16 October 2008

Boston Legal

I have been on a spate of online TV watching. Heroes, 30rock, Chuck. And now I've come to Boston Legal.

Let me start by saying this is not a show I ever thought I would watch before last week. If the only way available to watch BL was with commercials on TV (alt. univ. w/ no DVR), I'd just go without watching it at all.

Yes BL is absurd. Yes BL is funny. But it is also at least a little bit, about law. And that's where it runs into problems. You see, the juries in BL land are suckers for an emotional hook. I find myself sympathizing with the opponents of the Boston Legal team. The opposing arguments are often very compelling. In fact, if you were to decide the case based on the proceedings up to --but excluding-- the closing arguments, you'd think the show wanted you to go with the opposing side. The BL case is often not supported by the evidence!

But then the star BL lawyer saunters up to the jury and delivers an impassioned closing argument. I can't help but find the moment anti-climatic. It is clear that the audience is supposed to be swayed by this final twist, having appreciated the "human-side" or "spirit" of the law the BL lawyer has to remind the jury of (and us of). I'm sorry, but my verdict would be for the other guy in 4 out of the 4 episodes I've seen (season 5, episodes 1-4).


chris said...

Why do I only see your posts 1 week after they're posted? A post from the 9th only showed up on the 16th, and this has been happening for a long time!

Ok, on to the post. I can't comment on Boston Legal, but I did recently read a transcript of a Supreme Court oral argument session that I thought was really cool. Before I get to that though, do you ever read the Volokh Conspiracy? It's a libertarian blog that generally leans right (here: http://www.volokh.com/). I like it because in this election season it balances the other (more liberal) blogs I read - the Daily Dish (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/ he's a conservative who's disgusted with the current GOP) and 538 (http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/ he's a pollster whose blog entries have an Obama bias, and whose statistics he *claims* do not).

What Volokh has done for me inadvertently is to get me to pay more attention to legal cases. The blog is run by a bunch of lawyers, and is half political posts, half law posts. The last sentence of the first paragraph of this post has a transcript of Supreme Court oral arguments: http://volokh.com/posts/1223483615.shtml

It takes a bit to get into, and you'll find yourself looking on Wikipedia to make sense of their references to various laws and cases, but I thought it was really cool to see the 9 justices interact and challenge the lawyers. It makes you feel pretty good about our Supreme Court, if not our every day criminal courts. Note that I didn't read the whole thing as it was too long, but I read probably 1/3 of it. The justices seem smart and engaged! Make sure you get to Scalia's remarks on page 7 =)

Jeff Shepley said...

I started the post a week ago and didn't finish it until yesterday. It posted with the initial date.

chris said...

Any thoughts about the quote in gray text here? http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/10/a-pragmatic-def.html#more

It seems to me the questionable assumption is whether "the natural consequences of [a capitalist] system is the accumulation of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people."

True? I don't know what economic theories say about this. I do see that we have an ever shrinking middle class in the US, and I do think that in general, wealth begets wealth. It's easier to invest and become more rich when you've got money to do so. Any thoughts on any of this?