Tag Archives: Boston Legal

Kick ass women: Betty White

One thing I enjoyed very much about the recent run of Celebrity Big Brother was that 70-year-old Julie Goodyear was assumed to be a sweet little ole’ granny figure, when really, her personality is far from that. She behaved like a scheming, back-stabbing minx. Much like my dear mama in fact (whom I’ve called in print ‘Arthur Daley in a skirt’ – and usually a mini skirt at that. And why not? At 76, she’s got better legs than most 20 year olds).

Julian Clary loved this about Julie Goodyear. All the young things were shocked and appalled. Bollocks to them. I like my old ladies to be Machiavellian. It’s so much more fun. Apple pie my eye. There ain’t nothing like an evil old Dame. I certainly plan to be one.

And on that note, but with a more gentle Miami spin, I’d like to dedicate this post to the fabulous Florida queens, The Golden Girls (1985-1992). I loved them, one and all. And what a joy it was to have a programme, not just focussing on women, but on (reasonably) badly behaved older ones. Tiny Estelle Getty, glamorous Rue McClanahan and elegant, acerbic Bea Arthur have sadly all died in recent years. But the ditsy Minnesota-born Rose (from the glorious town of St Olaf. Even typing that made me laugh) played by Betty White, still lives on. Continue reading

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Silk: Top briefs

Courtroom drama plus lots of ambition, scheming and sex. It’s not surprising there are so many successful TV shows with legal settings. Glenn Close in Damages wins the goddess of deviousness prize for me, and James Spader in Boston Legal pretty much covers sex. I confess to also enjoying quite a lot of Ally McBeal especially when Robert Downey Jnr came on board. The 1995 Steve Bochco series, Murder One, was terrific in its day. And it was the opening ‘fractured screen’ credit sequence of Murder One that came to mind when I first started watching the BBC barrister drama Silk.

Silk’s credits feature images fractured by wafting strands of the pink ‘silk’ that surround barristers’ briefs. But despite being as big a fan of Maxine Peake as the rest of the nation, I was a bit dubious about Silk after the first episode. I really like the Lincolns Inn/Middle Temple setting – I used to walk through those beautiful gardens on my way to work. And I do so enjoy of the apparently posh world of chambers where it’s really the working class clerks, who have to call everyone Sir or Miss, who really have a firm grip on the goolies of everyone and everything that goes on. But, on first viewing, it all seemed a bit too much of a barrister-by-numbers show, and frankly I’ve been sulking ever since the superlative North Square wasn’t recommissioned (which also had Rupert Penry-Jones in it, as well as the wonderful Phil Davies playing the clerk role).

But then I realised they are both written by Steven Moffat and started paying proper attention. The plotting, scheming and general shenanigans, inside chambers and without, are coming along nicely. I’m still adjusting to seeing Neil Stuke out of an apron, since I only knew him from his impressive stint on Celebrity MasterChef. In this, he’s pretty scary as the morally ambivalent head clerk of chambers. What we have at the heart of Silk is two barristers – gritty, northern Martha Costello (Peake) and posh boy Clive (Penry-Jones), both of whom are fiercely competing to make silk, ie become QCs, at an age that would never happen in real life, as I understand it. They need to keep on the right side of the head clerk because it is he who has the power to allocate them the right cases which would give them their best chance. It’s hinted that Penry-Jones’ Harrovian background will do him no harm. And they both have cute pupils of the opposite sex. Oh yes, and Martha is pregnant. I won’t say who the father is, in case you haven’t caught up with this on iPlayer yet.

The law is sort of incidental, but it’s all most enjoyable.

Posted by Inkface


Filed under Legal dramas

The Archers: Dodgy sexual politics in Ambridge?

Listening to The Archers omnibus this morning, I found myself getting increasingly incensed by the appalling mothering of Kate and loony behavior of pregnant Helen, having a right old go at a bewildered Tony, as she threw her metaphorical steriliser out of the pram (and since I imagine she plans to breastfeed, I was confused that she even bought one, especially since it sounded, via radio, to be bewilderingly huge). I even tweeted about it.

Then a friend, and fellow omnibus listener called, and said how cross she was that the writers are ‘presenting women facing difficult choices’ as being so crap and so mad. ‘Oh bloody hell yes, it’s not real,’ I reminded myself hastily, and deleted the draft emails to Social Services.

So I contacted the Diva of Archers blogs, Qwerty, (and the reason, after a ten-year absence, that I even listen to the show again) who gave me permission to trespass on her regular Pauseliveaction patch and have a rant. Please bear in mind I’m not as regular or attentive a fan as her.

