Murder One (TV Series 1995–1997) Poster

(1995–1997)

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TV for adults: what a concept
jimhass27 May 2004
I can see why this show only went two seasons: it's smart, and it doesn't give you a case of ADHD. You actually had to figure out who was who, and follow characters over an entire year. The writing was good, smart and funny; a lot of it took place in a courtroom. Sort of a truer and grittier L.A. Law.

It, and many other worthwhile shows, had to move out of the way so we could all get to see "American Idol," "The Swan" and "The Apprentice." Yes, our culture is headed downhill, but not in the way conservatives ofter say. An appetite for the fast buck and a contempt for the audience go a very long way.
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Too good to last
lbliss31414 May 2005
I am glad to see that Murder One was a hit in Europe--it deserved every success. Great acting--Daniel Benzali was outstanding. I guess audiences couldn't handle a balding, smart actor. (He played a mafia boss on NYPD Blue before this show, and he damn near stole the episode.) Stanley Tucci is always good--Richard Cross was a villain you could hate and have a great time. And it had one of my favorite actresses, Barbara Bosson (Mrs. Bochco). Season two was not as good but had some fine moments. Anthony LaPaglia was clearly hired because he was younger and good looking, but he did a fine job. The peak of season two were the final six episodes, which ABC packaged as a mini-series called "Diary of a Serial Killer". The accused, Pruitt Taylor Vince, was absolutely the most compelling criminal I have ever seen on any show. Great casting is a strength of Bochco's shows, and Murder One is no exception. I cleaned house and foolishly threw out my tape of the serial killer episodes. Bad move.

Ironically, although the American public couldn't handle a season-long series that covered only one trial, a decade later it went nuts over "24", a show that took place in one day.
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Beauty Grabbed, Acting and Story Kept
kevinwburns11 January 2001
I remember that I watched the first episode of "Murder One" because I saw a commercial for it which featured a woman (Bobbie Phillips) whom I found simply gorgeous. After I watched the episode, though, I thought, "This is the best television show I have ever seen!" I continued to enjoy Bobbie's beauty, but she was just the icing.

The cake was the story and the acting--especially that of Daniel Benzali who, in my opinion, crafted the most fascinating television character ever. Intelligence, refinement, rectitude...Mr. Benzali portrayed Theodore Hoffman as a Howard Roark/James Bond composite that I had previously hoped to see but felt would never materialize in any form of fiction, especially via the medium of television.

The first season of "Murder One" was an absolute joy to watch, every single episode. It seemed bigger-than-life yet believable at every turn. My hope is that it will find its way to DVD. Hey, Teddy Hoffman became "real" despite my doubts; perhaps the story of his law firm will one day become "binary" despite my doubts.

(It eventually happened -- the DVD set, that is -- and I am grateful.)
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Unfortunately another great show got canceled
Stanze9 December 2001
Yet again another great show was canceled. Good thing shows like "Law & Order" & "The Practice" are still on the air. "Murder One" was an excellent show with great acting. The twists & turns on the show kept it riveting. I am a bit partial to Dylan Baker who's a very good actor. There won't be another good show like this again. If on the slim chance there is it will get canceled. Good shows always do.
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Second season -- give it a little time.
jptully29 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I was like a lot of you -- the first season of this show was absolutely amazing. Daniel Benzali is a PHENOMENAL actor, although I am partial to Stanley Tucci as Richard Cross. The style, pacing and storytelling were all first rate, and seeing almost every episode on A&E only enhanced my memory of the show.

I had almost forgotten there was a second season -- and with good reason, at first. The first case introduced in the second season was weak by comparison, although I really like Anthony LaPaglia as Jimmy Wyler.

But the show began to pick up steam with the "Ricky Latrell" case, and then they began showing the "Street Sweeper" episodes. WOW. Amazing stuff about a serial killer who only kills criminals. The killer is played by an actor I've only seen once or twice, Pruitt Taylor Vince. He is ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. Vince plays the killer as walking a fine line between brilliant and unbalanced, and at times you feel very sympathetically toward him.

If you get the chance to see the "Street Sweeper" episodes, DO NOT pass it up! To see Vince and LaPaglia in scenes together is to see some of the strongest acting going.
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One of the best of the 90's.
rleather10 September 2004
Murder One has to go down as one of the best series on of the 90's. The first series plot has you going one way and another spotting one red herring after another, right up until the last episode.

