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Archive for Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Boston Legal’ tends toward overindulgence

February 21, 2006

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Tom Selleck guest stars on an episode of "Boston Legal" (9 p.m., ABC) that includes all of the cute and "touching" tricks and comedic quirks that viewers of "LA Law," "Ally McBeal" and "The Practice" have come to expect from writer/producer David E. Kelley over the years.

Let's start with the cute. Shirley Schmidt's (Candice Bergen) ex-husband Ivan (Selleck) surprises her with news of his impending (and sixth) marriage and asks Shirley to be his "Best Man." He says it's because Shirley remains his best friend, but it's clear that he still carries a torch for her.

Meredith Patterson guest stars as Missy, Ivan's much younger bride-to-be. She's a chirpy musical-theater type, who may or may not be a snide dig at Broadway's Kristin Chenoweth. Her efforts to work numbers from "The Sound of Music" into her vows provide plenty of opportunities for the sardonic Murphy - I mean Shirley - to roll her eyes and cluck in exasperation.

On the poignant front, Alan (James Spader) and Denny (William Shatner) take on the defense of a man (Maury Chaykin) accused in the mercy killing of his Alzheimer's-stricken wife. This resonates with Denny, who feels his own faculties are fading away. It also provides an opportunity for Alan to make his cause-of-the-week speech, this time about "death with dignity."

As on "Ally McBeal," these lawyers spend an awful lot of billable hours in cabarets. When Paul (Rene Auberjonois) hears Missy belt out a song about being her Daddy's little girl, he gets all misty and "suddenly" remembers that he has a daughter, a former drug addict he hasn't spoken to in some seven years. Gosh, I wonder if they'll get back in touch by episode's end?

Watching "Boston Legal" is a lot like eating a large tub of ice cream before going to bed. It's sweet, but it can make you a little nauseated, too. You know you shouldn't be stuffing yourself at 9 p.m., particularly with a confection so contrived and artificial.

But the ingredients, consisting of equal parts romantic wish fulfillment, political righteousness and throwaway sexual gags, can be pretty easy going down.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Coverage of the XX Winter Olympic Games (7 p.m., NBC) continues.

¢ The top-12 female vocalists perform on "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox). This marks the first night that viewers can vote to save their favorite.

¢ Teens fear the reaper in the 2003 horror movie "Final Destination 2" (7 p.m., WB).

¢ "Frontline" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) offers "The Insurgency," featuring chilling interviews and never-before-broadcast footage of Iraqis who have taken up arms against American forces.

¢ Brass' daughter needs help on "CSI" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Vic mulls a move on "The Shield" (9 p.m., FX).

¢ "Dealing Dogs" (9 p.m., HBO) looks at the illegal trade in canines to veterinary schools and research labs.

¢ The documentary "Almost Home" on "Independent Lens" (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings) looks at revolutionary nursing homes.

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