The Practice

The Practice is an American legal drama created by David E. Kelley centering on the partners and associates at a Boston law firm. Running for eight seasons on ABC from March 4, 1997, to May 16, 2004, the show won the Emmy in 1998 and 1999 for Best Drama Series, and spawned the spin-off series Boston Legal, which ran for five more seasons, from 2004 to 2008.

The Practice
GenreLegal drama
Comedy-drama
Created byDavid E. Kelley
Starring
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes168 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)David E. Kelley
Bill D'Elia
Running time44 minutes
Production company(s)20th Century Fox Television
David E. Kelley Productions
Distributor20th Television
Release
Original networkABC
Picture format480i (SDTV)
(1997-2001)
1080i (HDTV)
(2001-2004)
Original releaseMarch 4, 1997 (1997-03-04) 
May 16, 2004 (2004-05-16)
Chronology
Followed byBoston Legal
Related showsAlly McBeal
Boston Public
Gideon's Crossing

Conflict between legal ethics and personal morality was a recurring theme with light comedy being occasionally present. Kelley claimed that he conceived the show as something of a rebuttal to L.A. Law and its romanticized treatment of the American legal system and legal proceedings.[1]

Overview

In Season 1, Robert Donnell and Associates features Bobby Donnell as the sole senior partner, Ellenor Frutt, Eugene Young, and Lindsay Dole as his associates, and Rebecca Washington as the firm's receptionist. Later, Jimmy Berluti is hired as an associate.

In Season 2, Robert Donnell and Associates becomes Donnell, Young, Dole, and Frutt after Eugene, Lindsay, and Ellenor become partners. Assistant district attorney Helen Gamble becomes regularly entangled in the cases and personal lives of the employees of Donnell, Young, Dole, and Frutt.

In Season 3, Rebecca Washington, who had been attending law school in secret, becomes an associate after passing the bar exam. Lucy Hatcher is then hired as the new receptionist.

In Season 4, assistant district attorney Richard Bay, like Helen, becomes a frequent ally and opponent of Donnell, Young, Dole, and Frutt.

In Season 5, Lucy becomes a rape crisis counselor in addition to her job as the firm's receptionist. Richard is later assassinated after refusing to throw a murder trial.

In Season 6, assistant district attorney Alan Lowe becomes another antagonist against the firm for a short period of time.

In Season 7, Lindsay leaves Donnell, Young, Dole, and Frutt to start a new law firm with Claire Wyatt. Donnell, Young, Dole, and Frutt is then renamed to Donnell, Young, and Frutt. To fill in the void left by Lindsay, Jamie Stringer is hired as an associate. Bobby later leaves the firm.

In Season 8, Donnell, Young, and Frutt has been renamed once again to Young, Frutt, and Berluti. Eugene has taken Bobby's place as a senior partner, Lucy has left the firm to become a full-time rape crisis counselor, Rebecca has also left the firm for unknown reasons, and Helen is no longer present at the firm's cases. Tara Wilson is hired as a paralegal and Alan Shore becomes an associate. After firing Alan and Tara as well as being sued by the former, Young, Frutt, and Berluti dissolves. Eugene then becomes a judge, Ellenor focuses her attention on motherhood, Jimmy and Jamie begin a new firm, and Alan and Tara are hired by another firm known as Crane, Poole, and Schmidt.

