Tuesday, March 15, 2005



David E. Kelley has done it again!

Just last night he had a character from one of his shows appear on one of the other ones.

Big deal, you might say. Dick Wolf does that all the time with the shows in the 'Law & Order' franchise. ('Law & Order', 'L&O: SVU', 'L&O: Criminal Intent', and the latest, 'L&O: Trial By Jury') He even imported one of his regular characters, John Munch, from another production company's show - 'Homicide: Life On The Street'.

If only he had one of those characters pop in to the newspaper offices on 'Deadline', perhaps that show might have succeeded.

But there's a major difference between DEK and Dick in that all of the 'Law & Order' shows are on the same network. Kelley has had crossovers between his shows on competing networks. The most famous example is that of the 'Ally McBeal' (FOX)/'The Practice' (ABC) crossover. That really jump-started the ABC drama which had been struggling a bit before that. And then there was the crossover between 'The Practice' and the other FOX DEK drama, 'Boston Public'.

But last night Mr. Kelley topped himself with the appearance of Winslow High School Principal Steven Harper of 'Boston Public' on ABC's 'Boston Legal'.

Since 'Boston Legal' is a spin-off from 'The Practice', one might have thought this to be a case of "been there done that" rather than a "Shore Thing". However, there was a difference - 'Boston Public' is no longer on the air; it was cancelled last season by FOX.

From a lot of the online speculation which I read before the episode aired, people were hoping that the crossover would bring some kind of closure to 'Boston Public'. But instead, the show followed a basic tenet of Toobworld - there IS life after prime time. Just because 'Boston Public' was cancelled, that doesn't mean everyday life at Winslow High School came to a complete stop.

And such was the case here. A high school student - who looked like a potential member of the Log Cabin Republicans, (Sorry, kid.) - sued the school for violating his First Amendment rights by blocking access to the FOX news channel on the school's TVs.

(FOX wasn't mentioned by name, but it was obviously the target - the network's laughable slogan of "Fair and Balanced" was cited and clips from the documentary "OutFOXed" were shown in court, featuring interviews with several former members of the FOX News staff. So in a way, this could be considered a three-way crossover.)

I think Kelley's a genius and he knows how to play to a plotline's strengths. This wasn't even the main thrust of the episode - another case involving an aged lawyer wanting to be cryogenically preserved got the top spot - and it didn't get showcased during the critical February sweeps period. Like I said, it was a case of Life Goes On in Toobworld, and perhaps someday another regular from 'Boston Public' might make an appearance on 'Boston Legal'.

In fact, here's hoping that one day we'll see characters from 'The Practice' come back home (as it were) to tangle once again with Alan Shore. And why not 'Ally McBeal' herself? In fact, I'd like to see Kelley and Robert Downey Jr. reconcile so that Larry Paul might one day come face to face with Alan as his courtroom antagonist.

And it doesn't have to stop there. DEK could thumb his nose at his critics and have a trio of brothers come down to Beantown from Poland, New Hampshire, for an episode. Maybe there's a doctor who used to work for Chicago Hope now practicing medicine at St. Eligius? (We already know there were at least two crossover references between 'Chicago Hope' and 'St. Elsewhere'.)

And why can't Denny Crane mention as a former mentor Judge Henry Bone of Rome, Wisconsin, perhaps in a salute to his passing? ('Picket Fences')

As a Toobworld Caretaker, I could probably make the connections already. But I'm greedy. I'd like to see them played out for all the Real World to see!


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