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David E. Kelley

From Academic Kids

David Edward Kelley (born April 4, 1956) is an American television and movie producer.

Born in Waterville, Maine, he attended Belmont Hill School, Princeton University and Boston University School of Law and initially worked as a lawyer in Boston. But in the 1980s he became involved with screenwriting. Initially, he wrote several episodes for the television series L.A. Law, which he later produced as well, and later co-created Doogie Howser, M.D. (with L.A. Law creator Steven Bochco), Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Snoops, Girls Club, Boston Public, The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H., and Boston Legal.

Kelley's shows are renowned for their whimsical, occasionally surreal comedic touches, as well as moments of seriousness.

Kelley married actress Michelle Pfeiffer in 1993. They have two children, a girl adopted by Pfeiffer before the marriage and a son.

Contents

David E. Kelley's Archetypes

Characters

Although Kelley occasionally comes up with very original characters, many of his characters can be derived from a few archetypes.

  • The Crooked Lawyer with a Heart of Gold Slick-talking, disregards legal and moral ethics when it suits him. But when it really counts, such as in situations involving children, he can be counted on to do the right thing. Prime examples are Richard Fish in Ally McBeal and Alan Shore in Boston Legal, and, with markedly less success, the teacher Harry Senate in Boston Public.
  • The Brilliant But Senile Old Lawyer Often referred to as a "legend", there is some question as to whether he should even be practicing law anymore. At trials he often forgets details of the case, but he has "crutches" to help him cover up his forgetfulness. Examples include Raymond Oz in The Practice and Denny Crane in Boston Legal.
  • The Copyright Infringing Defendant Delusional defendant who thinks he's an icon of copyrighted American folklore, such as a famous comic book superhero or movie character. For example, Lindsay Dole defended a man who thought he was Hannibal Lecter, and kept calling her "Clarice". In another episode, a mental patient thought he was Superman and tried to fly off a hospital ledge.

Plots

  • The Guilty Client Tricks the Lawyer The client tricks the lawyer into believing he didn't really do it. He might get an immunity deal, or he might insist on his guilt in a way that makes the lawyer believe that he's innocent but wants others to believe he's guilty. Joey Heric literally got away with murder with variations on this ploy on The Practice.

Themes

  • The Eternal Moral Conflict of Criminal Defense Attorneys Criminal defense attorneys often fret that they help "put murderers and rapists back on the street." They constantly have to remind themselves that what they do is for the overall common good, by "checking the State's power to incarcerate at will." This was the prominent theme of The Practice, but it crops up in all of Kelley's shows.
  • Moral Ethics and Legal Ethics are Different Situations often come about where the legally ethic thing to do is morally wrong, and viceversa. For example, in one episode of The Practice, Jimmy Berlutti learned that a young boy was in serious need of preventive surgery because of an aneurysm in his brain, but the insurance company invoked privilege to request that the information not be disclosed. Berlutti risked disbarment to inform the boy's parents that he needed surgery.

Lines of dialogue

Kelley recycles some lines across different episodes and even across different shows.

  • "Look at me!" Often said by one character to a character who looks away during a conversation.
  • "I feel more alone with you than by myself." Said by two different women to Harry Senate on Boston Public, and at least once to Bobby Donnell on The Practice.de:David E. Kelley

et:David E. Kelley fr:David Edward Kelley

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