This fall Abby and I have gotten into the Tuesday night show Boston Legal on ABC. It’s the show that came out of the ashes of The Practice. Two of the show’s stars are James Spader and William Shatner. They are both interesting characters, but Shatner’s “Denny Crane” is completely eccentric. Folks at the firm generally aren’t sure what to think of Denny, but Spader’s “Alan Shore” doesn’t mind, and actually enjoys that about him. The curious thing is that this is one of the best friendships on TV. First, it is a genuine male friendship (not found often on TV or otherwise) with oddities and vulnerability and man talk. The two guys really do care about each other. And the way their characters and their friendship is written is simply brilliant in its ability to inject the profound into the absurd.
(Alan is upset about his girlfriend’s relationship with a former boyfriend of hers and is talking about it with Denny on the balcony over brandy and cigars)
Alan: “Well Denny, it’s over. I caught Tara laughing with another man.”
Denny: “Are you sure they weren’t just kissing or something?”
Alan: “No. They were laughing.”
– Interesting commentary on intimacy, and intriguing vulnerability between friends.
(Denny is dejected because he’s afraid he’s lost his immense talent as a lawyer and is fishing in a Boston gutter outside his office when Alan approaches him and sits down on the sidewalk)
Denny: “I wish I’d never been great [Alan responds]…if he had to strip me of my talent, the least God could do is take my memory of it too.”
– Insight on the struggles of living beyond the peak of one’s abilities.
Absurdity is the context in which these two are able to share vulnerable moments and touching companionship. Boston Legal certainly has a flare for the melodramtic and wierd, and is not everyone’s idea of entertainment. But this fascinating friendship is a gem.