DENNY CRANE and Alan Shore, two expensive lawyers played by William Shatner and James Spader on ABC’s “Boston Legal,” are having a heated debate about the major tobacco company’s ongoing liability when The conversation was stopped by the boom of a zipper.

The scene, from the first episode of the fifth (and final) season of the series, begins on Monday, true to any previous season. Since being spun off from “The Practice” in 2004, “Boston Legal” has garnered attention for dealing with ethically troubling issues such as assisted suicide, executions of people with mental illness. god and neglect of veterans, with the agitation of the theater. – absurd moments. Less notably, the series has also managed to explore the contours and intricacies of male friendship in a way that few, if any, other shows have ever attempted.
Since the middle of the first season, almost every episode has ended with Mr. Shatner and Mr. Spader sitting on a club chair on Crane’s office balcony, talking late into the night about (seemingly) pure affection. their purity for each other through every sip of Scotch. and cigar smoke.

“Sometimes I think the episode might just be a vehicle to get us to the balcony scene,” said Mr. Spader, wearing one of Shore’s elegant plaid suits, the wording as tight as the character. his, during a recent pause in filming a movie. afternoon.
Shore and Crane, the others were skirt-running flirts, sometimes following their exhilarating balcony sessions with a seemingly innocuous overnight, because they didn’t want to be alone or want to continue talking.

“Where does a man’s love begin and end?” Mr. Shatner was speaking in his dressing room here one recent morning, when asked to distill what “Boston Legal” is all about. “I have never had male friends like that. Never become such a friend that it replaces the intimacy you can have with a woman. It’s interesting to speculate what the limitations are.”
From ABC’s perspective, there’s also the issue of ratings: last season’s “Boston Legal” was ranked 50th among primetime television shows, according to Nielsen Media Research, with an audience of around eight ,9 million down about 200,000 from the previous TV season, but down 1.3 million from the previous season. (To counterbalance that math, “Boston Legal” is a longtime Emmy Award winner, with Mr. Spader and Mr. Shatner having won multiple times for their roles; each has been nominated again. this year, alongside Candice Bergen and the film itself, for outstanding film.)