'Boston Legal' confuses the issue

Candicebergen_bostonlegal_s4_240 With all of the show's soapbox arguments, I was a little worried heading into tonight's Boston Legal. I knew that the primary case tonight dealt with parental consent for abortion, and whatever my personal feelings on the issue, it was definitely something the show would do better to handle gingerly. They did, but only because they managed to confuse it with other issues.

A 15 year-old girl, Kim, came to see Alan tonight. She wanted an abortion, but couldn't get one without parental consent. The girl's father was dead and mom was against the abortion, which was why she needed Alan's help (it made me wonder why this episode didn't air one week earlier, before the vote on such a law in California). Denny was totally against taking the case for two reasons -- first, he didn't think a show about abortion could be fun (and he likes to pretend that he's on TV all the time) and second, he thought that if the girl got an abortion she'd burn in Hell. Alan took the case, and when Denny was still against it, the girl fired him.

In order to get the judicial bypass Kim wanted, Alan thought he needed a woman on his side and, with one named partner dropping out of the case, he figured it was safe to go to Shirley to second chair. Shirley wasn't so interested in participating, and as she began to explain her views to Alan, the girl's mom came to pay a visit. Mom made a compelling case for the opposition, but it wasn't enough to convince Alan not to represent Kim.

Eventually Shirley did get to explain her point of view to Alan (it dealt with her, or someone close to her, having had an abortion). As she was finishing, she was again interrupted, this time by Kim. Kim eloquently explained her position and reminded Shirley that Shirley need not agree with Kim in order to serve the girl's needs at trial. Shirley still didn't want anything to do with the case.

Alan was hurt. He was hurt that Shirley didn't want to participate, and as he explained to Denny, he was seriously worried that Roe v. Wade would be overturned in the near future. Denny, in one of his wise moments, said that he, Denny, figured that pro-choice people needed Roe v. Wade, that it helped give them "moral validation" for a position that they were unsure of. I don't know if that' true, but it was definitely something to think about.

Shirley did end up sitting at Alan's table during the hearing, where mom made another good argument against the procedure and Kim a good one for it. The problem with Kim's argument was just how well-spoken she was, even the judge referred to Kim as seeming like a "mature" young woman. Every single time Kim spoke this evening it sounded like we were hearing from a 25 year-old, not a 15 year-old and certainly not a 15 year-old who had been irresponsible enough to have unprotected sex.

Shirley knew that there was something weird about it too, and talked with Carl about her apprehensions. He suggested that maybe Kim knew that the baby was going to be a girl, and, having been raised in China for much of her life (they had just moved to the states a few years ago), Kim didn't want a girl.

Before heading back to court for one last meeting with the judge, Shirley sat Alan and Kim down. Shirley asked Kim directly exactly why Kim was having the abortion. Kim evaded the question and Shirley accused Kim outright of aborting the fetus because it was female. Kim responded that her personal reasons were neither Shirley's, nor Alan's, business and weren't germane to the case. I wonder...

But, my wondering makes no difference. Judge Peyton was all ready to declare in favor of Kim, but Shirley couldn't let that happen without stating her own fears about Kim's reasons for the abortion. Peyton wisely countered Shirley's fears about female infanticide by stating that there was no way that the government could make decisions on abortions based upon the woman's stated (or non-stated) reasons. The judge granted the judicial bypass, but Alan confessed on the balcony that he didn't know if Kim had gone through with it. Alan also told Denny that he himself had been involved with two abortions in his past. He then pointed out that legalized abortion may have lowered the crime right (for that he referenced the book Freakonomics).

It was a good case, and it could have been a great one had the show not mixed up the question of parental consent on abortions with the ramifications of China's "one child" policy. Maybe they saw it as an easy way out of a tough argument, I'm not sure.

As for the night's subplot, it began with Jerry and Katie standing on line, minding their own business, getting a cup of coffee. Yes, just "a cup of coffee" because Katie doesn't like coffee (makes sense, she's British). There was this terribly obnoxious guy on the line behind them and, long story semi-long, Jerry got into a fight with him. It was a short fight, it pretty much just consisted of Jerry tossing a muffin at the guy and then managing a one shot TKO as the other guy was charging, but it was a fight.

Jerry ended up in the slammer for his little tiff (apparently he broke the guy's nose) and opted to defend himself in court rather than having Katie do it. Of course, Katie ended up as a witness for the prosecution, so she probably couldn't have defended him anyway, but Katie still wasn't happy that Jerry didn't want her (I think he does, just not that way).

Carl also wanted to defend Jerry at the trial, but Jerry wouldn't allow it, big mistake, Jerry blew the questioning of Mr. Hellman (the man Jerry had knocked out). Jerry should have let Carl handle the defense. Things didn't go much better when Katie took the stand. Katie told the truth, but Jerry was seriously distressed when some of the facts (like Jerry's singing and dancing after knocking Hellman out) didn't necessarily bend his way.

Jerry and Katie ended up having a fight, but they quickly let bygones be bygones and Katie then gave Jerry hints on how to proceed with the case. Jerry took the advice, explaining to the jury exactly who he was and where he was coming from during his closing. Hellman was definitely a bully and while Jerry shouldn't have tossed the muffin, the punch was much more in self-defense than anything else. The jury accepted Jerry's argument and let him off.

A question and a thought:

  • Would you liked to have seen the show handle the two topics in the main case separately, or were you happy with them being folded into one?
  • Personally, I kind of wonder whether the show wanted to do each case separately and realized they simply didn't have the time.

The TV and Film Guy's Reviews - we toss no muffins, only our cookies.

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