One of my favorite television shows, and one of the few legal courtroom dramas on television at the moment, Boston Legal is undergoing a bit of a restructuring before next season.
Julie Bowen, Mark Valley, Rene Auberjonois and Constance Zimmer have all been let go from the show, sources tell me. ABC and David E. Kelley Productions declined comment, but a Legal insider confirms that "their contract options were not picked up."
To fill the void, Night Court's John Larroquette is joining the show as a series regular next season, but he won't be reprising his Emmy-winning role from Kelley's The Practice. Instead, he will be playing an attorney from the New York offices of CP&S. Also Dirt's Tara Summers will be coming on board as a young associate. Finally, current cast member Christian Clemenson (Jerry) has been upped to series regular.
To the easy things first. Christian Clemson's Jerry Espenson is a pretty good character and having him as a season regular is good move. I've never heard of Tara Summers, so can't comment much on her. As for the subtractions (I'll talk about the addition of John Larroquette in a moment), losing Rene Auberjonois's Paul Lewiston is not that big of a loss. He really didn't do much this past season aside from yell at Denny Crane every now and again, and that was getting a bit old. And Mark Valley, while a good foil for James Spader's Alan Shore, and pretty funny this year feuding with the quickly disappearing Craig Bierko, is not a huge loss either. He was pretty much an afterthought most of the time, especially this season.
Losing Constance Zimmer, now that I don't like. Sure, she wasn't used much on the show since her introduction, but the writers missed a lot of potential there. I've been a fan of Zimmer since her time on the oft-forgotten NBC sitcom Good Morning Miami (you know, one of those nameless Thursday night shows NBC would try out every year that never really panned out -- Though, I liked Good Morning Miami in a lot of ways. The Mark Feuerstein - Ashley Williams - Constance Zimmer - Matt Letscher quadrangle was pretty entertaining, and had a unique resolution. The rest of the show, though, including the characters played by Jere Burns and Sunzanne Pleshette, and the weather forecasting nun were just awful. Half brilliant, half horrendous shows just don't make it) so losing her is tough.
Julie Bowen's character leaving the show though, now that's a whole different story.
I will always be a big fan of Bowen simply because she was Carol Vessey on NBC's vastly underrated ED (I still want to buy Langens and open a law office inside there ala Stuckeybowl). She's been great in guest-spots on Lost as Matthew Fox' ex-wife, and her I always enjoyed her segments on Boston Legal. Not seeing her on TV every week, that's going to be different. It's too bad TBS isn't showing repeats of ED anymore.
As for Larroquette's addition, I think he's going to be great. I don't remember much of Night Court and a vaguely remember watching The John Larroquette Show which aired in 1993, but I do recall Larroquette's guest spots on both The West Wing and The Practice. On West Wing, Larroquette was White House Counsel, and while he was only in one episode, he was great (as the clip below shows), and I was very disappointed he was never heard from again, and was later replaced by Oliver Platt (who was fine, but was not Larroquette).
On The Practice Larroquette played a client of the firm who had a habit of killing men he was in relationships with. His character was smart, incredibly arrogant, and did a great job playing off of the other characters. I'm hoping his Boston Legal character has a lot of those same qualities.
And speaking of The Practice, I'm going to have to stop by Best Buy sometime this week, as finally, The Practice - Volume Oneis out on DVD. About time.