'Boston Legal' finale: I Now Pronounce You Denny and Alan

Bostonlegalshatner_l Five years from now, when you’re asked the trivia question, "What was the final line spoken on Boston Legal?," smile when you answer that it was Denny Crane (William Shatner) saying "It’s our wedding night" to Alan Shore (James Spader) as they slowdanced on the balcony of the Chinese-acquired Chang Poole & Schmidt. I know I will. That was the most satisfying series finale I’ve seen in years. Here’s why:

1. Denny’s proposal When Alan finally accepted Denny’s hand, he said, "Why not? I suppose it had to come to this." Denny responded, "It’ll be great….Like jumping the shark." Bravo to Spader and Shatner for simultaneously declaring the unapologetic ridiculousness of their union and making it 100 percent believable. At first, Denny argued that he wanted Alan to take his hand for practical reasons: In Massachusetts, where same sex marriages are legal, it would give Alan the right to make the difficult medical decisions ahead, to not testify against Denny the next time he’s arrested for breaking and entering and sexual assault (those charges were dropped when Alzheimer’s-stricken Denny admitted that he had no idea how he ended up naked in his neighbor’s bed), and to share Denny’s wealth without the gift tax. But when that didn’t work, he spoke from that enormous, foolish heart of his: "I’ve always wanted to remarry before I die….I just have. And like it or not, you’re the man I love." How could Alan look into that face that expressed childlike wonder, innocence, and sheer joy better than anyone and deny his dying best friend his last wish? Especially when it could lead to a court appearance. (The local chapter of the Gay and Lesbian League, fearing the union would fuel the rightwing belief that hetero couples would exploit same-sex marriage for tax breaks, tried to put an injunction on their marriage license, but the judge ruled that the government doesn’t — and shouldn’t — ask couples why they’re marrying.) In the end, Alan and Denny and Carl (John Larroquette) and Shirley (Candice Bergen) had a double wedding in Nimmo Bay (after the latter couple’s priest and rabbi started a Holy War), officiated by Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia (played by Jack Shearer), who happened to be there on a fishing trip right after hearing Alan’s case asking for Denny to be allowed access to a non-FDA approved drug that could slow his Alzheimer’s…

addCredit(“Craig Sjodin/ABC”)

2. Mr. Shore went to Washington and actually had a worthy opponent And no one was more surprised than me that the opposing stern-yet-passionate counsel was played by According to Jim‘s Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Scalia would ultimately leak the news that a one-sentence ruling would be issued allowing Denny the drug, but for a change, there was a slight chance that Alan would lose. The argument was whether one dying man’s right to save himself was worth risking the pharmaceutical industry rushing unapproved and insufficiently-tested drugs to a market of 5 million desperate terminal patients, and those patients declining to participate in future clinical studies that could yield better alternatives because they wouldn’t want to risk getting a placebo. The one-sentence ruling, which only addressed Denny’s access, was a compromise, secured by another classic Alan closing that brought tears to Shatner’s, Williams-Paisley’s, and my eyes: "Denny is my best friend. I love him with all my heart. If I could yank that horrible disease out of his body, I would fight it and I would win. I would use every ounce of my strength and I would win, if I could — but I can’t." 

3. Alan’s attempt to fire the people that fired him Truth be told, I didn’t quite buy Shirley’s tears when she pleaded with the judge to grant her an injunction to stop a Chinese company from buying an American law firm committed to defending human rights — and I’m glad the judge wasn’t swayed by the tears. We wouldn’t have gotten what happened next: After asking for Shirley’s resignation, the new owner decided he would replace the entire Crane Poole & Schmidt litigation team. Alan decided that they should be the ones doing the firing, and marched them, in slo-mo!, into a meeting with the new brass and proceeded to school the suits on how things work in America (it always come down to who the jury likes better) and on Boston Legal: "Did you check out our win-loss record? Good for us, bad for you. More importantly, did you know the kinds of cases that we argue week-to-week? Typically preposterous, mostly unwinnable on their face and yet we win them whether we have grounds or not. Must be the smile. Smile group." Here, Alan noted, they do actually have grounds for wrongful discharge, and though the Chinese suits burst into applause mocking him at the end of the monologue, they did eventually agree to keep the team on and assigned Paul (Rene Auberjonois) to oversee them. (They later asked Paul to get rid of Denny, and weren’t upset when Paul told them they’d certainly lose irreplaceable Alan then, too. So Shirley’s fears were warranted, we’re to assume. And Denny doesn’t need to apologize for pulling double paintball guns on them during their first meeting. Got it.) 

4. Jerry (Christian Clemenson) and Katie (Tara Summers) kissed Only slightly more delightful than watching Jerry jump on Alan’s couch before reporting a break in Denny’s case, and Alan quipping, "Don’t tell me. You love Katie."

So there you have it, folks. Were you as happy with the finale as I was? In your mind, is Denny cured? Does his marriage to Alan last? (They survived their first fight: Denny chose to have his first wedding dance with Shirley, and then led when he finally got around to Alan.) Does he get to know poor people and help Alan start his own legal aid firm? Do the other lawyers work there? And would you watch that show Denny and Alan pitched?

Denny: "This could be a television series."
Alan: "On a new network."
Denny: "One that cares."
Alan: "Alan Shore and Denny Crane: Husband and Mad Cow."