Main cast

Name Portrayed by Occupation Season
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Bobby Donnell Dylan McDermott Lawyer Main Guest
Rebecca Washington LisaGay Hamilton Lawyer/Receptionist Main
Eugene Young Steve Harris Lawyer Main
Ellenor Frutt Camryn Manheim Lawyer Main
Lindsay Dole Kelli Williams Lawyer Main
Jimmy Berluti Michael Badalucco Lawyer Main
Helen Gamble Lara Flynn Boyle Assistant District Attorney Main
Lucy Hatcher Marla Sokoloff Receptionist Main Guest
Richard Bay Jason Kravits Assistant District Attorney Recurring Main
Alan Lowe Ron Livingston Assistant District Attorney Main
Jamie Stringer Jessica Capshaw Lawyer Main
Claire Wyatt Chyler Leigh Lawyer Main
Tara Wilson Rhona Mitra Lawyer Main
Alan Shore James Spader Lawyer Main
  • Dylan McDermott as Bobby Donnell (1997–2004), the senior partner of the firm who struggles with his conscience and the idea of being a lawyer.
  • LisaGay Hamilton as Rebecca Washington (1997–2003), the firm's first receptionist and paralegal. She later passed the bar exam and became an associate.
  • Steve Harris as Eugene Young (1997–2004), the second highest-ranking partner at the firm and later senior partner who is more strongly devoted to the letter of the law and legal ethics than his colleagues.
  • Camryn Manheim as Ellenor Frutt (1997–2004), an associate and later senior partner at the firm who brought in various nefarious clients.
  • Kelli Williams as Lindsay Dole (1997–2003), an associate at the firm and, later, wife of Bobby Donnell.
  • Michael Badalucco as Jimmy Berluti (1997–2004), an associate and later partner at the firm from a working-class background. Jimmy often struggles with his conscience, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, and a gambling addiction.
  • Lara Flynn Boyle as Helen Gamble (1997–2003), an Assistant District Attorney and friend of the firm partners who was relentless in her attempts to prosecute those who do wrong.
  • Marla Sokoloff as Lucy Hatcher (1998–2003, 2004), the firm's wise-cracking, nosy receptionist who was hired after Rebecca became an attorney. She later became a part-time counselor for rape victims in addition to her job as a receptionist.
  • Jason Kravits as Richard Bay (1999–2001), a diminutive, hard-nosed Assistant District Attorney who believed in the guilt of all those he prosecuted.
  • Ron Livingston as Alan Lowe (2001–2002), an Assistant District Attorney who replaced Richard Bay.
  • Jessica Capshaw as Jamie Stringer (2002–2004), a high-strung, promiscuous Harvard Law School graduate and associate at the firm.
  • Chyler Leigh as Claire Wyatt (2003), Lindsay's associate at her new practice.
  • Rhona Mitra as Tara Wilson (2003–2004), a paralegal and law student. She would later appear in Boston Legal as an attorney.
  • James Spader as Alan Shore (2003–2004), an amoral associate. He would later appear in Boston Legal.

Recurring cast

Notable guest stars

The series holds the Emmy Award record for most wins in the Guest Actor and Actress categories for a single series, as well as most nominations in those categories. Emmys went to John Larroquette, Edward Herrmann, James Whitmore, Beah Richards, Michael Emerson, Charles S. Dutton, Alfre Woodard, Sharon Stone, and William Shatner. In addition, Tony Danza, Paul Dooley, Henry Winkler, Marlee Matlin, René Auberjonois, and Betty White were nominated but did not win. Larroquette, who won for his guest appearance during the second season, was nominated again for an episode from the sixth season, but did not win. The series won the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for five consecutive years (from 1998 to 2002).

Budget reduction and major revamp

By the end of the seventh season, faced with sagging ratings, ABC conditioned the show's renewal on a drastic budget reduction. As a result, Dylan McDermott, Kelli Williams, Lara Flynn Boyle, Chyler Leigh, Marla Sokoloff, and LisaGay Hamilton were fired as regulars with McDermott and Sokoloff reappearing as a special guest star and a recurring character respectively in the eighth season. The addition of James Spader and Rhona Mitra to the cast somewhat revived the ratings as Spader went on to win an Emmy for his appearance. However, on March 11, 2004, ABC announced that The Practice would not return for a ninth season; rather, Kelley would create a new spin-off series Boston Legal, starring Spader, Mitra, Lake Bell and William Shatner.[2]

Episodes

The Practice had 8 seasons and a total of 168 episodes.

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRating
First airedLast aired
16March 4, 1997 (1997-03-04)April 8, 1997 (1997-04-08)N/AN/A
228September 20, 1997 (1997-09-20)May 11, 1998 (1998-05-11)N/AN/A
323September 27, 1998 (1998-09-27)May 9, 1999 (1999-05-09)N/AN/A
422September 26, 1999 (1999-09-26)May 21, 2000 (2000-05-21)911.8
522October 8, 2000 (2000-10-08)May 13, 2001 (2001-05-13)1011.7
623September 23, 2001 (2001-09-23)May 19, 2002 (2002-05-19)238.3[lower-alpha 1]
722September 29, 2002 (2002-09-29)May 5, 2003 (2003-05-05)N/AN/A
822September 28, 2003 (2003-09-28)May 16, 2004 (2004-05-16)N/AN/A
  1. Tied with NYPD Blue

