal
Created byDavid E. Kelley
ComposerDanny Lux
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes101 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
Running time42 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseOctober 3, 2004 (2004-10-03) –
December 8, 2008 (2008-12-08)

Boston Legal is an American legal drama and comedy drama television series created by former lawyer and Boston native David E. Kelley, produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for ABC. The series aired from October 3, 2004, to December 8, 2008. The series stars James Spader, William Shatner and Candice Bergen. It is a direct spin-off and continuation of the TV series The Practice, with several characters from the eighth season of that series moving to Boston Legal. While never a Nielsen ratings smash hit, the show was critically acclaimed. It received 26 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations, including for Outstanding Drama Series in 2007 and 2008.


Boston Legal follows the exploits of former Practice character Alan Shore, and his passionate co-workers, at the fictional offices of Crane, Poole & Schmidt.[1] The high-end litigation firm, based in Boston, handles both civil and criminal law cases.[2]

The series plays on the chemistry between smarmy Shore and loose cannon Denny Crane.[3] Middle-aged Shore is wry and wily, while mid-70s Crane (suffering from early onset Alzheimer's disease) is flamboyant and eccentric.[4] Shore often uses questionable methods to win cases.[5] Crane is obsessed with the reputation of his name, which he frequently repeats.[6] Though political opposites, Shore and Crane are best friends.[7] Episodes more often than not end with the two relaxing and musing together on the firm's balcony (while they smoke cigars and sip scotch whisky).[8]


The Practice characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]


Prior to the show's premiere, it had a working title of Fleet Street, an allusion to the real street in Boston where the fictitious Crane, Poole & Schmidt had its offices. The working title was later modified to The Practice: Fleet Street, but this title was dropped in favor of Boston Legal.[9] The real building shown as the law office is located at 500 Boylston Street, 1.4 miles away from Fleet Street.

The American producers of the series also hired the British writer and barrister John Mortimer (creator of the UK legal series Rumpole of the Bailey) as a consultant for Boston Legal.[10]

The show's pilot was originally produced with former The Practice stars James Spader and Rhona Mitra, guest stars William Shatner and Lake Bell. It featured an expanded storyline with Larry Miller as Edwin Poole, Mark Valley as Brad Chase and John Michael Higgins as senior partner Jerry Austin. Monica Potter was later cast as junior partner Lori Colson and René Auberjonois as senior partner Paul Lewiston, replacing John Michael Higgins. The pilot premiered on ABC on October 3, 2004.[11]

On November 30, 2004, it was announced that Candice Bergen would join the cast as senior partner Shirley Schmidt,[12] a character the producers had planned to introduce for several months.[13] Lake Bell left the series mid-season, and René Auberjonois was promoted to main cast member.[14][15][16] Anthony Heald and Betty White also made regular guest appearances, having both appeared as the same characters on The Practice.

On April 5, 2005, the series was renewed for a second season, although ABC put the show on hiatus in favor of Grey's Anatomy [17] The success of Grey's Anatomy placed Boston Legal on hold until autumn 2005, when it returned for an extended season of 27 episodes.[18][19] Both Rhona Mitra and Monica Potter left the series during the hiatus, while Julie Bowen was cast as Denise Bauer.[20] Ryan Michelle Bathe and Justin Mentell were later cast as junior associates Sara Holt and Garrett Wells.[21] The second episode of season 3 introduced Craig Bierko as Jeffrey Coho and Constance Zimmer as Claire Simms. In episode 11, guest star Gary Anthony Williams joined the cast, with Craig Bierko leaving in episode 15.

On June 4, 2007, TV Guide announced that René Auberjonois, Julie Bowen, Mark Valley and Constance Zimmer would not return for season 4.[22] On June 13, 2007, it was announced that actor John Larroquette (former The Practice guest star) would join the cast as a senior partner transferred from the New York offices of Crane, Poole & Schmidt, with actress Tara Summers joining as a young associate. Christian Clemenson (former The Practice guest star), who had guest-starred occasionally as Jerry Espenson (a brilliant but socially inept lawyer), was promoted to main cast.[23] Production also stated that René Auberjonois, Mark Valley, Julie Bowen, and Constance Zimmer may return in guest roles.[24] On July 2, 2007, it was reported that both René Auberjonois and Mark Valley would return in recurring roles;[25] It was also announced that Taraji P. Henson would join the cast in season 4, with Saffron Burrows appearing in a recurring role. Burrows later became a full-time cast member.[26]

On May 13, 2008, ABC announced that Boston Legal would return for a fifth and final season in the fall.[27][28] Saffron Burrows did not return as a series regular, having joined the cast of My Own Worst Enemy. The final season consisted of 13 episodes to reach the "100" episode mark, which facilitated successful syndication.[29] There was speculation that Boston Legal might receive an additional episode order, if the show had another strong showing in the Emmy Awards and produced solid ratings in its new fall time slot.[30] The season began airing on September 22, 2008.

