Boston Legal: Was Last Night’s Episode the Series Finale?

Boston LegalIf you watched last night’s season finale of Boston Legal, you might have been a little confused.

At the end of the episode, Alan (James Spader) and Denny (William Shatner) had their usual chat on Denny’s balcony. They reflected on the day, on their sometimes exhausting work, and how much they just wanted to kick back and go fishing together. Denny said, “Let’s go. Now… Let’s hang the gone fishin’ sign on the door and just go.” As music plays in the background, we see the two friends walking down the streets of Boston; wearing their Auxiliary Coast Guard uniforms, laughing, and smoking cigars. As the music continues to play, we see various areas of the empty law firm offices. The final image is of a “Gone Fishin'” sign hanging on Denny’s door. Sounds like a series finale doesn’t it? Well, it was… sort of.

As you might know, Boston Legal was one of those shows “on the bubble” — one of the many semi-popular series whose renewal wasn’t a sure thing. Many those shows’ producers choose to end their seasons with cliffhangers in hopes that that will improve their program’s chances of being renewed.

Legal creator David E. Kelley decided to play it safe. When last night’s episode was being filmed, Kelley knew there was a good chance that the law firm of Crane, Poole and Schmidt wouldn’t be back next season. Rather than possibly leaving the audience hanging, he crafted last night’s episode so that it could serve as either a season or a series finale.

Last night’s episode likely would have been the Legal series finale had it not been for ABC’s interest in another series. Kelley owns the U.S. rights for Life on Mars and ABC wants it for the network’s 2008 – 2009 midseason schedule. Kelley was obligated to produce the series for ABC but either he or the network wanted him off the project. Because he owns the rights, Kelley was able to negotiate a fifth season of Legal as part of his exit deal.

Unfortunately, the renewal came with a price. It was revealed last week that year five will be series’ last. The season will be made up of only 13 episodes; 11 hour-long and a two-hour series finale. Production will begin in June and is expected to wrap in November.

With a reduced show budget, the size of the cast will be significantly reduced. Spader and Christian Clemenson (“Jerry”) are the only two that will be around for sure right now. Shatner and Candice Bergen are likely to be signed soon. Beyond that, it’s hard to say. Saffron Burrows won’t be back for sure since she’s already signed on for a new NBC series called My Own Worst Enemy. The cast purge is reminiscent of the last season of The Practice (Legal’s predecessor) in which series star Dylan McDermott and many others were dropped due to budget cuts.

Could Legal be saved? Possibly but not probably. If the ratings vastly improve, ABC would surely love to bring it back for a sixth season. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen. The show will have been around five years and, as is the case with most serial shows, you don’t get many new viewers once a show’s been around that long. On top of that, some existing viewers stop watching. Legal’s audience also skews a bit older which isn’t very attractive to advertisers.

Though next season is scheduled to be Legal’s last, Kelley will likely be writing all 13 hours so you know that they’re going to be something to remember. You can be sure that, at the very least, he’ll give us another fitting Legal series finale. Stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

Canceled and renewed TV show

22 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. says

    I’m in South Africa and wouldn’t like to see BL come to an end. I am addicted to the show and have bought all its DVD’s 1-4. Am now waiting for the 5th season DVD to come out. Pls retain it. Its a kill here in South Africa.

  2. Don says

    I still can’t get over the cancellation of Boston Legal, I watch a total of 4 shows on TV and Boston Legal was at the top of that list…the other show I watched was Eli Stone…now that both BL and ES are gone, I’m down to just Smallville and Supernatural…which are entirely different shows…gah I miss BL already :(

  3. shirley says

    This is a perfect example of the “dumbing of America”. This show makes you think, and the government controlled media makes sure that we remain sheep, not a “thinking” America. Boston Legal was the highlight of my t. v. week, as a matter of fact, the only television that i watched. What a shame this stimulating and funny show will not return.

  4. Ladyhawk says

    Boston legal is so real on current world wide events that’s going on the world today , and all so real they need to keep it coming . I really enjoyed the seasons I seen , so don’t delay make it happen .

  5. Patrick says

    Boston Legal is perhaps the best show ever. I watch episodes over and over again. I cried during the series finale. This is the only show of its kind on TV. I love it. I love Denny. David E. Kelly is amazing. Its so foolish that ABC would want to cancel it. All other shows on TV are so stupid and immature. I am eighteen years old but I like sophisticated shows, not Scrubs or Family Guy. Boston Legal has made me think differently about abortion, gay marriage, the war, tobacco laws. and a whole host of other topics. This is a beautiful show. The characters are quirky and charming and socially awkward. I love it. I can not believe why ABC would want to abandon one of the best shows ever thought of. Denny Crane, Allen Shore, Jerry Espenson are my heros. I love them. This show and these characters have caused me to aspire to become a trial lawyer. I will make it some day. I will become a lawyer. I will fight for the little man. I will win. I love all of you. Please ABC bring back our friends. Dont give us any more dumb sitcoms. Make us think. Make us want to think. If we dont think, how are we going to fix ourselves? ABC needs to do the right choice.

  6. Wendy says

    I look forward to Monday’s because Boston Legal was on. I’ve only started watching it early this year because there was nothing else to watch on the other channels. So glad to have found it. Such a disappointment to see that last night was the “series finale”. The best parts of the show were the cast and the writing. It dealt with current issues and gave opposing sides of the argument. It makes you think and laugh. Where can you find that kind of entertainment with a touch of reality?? I was really impressed with the writing and the amount of dialogue Spader had to memorize which he delivered so well. The show will truly be missed. Please bring it back. I’m in my early 30’s. Am I considered old?

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