Crossovers

  • "Axe Murderer" (S02E26) – The lawyers of Robert Donnell and Associates work with the lawyers of Cage & Fish on a case in which a woman accused of killing a wealthy client who may have been Lizzie Borden in a past life—a case that begins on Ally McBeal: "The Inmates" (S01E20).
  • "The Day After" (S05E14) – Ellenor Frutt and Jimmy Berlutti are hired to represent Coach Riley, who's been fired from Winslow High for withholding information about Milton Buttle's affair. The hearing happens on Boston Public: "Chapter Thirteen" (S01E13).
  • "Gideon's Crossover" (S05E16) – When Ellenor Frutt has trouble with her pregnancy, Dr. Ben Gideon helps out in Gideon's Crossing: "Flashpoint" (S01E17).

Additionally, Bobby Donnell (Dylan McDermott) appears in the Ally McBeal season 1 finale "These Are the Days", while Lara Flynn Boyle and Michael Badalucco each make cameos in "Making Spirits Bright" and "I Know Him by Heart".

Home media

The Practice, Volume 1, was released as a Four-Disc DVD Set in North America on June 12, 2007. The set includes all six episodes of season 1 and the first seven episodes of season 2. It also includes a featurette, "Setting Up The Practice".[3] The set was also released in Region 4 on June 6, 2007[4] and in Region 2 on June 29, 2008.[5]

On January 3, 2014, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series in Region 1 and would release the final season on DVD on April 15, 2014.[6]

In 2012, Medium Rare Entertainment acquired the rights to the series in Region 2 and released "The Practice: The Complete First and Second Seasons" on DVD in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2012.[7]

In 2014, StudioCanal released the first and second seasons over three volumes in Germany with German and English audio. The third, fourth and eighth seasons have also been released in 2016 with plans to release the fifth and sixth at a later date.

On July 1, 2007, Volume 1 was released in Italy and Greece.

In March 2019 all seasons and episodes of The Practice were released on Amazon Prime.

DVD Name Ep# Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Practice: Volume 1 13 June 12, 2007 June 29, 2008 June 6, 2007
The Practice: The Complete First and Second Seasons 34 N/A February 27, 2012[7] N/A
The Practice: The Complete Third Season 23 N/A January 21, 2016 (Germany) N/A
The Practice: The Complete Fourth Season 22 N/A January 21, 2016 (Germany) N/A
The Practice: The Final Season 22 April 15, 2014 April 7, 2016 (Germany) N/A

U.S. television viewership

Viewer numbers per season of The Practice on ABC.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps. The first two seasons include the household rating. Seasons 4 and 5 reached the top 10 rankings.

Season Timeslot
(Eastern & Pacific Time)
Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Viewers
(in millions)
Viewer
Rank
1st Tuesday 10:00PM March 4, 1997 April 8, 1997 1996–1997 9.2[8] #43[8]
2nd Saturday 10:00PM
(September 20, 1997 to
January 3, 1998)


Monday 10:00PM
(from January 5, 1998)
September 20, 1997 May 11, 1998 1997–1998 10.0[9] #82[9]
3rd Sunday 10:00PM September 27, 1998 May 9, 1999 1998–1999 12.7[10] #34[10]
4th September 26, 1999 May 21, 2000 1999–2000 17.9[11] #8[11]
5th October 8, 2000 May 13, 2001 2000–2001 18.3[12] #9[12]
6th September 23, 2001 May 19, 2002 2001–2002 12.9[13] #26[13]
7th Sunday 10:00PM
(September 29, 2002 to
December 15, 2002)


Monday 9:00PM
(from January 27, 2003)
September 29, 2002 May 5, 2003 2002–2003 9.8[14] #55[14]
8th Sunday 10:00PM September 28, 2003 May 16, 2004 2003–2004 9.1[15] #63[15]

The exposure from its January 30, 2000, post-Super Bowl episode (attracting 23.8 million viewers) plus their weekly lead-in from early 2000 to mid-2001, the then mega-hit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, helped the series reach its ratings peak.

