Boston Public and The Practice

Boston Public (2000-2004)
The Practice (1997-2004)
Type: Crossover
Group 2

   David E. Kelley. The crossover maestro. When he crossed Boston Public his FOX high school drama over with his ABC legal drama The Practice the weirdest part was that Boston Public actually aired immediately before his FOX legal drama/comedy Ally McBeal. Most people would crossover the two shows next to each other on the schedule on the same night and on the same network. But oh no. David E. Kelley, displaying that he as well as his characters is a quirky troublemaker, he has to go the hard route doing his second cross network crossover.

   The crossover started on The Practice and then the next day concluded on Boston Public. Their were two major plots involved, both of which put two of each shows lead characters' futures in jeopardy. Unlike his previous The Practice/Ally McBeal crossover which was about a huge murder case removed from the characters, the plots this time dealt with serious interpersonal conflicts between the regular characters with everybody trying desperately to do what they think is the right thing but being on opposite sides about what is "the right thing" and ripping each other apart in the process.

   On The Practice a bomb sent posthumously from a serial killer the lawyers on the show had had dealings with exploded and left two of the show's major characters in the hospital and struggling for their lives, one more so than the other. The more seriously injured character, lawyer Rebecca Washington, was actually at risk of dying and needed surgery and blood transfusions only her mother refused to let her be given blood. She and Rebecca were Jehova's Witnesses and a transfusion went against the tenants of their faith. The head of the firm Bobby Donnell, desperate to keep his friend from dying, took Rebecca's mother to court to try and force the issue and get Rebecca a transfusion. His argument was that Rebecca would not hold with that religious belief and would want a transfusion if she could ask for one. His case was based on the fact that Rebecca ignored so many other of her faiths beliefs. He pointed out her tolerance for homosexuals, for divorce not involving adultery and for premarital sex, all against her faith. He pointed out the fact that she didn't preach her faith to others as is encouraged by the church, and that she pledged allegiance to the flag even though doing so was against her beliefs. Most shockingly, he revealed to her mother that Rebecca had had an abortion - a big no no to the Jehova's Witnesses. Man, when Rebecca recovers and finds out what he blabbed... oooh, is he gonna be in trouble! On top of that, Bobby's pregnant wife and fellow lawyer Lindsay went into labor in the courtroom and Rebecca's mom, a former nurse, helped to deliver the baby! Like I said, a great mix of tensions - people who care about and love each other fighting each other and helping each other out of their love. Very gripping.

   "Where is the Boston Public in all this?" you ask. Well, that plot was primarily a The Practice plot but it was a part of the crossover and did carry over in a minor way to Boston Public. The main thrust of the crossover dealt with an ongoing Boston Public plot. Teacher Milton Buttle had for several episodes had been having an affair with an eighteen year old girl from his school. When he started seeing her he had thought she was a college student (she wasn't actually in any of his classes) and by the time he found out the truth he also found himself deeply in love and unable to stop the affair. Milton's fellow teacher Coach Kevin Riley found out about the affair and tried to convince the both Milton and the girl, Lisa Grier, to end it. He kept their secret though hoping he could help the situation go away without anyone being scandalized or fired.

   Soon enough though, like you knew hadda happen, Milton's affair was discovered and he was fired. Trying desperately to help, Kevin ran to the school's vice-principal and pointed out the mitigating factors: the girl was of legal age, Milton didn't knowingly start an affair with a student... But oops! He also basically admitted to the vice-principal that he knew about what was going on and had said nothing (Dopey! Every single person watching the show knew you were putting your head on the chopping block! How could you not see it coming?!?). Due to his inaction he was also fired.

   This is where crossover kicks into gear. It seems that The Practice's lawyer Ellenor Frutt and Kevin Riley were old friends. He showed up on The Practice to ask for her help in fighting his dismissal. So where as The Practice plot had the cast divided and fighting over the life or death of two characters (focusing mainly on one) the Boston Public plot had their cast divided and fighting over the firings of two characters (focusing mainly on one). I mean, come on, the dude slept with a student. Hard to say he shouldn't get fired.

   Ellenor and fellow lawyer Jimmy Berluti decided to take the case even though their friends' lives were in question. They couldn't do anything to help so they might as well take the case to distract themselves. On The Practice Ellenor and Jimmy took their case to the school board, butting heads with Boston Public's snippy vice-principal Scott Guber and decent but highly honor-minded principal Steven Harper. Ellenor and Jimmy found themselves on the loosing end of the hearing very quickly, forcing them to take the matter to the court system and onto Boston Public.

   Whereas The Practice episode was split between a Practice plot and the Boston Public one, Boston Public dealt almost exclusively with the court plot. The bomb plot from The Practice did pop up slightly with a number of characters prefacing statements to Ellenor with comments like, "I heard what happened to your friends and I'm sorry about that but..."

   Going to court, Ellenor argued that Kevin (that's the guy who just said nothing) was no worse than any of the other teachers. She pointed out the failings of every other teacher at Boston Public: one is a bigot, one is bipolar and doesn't always take her medicine, one kissed a student and fired a gun in class, one possibly derived pleasure from paddling students. On top of all that the Principal himself shoved a student into a locker and the vice-principal took actions verging on sexual harassment toward another teacher. How was what Kevin did any worse than all that? Nobody got fired for any of that? On top of that Lisa Grier testified that, having spoken to Milton, her parents realized their relationship was not an exploitive one and were okay with it.

   Principal Harper gave the closing argument for the school. He was actually uncomfortable with the firing and clashed with the vice-principal over his having fired Riley without consulting him. Kevin Riley was his friend. But like I said, the principal is all about honor and doing the right thing. Even though he had second thoughts about the firing, now that it was done he was sticking to it. In his closing he pointed out what he saw as the only relevant fact and the difference between all the other craziness and what Kevin Riley had done: what everyone else had done was bad but what Kevin did was to lie and violate his trust and thereby put a student's well being in danger. People trust their children to his school. How could he in good conscience not fire someone helping to cover up such things?

   The judge was very conflicted about what to do until he thought about the issue in terms of what if it was his daughter. You know that's not going to go well for Kevin Riley. The judge ruled with the school and the episode ended with both he and Milton Buttle leaving the school with even the vice-principal clearly torn by what he himself had done. Not that that plot is over. Please! The preview for the next episode had all the teachers quitting in protest over Kevin Riley's dismissal.

   I must say though, Kevin Riley really should have hired Ally McBeal. Dude, watch the shows! The Practice is great at freeing killers. Ally McBeal always always ALWAYS wins the cases involving quirky odd love.

   One final note. In The Practice's 2000-2001 season finale, only months after the crossover in question, Boston Public once again came into play on The Practice in a totally contradictory way. A witness to a murder established that she was outside with her dog at just before 8:00pm. How did she know that's what time it was? Well she was in a hurry for her dog to do a doodie so she could get back inside to watch... Boston Public. Then the lawyers went outside the court room and talked about it some more. "Gee, was Boston Public maybe on later that night?" The lawyer asking the question was Jimmy Berluti. He was on Boston Public!!! He was probably on the episode she was in a hurry to go in and watch. Gotta love David E. Kelley.

Other Boston Public Links
Boston Public and Ally McBeal
Boston Public and Boston Legal

Other The Practice Links
The Practice and Ally McBeal
The Practice and Boston Legal
The Practice and Gideon's Crossing

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