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The Practice: Volume 1

Posted on

Timothy White/ABC

The Practice

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Michael Badalucco, Jessica Capshaw, Steve Harris, Camryn Manheim, James Spader, Rhona Mitra, Chris O'Donnell, William Shatner
guest performer:
Rene Auberjonois, Kathy Baker, Ed Begley Jr., Gil Bellows, Andre Braugher, Dyan Cannon, Tony Danza, Bruce Davison, Charles Durning, Aunjanue Ellis, Louise Fletcher, Calista Flockhart, Edward Herrmann, Howard Hesseman, Linda Hunt, Jane Kaczmarek, John Larroquette, Chi McBride, Anna Paquin, Austin Pendleton, Valerie Perrine, CCH Pounder, Chris Sarandon, Richard Schiff, Anna Deavere Smith, David Ogden Stiers, Sharon Stone, Stephen Tobolowsky, Titus Welliver, James Whitmore
Drama, Crime

We gave it a B

The old-world courthouses of Beantown were more familiar to David E. Kelley than the rolling pastures of Wisconsin where he set his Picket Fences, and the Boston University Law School alum revisited them with The Practice. Its first 13 episodes allow you to see Kelley’s initially testy, earnest vision: Bobby Donnell (Dylan McDermott) and the rule-bending sharks at his low-rent firm defend their share of guilty criminals with gusto — hey, gotta make a living! — but at a high emotional cost. Too bad their hand-wringing and speechifying were still more insufferable than electric.

ABC stuck The Practice in a deadly Saturdays-at-10 time slot for its second year. In a featurette, Kelley says he soon abandoned his original setup — ”a cauldron of attorneys trying to live ethical lives in an unethical arena” — in favor of attention-grabbing story arcs. In essence, he took what worked well for Fences, plopped it in those musty courtrooms, and let The Practice blossom. These early episodes may not snap with the ferocity that defined the series’ middle years, but like the best first-year law students, they’re prickly, searching, and full of promise. B