Whilst I do remember the show well, I also remember is had a bit of a Scooby Doo ending to it, not entirely consistent with the previous 22 episodes.

According to the press, whilst it was a monster hit in the UK (and other parts of Europe) it died a death in the US. I'm not sure if that's purely academic propaganda, but the suggestion was that US audiences didn't like the idea of having to follow a series rather than encapsulated 60 minute stories. Who knows, all I do know is that the seconds series was a severe disappointment.

Clearly taking lead from some pressure state side, the trials became 3 episodes long, with little or no 'main plot'. UK audiences kept trying to piece together a bigger picture, only for there not to be one. As a result, it was widely criticised. Plus, the loss of Teddy Hoffman was a bitter blow. He'd become such a familiar feature of 23 episode run that when he wasn't there, it was never going to be the same.

Maybe it suffers a little from the X-Files factor. A second series was a mistake and it should have quit while it was ahead.

First series - Outstanding Second series - Fine for a rainy evening
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The best damn show on TV. Ever.
Tasty!16 June 1999
That just about says it all. After this got cancelled, I stopped watching TV for almost 2 years.
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Murder One became and addiction!
azannell29 December 2005
So I'm over visiting my Aunt in Italy in 2004. She is a stay at home mom and watched a lot of TV. While I was there I got to watch the last few episodes of the first season on Murder One. I fell in love with it and when I got home I looked it up and found out it was aired on TV in 95,96, and 97. In the summer I was at WalMart one day and I saw the first season on DVD. I figured me and my mom could watch it b/c she likes those kind of shows. Well we never ended up watching it so I took it to college with me and I watched it there. It became like my drug! I couldn't go a day w/o watching it! I was so drawn in it wasn't even funny. The lawyers are so hot and the women are beautiful. The last 3 episodes I watched like in a row. I couldn't wait to find out who the killer was because I left Italy before finding out. When I first started watching the second seasons I wasn't as impressed,but as the stories went on and thing heated up between Jimmy and Justine I began to love it just as much as the first season! I love all the office romances thrown in. It makes the show so realistic. The court room scenes are also awesome as those get heated up. All the supporting actors were outstanding as they each brought something different to the show. I was sad when I was done watched the DVDs. I just wish there was a way it could continue on with more seasons.
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Memorable drama
s_duncan0230 September 2005
I recently purchased the DVD of the first series. The very first episode quickly reminded of how much I enjoyed all 23. It is truly compelling television. All the characters, even the most minor are well cast and played magnificently by all. I particularly enjoyed the Machiavellian scheming of "Richard Cross", played by Stanley Tucci, the smart comments of judge Beth Bornstein(I forget her real name) and Miriam Grasso played by Barbara Bosson (with such aplomb!).

They don't make them like this any more, 24 does not cut it in comparison.

Sarah
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Great story, compelling acting
Michael Casagrande24 June 2000
Very rarely on television is there ever portrayed a realistic portrait that is both believable, and as another viewer remarked, keeps you on the edge of your chair.

Daniel Benzali performed superbly as the attorney in private practice who is constantly drawn to the edges of ethicality, personally and professionally.

Stanley Tucci embodied the sinister aspects of the role he played superbly, while still remaining likable.

As is characteristic of most Bochco productions, the supporting characters and actors that play them are most interesting and convincing.
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7/10
Suspenseful - at least in season 1
Mattias Petersson20 June 2006
I have just finished watching the second season of "Murder One" on DVD. A friend of mine had been talking about this show like it was the pinnacle of TV-suspense for a very long time before finally ordering both seasons on DVD. Now i have finished watching both and it was a very mixed experience.

First of all it's difficult to review this show without mentioning the great differences between the two seasons. The way is see it there were three major differences that made the first season superior to the second.

The first season had one major trial that it covered in 22 episodes. The second season covered three different trials in 18 episodes. So the format was quite different. Personally i very much preferred the format of the first season. Of course i had the advantage of watching the show on DVD so that i could see several episodes a day sometimes and never risk losing track of the story. I thought it was a nice touch to have a single case throughout the season, it made the show stand out from typical court-room dramas that deal with a new case every time.

