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I can't use enough words to describe how much I loved Murder One. I sat
riveted, week after week, watching the story unfold. But for me, the first
season was the only season and Daniel Benzali is the reason for this. His
portrayal of Ted Hoffman helped to create (With the equally amazing
one of the greatest characters I have ever seen. Benzali could pull off
lines that would seem too idealistic or cliched coming out of any other
actor's mouth--he brought a Shakespearean size to the screen. And watching
character with that kind of heart and integrity navigate his way through
world was an amazing experience. It was a moral show, and the character of
Ted Hoffman was the compass. It was literally like going to church one
night a week.
The acting was fantastic all around. Stanley Tucci's Richard Cross was a perfect antagonist for Benzali, charming yet deadly. All of the other supporting actors, especially Mary McCormack and John Fleck were great as well--layered and believable. And the writing, as I said, was truly as good as any in TV history.
It's great to see that A & E is finally re-running this show!! I hope it keeps running for years to come so that more people can appreciate what they missed out on the first time around.
I was addicted to this show when it aired in Europe. It had a stunning plot
line that would keep you on the edge of your seat every single episode. But
most of all, I appreciated its style. It featured tense, under acted
dialogue and an unprecedented visual flair. Personally, I thought the 2nd
season was less authentic than the first, because it lacked the asset of the
Ted Hoffman character, and it used shorter storylines. But I enjoyed every
minute I ever got to see of this show anyhow.
It was exquisite television.
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.
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
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.
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
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...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Steven Bochco, one of the 80's most influential TV producers steps into
the 90's. First, he made NYPD Blue and later this serial involving a
sensationalist trial where a famous actor is tried for murder, hence
It is funny to think that Bochco is still doing these shows because they are merely revisions of his earlier shows like Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law. When the show was advertised it was supposed to be something different and because televised trials involving celebrities like O.J. Simpson was deep in the public's mind, the fictionalized show was supposed to strike a chord too.
It didn't do it for me. Although, the first two episodes of the first serial, involving Teddy Hoffman, was fascinating, it quickly became tedious to watch because everything had been seen before on L.A. Law, only not with so many details involving one trial.
The second serial was a bit better because the replacement for Teddy Hoffman, who was quite a bore, was a lawyer played by Aussie-Italian Anthony LaPaglia. This was before he blew up like a balloon and his character was more interesting because he got romantically involved with one of his co-workers. The case he was handling was more simple but that made it something I could better relate to. The only thing this show needed now was better supporting characters but you can't have everything so this show was soon canceled. Too much of a good thing I suppose.
Agree completely with my colleagues above and elsewhere.
I do not know the history of this show, or know much about it not being watched stateside, but of all the series made by SB except perhaps for Hill St this is the one, epic in proportions compared to the rest.
What is a shame over here, as the locals air reruns yet again, is that the credits are hidden by subtitles.
Stories run over several episodes and overlap. Ordinarily a single story will stretch most of a half year season. All the work is excellent. The best part of this series, in my opinion, is what I think is 'year two' with Anthony LaPaglia in the lead.
This has to be one of the most contrived , pretentious and wooden TV
series to hit the DVD list in a long time. The acting is wooden, the
plot lines and twists ridiculous, and the script is an abject lesson of
scriptwriters swallowing a dictionary. This series is aimed at
consumers who buy excellent series like The Sopranos and The West Wing,
don't be tempted it is an absolute dog! It is hardly surprising that
apart from a few examples most of the actors disappeared without trace.
The only good thing I can say is that Bobbie Phillips, later to star in
Chameleon is an extremely good looking woman.
Note to the wardrobe dept of the above, get clothes that actually fit the actors.
This is one of those Hollywood projects you're "supposed" to like more
than you actually like. I remember in the mid-'90s, when it premiered,
battalions of TV critics blathered on about how guh-reat it was, how
the acting was fan-tan-babulous, how the writing made Moliere look like
a dried-up afternoon soap opera bitch/hack, how the sets looked like
Mario Buatta threw up on them and on and on.
In reality, "Murder One" wasn't so hot. It was very... '80s in its approach. Everyone preened darkly in moody lighting and intoned lines dripping with something real dang close to import. It all seemed so five minutes ago in 1995. You can't set up a drama to shock the folks in Peoria when nobody in Peoria is shockable anymore. After all, it's not the 1950s ANYWHERE, oh ye purveyors of processed entertainment.
That weakness was coupled with the lead, Daniel Benzali, who had all the zip and charisma of a cheese ball slooowly going stale and scaly in a back cupboard. Oh... and in the show he has a beautiful goy wife about half his age. Yummy! There were some (damn necessary) cast changes, some tinkering here and there - all half-hearted attempts to drag this soggy bucket out of the old flop tank... but... nobody really cared when it disappeared.
Darn it: Sometimes, the viewers are right.
"Murder One" is a soap opera which swirls around a smooth, urbane, successful L.A. defense attorney Ted Hoffman (Daniel Benzali) and his firm. The first season spends too much time pouring at a pathetically slow pace over the details of a murder involving a celebrity while individual episodes toss in a bonus case/trial where the firm's lesser lawyers can show their chops with easy wins. A huge step down for Bochco, "Murder One" has little to do with murder, everything to do with lawyering, and none of the intelligence, moral messages, and contemporary issues of NYPD Blue. Deficits include staginess, clichés, superficiality, mediocre writing, and a cast of uncharacteristic and too glib characters who are all obviously waiting for cues. Assets include a strong centerpiece in the amorphous leading man Benzali, lots of beautiful women and handsome men, and a sort of dark but elegant ambiance. How "Murder One" garnered so many Emmys with so little going for it may be the show's biggest mystery. Recommended as a last watch for those into lawyer flicks. (C+)
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