Murder One, season one, was a brilliant piece of television, but probably a bit ahead of its time. Telling one story over 23 episodes it demanded you followed it from the beginning, and didn't miss episodes along the way. While that kind of television has become accepted now, through series like "24", it was new at the time. But it worked, and told a gripping and dramatic story in a stellar way. Central to its success was the brilliant performance by Daniel Benzali as Ted Hoffman, the lead lawyer of the firm.
But some executives obviously felt that he wasn't charismatic enough, and that expanding a story to 23 episodes was too much. So, come season 2, Daniel Benzali was out the door, and in came Anthony LaPaglia. And the stories told were limited to 6-7 episodes a piece. While LaPaglia managed to make his character his own, and the series still worked quite well, ratings dropped, and after 12 episodes they called it quits.
A couple of months went by, and they decided to give it another go, and this mini-series is it. The story is one of the most tantalizing of the whole show, where Wyler (LaPaglia) and associates take on the case of an admitted serial killer, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince. Vince's performance is spot on, making the viewer very uneasy and uncomfortable, yet showing a lot of humanity at the same time. The performance was so good, in fact, that it earned him an Emmy Award.
His story was given 6 episodes, which unfortunately is at least one episode too few. The story is gripping an tantalizing, has brilliant performances along the way, a lot of drama, and always keeps you at the edge of the seat. It is obvious that the creators envisioned a few more episodes to give the story its full potential, but at some point the producers decided to pull the plug for good, resulting in the last episode having to rush the events to give the show some kind of closure. At the end there are still unanswered questions, though, and keeps you wanting for more even more than you did when the show ended mid-season after 12 episodes.
Had this been an 8-part mini-series I'm quite sure it could have been a 10/10, but the rushed conclusion leaves a bit to be desired. It is still a brilliant piece of television, and anyone interested in courtroom dramas and law shows should give both this and the series - especially season one - a chance. I really miss this show!
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