Thursday, October 22, 2009
Lawyer Wins “Most Irritating TV Character” Nod
It’s not who you think. Yes, Law & Order’s Jack McCoy is on the list, but this character made it to number one. I must admit, it’s not a choice most people would disagree with, and I agree that there is a fine line between being delightfully quirky and just plain annoying. Annie Hall is a film-based example of that conundrum. In contrast, there have been many great lawyer characters on television. So, my question of the day is, who are some of the best lawyer characters who have ever been featured on the small screen?
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Perry Mason (is that obvious or am I missing something)
Denny Crane (better than Captain Kirk)
Posted by: alan | Oct 22, 2009 2:43:46 PM
Perry Mason has to be number one. The controversy, I should think, would be about who deserves the number two spot. Ray Burr was told many, many times, "You are the reason I became a lawyer."
Posted by: Lester Hunt | Oct 22, 2009 3:16:29 PM
Not to answer your question, but your intro makes me rant: Sam Waterson is the worst actor I've ever seen. I have no idea how he's survived almost two decades on that show. He seems either drunk or sleeping whenever he's on the screen, often both. I really don't understand it.
Posted by: David S. Cohen | Oct 22, 2009 4:48:38 PM
My own view is that Sam Waterston's demeanor on L&O is eerily similar to many lawyers who have practiced a long time. If you think his affect seems a little "off" that might just be naturalistic acting.
Posted by: alkali | Oct 22, 2009 5:15:30 PM
Based on that columnist's list, he seems to be mostly annoyed by women.
Posted by: anon | Oct 22, 2009 5:22:15 PM
Matthew Michael "Matt" Murdock (aka "Daredevil") and his law partner, Foggy Nelson, have appeared on the small screen (as characters in TV portrals as part of shows featuring fellow Marvel Comic properties Spiderman and the Fantastic Four), although the film and comic book presentations were better.
While many television presentations explore life in big law firms and as prosecuting attorneys, or lawyers in a trial setting, this duo is one of the very few to explore what it is like to be self-employed in a small firm (one scene features them taking payment in kind from an cash poor sports equipment store, something I can relate to after having worked in a firm where we were once paid half a cow). The duo also provide an in depth treatment of the dynamics of interactions with a law partner in a small firm (and the fact that Murdock is blind).
Atticus Finch's portrayal in "To Kill A Mockingbird" does something of the same thing but in a different era with a solo practice (did that ever make it to the small screen?), as did the film Jerry McGuire, but the Perry Mason show was always focused on particular cases and trials, not running the law firm.
Another lawyer portrayed on the small screen several times (and seasonal as well) is the narrator of Bram Stoker's Dracula, British solicitor (and classic skeptic) Jonathan Harker (we would call him an associate attorney now) who sent by an English law firm sent to handle a client's business in Transylvania.
Another wonderful law firm archetype on film is the law firm of Wolfram & Hart from the Joss Whedon television series, Angel, as spinoff of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The spoof of a Los Angeles big law firm reaches Dilbertesque proportions, for example, employees often have a "perpetuity clause" in their contracts, meaning they remain with the firm even after their deaths, and some conduct animal and human sacrifices to the senior partners in hope of obtaining better performance reviews. It isn't all camp, however. Charles Gunn, an African American lawyer at the firm, for example, must balance a crushing workload with the job of keeping his nephew from falling into the temptations of a gang after he spent time in one himself.
Posted by: ohwilleke | Oct 22, 2009 7:21:02 PM
Bobby Donnel from The Practice was great.
Posted by: anon | Oct 22, 2009 11:58:05 PM
Rumpole of the Bailey. It is classic English TV - charming, delightful and funny.
Posted by: DNJ | Oct 23, 2009 1:02:37 AM
Posted by: anon | Oct 23, 2009 2:04:35 AM
Let's not forget the lawyer from Picket Fences.
Posted by: Joe | Oct 24, 2009 10:22:36 AM