After the rigors of the Jessica Costello case, Ted Hoffman leaves the firm
to spend more time with his family. Jimmy Wyler (LaPaglia) has resigned from
the prosecutor's office and is looking for a new challenge. He thinks the
firm could be just what he is looking for. When the governor of California,
Tom Van Allan, and his current mistress are murdered and Van Allan's former
mistress, Sharon Rooney (Cider), is arrested for the crime, Jimmy visits Sharon
in jail and convinces her to let the firm represent her. Fearing the worst,
Sharon tries to commit suicide in prison but fails leading Jimmy beg her to
trust him to take care of things…
The inventive, chapter driven law show returns for a second season but can
that then unique continuing story premise still hold good for another run?
The network thought not.
After the phenomenal success of the first series, the network, in their infinite
wisdom decided to change the format that had made the show so popular. Instead
of one main case running for the entire season, Murder One now had three separate
crimes that split the series into three. In 1996, the common consensus was
that the American audience didn't have the commitment to stick with a series
for its entire season run but preferred to fleet in and out of a show whenever
they fancied watching it. Even though the first season of Murder One had gone
to great lengths to change this and succeeded, fans of continuing drama would
have to wait until 2001 with the launch of 24 and Alias for the networks to
see that continuing storyline could work on a TV series.
Along with concept changes came a major cast change. Not liking the rigors
of making a weekly drama series, lead actor Daniel Benzali left the series
to be replaced by Anthony LaPaglia as former prosecuting attorney Jimmy Wyler.
LaPaglia brought a younger, more conventional leading dynamic to the show
but this is an actor who is also very good at his craft. As with all leading
characters in Steven Bochco series, Jimmy Wyler is a very strong character
that you instantly take notice off. He is a commanding figure but a lot more
gung-ho and passionate that Ted Hoffman. This is a man who takes command of
the courtroom and is a hit with the ladies, both on screen and with those
Most of the cast firm return from the first series. J.C. MacKenzie's Arnold
Spivak provides most of the comic relief for the show. The excellent Mary
McCormack makes Justine Appleton the object of many a man's affections in
the new series. Michael Hayden continues to make Chris Docknovich the rock
of the firm and Barbara Bosson excels again as Miriam Grasso. DB Woodside
joins the cast as young attorney Aaron Mosely, a character that would get
him noticed so he could go on and star in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and 24.
Despite changing the one case, one season scenario that had served them so
well on the first series of the show, the three chases are intriguing enough
to keep you hooked for the entire run. Mixing politics with lust, celebrity
with murder and a promise with madness, the three cases offer very different
stories, each of them as riveting as the other. Murder One was a series cut
short before its time. This was American legal drama at its very best and
a hasty decision by the Network robbed fans of what could have been a long
running show that kept gathering momentum.
Murder One set a bench mark for the continuing drama that has only just started
to bear fruit and for that we should be thankful. Steven Bochco and his cast
deserve all the credit and plaudits for pushing television in a new direction.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in full frame 4:3 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack, the
transfer is very good. Even though the series was made in 1996 the picture
quality of the transfer is very good. Murder One's visual style, utilising
a lot of shadows, looks superb throughout. For a stereo track, the sound quality
is also good. It really emphasises the dialogue, which you need in a character
Featurette - Final Verdict: Season 2 (22.01 mins)
Director Randy Zisk, producer/director Marc Buckland and stars Mary McCormack,
J.C. MacKenzie, Barbara Bosson and DB Woodside talk about the second season
of Murder One. The cast and crew discuss the changes that were enforced by
the network, even after the phenomenal success of the first series. They reveal
what it was like working with Daniel Benzali's replacement Anthony LaPaglia
and series creator Steven Bochco. Each of the main actors and the characters
they portray are outlined and the group reflect on the series and give their
own reasons why they think it was cancelled. This is a good insight in to
the inventive show but it would have been nice if Steven Bochco and Anthony
LaPaglia had have contributed as well.
Inside Look (6.47 mins)
Director/Producer John Cassar takes you behind the scenes of episodes 5 and
6 of season 3 of the hit show 24.
Previews of Alien vs. Predator, Taxi and The Day After Tomorrow
Fox has done another good job bringing one of their best shows from the vaults
to DVD. The episodes are presented extremely well and backed up by an informative
featurette about the second season. The inclusion of commentaries, like they
did with the first season, would have added to the value but this is still
a must by for fans to complete their Murder One experience.
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