The second big difference between the two seasons was the departure of Daniel Benzali and the entry of Anthony LaPaglia. Changing leads between seasons is never easy and filling Benzali's shoes is very difficult. However i feel that this didn't present the major drawback that i thought it would. LaPaglia is a very competent TV-actor which he has displayed again and again. He doesn't have the commanding presence of Benzali, nor does he have that complexity in his character that Benzali had. One of the biggest points of the first season in my opinion was the fact that Benzali's character was one that gave me very mixed feelings. He was undeniably an absolute bastard in many ways, but also fair and a man of principles. So there is something missing when Benzali left the show, although i would put it down to a lot less quality in the script rather than a worse actor in the lead.

The third difference i would say is the fact that the second season lacked a villain or adversary worthy of the name. Stanley Tucci's character Richard Cross was perhaps one of the best characters i've seen in TV-drama. The kind of character you never knew what to expect from and that you never really knew whether you should love or hate. In the second season they tried to add some crooked politicians and the likes but without much success.

To sum things up i really liked the first season. It was good suspense and it especially had very well written characters. Benzali and Tucci had a nice duel-thing going that i appreciated very much and the case was interesting. The second season lost Benzali, lost the interesting villain and had three rather uninteresting (and rather disappointingly solved) cases. LaPaglia holds his own but the script is so much worse than in the first season that it doesn't really matter. My recommendation would be to definitely watch the first season. And if you feel up to it you could also watch the second since it's at least decent entertainment. But only the first season is required viewing.
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10/10
Came out over 10 years ago, and still one of the best shows
kathy-100-5353617 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I stumbled upon this show on Hulu. One of the best shows I've ever seen. Sure wish Daniel Benzali was in the second season. Sure wish there was a 3rd season.

I liked that the first season had a continuing story.

I've watched many a "law" show, and this one still surprised me.

Maybe this show was too advanced for its time. We have similar shows now, but this still is one of the best.

I see that a lot of the characters went on to be on other hit shows. I've watched both seasons in just a matter of weeks (I watch while I work on the computer). Not sure if they could pick up the show with the same quality today.
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10/10
One of the best TV series ever
vittorix20 October 2007
I just finished seeing it for the second time. Direction is great, the story is great from the start to the end, the characters and the humanity they express is amazing.

It is filled with unforgettable quotes. In fact, English is used at its best level. Dialogs are excellent.

I dare saying that season one is perfect. Seasdon two is almost at the same level. It was difficult to accept Daniel Bengali missing at first, but then you start empathizing with La Paglia too.

Murder One is simply great. Difficult is to explain how they didn't continued after the second series :(
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Best U.S. series ever?
michael-143224 August 2005
Saw Murder One (Series One) on DVD and was blown away -- by the acting, the plot, the consistency & the overall quality. Could this be the best American drama series ever screened on TV? It has to be a contender. Currently watching Series Two (with Anthony LaPaglia) and think that so far it's also a great show. I like LaPaglia and have nothing against him but it shows a total lack of backbone from the producers that they saw fit to replace Daniel Benzali who was just terrific.

I just wish they'd made another series or two -- it is so much more believable than 24 for which, I believe, it paved the way.

Come on Mr Bochco, it's not too late to bring the show back to life...
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Murder One (Series One)
Paul Ian Stark17 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Murder One was a truly innovative idea. A drama series following a trial from start to finish, told from the point of view of all parties involved. Never before had an entire season of a US TV drama followed a single case.

This was essential viewing when it was first shown on UK TV by the BBC. It kept your interest throughout and did not belittle/patronise the viewing audience. The unique thing about this was the ease at which it held your interest. Not a moment of screen time was wasted.

A highly intelligent show with memorable characters and it really served as a sort of fore-runner to the inferior but still utterly engaging 24.

Featuring another standout performance from Daniel Benzali (Hoffman) as well as the excellent Stanley Tucci (Richard Cross), casting was a big part of this projects success.

Tucci was able to develop his characters' nasty streak and double dealing nature without deflecting attention from the defendant in the case (Neil Avedon). You really were unsure how far he would be willing to go.

Also the plot never becomes overly predictable. There are a few big surprises in the later episodes well worth waiting for.

This is one of those shows where I doubt the Network or the Studio really understood what a total gem they had here and the format was altered unsuccessfully for the lack-luster second season (starring Anthony LaPaglia as Wyler).

As for year two, without Daniel Benzali or the weekly sequential serial drama format which had worked so well the previous year, the result was an utterly forgettable mess.

Check out Murder One Year One on DVD if you want a change from the no-brainers that are broadcast today. It's the show 24 probably wishes it was!! At least comparable to 24 season one in terms of character development and a relentless pace, this is one drama you'll want to watch repeatedly.

