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Herc Gives Tonight's PRACTICE ***1/2!!

Published at: Sept. 23, 2001, 4:04 p.m. CST

Practice 6.1 FAQ

What’s it called?

“The Candidate.”

When does it air?

9 p.m. tonight on ABC.

Who’s responsible?

Teleplay is credited to “Practice” mastermind David E. Kelley.

What does TV Guide say?

“A sensational homicide case rocks Boston in the series' two-hour, sixth-season opener. The defendant is a charismatic state senator (Dylan Baker), who's charged with killing the man purported to be his wife's lover. Pretrial drama centers on the accounts of two key witnesses: the politician's intransigent spouse and his reticent teenage daughter. Later, courtroom skirmishes are interwoven with the sometimes contentious strategizing of prosecutor Helen Gamble and her associate, Alan Lowe (new series regular Ron Livingston); and squabbling on the defense team, led by Ellenor (Camryn Manheim). Marsha: Virginia Madsen. Allison: Emmy Rossum. Judge Finkle: Lane Smith. Walsh: Bill Smitrovich.”

Is this a funny one?

Jimmy has a great throwaway retort for Rebecca during a staff meeting, but mostly it’s dead serious.

Any season-opening surprises?

Not really. Ron Livingston, who will be competing with his “Band of Brothers” series on HBO tonight, has already replaced Jason Kravitz in the opening titles.

How is Livingston?

He’s good, but given an unusually low-key introduction for a new Kelley character.

What’s TV Guide not telling us?

Tonight’s two-hour installment is typically solid, save for a killer final act that puts it right over the top. I defy anyone who hasn’t seen the last 15 minutes to predict the episode’s outcome.

What else isn’t TV Guide telling us?

When the Livington character is teamed with Gamble on the case, the press covering the trial take to referring to the sexy duo as “The Steam Team.” Also, Ellenor hits the wall.

Anything going on with the characters’ personal storylines?

Zero, unless you count the way Gamble and her second chair glance at each other over dinner.

Are Wolfram & Hart lawyers waiting for Angel when he gets home?

What? How did you get in here?? Security!

What’s good?

Dylan Baker (“Happiness”) and his creepily charismatic turn as the Conditesque lawmaker -- and the way that character keeps everybody at Donnell Young in the dark until the final minutes.

What’s not so good?

“Ally” has grown too goofy, and one misses the sharp comedy that used to visit “The Practice.” If only all Kelley’s shows could demonstrate the balance employed on “Boston Public.”

No spoilers at all, Herc?

Just this: the senator’s storyline continues next week.

Herc’s rating for “The Practice” 6.1?

***1/2

The Hercules T. Strong Rating System:

  • ***** better than we deserve
  • **** better than most motion pictures
  • *** actually worth your valuable time
  • ** as horrible as most stuff on TV
  • * makes you quietly pray for bulletins

Swing the crebbil! Swing the crebbil!

I am – Hercules!!





Readers Talkback

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  • Sept. 23, 2001, 4:28 p.m. CST

    I miss "Murder One" and the first two years of "The Practice" wa

    by Smugbug

    however they seem to be now treading in that area of "former glory". It's self-satirizing now. Kinda like "ER". How EVERY patient has a crisis and how EVERY staff member has to have a "romantic" interlude. I'll pass on watching The Practice, I'm waiting for CSR, Buffy and Angel. Now that I'm watching The Amazing Race, that makes the only four shows I'll watch this season. Besides, I've got football - my plate is full!

