|Index||3 reviews in total|
This drama about a law firm specializing in divorce cases represented a return to normality after producer Stephen Bochco's bizarre "Cop Rock." Peter Onorati (who got perhaps the only positive notices from the earlier show), Mariel Hemingway, and Alan Rosenberg played the lawyers who comprised the firm, with Rosenberg's character having a tenuous grip on mental health. Debi Mazar was the firm's secretary, with David Marciano as her boyfriend, a delivery boy. The plots probably suffered by the limitations of divorce cases, but creatively the show was similar to L.A. Law or The Practice. Unfortunately, the series didn't attract enough viewers to last longer than about a season and a half. After "Civil Wars" ended, Rosenberg's and Mazar's characters moved over to L.A. Law's cast for that show's final season.
Most legal dramatic shows leave everyday family law issues to "reality"
stars Jerry Springer and the like, and, along with other civil law
matters, to another pocket of "reality," Judge Judy and her parade of
The popular legal dramatic shows go for high drama: big dollars, big murders, big felonies, unique (bizarre if possible) but uncostumed sub-Batman bad guys (and girls).
On the other hand, "Civil Wars" used the taut, compelling structure of L.A. Law to address issues that could arise in anyone's life and one or more elements in everyone's life. Well, one episode, as I remember it, featured a circus couple that included a midget.
The most gripping episode of many gripping episodes, for me, was the battle for custody of their young mixed-race (black/white) child by two loving parents each feeling he/she was acting in the child's best interest. I have no personal investment in the issue; my children are white.
For me the show was sparked by Mariel Hemingway, with her unusual contrast of dominating height and squeaky little-girl voice that she re-engineered enough to achieve a quite convincing courtroom presence aided by her strong "Papa-esque" facial structure (Jack Palance, anyone?).
The second attractive feature of the program was Hemingway's byplay with legal associates Rosenberg (especially) and Onorati.
The other kind of legal shows don't even tempt me to watch them. Another way to characterize them is as embellished headlines. Civil Wars was simply life described.
A cute, sexy, interesting show that combined the smoky sensuality of
Mariel Hemingway with the earthy charms of Pete Onorati. Clever plots,
interesting sub-text, and funny cameos failed to get this show renewed.
At least Debi Mazar did OK with LA Law, and now of course Entourgage.
Perhaps this show overlapped a little too strongly with Law, Levinson's
Homicide, and Bochco's NYPD Blue. Wait, can anyone spot a pattern
This show arrived at the culmination of a 'golden age' of television pioneered by dramadies like 'Thirtysomething', 'Picket-Fences' 'My So-called life' and, of course 'The days and nights of Molly Dodd.' A classic that was pulled a little too soon. (And no, Mariel in 'Central Park West' didn't even come close.)
I still miss Mariel. (Anyone remember the nudie episode?)
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