William Shatner will go down being primarily remembered for playing Captain Kirk in Star Trek, but that wouldn’t do his career complete justice. Though that’s where he made a star turn, there’s been plenty of other great stuff done by the actor throughout the years. Now, one of his best shows in which he had a pivotal role, is free to stream, giving you a chance to check him out off of the Enterprise. IMDB TV is streaming Boston Legal totally for free, leaving you no excuse but to go and check out Shatner in a totally different setting.
Boston Legal came out in 2004 on ABC and was a spin-off of the show The Practice. With David E. Kelley in the proverbial captain’s chair on this one, the show centered around the law offices of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt in Boston. The series star is James Spader who reprised his role as Alan Shore from The Practice, moving to Boston to head up legal proceedings there. William Shatner also made the move over in the spin-off with the plan already put in place to use The Practice as the jumping-off point for Boston Legal. Remember, this was still the heyday of network television when we could show jump with relative ease.
Boston Legal centered around the law office practice with the lawyers, Spader mostly (though William Shatner gets into the mix), taking all manners of clients which would lead to insular stories carefully crafted for the hour of television. The show was good in maintaining narrative arcs throughout though, something that would become increasingly important in this new age of television. Viewers were getting smarter and the story bar was being set higher. Sure, this wasn’t The Sopranos were are talking about, the era of prestige television was starting to leave a mark even at the network level.
William Shatner runs this satellite office of the larger firm as Denny Crane an ultra-confident, a legend in his own mind lawyer who serves as essentially the mascot leader for the firm without having a ton of responsibilities as the seasons go on. In this way, it’s a perfect role for Shatner who brings around the swagger and machismo he enjoyed in the post-Star Trek / Captain Kirk life and simply gets in a suit and makes himself into a lawyer. There doesn’t appear to much heavy lifting in this respect, carrying his larger-than-life presence onto the screen in such a way that totally plays. Is he playing himself? Sure, but that’s kind of the point and why it works so well. Here, check out a classic Denny Crane scene from the show:
Boston Legal would run for five seasons on ABC and consistently finished with solid ratings throughout. Over the years, William Shatner would see his character “age” in such a way that had him dealing with dementia and other health problems on screen. In this way, they did humanize him some over the course of the show, exposing some cracks in the egotistical veneer without really compromising the true essence of his character.
William Shatner was nominated for a Golden Globe in the first season of the show for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or TV Movie. But in 2005 the big one came when he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Was this likely a legacy nod for Shatner? Sure, but it wasn’t without its merit either. Again, he’s excellent in the show from start to finish. He was nominated for the award again in each of the subsequent four years, a testament to how much the audience connected with this character.
Ready to feel ancient? The 90-year-old William Shatner (yup, you read that right) is still working these days but has slowed down considerably. This isn’t surprising at all considering he’s getting up there in years. He’s worked steadily since Boston Legal went off the air in 2008 taking part in shows like $h*! My Dad Says and Haven. He even came out with Senior Moment which released back in March. It’s a love story along with Jean Smart about finding a soul mate much later in life. Shatner, in this way, can still bring it on screen.
And you have a chance to check out some of his best work, definitely his number one role outside of the Star Trek universe without question. Go over and stream William Shatner in Boston Legal for free on IMDB TV.