The cast and crew of the David E. Kelley “drama” series Boston Legal had plenty of reason to celebrate when the recent Emmy nominations were announced. The series was nominated for Best Drama and series stars James Spader and William Shatner also picked up nominations. The cast and crew returned to work last week but their show’s future may not feel as secure as it once did.
Boston Legal, as you probably know, was a spin-off of Kelley’s popular drama The Practice. The quirky legal series debuted on October 3, 2004 and ranked 27th for the season with an average of 12.5 million viewers each week. Season two dropped to 46th for the year with 10.3 million viewers. Season three slipped to 48th and attracted an average of 9.9 million each week. Though the ratings are still respectable, the series can’t be considered a big hit. Last May, ABC even postponed Legal’s season three finale until after the sweeps period.
ABC renewed Boston Legal for a fourth season on March 21, 2007 so the show will certainly return at some point. The big question is “when?” Boston Legal was originally scheduled to return on Tuesday, September 25th but was bumped. The network had asked the show’s producers to create a special 90-minute episode to follow Dancing with the Stars but they declined. Now the series return date is up in the air. With falling ratings, is ABC losing interest in Boston Legal? The show certainly doesn’t seem to be a priority.
Whenever the series does return, you can expect to see a number of cast changes. Tara Summers, John Larroquette, Saffron Burrows, and Taraji P. Henson will all be joining the team as series regulars. Emmy-winner Christian Clemenson (Jerry Espinson) will become a series regular as well. Exiting the series will be Constance Zimmer, Julie Bowen, Mark Valley and Rene Auberjonois. Valley and Auberjonois have been booked for a few season four episodes, presumably to give the writers an opportunity to give the characters an exit out of the firm. Stay tuned!
08-02-07 UPDATE: The producers seem to have changed their mind about ABC’s request to make the season premiere a 90-minute episode. Boston Legal will return on September 25th at 9:30pm. It will air Tuesdays at 10pm after that.