|Index||3 reviews in total|
Probably one of the better prime time not-quite-drama/not-quite-comedy
television shows from the 1980's, this NBC hit became one of the network's
cornerstones in their weekly prime-time line up. Several of the stars
achieved their stardom here and cultivated the exposure into leading roles
in various made-for-tv movies, and of course there was the usual workplace
chatter the day after a show would air.
Leyland MacKenzie is the powerful top attorney of a prominent Los Angeles law firm. Grace van Owen, Ann Kelsey, Michael Kuzak Arnie Becker, and Stuart Markowitz handled the criminal, commercial, personal injury, divorce, and tax law cases (respectively). Later, Victor Sifuentes would join the firm, after being hired away from the Public Defender's office, to handle most of the firm's 'pro bono' work. Abbey Perkins was the junior attorney trying to work her way up the ladder and Roz Melman was the loyal legal secretary to Arnie Becker.
Each week, a new set of cases would be introduced, some dramatic, some humorous, some based on cases "ripped from the headlines". But what kept the viewers each week was the relationship between the characters. Handsom Kuzak was trying to romance the beautiful van Owen (at one point donning a gorilla costume and reading poetry to her on the courthouse steps)and later the diminuitive intellectual Markowitz was trying to develop a relationship with the hard-charging Kelsey (in real life, Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker became wife and husband during the show's running, which played out well for fans of the show). Perkins was the single woman trying desperately to balance her work, her home life, and her desire to succeed (I believe she may have even been a single mom, but I don't recall any children being cast). And there was the ongoing humorous interaction between Arnie and Roz to keep things light.
The show has held up well over the years, mostly because it played on people's common perceptions of attorneys, which hasn't changed in the years since the show went off the air.
As I indicated previously, this was a seminal show -- probably the
first "lawyer show" that wasn't really a detective program in disguise.
L.A. Law introduced us to the staff meeting; administrative hearings;
appellate courts; as well as almost all aspects of criminal and CIVIL
litigation. It was an amazing program that, when it focused on the
cases, was arguably the best show on television in the late 80s and
To be fair to its critics, however, I can't remember any program that was this good that (almost abruptly) became so bad! Although I continued to watch it until the end, it was hit-and-miss at best, and sometimes just plain terrible, after the fifth season.
As an attorney, as a "cop" in New York... what ever, he plays his role fittingly enough for a REAL TV program. He comes across as a realist in most of the roles he's cast in. The laid back presentation he makes on screen keeps him on the low stress, non-combative, passive character image in the viewer's mind. All this plus the capacity to get the job done in a non restrictive fashion. Either the writer keeps his character calm or Smits is just an extremely laid back kind of guy. That's a rather unusual personality for an attorney OR policeman. L A LAW keeps you wondering if Smits' twin is going to show up turning over some new criminal he's just pulled off the streets from the police department at NYPD and self rescue the could be con with his own miracle legalese. At any rate, in my book, he makes the show.
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