  • Sept. 23, 2001, 4:42 p.m. CST

    But you didn't answer the Angel question!

    by Drath

    Ah yes, the old David E Kelley stuff. The show that made me realize that David Ogden Stiers is evil(sending a kid to jail for twenty years just for lying on the stand to keep his single dad, that's sick). But more importantly, does anyone else realize that Kelley has just recreated Nell from Ally McBeal and put her in Boston Public? I love the Hitchcockian leading lady beauty of Jeri Ryan and Portia DeRossi, but I never thought Kelley would clone the character. Ah well, he could do worse. Oh I forgot, this is the Practice. Hmm, well I'm glad that wicked little ass DA guy is dead. I'm just sorry John Cage never got to punch him out on behalf of neurotic unpretty short men everywhere. Oh, and the only reason I'm watching Ally this season is for James "Cyclops!" Marsden. When's he gonna show up on Buffy and confuse the hell out of everyone who can't remember he's not the same guy as James Marsters? With Anthony Head leaving that show needs some more testosterone. McBeal and the Practice feel like their days are numbered anyway. Sorry, fans.

  • Sept. 23, 2001, 6:15 p.m. CST

    Well there is an hour left and I am going to guess the ending

    by GF2020Hotmail

    I am going to try and defy Herc here. First off, its obvious that this guy didn't do it. Second, because he didn't do it, he will be found guilty. Third, so far we still havewn't heard about the rape kit performed on the wife. Okay, so guy didn't do it and gets jailed. That's apparent. I think someone else had sex with the dead guy (before he was dead. Most likely the Senator, but possibly the daughter. Once again I stress that the Senator will be found guilty, but not have done it. I am going with daughter as murder as possibly there was some kinky sex games going on beween Husband, wife and dead guy. There. I defy the gods to prove me wrong.

  • Sept. 23, 2001, 6:21 p.m. CST

    I love Murder One!!

    by johncage

    I like the Practice, but I loved Murder One. It had the best theme song I've ever heard for a series with excellent opening credits, a great cast and actually had multi-episode trials, something that The Practice and Ally McBeal hardly ever dare trying. Daniel Benzali was excellent. They should bring back Teddy Hoffman on the Practice. And yes, I remember the characters name despite the fact I haven't seen the show in five years. Who remembers "Diary of a Serial Killer"? John Cage http://www.geocities.com/the_gzone/index.html

  • Sept. 23, 2001, 7:09 p.m. CST

    Well That was really really predictably unpredicatble. I defy yo

    by GF2020Hotmail

    Tonight

  • Sept. 23, 2001, 7:25 p.m. CST

    A mile away

    by SilverMarc

    I saw the end coming a mile away. The gay angle was so predictable. The episode was still really good, but the end was no surprise. And just a personal note: What's with these stupid meta-tag links? If I mention Lara Flynn-Boyle's character name: Helen Gamble, all of a sudden you all get a link to gambling. Very annoying.

  • Sept. 23, 2001, 8:07 p.m. CST

    You underestimate us Herc

    by Guderian

    Anyone who's been watching this show for any length of time had to have seen this "surprise" coming from the start. I was on the same wavelength as GF2020; as soon as Helen arrested the husband I turned to my roommate and said "either the husband or the daughter was the one sleeping with the guy" This is classic David E. style. Unfortunately these twists have been used so often that they've become the norm. All in all a descent offering, it's especially nice to see Ron Livingston get a regular gig. I loved him in Office Space, and he fits in perfectly in Band of Brothers. Let's hope his quiet, understated style doesn't get drowned out in the show's usual bombast. My only real complaint is the "old friend in jeopardy" theme being trotted out again. Kelly has shown over the last few season's that it must suck to be a good friend of one of the lawyers at Donnel, Young, etc., because it means that at some point in your life you're going to be arrested for murder. To my memory close friends or relatives of Jimmy, Eleanor, Bobby, and Lindsay have all been busted, as well as Eugene's son. It's called a tired plot device David.

  • Sept. 23, 2001, 8:16 p.m. CST

    Yeah, I saw it coming too

    by ejcarter9

    It's gotten to the point where you expect the twist ending and can predict it with 85% accuracy (I took a poll!) The only surprises are how they'll dress it up. _____ I still remember that stupid f#%k on the Daily Show who gave away the ending to Sixth Sense. I didn't actually 'hear' him give it away since I was only channel-surfing, but all he had to say after the audience booed him was "Oh, please, if you haven't seen it by now you don't DESERVE a surprise ending." That's all it took. Knowing that there was a surprise ending, my subconscious skipped from A to D right from the start. _____ I was also pissed off at a Computer Arts magazine that had photos of the ending of Hannibal. I didn't think much about it at the time, but when the video box promised An Ending I Wouldn't Forget I was pretty pissed off to find out that I'd already seen it. _____ Oh, and please, guys, can't you figure out a way to make the Talkbacks accepts more than one paragraph?