  • Series High: 15.4 rating/23.8 million viewers
  • Series Low: 4.9 rating/7.3 million
  • Series Debut: 11.3 rating/16.1 million viewers
  • Series Finale: 7.5 rating/10.9 million viewers

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2001American Society of Cinematographers AwardOutstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular SeriesDennis Smith (For episode "The Deal")Nominated
ASCAP Film and Television Music AwardsTop TV SeriesMarco Beltrami and Jon HassellWon
2002Won
2003Won
2000BMI Film & TV AwardsBMI TV Music AwardPeter ScaturroWon
2001Tom Hiel and Peter ScaturroWon
2002Won
2001Casting Society of America's Artios AwardBest Casting for TV, Dramatic EpisodicJanet Gilmore and Megan McConnellNominated
1998Edgar Allan Poe AwardBest Episode in a TV SeriesMichael R. Perry, Stephen Gaghan and David E. Kelley (For episode "First Degree")Nominated
2002Jonathan Shapiro, Lukas Reiter, Peter Blake and David E. Kelley (For episode "Killing Time")Nominated
2004Peter Blake and David E. Kelley (For episode "Goodbye")Won
1999Genesis AwardTelevision - Dramatic Series"The Food Chain"Won
2003"Small Sacrifices"Won
1998GLAAD Media AwardOutstanding TV - Individual Episode"Civil Rights"Nominated
1999Golden Globe AwardBest Television Series – DramaWon
Best Actor – Television Series DramaDylan McDermottWon
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television FilmCamryn ManheimWon
2000Best Television Series – DramaNominated
Best Actor – Television Series DramaDylan McDermottNominated
2001Best Television Series – DramaNominated
Best Actor – Television Series DramaDylan McDermottNominated
2002Humanitas Prize60 Minute CategoryLukas Reiter and David E. Kelley (For episode "Honor Code")Won
2003David E. Kelley (For episode "Final Judgment")Won
1998Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel AwardBest Sound Editing - Television Episodic - Dialogue & ADRNominated
2000T.W. Davis, Donna Beltz, Ken Gladden, H. Jay Levine and Debby Ruby-WinsbergNominated
1999NAACP Image AwardOutstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesSteve HarrisNominated
2000Outstanding Drama SeriesNominated
Outstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesSteve HarrisNominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesLisaGay HamiltonNominated
2001Outstanding Drama SeriesNominated
Outstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesSteve HarrisNominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesBeah RichardsNominated
2002Outstanding Drama SeriesNominated
Outstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesSteve HarrisNominated
2004Won
2005Nominated
1999Peabody AwardABC and David E. Kelley ProductionsWon[16]
PGA AwardOutstanding Producer of Episodic TelevisionDavid E. Kelley, Robert Breech, Jeffrey Kramer, Christina Musrey, Gary M. Strangis and Pamela J. WisneWon
2001Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, DramaNominated
1998Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Drama SeriesDavid E. Kelley, Jeffrey Kramer, Robert Breech, Ed Redlich, Gary M. Strangis, Alice West, Jonathan Pontell, Christina Musrey and Pamela J. WisneWon
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesCamryn ManheimWon
Outstanding Writing for a Drama SeriesDavid E. Kelley (For episode "Betrayal")Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesJohn LarroquetteWon
1999Outstanding Drama SeriesDavid E. Kelley, Jeffrey Kramer, Robert Breech, Gary M. Strangis, Christina Musrey and Pamela J. WisneWon
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama SeriesDylan McDermottNominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesMichael BadaluccoWon
Steve HarrisNominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesLara Flynn BoyleNominated
Camryn ManheimNominated
Holland TaylorWon
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesTony DanzaNominated
Edward HerrmannWon
Outstanding Casting for a SeriesJanet Gilmore and Megan McConnellNominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a SeriesDennis Smith (For episode "Happily Ever After")Nominated
Outstanding Costuming for a SeriesShelly Levine and Loree Parral (For episode "Of Human Bondage")Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama SeriesClark King, Harry Andronis, David John West and Kurt Kassulke (For episode "Happily Ever After")Nominated
2000Outstanding Drama SeriesDavid E. Kelley, Jeffrey Kramer, Robert Breech, Gary M. Strangis, Christina Musrey and Pamela J. WisneNominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesMichael BadaluccoNominated
Steve HarrisNominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesHolland TaylorNominated
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesPaul DooleyNominated
James WhitmoreWon
Henry WinklerNominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesMarlee MatlinNominated
Beah RichardsWon
Outstanding Casting for a Drama SeriesJanet Gilmore and Megan McConnellNominated
2001Outstanding Drama SeriesDavid E. Kelley, Robert Breech, Christina Musrey, Gary M. Strangis, Pamela J. Wisne, Joseph Berger-Davis and Todd Ellis KesslerNominated
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesRené AuberjonoisNominated
Michael EmersonWon
Outstanding Casting for a Drama SeriesJanet Gilmore and Megan McConnellNominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera SeriesDennis Smith (For episode "The Deal")Nominated
Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a SeriesSusanne Malles (For episode "The Day After")Nominated
Outstanding Single Camera Sound Mixing for a SeriesClark King, David John West, Eric Clopein and David Dondorf (For episode "The Day After")Nominated
2002Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesCharles S. DuttonWon
John LarroquetteNominated
2003Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesAlfre WoodardWon
2004Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama SeriesJames SpaderWon
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesWilliam ShatnerWon
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesSharon StoneWon
Betty WhiteNominated
2004Prism AwardPerformance in a Drama Series EpisodeSteve HarrisNominated
1999Satellite AwardBest Actor – Television Series DramaDylan McDermottNominated
2000Best Television Series – DramaNominated
Best Actor – Television Series DramaDylan McDermottNominated
Best Actress – Television Series DramaCamryn ManheimWon
Kelli WilliamsNominated
2001Best Television Series – DramaNominated
1999Screen Actors Guild AwardOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesNominated
2000Nominated
2001Nominated
1998Television Critics Association AwardOutstanding Achievement in DramaNominated
1999Program of the YearNominated
Outstanding Achievement in DramaNominated
Individual Achievement in DramaDavid E. KelleyWon
Camryn ManheimNominated
Dylan McDermottNominated
2000Outstanding Achievement in DramaNominated
TV Guide AwardFavorite Drama SeriesNominated
1998Viewers for Quality Television AwardBest Quality Drama SeriesWon
Best Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesDylan McDermottNominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesMichael BadaluccoNominated
Steve HarrisWon
Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama SeriesCamryn ManheimNominated
Kelli WilliamsNominated
Best Recurring PlayerLinda HuntNominated
John LarroquetteWon
1999Best Quality Drama SeriesWon
Best Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesDylan McDermottNominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesMichael BadaluccoNominated
Steve HarrisWon
Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama SeriesCamryn ManheimWon
Kelli WilliamsNominated
2000Best Quality Drama SeriesNominated
Best Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesDylan McDermottNominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesMichael BadaluccoNominated
Steve HarrisNominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama SeriesCamryn ManheimNominated
1999Writers Guild of America AwardEpisodic DramaDavid E. Kelley (For episode "Betrayal")Nominated
Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a TV Drama Series - Guest Starring Young ActorBillie ThomasNominated
2002Best Performance in a TV Drama Series - Guest Starring Young ActorMarc John JefferiesNominated
Best Performance in a TV Drama Series - Guest Starring Young ActressJamie LaurenNominated
2003Best Performance in a TV Drama Series - Guest Starring Young ActressNominated