More Boston Legal:
Boston Legal: Why I’ll Miss It
David E. Kelley talks life after Boston Legal
Boston Legal promotes time slot change — during episode
Boston Legal renewed for fifth season

Comments (140 total) Add your comment
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  • Babulah

    Oh, I sure hope they come up with some sort of spin off! I’ve loved this show since the first episode, but especially with the cast of the last 2 seasons. I don’t usually laugh out loud watching Tv by myself, but every week Boston Legal made me laugh, cry, think (and usually fall in love with Alan). Last nights finale was the best episode ever and I still can’t believe it was the last one. I’ll miss you all, Shirley, Carl, Katie, Denny, Alan and especially Jerry! What a great character and the actor did an amazing job! Good thing re-runs are on ION so I can slowly go thru withdrawal! Great job to all involved with this show….To the cast: You are loved and will be sorely missed!

  • I Love Denny Crane

    I am in the demo that the networks seek so badly, and I LOVED this show. I like to watch grown ups that can act and that actually eat. I think it sucks that abc never supported this show and I will miss it very much!

  • oldrockchick

    What a great finale. So sad to see my favorite show go. Losing this, Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and with what they are doing to Grey’s, I am finding less and less reason to need ABC.
    But somewhere out there there is a Legal Aid firm with the greatest litigation team on the planet. Ane my firm (Legal Action of WI) would be proud to have any one of them here.
    God Speed Alan, Shirley, Carl, Jerry, Katie, especially Denny, and the rest of Crane, Poole, & Schmitt for 5 great years of tv. You will be sorely missed.

  • Matt

    Last night I sat through two of the most incredible hours of television I’ve ever had the privilege to experience. THIS is how you end a TV series, people! I laughed, I cried and I sat there with a big stupid grin on my face as Denny and Alan danced on the balcony and the camera pulled away to end Boston Legal. Wow. The television landscape has been changed now that this amazing series is gone. One less hour of thought-provoking, funny and quality entertainment, gone. To all at Boston Legal — thank you for a wonderful five years! :)

  • mj

    i LOVED it..it was just right.
    and i CERTAINLY would watch alan go legal-aid..with the occassional drive-by from the “mad cow”…lovely thought.
    excellent work by stellar actors..

  • Twist

    BRAVO! WEE DOGGY!

  • elly

    i never liked BL, but i salute them for taking the whole people ascribing homosexual overtones to ‘the odd couple’ etc. and translating it into a great running joke/indictment of people who cling to the idea that it’s not possible to have a potent, beautiful male friendship that isn’t fueled by sexual attraction. i also always watch series finales, even for shows i don’t like or follow, and i have to say, very nicely done.

  • patti

    This was an incredible two hours – it couldn’t have ended better – except I was so sad thru the whole show knowing it was going to end. I WANT IT BACK!! There isn’t a show on TV that has it all – drama, comedy, a theme, a message, and fabulous actors!! COME BACK ALAN AND DENNY! ALL OF YOU

  • James

    What a perfect way to send out such a wonderful show! Over the two hours it hit every funny, sad, warm, political, romantic, ridiculous note that the series became known for over its run. TV in general is a lot worse-off for this show going away.

  • MsDaisy

    Alan and Denny were by far the best comedy duo on television since Lucy and Ethel. A lot of the credit goes to great writing, but the actors still have to be able to deliver and Spader and Shatner delivered every single episode.

  • tippytoes

    I agree with all of you about the finale..it couldn’t have been better..unless at the last moment Jerry and Katie had tied the knot. I want a spin-off. The idea of public service suits Alan and Denny to the tee..No matter how long that spin-off takes, I’ll be watching and waiting for it..meantime, thanks to all the cast for a wnderful 5 years!

  • RanyDany

    In this era of plastic and disposable series, weak reality shows and poor executed series, BL was the best of the class. Not very often viewers are challenged with topics like the ones touched by BL. And the series finale was no exception. When BL was spin-off from The Practice a few people complained because it seemed like a bad idea to use a legal show as a comedy. They were wrong.

  • Babulah

    To Ms.Daisy I agree about the comedy. I always thought this show was more of a comedy than a drama..I’m sure folks that didn’t watch it thought it was just another lawyer show….but it was so much more than that. They touched on subjects that no other show would have, yet with all the funny quirks of the characters, it was very comedic. I feel like I’ve lost my best friends! I would have loved to work in that office! It would have been a hoot! That’s what it would have been! (and how come he wasn’t on last night?)

  • Ange

    I’m glad this stupid show is over. I hated Carl Sack and I wish he would have been killed, but this is Boston Legal so everyone had a predictable happy ending. I hated this show because it was so dull, unfunny and predictable.
    Maybe now John Larroquette can move on to better things (hopefully some great roles in great films *fingers crossed*), this has been a terrible decade in terms of his work, nothing but crap.

    • maury lubman

      ange… you must be one miserable person…you are entitled to your opinon…but miserable people like you cannot be made happy….I will assume you are not married..and god forbid you are and have children….they will become serial killers.

  • Genie

    I applauded at the end, the whole finale was incredibly satisfying, and very fun to watch. You rarely see a series finale that elevates a show, in fact I can’t remember one that I thought did a show justice. This was well crafted and executed by all. Bravo!

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