  • Sept. 23, 2001, 9:18 p.m. CST

    Disappointing

    by Hardyboy

    This show is really getting stale. Almost as soon as it started, I realized the Senator wouldn't be the killer, and that any of the following scenarios would unfold: (a) the Senator was sleeping with the strange man; (b) the daughter was sleeping with the strange man; (c) the Senator would be lying to protect the identity of the real killer. Two out of three ain't bad. Not only was the episode as predictable as a Perry Mason installment from 1959, the show is starting to remake its own episodes. . .the father willing to go to jail to protect his son (Henry Winkler's bug-obssessed dentist, anyone?), and yet another one of Eleanor Frutt's friends is accused of murder. Looks like The Practice is revving up the motor boat and getting ready to jump.

  • Sept. 23, 2001, 10:37 p.m. CST

    Dylan Baker: Soon to be Fametracker.com's "Hey, It's That Closet

    by Village Idiot

    Yeah, I hate to say it, but I figured it out pretty much from the get-go too. All you need to hear is "Surprise ending" and right away your mind goes to work on the variations. Add the fact that Dylan Baker is carving out the little niche I alluded to in the subject line of this post, and you're got it figured out. It was almost too obvious. Very Law and Order. Now if we'd found out that the Baker was actually dead and really just a ghost all along, maybe THAT would have been a surprise (think about it: you never really see *anyone* talk to him but Eleanor). And for my final smart assed comment: maybe this could be seen as a "There but for the grace of God" version of The Arianna Huffington Story.

  • Sept. 24, 2001, 6:05 a.m. CST

    Defy! Defy!

    by Anton_Sirius

    I guessed the ending before the cops arrived on the scene, Herc. It was a fun route to get there, but it was hardly a big shock.

  • Sept. 24, 2001, 9:18 a.m. CST

    Still lying

    by eyelessgame

    The problem with the ending is that it doesn't *work*. Someone is still lying. One assumes the senator had to have been home alone to be pursuing his affair when his lover was shot -- but he was *seen* that day "in those clothes" with his daughter (by the officer's testimony on the stand), so we supposedly can take as read that he really did go out to the sold-out movie with her. If he did, he sure wasn't at home pursuing his affair, for his wife to shoot his lover. But there was no time for them to concoct their story before Ellenor got there, not given the state of mind shown by the tableau at the beginning of the episode. There was a 'to be continued'. Either there's more to this story, or there's some bad writing going on. I stand by the prediction I made fifteen minutes into the episode. The senator was having the affair, but his daughter did the shooting.

  • Sept. 24, 2001, 4:31 p.m. CST

    The big surprise

    by zenda

    I figured out who the killer was and why pretty easily. The daughter wasn't in it enough to be a credible suspect. But to me the big surprise was those three little words..."To be continued". Why? Story seemed over to me.

  • Sept. 24, 2001, 6:45 p.m. CST

    It little too "Presumed Innocent"-ish

    by howstone

    Must every story with an extra-marital affair be a variation on that book/movie? This one just had a gay twist to it.

  • Sept. 24, 2001, 6:50 p.m. CST

    Saw it coming..

    by Funkaboo

    This is probably already been said dozens of times but, I too saw the ending coming a mile away. As a matter of fact, when Eleanor arrived and they were both in bathrobes, I looked at the scene and said, "HE was in bed with that man." Let's face it, we knew he didn't shoot him cause that's just the way it goes on these shows so it was just a matter of figuring out which of the few possible scenarios they were going to go with. I will admit that at one point I thought the old dude might have been either having an affair with the daughter or there forcing himself on her. N.