"I've always prided myself on being, well, nuts," Alan Shore (James Spader) said in the premiere of the latest lawyer series from producer David E. Kelley. "But in this firm I find myself falling into the sane category." Is that a good thing?
Spader enlivened The Practice when he joined the cast for that Kelley creation's final season, earning an Emmy for his portrayal of an ethically flexible provocateur who shook up his more earnest colleagues. In this spinoff, however, Shore finds himself in a workplace where the craziness standard is set by Denny Crane (William Shatner), the impulsive and increasingly eccentric senior partner. Shatner has a ball playing a paragon of inappropriate behavior and lends the egocentric character a surprising touch of poignancy in his rare moments of introspection. But it's going to be tricky finding the right balance between Shore and Crane while allowing each to stay in touch with his inner devil.
The new firm provides Shore with a suitable foil in Brad Chase (Mark Valley from Keen Eddie), a fast talker who's a little too handsome. If you like Spader as a self-described "enormously unlikable person," give Legal time to make its case.