For TV drama, Prac­tice makes per­fect

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide - GE­OFF SHEARER

SOME

crit­ics have la­belled the past 10 years the golden era of TV drama, but for ev­ery Mad Men, So­pra­nos or Dam­ages, many good se­ries have gone be­fore.

Be­fore House were med­i­cal shows such as Mar­cus Welby MD through to St Else­where, Chicago Hope and ER.

Alan Ball’s True Blood has creepy rel­a­tives in the likes of Twin Peaks and Ball’s ear­lier Six Feet Un­der.

The Glenn Close and Rose Byrne ve­hi­cle Dam­ages can’t help but give a nod to the court­room in­trigues of David E. Kel­ley’s LA Law, as well as the de­fin­i­tive le­gal of­fice drama of re­cent years, The Prac­tice.

Run­ning for eight sea­sons from 1997 to 2003, The The Prac­tice, M 111 Hits (pay-TV), Mon­day, 10.20pm Clas­sic le­gal drama Du­ra­tion: 1 hour Prac­tice, also pro­duced by Kel­ley, is one of the strong­est pre­cur­sors to to­day’s crop of TV dra­mas.

Kel­ley then turned The Prac­tice into Bos­ton Le­gal, spin­ning off James Spader’s char­ac­ter of Alan Shore and cre­at­ing a new le­gal drama with skewed plots rich in po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect hu­mour.

Spader wasn’t the only ac­tor to ben­e­fit from The Prac­tice. The drama made house­hold names out of its prin­ci­pal cast— Dy­lan McDer­mott (left), Kelli Wil­liams, Michael Badalucco, Lisa Gay Hamil­ton and Cam­ryn Man­heim— while cre­at­ing a new show­case for Twin Peaks’ Lara Flynn Boyle. McDer­mott, who was the firm’s boss Bobby Don­nell, has just resur­faced in the new US drama Dark Blue, where he plays Carter Shaw, a tough, street­wise Los An­ge­les cop. The role is the to­tal op­po­site of the well-groomed, un­der-con­trol char­ac­ters he nor­mally plays.

‘‘I knew when I came back I had to do some­thing rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent or peo­ple would be sick of me. Hope­fully, that’s what I’ve done with this show,’’ says the 47-year-old Con­necti­cut na­tive who has been work­ing in TV and films for more than 20 years.

For Man­heim, who played El­lenor Frutt, the show opened up film op­por­tu­ni­ties and paved the way to her role as Delia Banks in Ghost Whis­perer. Jes­sica Cap­shaw, who was at­tor­ney Jamie Stringer on The Prac­tice, is now a reg­u­lar on the med­i­cal drama Grey’s Anatomy.

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