new leading man of “The Practice” is a reptile cross-bred
with a weasel. Not that we’re complaining.
“I feel…icky,” says James Spader as the quietly
cunning disgraced lawyer Alan Shore, making an unnerving first impression
as he begs Camryn Manheim’s Ellenor for a job at her newly
under-inhabited law firm. Imperious and lecherous, smugly eccentric
as he plays fast and loose with the law, Shore appears at times
to be channeling the spirit of Richard Fish, the cad from producers
David E. Kelley’s quirkier “Ally McBeal”.
When Shore makes an inappropriate come-on to a young woman who has
taken his homeless client to court, it’s a vulgar moment that
smacks of Kelley excess. And yet Spader brings enigmatic nuance
to this well-heeled heel. It’s a welcome respite from the
show’s earnest though often compelling style of melodramatic
It “The Practice” had been better the past few years,
the show’s radical redo might be more disturbing. But after
an extended period of overwrought nonsense, it’s refreshing
that, in the first two episodes, only one line of dialogue refers
to the cast purge between seasons. No crocodile tears, no tortured
exposition. They’ve moved on. So should we. With Spader in
the house, it’s not really such a chore.
TV GUIDE October 4-10, 2003, Article by– Matt Roush (Thank