Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Bowling-Alley Lawyer

Those of you who have read the “Characters” section of this blog may have noticed my response to the question, “Favorite TV show involving a lawyer?”  At a recent meeting of entreVIEW authors, this topic came up, and I was surprised that in a room full of attorneys, few were familiar with the story of Ed, the bowling-alley lawyer.

I consider myself a discerning viewer of TV shows.  In other words, I have watched a select few over the years, and I like to think those I have chosen to watch are among the best on TV (i.e., Early Edition from 1996-2000 with Kyle Chandler, American Dreams from 2002-2005 with Brittany Snow, Friday Night Lights from 2006-2011, again with Kyle Chandler, Desperate Housewives from 2004-2012, Pan Am from 2011-2012 with Christina Ricci, The Astronaut Wives Club in 2015, and the ongoing ABC series Nashville).  Unfortunately, ratings will tell you that much of the American public has not been on my side through these years.

Among my favorites, however, has been Ed, the NBC series that aired from 2000-2004Tom Cavanagh played the main character, Ed Stevens, a former New York City attorney who, in a single day, was fired for drafting a contract with an errant comma resulting in a $1.6 million loss to his firm and then discovered his wife’s ongoing indiscretions with a mailman.  Thereafter, Ed decides to pay a visit to his hometown, the fictional Stuckeyville, Ohio, and focuses his efforts on winning the love of Carol Vessey, his high school crush.

His first of many ongoing attempts to do so results in his purchase of Stuckeyville’s dilapidated bowling alley, Stuckeybowl, and (eventually) turning it into one of the town’s most popular hangouts.  In true entrepreneurial fashion, he also opens a law office within the bowling alley, earning him the nickname “The Bowling-Alley Lawyer.”  (Ed’s entrepreneurial endeavors extend to his little side business of winning “$10 bets” from his best friend, which require him to take outlandish actions such as chugging half a container of maple syrup.)

Ed exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit.  He takes a risk in purchasing, renovating, and opening a business of which he has little operating knowledge (other than the part involving bowling itself).  He manages a staff of three rather eccentric and usually unreliable employees.  He dedicates his life to the bowling alley and his fledgling law practice.  He pours personal funds into the business when things go wrong.  He questions his decisions and his sanity.  Yet he perseveres, and he succeeds – in more ways than one.  In the final season, he of course weds Carol Vessey.

Many a TV show has been made about attorneys.  Most of them take place almost exclusively in the courtroom, many paint attorneys in a negative light, and most portray a “day in the life” as ridden with drama and excess.  But Ed – Ed showed viewers that attorneys are humorous, engaging and (sometimes) normal people too, and gave viewers a glimpse into the lives of the entrepreneurial-minded people that so many of us serve.


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