On June 18 and June 20, 2008, it was reported that Gary Anthony Williams and Taraji P. Henson would not return for season 5 as Clarence Bell and Whitney Rome, respectively.[31][32] On July 17, 2008, Boston Legal was nominated for a series-high seven Emmy nominations, including for Best Drama Series for the second consecutive year. Spader, Bergen and Shatner were each nominated for their respective roles.

Boston Legal's two-hour-long series finale aired on Monday, December 8, 2008 at 9:00PM Eastern/8:00PM Central. David E. Kelley stated in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on December 7, 2008 that it was ABC's decision to end Boston Legal, and that he "had to fight to bring it back for a short season of 13 episodes".[33]

The show was noted for frequently breaking the fourth wall throughout its run.[34][35]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
117October 3, 2004 (2004-10-03)March 20, 2005 (2005-03-20)
227September 27, 2005 (2005-09-27)May 16, 2006 (2006-05-16)
324September 26, 2006 (2006-09-26)May 29, 2007 (2007-05-29)
420September 25, 2007 (2007-09-25)May 21, 2008 (2008-05-21)
513September 22, 2008 (2008-09-22)December 8, 2008 (2008-12-08)


Ratings and audience profile[edit]

According to Nielsen Media Research, Boston Legal drew the richest viewing audience on television, based on the concentration of high-income viewers in its young adult audience (Adult 18–49 index w/$100k+ annual income).[36]

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Boston Legal on ABC.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps. All times mentioned in this section were in the Eastern and Pacific time zones.

Season Timeslot Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Season
(in millions)
1 Sunday 10:00 pm October 3, 2004 March 20, 2005 2004–2005 #28 12.53[37]
2 Tuesday 10:00 pm September 27, 2005 May 16, 2006 2005–2006 #47 10.30[38]
3 September 19, 2006 May 29, 2007 2006–2007 #62 9.57[39]
4 Tuesday 10:00 pm
Wednesday 10:00 pm
September 25, 2007 May 21, 2008 2007–2008 #51 9.62[40]
5 Monday 10:00 pm September 22, 2008 December 8, 2008 2008–2009 #47 9.62[41]


Primetime Emmy Awards:

  • 2005 Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (James Spader)
  • 2005 Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (William Shatner)
  • 2006 Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Christian Clemenson)
  • 2007 Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (James Spader)
    • James Spader also won the 2004 Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the same role on The Practice.
    • William Shatner also won the 2004 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the same role on The Practice.

Golden Globe Awards:

  • 2004 Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie (William Shatner)

Peabody Awards

  • 2005, as David E. Kelley Productions, in association with 20th Century Fox Television[42]

Home media[edit]

DVD Name Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season 1 May 23, 2006 July 24, 2006 August 9, 2006
Season 2 November 21, 2006 March 5, 2007 February 21, 2007
Season 3 September 18, 2007 January 14, 2008 October 10, 2007
Season 4 September 23, 2008 October 13, 2008 December 3, 2008
Season 5 May 5, 2009 May 11, 2009 August 5, 2009
The Complete Series May 5, 2009[43] May 11, 2009 November 18, 2009[44]

As a former ABC series, the show is available for streaming on Disney platform Hulu.