References

  1. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-david-e-kelley-20161012-snap-htmlstory.html
  2. "How James Spader saved 'The Practice'". Associated Press/CNN. February 23, 2004. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
  3. "The Practice – Date, Details & Artwork For The Practice – Volume 1 Hits Retailers". TVShowsonDVD.com. March 14, 2007. Archived from the original on March 24, 2007. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
  4. "Practice, The – Vol. 1 (4 Disc Set)". EzyDVD Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on August 11, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
  5. "The Practice - Season 1" via Amazon.
  6. "The Practice DVD news: Release Date for The Practice - The Final Season - TVShowsOnDVD.com". www.tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014.
  7. "The Practice (Season 1 and 2) [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  8. "Complete TV Ratings 1996-1997". Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  9. "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998. May 29, 1998. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  10. "TV Winners & Losers: Numbers Racket A Final Tally Of The Season's Show (from Nielsen Media Research)". GeoCities. June 4, 1999. Archived from the original on October 29, 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  11. "Top TV Shows For 1999-2000 Season". Variety. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  12. "The Bitter End". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #598 Jun 1, 2001. June 1, 2001. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  13. "How did your favorite show rate?". USA Today. May 28, 2002. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  14. "Rank And File". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #713 Jun 6, 2003. June 6, 2003. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  15. "I. T. R. S. Ranking Report: 01 Thru 210". ABC Medianet. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  16. 58th Annual Peabody Awards, May 1999.
Preceded by
The Simpsons
and
Family Guy
1999
The Practice
Super Bowl lead-out program
2000
Succeeded by
Survivor: The Australian Outback
2001
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