Jenny Hewett rounds up law-inspired TV series we love
For those of us who may have harboured career ambitions of going to law school (or becoming a CIA agent or forensic detective), immersing ourselves in a legal drama is the next best thing to passing the bar. Legal shows tend to require more intellectual concentration than your average sitcom and if, like us, you’ve dedicated years in front of the TV deciphering your subpoenas from your MOs, you’ll be able to follow the case quicker than a baggage handler when season four of Damages launched on OSN in December. In honour of the new series, here are some more of our top legal picks.
Ally McBeal (1997-2002) Although it was one of the first legal series to feature a woman in the lead role as a hard-hitting lawyer, Ally McBeal is probably better known for its dancing-baby montages, Calista Flockhart’s waif-like physique and the intriguing romantic and personal lives of its cast. Part comedy, part drama, the plot centres around a young Boston lawyer as she embarks on her career at law firm Cage & Fish. From BD3 for season five, available at www.amazon.com.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001-2011) Following the success of everyone’s favourite legal series, the creators of Law & Order decided to run with a good thing and create a number of spin-offs specialising in specific areas of law. Criminal Intent follows the Major Case Squad as they investigate high-profile murders involving VIPs and officials. Vincent D’Onofrio stars as perplexing oddball detective Robert Goren. From BD14 for season six, available at www.amazon.com.
Boston Legal (2004-2008) This spin-off from creator David E Kelley’s long-running law drama The Practice – which ran for seven years and won more than 15 Emmys – picks up at wealthy Boston civil law firm Crane, Poole & Schmidt. Starring James Spader as Alan Shore and William Shatner as Denny Crane, the plot focuses on Shore’s less-than-ethical ways of winning his cases, which cause conflict among his partners. From BD38 for season one to five, available at www.amazon.com.
Damages (2007-) A legal drama with a difference, Damages will have your brain ticking from the pilot episode, where we meet young lawyer Ellen Parsons. The show explores the complicated relationship between Parsons and her mentor, mysterious litigation lawyer Patty Hewes, played by Glenn Close. In season four, Parsons’ ex-boyfriend contacts her and, against Hewes’ advice, she files a lawsuit against a high-profile private security firm. Damages season four debuted in December on OSN First.
Harry’s Law (2011-) Now in its second season, Harry’s Law stars Kathy Bates as Harriet ‘Harry’ Korn, a once top-tier patent lawyer who is fired from her high-paid job and decides to open an unconventional legal firm at a shoe store. Harriet chooses to practice as a criminal defence lawyer and finds career fulfilment in helping those less fortunate, but she is also partial to putting the young lawyers around her in their place. From BD6 for season one, available at www.amazon.com.