The ABC lawyer drama Boston Legal ends its run tonight with a two-hour finale focused on the characters of Alan Shore (James Spader) and Denny Crane (William Shatner) - and that's as it should be. I am not sure this series had soul, but they certainly formed the heart of it. In so doing, they became one of the more intelligent, engaging, off-beat and enduring professional couples on TV.

Beyond unique and brilliant performances by Shatner and Spader, the series also boasted some of the finest writing on network TV, thanks to creator and executive producer David E. Kelley. I came to care about Crane and Shore despite all the advantages they enjoyed and self-absorption they exhibited.

The difference, I think, came in the glimpses Kelley gave us of their private moments alone. As the two exposed some of their existential sadness and adolescent neediness to each other, we looked on, and could not help but empathize a little - no matter how outrageously they behaved to the rest of the world. (9 p.m., WMAR-Channel 2) No screener for finale, but *** for the run of the series

Late-night guests: CNN newsman Anderson Cooper appears on the Late Show with David Letterman. Actor Will Smith appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

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