Box Set: The Practice

The Practice began in 1997 created by David E Kelley, responsible for some of the most critically acclaimed dramas of the nineties, Ally McBeal, Chicago Hope and Picket Fences. Starring an ensemble cast headed up by Dylan McDermott as struggling defence attorney Bobby Donnell, and joined in season two by Lara Flynn Boyle as District Attorney Helen Gamble, the show mainly concerns itself with a law firm that cannot afford to be fussy about which clients it defends.

For a show that is more than a decade old, The Practice still has quite a pace to it, jamming two, sometimes three stories into 45 minutes (without ads). The editing is frenetic, jumping from story to story with an almost manga-esque whoosh of speedlines. Despite the breakneck pace, the show still takes time out for heartbreaking personal moments, and it throws up shocks and surprises with alarming regularity.
 
At the heart of The Practice is a battle between the spirit and the letter of the law, attorneys often at war with their own morals as they defend drug dealers, murderers and the ocassional innocent. The cast perfectly pitch their deftly drawn characters, pulling you into their internal moral wrangling, making you question what your own motives would be given similar circumstances.
 
The guest cast in the first 13 episodes is a veritable who's who of hollywood both past and present. Future stars Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle's Lois), David Eigenberg, Willie Garson (respectively, Steve and Sanford from Sex and the City) and Melina Kanakaredes (CSI:NY). TV veterans often turn up as judges and defendants, including Ed Asner (Mary Tyler Moore, Up), Linda Hunt (Year of Living Dangerously, NCIS:LA), Armin Shimerman (Star Trek:DS9) and John Larroquette (Night Court).
 
If you've never experienced the incendiary drama of The Practice before, and you are partial to a legal drama, you will not be disappointed by the diverse cast and emotionally-charged writing.
 
The Practice Volume One is available on DVD featuring all six episodes from Season One, and the first seven episodes of Season Two. Seasons One and Two are currently screening on pay tv's 111 Hits (11:20pm, 10am Weekdays).