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It revolves around three young law school graduates who had just joined the prestigious firm of Bass and Marshall as associates, beginning their five-to-seven-year trial period. Daughter of a poor New York family, Leslie recently graduated from Columbia, and felt for the oppressed. Bass and Marshall did not usually represent the oppressed. Tucker...was a Midwesterner slightly out of step with his Ivy League Colleagues, a little naive but very charming. Sara was a Boston blueblood, bright as well as sexy. They were all at the mercy of a hierarchy including such oddballs as formidable but slightly dotty Senior Partner Emerson Marshall...and dedicated junior partner Eliot Streeter, who had only one goal -- to take over the firm...Counterpointing all this class was Johnny Danko, the 21-year-old mailboy, whose only goal was to make time with beautiful chicks. Written by
'The Associates' was a short-lived American sitcom, from the producers of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and striving for the same ensemble chemistry as that series, but failing. The setting was a law firm, and the main characters were the firm's new associates: fresh out of law school but already imprinted with the personalities - idealistic or cynical - that they will carry into their careers.
Although an ensemble series, the focal character here was earnest young Tucker, played by Martin Short in a manner that barely hinted at his later success. More interesting is the performance of Joe Regalbuto, who later gave a brilliantly sustained performance as a neurotic balding nerd on 'Murphy Brown'. Here, he plays Tucker's cynical rival, already with an eye towards a junior partnership.
Alley Mills had the thankless role of Tucker's dumpy plain-jane colleague, given few chances to display her skill at physical comedy. In one episode, she caught Martin Short in a flying tackle on the law firm's staircase. If there had been more of this sort of humour, the show might have lasted longer.
Some definite visual appeal was provided by the incredibly sexy Shelley Smith as the incredibly sexy associate Sara James, a blonde ice-princess who is able to get anything she wants (such as a private office) on the basis of her looks. During the brief original Stateside run of 'The Associates', Shelley Smith (a former model) was also starring in some big-budget commercials for Revlon, flogging Lip Quenchers lipstick and other cosmetics. This created the disconcerting effect of the same actress playing a supporting role in the series while starring in the commercials: certainly no visual liability in Shelley Smith's case.
'The Associates' attracted some slight interest in Britain due to the presence of Wilfrid Hyde-White, here playing the law firm's patriarch with a genial touch of senility, in a performance resembling 'young Mr Grace' of 'Are You Being Served?'. In the debut episode of 'The Associates', Hyde-White's character Emerson Marshall tells Tucker a long rambling story about Margaret, the girl he'd loved many years ago in England. The romance ended so embarrassingly that Marshall moved to America and became a successful lawyer. After a long pause, Tucker asks Marshall to tell him what happened to Margaret. He replies: 'She became Prime Minister of England.'
The opening credits of 'The Associates' were accompanied by the distinctive voice of B.B. King singing 'The Wall Street Blues'. a ditty that sounded more appropriate for the Delta than for a New York law firm. (Not least because the name 'Wall Street' evokes the stock market, not a law practice.) Like another sitcom from the same production company - 'Taxi' - this series featured an African-American theme tune for stories about an all-white cast in a white-bread setting ... and in both cases the contrast was a jarring one. There's not much to offer here except an early glimpse of Joe Regalbuto's original hairline, and some (phwor!) eye-catching shots of Shelley Smith in slit skirts.
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