Highly recommended.
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one of the best shows to come out of the US in the '90s
Coyote-458 February 2005
I remembered the show from British TV in the '90s when I heard that the show was to be released on DVD, other people of a similar age had forgotten about this great series.

I managed to get hold of a review copy of season one and fell back in love with the series. It was like an old friend had returned from a long time away. The ups and downs of the case kept me riveted to the TV set for far too much time after a hard day at work!

I spent so long re-trying to figure out who the murderer was but we're not told until *RIGHT* at the end of the whole series.

One of the best episodes is the one with the jury "love triangle" and the bickering that that involved.
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Best of American
Jon Gregory9 July 2004
This is probably the finest TV series I have ever watched. The outstanding cast, and their superb acting was a joy to see. The plot and twists were great, and left me guessing right up until the end. I'm delighted that at long last the series is being released on DVD in September here, and I shall enjoy watching it all again through the autumn (fall!) This is TV as only the Americans can do it. We Brits are great at the period drama stuff (Sense and Sensibility etc), but you guys are the kings when it comes to this particular genre. The second series was good, but never quite recaptured the essence of series one. Does anyone know if they released the soundtrack as a separate entity??Thanks Mr Bochco et al, great stuff!!
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Genius
Cosmo-51 September 1999
The fact that no Americans watched this, and that it was only appreciated in Europe, is a crime in itself. It had originality and depth, great characters and gripping plot. The first series follows a single crime investigation over several months, with an additional smaller plotline each episode. The second, equally good, has a different main character and follows several large cases.
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10/10
Daniel Benzali as Ted Hoffman
Ben McIntosh18 March 2006
I completely disagree, or as Ted Hoffman would say "Objection your Honour", with that comment the murder one season 1 is clearly the best without a shadow of a doubt, and what makes this season so damn good is the spectacular acting of the two front Daniel Benzali as Ted Hoffman and Stanley Tucci as Richard Cross, and how you can think Anthony LaPaglia is a better leading man bewilders me and on personal note i thin you should be slapped with a wet fish for dissing Ted Hoffman. I don't understand why he didn't carry on with the best leading man role EVER! If someone could please enlighten me i would be sincerely grateful.

This Jim Hass guy has the right idea what has happened to television, it is meant to be a luxury, a place high quality programming but a one time gem like murder one was replaced by "X Factor", "Dancing On Ice", CSI which used to be great but now its the same thing every episode they have stretched every story to its utmost and its still crap! House is also shocking TV like come on its a doctors version of CSI and you know what is going to happen just wait till the 50th minute of the show then they will find the cure for their patient. Writers nowadays don't have the talent like Steven Bochco, now writers say they have an idea for a show when its actually the same as 100 other show on TV, most of the time its a CSI copy. What has happened to culture on television? WE SALUTE YOU MURDER ONE!
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Great show, but ran outta steam...
Gislef30 October 2000
Initially a great show, although it essentially it boiled down to a battle of wits between defense attorney Ted Hoffman and the "villainous" Richard Cross. The weekly dynamic of these two in the show, along with a challenging legal case, made for must-see TV. There were slow parts when they decided to throw in the Subplot-B of the week early-on, but that was soon ditched. Recurring guest roles from Barbara Bossom, Joe Spano and Dylan Baker helped considerably.

Unfortunately, the inexplicable departure of Daniel Benzali lead to a downhill trend for the show. Anthony La Paglia vs. Ralph Waite (Ralph Waite??) just never had the same dynamic. Waite's character was just sheer evil, and the rivalry between him and the Wylers (including Eileen Heckart in an unlikeable role as Mrs. Wyler) never did quite ring true. Waite's Dietrich was just evil, with none of the subtleties of Tucci's Richard Cross. The idea of a district attorney turning to private practice might have been interesting, but they explored the idea only sporadically and amateurishly (like the cops running Wyler in on a speeding ticket). Paglia's Wyler seemed to end up in bed with the women, but he was nothing on the charisma and sexual allure of Benzali's Hoffman.

The rest of the law firm never really seemed to grow beyond L.A. Law soap-operaish dynamics, and the second-season scene where Christine confesses she has a crush on Wyler is a LOL scene.

