Inside the Lightbox is a new sponsored feature where we mine the extensive Lightbox catalogue for cool shows you might like to watch. This week, to celebrate the premiere of Better Call Saul, Alex Casey approaches the bench with a strong selection of similar dodgy-lawyer-based shows for you to enjoy. //
There was a bizarre time a few years ago when “Denny Crane” became a part of common parlance, and I had no idea why. Now, it all makes perfect sense – all those people were all under the bewitching wisecrack-laden spell of Boston Legal. Just like Better Call Saul is a spinoff of Breaking Bad, Boston Legal is spunoff from the long-running legal dramedy The Practice. Featuring the likes of Star Trek‘s William Shatner as a cleverly deranged ex-marine lawyer (who might as well be from the depths of space) and James Spader as a deeply unethical but highly skilled attorney, it’s a shambolic look into the once-boring world of civil litigation.
If law jargon and old men in weird sheep wigs freaks you out, I assure you that Boston Legal is set far beneath the ivory tower. Story lines have included: a man who cheated on his wife with a cow (a stunning bit part for Better Call Saul‘s Michael McKean), more than a few hostage situations and a boardroom full of lawyers chanting “lesbians”. That’s not just a regular day in court.
Suits revisits that old childhood dream that if you drop out of college and simply rely on your inherent genius, you might be able to escape your druggie past and work your way into a prestigious law firm in New York City. It’s a classic narrative, and one that happened conveniently to Mike Ross. Convincing his way into a law firm job by rattling off the contents of almost an entire textbook, Ross pairs up with Harvey Specter, a powerful up and coming lawyer (who clearly isn’t afraid of illegal employment situations).
What ensues is a sexy, smart and slick show that has it’s fair share of comedy, drama and office mishaps. It does a fantastic job of glossing over the bureaucracy of law, instead reducing it to easy to digest catchphrases that make it sound like anyone could do it. “It’s like Doctors – you just gotta keep pressing until it hurts – then you know where to look.” With last crucial episodes of season four being delivered to Lightbox straight from the US, now is a better time than ever to suit up.
Franklin and Bash
Following the story of longtime friends and street savvy lawyers Jared Franklin and Peter Bash, this comedy has been described as “Ally McBeal with balls,” which is as apt as it is unnecessarily graphic. Starring the always lovable Breckin Meyer (who hs graduated from skateboard to BMW), it follows a pair of charmingly (sleazy) lawyers who do whatever it takes to win their cases. As the first Law 101 lecture states “if the facts are against you argue the law, if the law is against you have a hot chick take off her clothes in court.”
Despite the sleaze, they are great lawyers. After they win a huge long-running case, the pair are recruited to save an ailing law firm. Joined by a shonky staff list including an ex-con advisor and an agoraphobic attorney, there’s enough comedy to keep this law drama from sinking beneath the bench. Featuring all-star appearances from Malcolm McDowell and Heather Locklear, it’s an unorthodox look at doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons.
Law & Order
There is a strange comfort in the resounding “dun DUN” that opens Law and Order. It’s the sort of show that you don’t know you needed until you’re up late one night in Malaysia and there’s no english-speaking TV apart from Law and Order reruns all night long. What I’m saying is yes, I once watched 5 hours of Law and Order on an exotic South East Asian holiday – and I don’t even feel bad about it.
It’s predictable in the way that an M Night Shyamalan film is predictable – always opening with a dead body found by a couple of bit part characters solely employed to find it in a skip. And yes, it often closes the same – a crucial piece of last minute evidence found that always incriminates the Dad, or the maid, or whoever the least guilty-seeming person is. But I find comfort in the predictability, and still ignore the smarter side of my brain to be constantly shocked by the fill-in-the-blanks twists and turns. Also, if you’re interested, the show lends itself nicely to reckless drinking games. Just don’t end up…dead in a ditch (“dun DUN”).