Ill-prepared for his first class, novice law student James Hart incurs the wrath of Professor Kingsfield, who declares Hart "dead" regarding his continued participation. Hart then tries to find a way back into the professor's good graces.
Professor Charles Kingsfield and the students form the core of the series: Midwestern farm boy James Hart; rich kid and 4th generation lawyer Franklin Ford III, oaf/sad sack Willis Bell; ladies' man Tom Anderson; married (and not very academically-dedicated) student Jonathan Brooks and token female law student Linda O' Connor. This episode centers around the students' (mainly Hart) adjusting to life at law school. The study group is formed by Ford. Hart also has a part-time job at a pizza restaurant, where Marilu Henner works. Written by
Several years after the movie "The Paper Chase" debuted, CBS created a series by the same name for television. While in some ways it was like the movie, it was in most ways an entirely new creation. John Houseman reprised his role as the VERY intimidating Professor Kingsfield--that was the one constant between the show and the movie.
James Stephens plays James Hart--a very eager but initially clumsy first-year law student. He particularly wants to impress his Contracts professor (Kingsfield) but he completely blows it and is ceremonially 'shrouded' by Kingsfield. And, as a result, he becomes completely unnerved and spends half the show half out of his mind. Ultimately, he comes up with a scheme to get back into the professor's good graces.
This show does what any pilot does--introduces all the new characters. And, like practically all pilots, not all of these characters made it to the actual series. Marilu Henner was one of these and one of the study group members would be replaced by a different woman in the next episode. Still, for a pilot, it has very tight writing and nice chemistry--and makes for excellent viewing now that the show is finally out on DVD.
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