|Index||4 reviews in total|
Street Legal was a classic of Canadian TV with crackling scripts, excellent performances and relevant story lines that took in the headlines of the day. Toronto was like a character on the series as the multi cultural nature of the city, both the positive and negative were dealt with on the show. The lawyer characters on the show had different areas of expertise which were often in conflict. Leon was a left wing democratic socialist, who at one point in the series ran for Mayor of Toronto. Others on the firm dealt with criminal or business matters. Juggling the firm's different interests was often a point of conflict. CBC's Street Legal is still fondly remembered today in Canada 10 years after it went off the air for its coverage of the issues mixed up with soapy sexy story lines that kept the viewers coming back. Chuck and Olivia became the most famous fictional TV couple in Canadian history with their on again, off again affair. At one time Street Legal ran on Friday nights after the popular comedies of The Kids In The Hall and Codco, which gave the network a power house line up.
Although I grew up in California, among the places I've lived was a
suburb of Detroit from '89 to '92. I lived on the top floor of a
seven-story apartment building. I was too cheap to get cable so I just
used a rabbit-ears antenna. With it angled properly, I got good
reception of the CBC television station across the river in Windsor,
Ontario. I am not a fan of lawyer or doctor shows, and this was the era
of "L.A. Law," which I did my best to ignore. But I became a Friday
night addict of "Street Legal," the adventures and misadventures of a
Toronto law firm.
At the time I didn't realize what a big deal "Street Legal" was: A big-budget weekly drama series that was 100% Canadian, 100% CBC-produced. I didn't really care. I loved the Toronto street scenes. I didn't care that it was really a flashy soap opera. I didn't care that Waspish Eric Peterson was ridiculously miscast as the Jewish lawyer Leon Robinovitch. I didn't care that Cynthia Dale, Anthony Sherwood and C. David Johnson all suffered from severe cases of terminal overacting. Maria del Mar was gorgeous in those days. So was Pamela Sinha (Wanda). Albert Schultz played a sort of heavy on the show, but this was the same actor who is so hilarious as Arnie Dogan on the Red Green Show. Ditto for Gordon Pinsent (Hap Shaughnessy on the Red Green Show). Then there were the guests: Eric McCormack (Will), David Elliott as Nick Del Gado, Maury Chaykin, Joseph Bottoms as an American actor (big stretch there), Mimi Kuzyk, who appeared in a number of episodes of Hill Street Blues, Wendy Crewson, Tantoo Cardinal, Donnelly Rhodes, the stunning Sharry Flett, Kim Coates (who is frequently hired by Kevin Costner in supporting roles in his movies), Al Waxman, and various others. I was always amazed at how the writers always got Chuck Tchobanian out of whatever predicament he'd gotten himself into at the last minute. I loved it when Leon ran for mayor of Toronto. In 1992 I moved to Houston and that was the last I ever saw of "Street Legal" except for a few tapes I made. As far as I can tell, it's not available on DVD. (Sigh)
I admit I hate Toronto. Having lived there for a year during the
recession time of the early '90s, I've seen how bleak the job market
was, how generally rude and unfriendly Torontonians can be and how
expensive everything is, but this show, with it's filthy rich lawyers
driving around in fancy sports cars; wearing the latest designer
clothes and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at different restaurants
around the city every day; enabled me to see the bright side side of
If you have a high paying job in a mega-city like that, life can be pretty good.
The highlight was the beautiful and aggressive Olivia Novak (nobody can hop onto a desk and have a temper tantrum like she can) and I admit, she stole the whole show.
To say "Street Legal" is pure Canadiana is an overstatement. It's actually more of a City of Toronto showcase paying homage to where it was filmed, perhaps even overwhelmingly so, with loving scenes of the city during the opening and closing credits and shots of the CN tower shining brightly against the twilight sky. No coincidence either that almost every office and meeting room has a large window with a majestic view of the metropolis. Of course there are the pictures on the wall - in one episode you see Leon addressing a meeting with a giant photo of the CN Tower hanging prominently behind his right shoulder.
So, do I like "Street Legal"?
The answer is yes. It was a great show with a lot of excellent story elements. Too bad it didn't last as long as it should have.
I was only 4 when Street Legal premiered in 1986. However since last year I have become an AVID fan. This show was a vehicle for the City of Toronto. The show was as diverse and interesting as the City is. The writing was spectacular and the casting especially in the latter seasons was awesome. I was and still am a fan of the Leon/Alana pairing. I admired the writers who gave actors Eric Peterson ad Julie Khaner thefreedom to show their individual ranges as actors. I did miss the final TV movie and hope that Bravo at some point decides to air it. Maybe the CBC will put it on DVD and who knows could we even possible see another TV movie?
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