  1. ^ Rothman, Lily (20 June 2012). "Crane, Poole & Schmidt, Boston Legal | Groovy Gigs: Top 10 TV Offices We Want to Work in". Time.
  2. ^ "Boston Legal: Did That Have to be the Last Episode?". 9 December 2008.
  3. ^ "Boston Legal". Rotten Tomatoes.
  4. ^ "Boston Legal".
  5. ^ "Boston Legal".
  6. ^ "TV's Greatest Lawyers". 21 February 2022.
  7. ^ "'Boston Legal' finale: I Now Pronounce You Denny and Alan". Entertainment Weekly.
  8. ^ "The outrageous, surprising, and prescient legacy of Boston Legal". The Week. 15 October 2014.
  9. ^ Pergament, Alan (July 19, 2004). "Marketing, Legal Factors Influence TV'S Name Game". The Buffalo News. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
  10. ^ The Christian Science Monitor (16 January 2009). "In appreciation of John Mortimer". The Christian Science Monitor.
  11. ^ Levin, Gary (2004-10-04). "'Housewives' lifts ABC's spirits — and ratings". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  12. ^ ABC press release (November 30, 2004). "Candice Bergen Joins the Cast of ABC's 'Boston Legal'". The Futon Critic. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
  13. ^ Rice, Lynette. [1] Archived 2014-10-06 at the Wayback Machine "Legal Aid". "Entertainment Weekly" online, January 10, 2005.
  14. ^ "Breaking News - Development Update: November 29–30 - TheFutonCritic.com". thefutoncritic.com.
  15. ^ "Breaking News - Development Update: November 15–18 - TheFutonCritic.com". thefutoncritic.com.
  16. ^ "Breaking News – René Auberjonois Joins the Cast of ABC's 'Boston Legal'". TheFutonCritic.com. 2013-09-14. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  17. ^ "Breaking News – ABC's Medical Drama Series 'Grey's Anatomy' Premieres Sunday, March 27 at 10:00 P.M., Et". TheFutonCritic.com. 2013-09-14. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  18. ^ "Breaking News - Building on a Slate of Returning Series That Produced the Largest Season-To-Season Adult 18-49 Audience Growth for Any Major Network in at Least 25 Years, ABC Announces the Addition of Five New Comedies, Six New Dramas and One New Alternative Series to Its 2005-06 Primetime Schedule - TheFutonCritic.com". thefutoncritic.com.
  19. ^ "Breaking News - Grey's Anatomy to Continue Airing Sundays at 10:00 P.M. on the ABC Television Network - TheFutonCritic.com". thefutoncritic.com.
  20. ^ "Breaking News - Development Update Special: Who's in and Who's Out - TheFutonCritic.com". thefutoncritic.com.
  21. ^ "Breaking News - Three New Cast Members Join ABC's "Boston Legal" -". The Futon Critic.
  22. ^ Ausiello, Michael. "Boston Legal Cleans House, Drops Four Actors!". TV Guide online, June 13, 2007.
  23. ^ Ausiello Report: Rumor Patrol: Grey's, Heroes, Lost and More! Archived June 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine at TV Guide
  24. ^ "Larroquette added to 'Boston Legal' bill". Reuters, June 14, 2007.
  25. ^ "More cast changes at 'Boston Legal'". Reuters, July 2, 2007
  26. ^ "Actress Burrows makes it 'Legal'". July 25, 2007.
  27. ^ "Boston Legal". TVGuide.com.
  28. ^ Schneider, Michael (May 11, 2008). "'Boston Legal' set for fifth season". Variety.
  29. ^ "Zap2It". Zap2it. Archived from the original on 2014-08-26. Retrieved 2008-05-13.
  30. ^ Martin, Ed (May 31, 2008). "Why Boston Legal is One of Broadcast's Best". HuffPost.
  31. ^ 'Clarice' not bitter about losing role on show Access Atlanta Archived June 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ BET.com – What The Flick » Working Girl
  33. ^ Owen, Rob (December 7, 2008). "'Boston Legal's' Kelley delivers parting shots". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
  34. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (February 14, 2006). "THE TV WATCH; Beneath the Quirks, There's Always a Message for the Masses". New York Times.
  35. ^ Bierly, Mandi (December 8, 2008). "'Boston Legal': Why I'll miss it". Entertainment Weekly. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  36. ^ "ABC Renews BOSTON LEGAL, MEN IN TREES, BROTHERS, UGLY, HOUSEWIVES, GREY'S, LOST, 7 More For Next Season!!", Ain'tItCoolNews.com.
  37. ^ "Disney General Entertainment Content Press". Archived from the original on 2009-08-22.
  38. ^ "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. 2006-05-31. Archived from the original on 2014-10-11. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  39. ^ "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. 2007-06-05. Archived from the original on 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  40. ^ "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. 2008-05-28. Archived from the original on 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  41. ^ "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. 2009-05-19. Archived from the original on 2009-06-23. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  42. ^ 65th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2006.
  43. ^ "Amazon.com: Boston Legal Season 1–5 Complete Collection: William Shatner, James Spader, Candice Bergen: Movies & TV". amazon.com. 5 May 2009.
  44. ^ "Buy Boston Legal – The Complete Series (28 Disc Tin Set) on DVD-Video from EzyDVD.com.au". ezydvd.com.au. Archived from the original on 2009-10-05.

External links[edit]