The Practice
The Means

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Deborah: D+ | Grade It Now!
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Written by: David E. MachiaKelley

The scene opens with a witness in court, narrating the action on a store security tape. The witness is a manager at the store in question. Because the main storyline here is all about race, I'll be specifying the race of various characters as we go along. The tape shows the witness (who is white) trying to inspect the gym bag of a young black man shopping in the store. The shopper declines and they hassle a bit, at which point another young black man comes over. The witness points out the defendant, sitting between Bobby and Eugene. As we continue watching the tape, the witness explains that he asked the interloper to step back, saying the situation was none of his business. As the manager's telling the guy to step off, we see the first guy haul off and give the manager a good shove, knocking him onto the floor. Suddenly all hell breaks loose; three other young black guys start pounding the manager. The prosecuting attorney (black) asks the witness where the defendant is now; he seems to have vanished from the tape. The witness doesn't know. The prosecutor then tells the court that the tape has been edited, and what we're seeing is what happened about seven minutes later. The store's being looted; everybody's coming in off the street and helping themselves to whatever they want from the shelves. The prosecutor asks again what the defendant was doing at this point; the witness says the defendant was "over [him]" at one point, and just then, we see the defendant grabbing the manager by the arm. It kind of looks to me as though he was attempting to help him up off the floor, but it could easily be that he was just grabbing him to give him a punch, too, I guess. Before he can do either, a uniformed guard grabs him from behind and wrestles him off the witness. The defendant manages to shove the guard away and into a table. The guard comes at him again, and they struggle some more. The witness says, "The guy just went crazy!" The prosecutor gets him to identify the defendant again, although neither time does she give us that "let the record show that the witness has identified the defendant" jazz. Back to the tape: the defendant manages to face the guard, he punches him twice in the face, and then basically, by grabbing the guard by the lapels with one hand, throws the guard through the plate glass window at the front of the store. All of this is shown with about three or four ideally advantageous camera angles. I guess Sven Nykvist set up the security cameras in this store. Also, as with many security tapes, there's been no other sound, and yet when the window smashes, we hear it. The defenestration of the guard also occurs in slow motion. I'm not sure if we're in court or in a class in manipulating evidence. I can ponder that during the credits. See, in a good show, like The West Wing, I can forgive little continuity futzes. In this sort of claptrap, though, they just get up my nose all the more.

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The Practice

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