My TV Hero: David E. Kelley

The Red Room - Scott's Side:

Way back in the late 80's, I sat at home watching a show with my parents.  I really didn't want to watch it because my parents liked it.  And I did not want them to be telling me what I liked.  I liked Moonlighting and they didn't.  What else was needed? But as I sat watching this law show, this really mean woman was walking down the hall way.  She pushed a button for an elevator and stepped in.  Problem was, there was no elevator there.  That is when Diana Muldaur as Rosalind Shays took a drop down the elevator shaft and died.  Right there in the middle of an episode of L.A. LAW.  Not a season finale, not a shocking ending, but in the MIDDLE of an episode.  I fell in love with David E Kelley right there.  He is and was the master of trickery.  He knows television so well that he plays with the very inner workings of what we were raised on watching.  Watch the fall here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov7aTXqMKfY

A year or so later in 1992, he had his first show that he created alone: Picket Fences.  This show will probably always remain my favorite show of his.    This was a small town show that used it's mayor, sheriff, doctor and children as an analogy for life in America during the Clinton years.  Some episodes were about politics.  You think your politicians are crazy?  Try having a mayor that has Alzheimer's!  But Howard Buss was the best mayor the town ever had; even when he rode a plastic horse naked to the song Happy Trails.   Lawyers?  We got em.  Douglas Wambaugh portrayed by Emmy winner Fyvush Finkel is still one of the best characters ever created on television.  I know, I know, you have never even seen this show and I am talking about it.  Well. Good news.  Pause your reading and go watch http://www.hulu.com/watch/41364/picket-fences-cross-examination  This is my favorite episode of Picket Fences.  It is on Hulu for free.  It is also a Christmas Episode, so 'tis the season.  Afterwards, tweet me and we will talk about it, (@redroompodcast) because I don't want to ruin anything. This episode is one of the best discussions about religion, the law, Christmas and Jesus himself.   Where else on television will you hear a father yell: "Santa is coming but Jesus is not!"? It starts out with the action and you really don't need to know any characters.  Just go watch it.

After that David E (as I call him), went on to make Chicago Hope (thanks for introducing me to Mandy Patinkin, I now own all his CD's), Ally McBeal (thanks for introducing me to Peter MacNichol) ,

The Practice (thanks for making me afraid of Ben from Lost years before Jack and Kate hit the Island), Boston Legal (thanks for helping Shatner finally win an Emmy)

and now Harry's Law (thanks for giving me a third reason to hate NBC).  Each show examines the current events of the time the show aired.  Boston Legal questioned the Iraq War at a time when Bush said if you did that you were a traitor.   Also, the friendship between Denny Crane and Allan Shore is probably the best male relationship ever put on television.  Two men who openly love each other is something we never see.   Harry's Law has the nerve to contend that football might be dangerous to children.  And I bet Harry's Law is the only show to tell the banking industry to F Off (And yes Tommy Jefferson was bleeped).  Chicago Hope warned us about HMO's before we all started paying co-pays to line insurance company's pockets.  Boston Legal discussed gun control every time Denny shot someone who annoyed him.  Now you see why you have not seen David E's shows on the top 10 list of the most watched shows.  Because he talks about the issues of the day.  And most people (and I am only judging you, the TV viewer, on the fact that you made Survivor and American Idol house hold words) only watch TV to see people who are worse off than themselves.  I watch TV to examine life not mock it.

TNT has just signed David E to write a new medical drama called  Chelsea General http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/12/06/tnt-develops-medical-drama-with-david-e-kelley/  I am excited to see how he handles health costs of 2012 compared to Chicago Hope in 1994.  One thing I know is that while times may have changed, his writing will still be sharp, comical, and caring.   If you are a fan you love Carter Pike, Judge Bone, Aaron Shutt, Hands and Tommy Jefferson.  And just like I have since the late eighties I know David E will continue to surprise and I will have no way of seeing that elevator shaft that is right before me and his character's eyes.

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Buy or Rent A Voyage To Twin Peaks at Amazon. It is the documentary Scott directed about the 25th Twin Peaks Festival. See the actors, the set locations and interviews with the fans.

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