It's a pity the show didn't continue, because even with the second-season slide it was still more cleverly written then 90% of television. But such was not to be. Oh well...
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10/10
Masterpiece of court room battle and legal thriller
Abdessalam4 September 2014
for anyone who loves legal thrillers and courtroom battles, this is the perfect choice. why perfect? Mainly because it is a whole season (23 episodes) dedicated to one big mysterious compelling case. Therefore there is not the rush and precipitation of a movie to wrap it up due to the time limit. this TV show , i guess , could be a great reference to the law students or anyone interested in understanding the American justice system , because it shows the process from the arrest until the verdict ( and even more , surprise surprise!!! ) it was intelligently written,beautifully produced , masterfully acted , and very very realistic.
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10/10
The best America ever managed
aforandy12 February 2014
The two series have no meaningful connection, and are so different that they should have their own entries on IMDb. The DVD sets were sold separately. The first episodes of series two were so forgettable that I felt I could live without the rest.

Series One was so very good that one gets the impression that some of the minor roles pushed themselves up the quality ladder in order to stay with the main portrayals. This was the first time I came across Stanley Tucci, and whereas he's always been an asset in everything thereafter, this was his finest hour. Daniel Benzali seemed to move faultlessly into a well-oiled parenthesis of TV perfection in the lead role. The mysterious storyline didn't seem that important compared to these and other performances.

The downside was the quality was too high for the domestic market, even during its first broadcast, and I got he impression there was desperate last-minute changes to the final episodes, to their detriment, in a futile attempt improve the ratings.
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9/10
The precursor to '24'? (Season 1)
winstonfg14 April 2013
OK, not 24 hours, but 23 weeks? An entire season devoted to a single case? I'd certainly never seen anything like it before.

Let me say right off the bat that unless you're prepared for 23 hours of drama where nobody answers a question directly (one wonders if lawyers actually have normal conversations), almost everyone has their own agenda, everybody talks in whispers, and everything is grey, this'll be tough viewing. But if, like me, you like writing that doesn't talk down to you, and plots with more twists than a plate of spaghetti, this is your show.

It should be added that the cast is top-notch – so good that they manage to cover most of the, admittedly minor, shortcomings in the script. Daniel Benzali takes on the persona of Ted Hoffman like an old coat, despite the fact that such a single-minded and ruthless guy – not to mention, lawyer – being a paragon of morality is a bit difficult to swallow. I'd like to have known a bit more about what makes him tick, because he's clearly driven, but the writers decided to leave it out. Notwithstanding, Benzali makes the character his own, and he IS compelling. And he's ably supported by fine actors (notably Barabara Bosson and Stanley Tucci), many of whom have gone on to other good things.

The great thing about having so much time spent on a single case is that we get to see some of the details that are often missed in other lawyer-based shows: the conflicts of interest; the interaction between people on opposite sides of the fence; jury selection; and the sheer waiting around for the 19th century wheels of justice to clank around in a twentieth century world. I have no doubt that it's been sanitized and simplified for TV, but I suspect also that there are some grains of truth in there.

I watched some episodes when it originally came out, and remember being intrigued at the time. Now I've got to see it all the way through, I can heartily recommend it. Thoughtful, riveting and _intelligent_ TV.

Oh, and brilliant theme tune. :-)
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9/10
Holds up well
Miles-1031 May 2012
I recently started watching this show over again from the beginning. The early episodes are great. I still remember a line from an episode I haven't re-watched yet. Somebody offers Teddy Hoffman (Daniel Benzali) a deal and Teddy walks away from it. The offerer expresses surprise because the deal is "good for you and good for me." Teddy agrees, but notes: "It isn't good for my client." That sums up Teddy Hoffman. He never forgets his obligation to his client. Yes, he'd get a guilty man off, but only because he really believes that that is his duty. This causes an inner conflict for him, because he doesn't like many of his clients, but he won't let that stop him from doing his job on their behalf.

Stanley Tucci adds spice as an unpredictable character who really propels the plot and keeps us guessing, but the best part of watching "Murder One" is Benzali who is one of the least appreciated actors. (IMDb doesn't even pick him as one of the top two actors associated with this show, instead naming Mary McCormack and Michael Hayden, and I confess to not even knowing who Hayden is--possibly because he is better known for his live theater work.)

Looking back years later, "Murder One" gives the added pleasure of showing us younger versions of actors we have also enjoyed in subsequent shows. For example, Mary McCormack ("In Plain Sight") is a regular as one of Teddy's ambitious junior attorneys. Anna Gunn ("Breaking Bad") shows up as a deliciously bad girl who tries to blackmail Teddy and one of his clients.
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