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Some Kelley characters have a lot in common

Sunday, February 07, 1999

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Even when the characters David E. Kelley creates don't exist in the same universe, there are clearly some DEK "types." To wit:

The lovable, weirdo/loser

Dr. Carter Pike (Kelly Connell): The "Picket Fences" medical examiner always seemed a little too interested in the cadavers that crossed his examining table.

Alan Birch (Peter MacNicol): As the hospital attorney during the first season of "Chicago Hope," Birch gained the nickname "the eel" and coined the phrase "I will not be disparaged." In the end, he became a sympathetic character, adopting a baby just before getting killed.

John "The Biscuit" Cage (Peter MacNicol): The wistful, stuttering dreamer of "Ally McBeal," Cage has been called "that strange little man," but he's got a heart and depth that's only begun to be explained. Take a moment to contemplate that.

Jimmy Berluti (Michael Badalucco): An everyman who dubs himself "Jimmy the grunt," this decent guy on "The Practice" fell in love with a hostile witness he had to depose in court. Even though he knew she'd probably say no, he couldn't help asking her out on a date.

The annoying assistant

Elaine Vassal (Jane Krakowski): She's Ally McBeal's nosy and not-too-bright secretary, whose desperation is nothing short of pathetic.

Lucy Hatcher (Marla Sokoloff): The new receptionist on "The Practice," Lucy has more depth than Elaine, but she's just as much a troublemaker.

The eccentric leader

Douglas Wambaugh (Fyvush Finkel): A bombastic defense attorney with the flair of a vaudeville comedian, Wambaugh was the comic relief player on "Picket Fences." Signature line: "Wambaugh for the defense!"

Dr. Jeffrey Geiger (Mandy Patinkin): This former "Chicago Hope" doctor could be mean-spirited and cutting, but it was all to hide his grief over the death of his child at the hands of his insane wife. He also broke into song at the drop of a hat.

Richard Fish (Greg Germann): Head partner on "Ally McBeal" known for his

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