Political Preaching on The Practice

I’ve enjoyed “The Practice” for many years now. David. E. Kelly has done quality work on a good many television shows. I wish in all sincerity to thank him for many hours of quality entertainment. That said…


I know having an audience of millions to preach to must be a temptation, but we come to television to be entertained and not for political indoctrination. Most of the time class begins as a “death penalty is bad” story arc. The last time, the story surrounded a young man who begins shooting on a street corner and ends up hitting (of course) an innocent single mother. Since the crime is committed in the achingly enlightened state of Massachusetts, the death penalty is not an option for the state. But wait! Here come stern faced men from the Justice Department! They’ve been sent by the evil Attorney General to impose his draconian and unenlightened views by making the shooting a federal case. How this is legally accomplished isn’t made clear, other than to say with shock that the “Feds are taking jurisdiction.” The drug-dealing 19 year old shooter somehow retains the services of Donnell-Frutt, et al. Then we are told that there is a “committee of prosecutors” who decides on a case by case basis on who to seek the death penalty on. If our heros are really lucky, the committee might give them ten minutes. This time is granted of course, whereupon our accused killer literally tearfully pleads for his life. The stone-faced committee relents and says they will recommend life in prison. All is well until a fax arrives that the committees decision has been (wait for it) overruled by Washington! As shocked lawyers stare at the fax, the camera focuses in on a TV. There…on the screen…the personification of legal evil himself. John Ashcroft. I never started watching “The West Wing” because I knew that Aaron Sorkin and Martin Sheen would pay any price and bear any burden to make socialism look normal and noble. I don’t want to have to make the same decision about “The Practice.” Practice your politics in the voting booth and not the production studio if you don’t mind, David.

There are plenty of other shows on TV that have been focused-grouped into a completely unoffensive slough. If you can’t stand the personality of a creator-driven program, you know what you cand do.

I knew it would only be a matter of time before the “change the channel” argument would surface. Pizzabrat, are you saying that it’s basically OK with you that someone can push a personal political agenda and cloak it as entertainment? Kelly can go on any number of broadcasts and expouse his beliefs until he drops from exhaustion. That’s fine. But when I sit down in front of a fictional drama, I want to be entertained, not preached to. Especially when I think the preacher is suffering from cranio-rectal impaction.

EvilOne: George Bernard Shaw’s entire output is his political agenda, i.e. Socialism, in the form of entertainment. Frankly, I would rather reread one of his plays, especially if it’s Major Barbara, Heartbreak House or Man and Superman, than watch the drivel that passes for entertainment on TV.

Many other artists – I could cite George Orwell, John Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis, Robert A. Heinlein (sorry, Exapno, I consider Heinlein to be an artist :D), Harlan Ellison, Graham Greene, Bob Dylan, the Police – unabashedly promote their politics in their works and I, and apparently many other people, don’t find them any less entertaining.

It is silly, IMO, to expect that a politically passionate artist is not going to refer to politics in her works. PizzaBrat is right; if you’re that upset by a show, watch something else.

I dunno what Pizzabrat would say, but I would say yes, it’s definitely and entirely okay with me. It’s been done since the earliest days of popular entertainment, and will continue to be done long after TV is replaced by whatever virtual reality system comes along. In fact, I’d say it’s more offensive for someone to push a personal political agenda and cloak it as news.

Sometimes, the agenda is a big part of why many viewers are entertained. I don’t think that they should be robbed of that enjoyment just because some people sit down and don’t expect any personal opinion at all.

Heck, at least once you figure out what beliefs a creator has, it’s pretty easy to avoid his/her stuff, isn’t it? For me, if I ever hear the words “from the creators of Touched By an Angel,” I know to avoid it. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I wouldn’t dare try to take Touched By an Angel away from anyone, no matter what I may or may not think about the views expressed in it (for various reasons; see the old old e-mail canard about its cancellation, even though its libel victim has been dead for years - talk about vengeful! :)).

I haven’t seen The Practiced. Ever. From what the OP has said, it is likely not even accurate. Did the killer confess to the killings? Or is he pleading his innocence?

AFAIK, to simply plead guilty is an automatic plea bargain in most, or all, states that have the death penalty. Which will about guarantee you life in prison, sparing an execution. I am not so sure about a Federal death sentence, as it has only been carried out once, I believe, in about the last 40 years. Mcviegh did not plea bargain.

So a TV show plays fast and loose with applicable laws as much as political agenda. To balance it out, rent a Dirty Harry video.

I agree with everybody above me that there is nothing wrong in pushing a political agenda in a show. I would also like to add that depending on the show you’re making it is impossible not to push one.
MASH is considered a great show by many and it was, from the star, heavilly politicized. And there was no going around it. It was a show about a particular war and it necessarily had to be pro or con its subject matter.
The Practice is about law and law is pollitics.

I was way into Touched by an Angel before it was even cool (when it came on Saturday nights right before MADTV). Then it blew up and started to be heralded as a political triumph for the religious right rather than a fantasy show about angels. And had the nerve to put it up against Simpsons, so I was like “whatever”.

Matter of time? This obvious response came in the very first reply. That’s like opening a thread with the title “What is 2 plus 2?” and then saying “I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone brought up that ‘four’ business…”

If pizzabrat won’t, I will. If it bugs you, write your own politically neutral show and try peddling it to the networks.

Find a better show to watch, or sit down in a theatre, concert hall or planetarium. Or get off your ass and do some exercise.

If you wanted to just say The Practice is crap, I’d agree with you. But as soon as you start claiming The Practice should be removed from the air, I’ll fight you on it. The decision to air this particular show is up to Kelley and ABC and (indirectly) the show’s sponsors. It’s your decision whether or not to watch it. You could make your feelings known by writing to ABC and the sponsors, but trying to whip us up into a frenzy is going to meet well-deserved failure.

Personally, “The Practice” peeved me with the episode(s) they did in California, where they portrayed the judge as being this mean conservative jerk. As someone who lives in that state, I can tell you thst any judge who’d act like that in the court would have been disciplined by the judicial authorities.

Oh, BTW, don’t bother saying to me “just change the channel”, as the show has had the same decline that all David E. Kelly shows have during their runs, giving me no reason to keep watching the show anyway.

The federal government arbitrarily steps into the state’s sphere in order to play politics with the justice system? Sounds like a conservative’s nightmare to me!

I guess anyone can find something offensive in that episode, which means Kelley is doing something right.

I was pissed at the Jehovah’s Witness episode involving the Black lawyer, in which Bobbly was trying to argue that adult Witnesses are made to infantile to think for themseleves. As an unbaptized JW, I an testify that it was complete garbage.

Then there’s still time, because the JW baptism is just their euphamism for brainwashing. Run! Run!

Just kidding.

Kelly’s shows are simple escapism. The Practice and Ally McBeal have as much similarity to the legal profession (and Chicago Hope to the medical profession, and Boston Public to the teaching profession) as The Wizard of Oz has to a travelogue show. Since there isn’t even an attempt at plausibility, I’m surprised anyone takes them all that seriously. Save your froth for a more worthy target, like the decline of The Simpsons.