Its important to realise that maya has no concept of what part of your character is a leg or a body, so when your applying skinning to a mesh or set a meshShapes it is doing a very simple falloff in worldspace. If you want to make the binding more local to your joints look in the optionts for bind smooth skin and there will be some settings there that will help you.
Usually to make the task easier I would start with a small influence radius and max influence objects set to 2. If you do this you should have very simply skin weights, similar to rigid bindinging. You can then lock all the skin weights ( I would suggest downloading any kind of helper tools / scripts to work with skinning more easily in maya), and increase you maximum influence objects to something more appropriate and then start balancing your skinning in pairs ( only having two unlocked joint weights at a time).
I would highly suggest reading up on rigging best practices, success in this is alot about workflow, understanding maya transform intrecacies such as gimbal locking, and knowledge of anatomy and the nature of the skinning deformer and its limitations.
FX supervisor - double negative