TITLE: BOSTON LEGAL - SEASON FOUR
Release Date: September 23, 2008 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 20
Running Time: 888 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: 15 minutes 47 seconds
Audio: English Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
- “The New Kids on the Courtroom Floor” Featurette
At the chaotic law firm of Crane, Poole, & Schmidt, there’s no such thing as temporary insanity -- it’s more of a permanent condition! Amid torrid interoffice love affairs and under the watchful eye of new senior partner Carl Sack (John Larroquette), the firm’s brilliant but volatile attorneys take on such burning social issues as gays in the military, mortgage foreclosures, obesity, and cockfighting. Alan Shore (James Spader) faces the Supreme Court, Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) reunites with an old flame, and Denny Crane (William Shatner) is arrested for soliciting sex -- again! This is Boston Legal’s most outrageous season yet!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Before getting in depth about season four, I want to address something I said in my review for season three regarding season five. In the season three review, I asked show executives not to jettison their fourth season cast for the show’s fifth season. And lo and behold, the cast is almost wholly intact. It’s nice to see a season of Boston Legal without unbelievable cast turnover.
I consider Denny Crane and Alan Shore to be two of THE best characters on television in a very long time. These two are the very pinnacle of well-written and well-acted characters. As such, I’m obviously going to prefer episodes with Alan and/or Denny as the main focus. This is not to discredit any of the remainder of the cast at all -- Candice Bergen is great, and John Larroquette made a *great* addition as Carl Sack. Aside from the Alan and Denny Show aspect, though, Boston Legal is largely an issues-driven show. One episode I love is The Mighty Rogues, the season’s 16th episode. The episode’s plot revolves around Shirley, Alan, Denny, Alzheimer’s Disease, and nuclear weapons -- how can you really go wrong? Another plot point I loved is from the tail end of the season, when Denny and Alan are finally accepted into the Auxiliary Coast Guard -- only to be pitted against each other in court over a matter of secession from the US!
In regards to guest appearances and the appearances of familiar actors in new locations: Geoffrey Owens, who played Elvin in The Cosby Show, appears in the season premiere “Beauty and the Beast.” Pamela (Segall) Adlon (voice of a million cartoon characters, including Bobby Hill on King of the Hill; not to mention Kelly from one season of The Facts of Life) appears in the episode “The Object of My Affection” as well as “Attack of the Xenophobes” and “Rescue Me.” Grant Shaud -- who played Miles Silverberg on Candice Bergen’s long running sitcom Murphy Brown (one of my personal favorite series) appears in the episode “Mad About You.” A recurring actor from Murphy Brown -- who co-starred in the more recent sitcom Reba, Christopher Rich, has a recurring art mid-season. Scott Bakula, who starred in yet another one of my favorite series in Quantum Leap, is in the episode “Glow in the Dark.” Stephen Root, best known as the voice of Bill on King of the Hill but also an alum of yet another personal favorite, NewsRadio, appears in the episode Tabloid Nation. It’s an amazing coincidence that actors from so many of my favorite series have appeared in this series over its run...or is it?
This is the portion of my review that always sounds the most formulaic, but as I’m required to write it under penalty of Pez, heregoes:
As always, there’s an outer box. Inside are the usual black slimcases (three in number.) Packaging features a blue scheme, with waist-up shots of the four primary cast members (Spader, Shatner, Bergen, Larroquette) in the top half of the art with the Boston skyline below. If anything in the layout portion surprises you, then welcome to the year 2008, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. The layout is the same, only the artwork has changed. Of course, it’s certainly better to keep a consistent package design than to change layouts from perfectly fine formats to formats that are ugly and/or difficult to use for no apparent reason (here’s looking at you Simpsons seasons 6 and 11).
Each of the slimcases features cast members in front of the Boston skyline. Case 1, which houses discs 1-2, has James Spader, Bill Shatner, and Candice Bergen on the front. Case two (Holding discs 3-4) has Taraji Henson, John Larroquette, and Gary Anthony Williams. Case three holds the fifth and final disc, and features Tara Summers, Saffron Burrows, and Christian Clemenson on the cover of the case. The disc art is extremely creative -- the right side is of Denny’s classic pinstripe suits, while the left side of each disc’s artwork features one of Denny’s many colorful ties. The episode breakdown is much more normal this time -- five discs, four episodes per disc. Figuring out which episode is on which disc is then as simple as either doing the quick math or checking the cheat sheet that is our runtimes guide.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are a bit simpler here than what I’ve come to be used to with this show. It’s not that they’re bad -- they’re still quite good and still better designed than most other studios efforts. It’s just a little...underwhelming. The full cast stands in front of a white background. A silver bar runs across the bottom with the episode titles. Roughly a fourth of the menu’s runtime is devoted to showing a very brief clip of each episode inside a small rectangular frame below the cast. Rather than the clip’s audio playing in the background, the main theme plays. Episode titles are the menu options. Selecting an episode title brings up an episode menu, with Play Episode, Language Selection, and the always elusive Scene Selection. Scene Selection is one of the least-used yet most-appreciated menu features, and I wish other studios would adopt this feature.
Video and Audio Quality:
A studio has to be remarkably inept in order to screw up video or audio from 2007-08. Obviously, Fox is a professional studio with a reputation for nice video quality on most releases, and as such you can be sure the video and audio presentation is of a high standard of quality. Absolutely outstanding without flaws. No audio glitches, no video glitches, nothing. Chapter stops obviously at the end of each scene. Audio is at exactly the right mix. No noise, no artifacting, nothing. Color balance is perfect. As critical reviews depend on having things to complain about, this obviously means a very short section. I have no complaints whatsoever about the presentation of the episodes themselves.
Beauty and the Beast: 1:04:33
The Innocent Man: 42:45
The Chicken and the Leg: 43:08
Do Tell: 43:02
Hope and Gory: 43:06
The Object of My Affection: 43:11
Attack of the Xenophobes: 43:10
Oral Contracts: 43:08
No Brains Left Behind: 43:08
Green Christmas: 41:15
Mad About You: 43:06
Roe v. Wade, the Musical: 43:04
Glow in the Dark: 43:08
Rescue Me: 43:07
Tabloid Nation: 42:55
The Mighty Rogues: 43:07
The Court Supreme: 42:51
Indecent Proposals: 43:07
The Gods Must Be Crazy: 41:08
Patriot Acts: 43:01
We have just one special features. That is better than nothing at all, I guess.
The New Kids on the Courtroom Floor (15:47): A featurette about the show’s new cast members for the fourth season. The featurette features clips of the new cast members’ performances from the season, mixed with interviews from the new regular cast members (John Larroquette, Saffron Burrows, etc).
I really wish Fox would include more special features on the set. Otherwise, this is a well done set. The features that are here are well done, but there’s just not a lot. Where’s a blooper reel -- a show like this has to has tons. I’ve asked for bloopers time in and out -- there has to be a reel of funny screw-ups and outtakes lying around, use it. Don’t just sit on it for a complete series set. This is a great show though, and if you haven’t taken the time to tune it in yet, now would be a great time to start. The last season is airing right now on ABC, Mondays at 10pm. Catch up in time for the series finale December 15! Mark those calendars for Denny!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Special Features: 1/5
Final Score: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 10/25/08
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