But this morning, after pausing for thought, I did feel my friend has a point. Helen and Kate are characters created by the writers of the Archers, and hells teeth, if you cease to be annoyed by how whiny, selfish, narcissistic, passive-aggressive and ghastly they both are and remember we are hearing the voices of actors, speaking lines written for them, you do start to wonder if there is some misogyny afoot.

The character of Helen (or ‘Hell-en’, as Qwerty calls her) is pretty unrelentingly unlikable. Could we not have an over-arching storyline about either her, or single parenthood, that does not start from the basis that someone choosing to have a baby on their own is not stark staring bonkers and thoroughly unpleasant to boot?

I know this is supposed to be a traditional, conservative rural community, but I’m still hacked off that, when Brian Aldridge brought home the child of his dead mistress, Jenny not only had to put up with the humiliation, she also seems to do all of Ruairi’s childcare.

Then we’ve got the gruesome Kate, the most careless mother in the world, leaving her offspring willy nilly across the globe, all of whom are distraught at her inability to keep her children on one continent at the same time.

Come on Archers writers, will you stop writing storylines that kick women in the teeth? Can we muster something good, positive, constructive? If you need a really good example of a show where women, and particularly older women (Candice Bergen as Shirley Schmidt), are written fabulously well, with lots of character, lots of power, lots of sex and chutzpah, go and watch Boston Legal. Then do please, buck up.

Posted by Inkface              (more Archers reviews/rants here)


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Celebrity Big Brother: Queen Steph

My admiration for Stephanie Beacham grows every day I watch her on Celebrity Big Brother. Britain is a horrible place for aging women. Sex is power in our society and, appalling as it is, youthful women usually have vastly more of it to barter with. Look at Ronnie Wood and Kat. It’s poisonous and self-esteem eroding for the rest of us. Where are our Cleopatras? How many women over fifty get to be objects of lust?

Well, Joanna Lumley for one. And Steph Beacham for another, and hurrah for her. First Stevie B’s ‘crush’ on her. Jonas was flirting with her too. And I loved watching her lying like a gorgeous strumpet on the massage couch in the Swedish spa getting Alex Reid to massage her bottom with his ‘wooden balls’. Fabulous stuff. Then Ivana popped up for a bit of attention, showing her age only in the classy way she hoiked herself up on the couch without flashing her knickers. Watch and learn Britney et al.

Steph brings to mind my favourite female character on TV –Shirley Schmidt in Boston Legal, played by 70s supermodel, Candice Bergen. Schmidt is a powerful, sexy woman in her early sixties, adored and lusted after by all men around her, including the equally gorgeous James Spader as Alan Shore. If I’m having a crappy hair day, or feeling hormonal and generally not the sex goddess I’d like to be, I just look at her and think ‘Bloody hell’. Like Steph, she’s classy, intelligent and a siren to boot.

I quite fancy them actually.

Posted by Inkface


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Lustbox: James Spader. The thinking women’s pervert.

james-spaderI’m going to write about James Spader rather than just his magnificent Boston Legal/Alan Shore creation, because I don’t feel I’m doing my libido justice if I leave out Spader’s oh-so-brilliantly embodied roles in Sex, Lies and Videotape and Secretary. This man plays a pervert like no other. I don’t just want to pop him in my Lustbox, I want to tie him up naked with liquorice strings.

And this from someone who has been a feminist for a very long time. I think it’s because, as Alan Shore at least, Spader portrays a man who is clearly and filthily mentally undressing women (and slathering them in maple syrup) all the time, but somehow it’s forgivable because there is no hint of misogyny. And with the maple syrup (I’m not fantasising this: there is a whole story line involving the use of it in the outcome of a wager) he’s thinking about licking it off. You get the sense he gets off big time on giving women pleasure, not just taking it for himself.

denny and alanShore is smart, funny, witty and wicked. But it’s his tender, delightful on-screen relationship with William Shatner’s Denny Crane that is even more genius. At the end of every episode of Boston Legal, there they sit on the balcony, smoking cigars, talking lustfully of that fabulous diva, Shirley Schmidt, even dancing sometimes. They have sleepovers, go fishing, dress as flamingos and eventually end up married. You never have believed William Shatner could be this lovable, and that’s down to the brilliance of Spader.

You might to keep a pack of wet-wipes handy tho’.

Posted by Inkface


Filed under Lustbox