When Dick Wolf created Law & Order, he claims he was unaware that a quarter-century earlier "Arrest & Trial" had also used an arrest-followed-by-trial procedural format (and failed). A Universal Studio exec pointed out the similarity. To Wolf, however, a key difference was that the "real heroes" of "Law & Order" were not the defense attorneys who got the bad guys off (as in "Arrest & Trial") but the prosecutors who put them away and were paid a fraction of what their criminal defense counterparts earned. See more »
The 30 episodes (all in B&W) of the 90-minute crime drama "Arrest and Trial" originally ran on ABC during its 1963-1964 broadcast season. The new three-disc DVD set includes nine of the episodes: #3, #4, #7, #11 (guest starring Martin Sheen and Michael Parks), # 15 (guest starring Mickey Rooney), #21, #22 (guest starring Nick Adams), #23, #30; seemingly taken at random from the series.
The series was an innovative concept as it was essentially broken down by the words in its title. During the first 45 minutes of each episode LA detective Nick Anderson (Ben Gazzara) would solve the crime, arrest the perpetrator(s), and hand them over for trial. The second half concerned defense attorney John Egan's (Chuck Connors) attempts to get them acquitted.
That Egan was for the defense and not the prosecution was what made the series unique. Guilt or innocence thus became a relative term. With better writing it could been a great series (think "Hill Street Blues" where the public defender is involved in a romance with the Precinct Captain). Unfortunately rather than actually working in opposition to each other most of the episodes featured little if any interplay between Anderson and Egan. So what you got was more like a 45-minute cop show followed by a 45-minute lawyer show; with the only point in common being the same guest star(s); whose character might just as well have had different names for all it would have mattered.
The series tried to hold the cop show fans over for the second half by ingeniously breaking the show at the quarter hour when it was too late to change channels and watch something else. It must not have worked very well because the ratings were too low to support a second season.
Gazzara was excellent but Connors was horribly miscast. Most likely someone who is seeing Connors' various shows for the first time is mystified than he got so much television work in 1960's. All I can say is that a lot of people were just as mystified then.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?