Sunday, May 4, 2014
'LA Law' S2 DVD: Setting the Bar for Modern Legal Dramas
The 1987-88 second season of "LA Law," which Shout! Factory is releasing on DVD on May 20 2014, is notable for both some of the most memorable episodes in this eight-season classic series and for introducing some fan-favorite characters.
[As an aside, this release comes on the heels of Shout! releasing the complete series set of the earlier Steven Bocho classic drama series "Hill Street Blues."]
Early episodes in this series about the professional and personal drama in the lives of the attorneys at the prestigious Los Angeles law firm of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney, and Kuzak have new attorney Jonathan Rollins and office clerk Benny Stulwicz begin careers there.
Charming heart-throb Blair Underwood plays Rollins, a fresh prince of L.A. who comes on board as a first-year associate right after graduating from Harvard Law School with honors. In addition to prompting salary-related ill will among his peers, Rollins primarily distinguishes himself through entertaining and effective but questionable tactics that seem very unrealistic considering his educational background and position with a white shoes firm.
Rollins' antics include a slight twist on an old theme related to showing that someone is faking a personal injury and a completely separate escapade that seeks to benefit from another foe experiencing a Rollins-induced life-threatening heart attack.
A scene in the final episode of the season clearly establishes that Rollins additionally has game with the ladies.
Similarly, the writers mine humor that is a little too cruel at the expense of the mentally challenged Benny. The many (again entertaining) indignities that that character endures include getting trapped on a ceiling for an extended period and becoming clad in haute couture.
On a lesser note, episodes from later in the season introduces the self-absorbed dweeb on whom firm secretary Roxanne becomes increasingly involved/dependent. That relationship further intensifies in the third season, which Shout! will likely release on DVD by August 2014.
Uptight managing partner Douglas Brackman also falls prey to the same dark sensibility of the "Law" writers. Relatively simultaneously being appointed to preside over a "People's Court/" "Night Court" style small claims court takes this formerly respectable and dignified attorney down the rabbit hole.
Brackman finds himself contending with the sleaziest of sleazy ambulance-chasing attorneys and with a fling who resents being flung once the one-night is over are only part of his problems. The overall lesson that he learns is that pride truly triggers a proportional fall.
A scene in which legend in his own mind divorce attorney Arnie Becker overhears two women discussing that he dresses like a Vegas pit boss and has "a body by Pillsbury" is awesome in that it validates observations in the Unreal TV review of the DVD release of the first season of "Law."
Becker additionally is at the center of a very revealing celebration with his peers.
The thought-provoking discussions of legal issues that provide much of the substance of "Law" throughout its run on NBC's "Must See" Thursday night lineup include some doozies this season. One especially good storyline that deals with the "duty to warn" standards that should apply when a patient tells a mental-health professional of a threat to a third party goes onto address when and if an attorney can breach the confidentiality of a client.
The aforementioned episode is a classic regarding the law vs. justice dilemma that distinguishes "Law."
Other issues relate to discrimination of the age, weight, and racial varities. The latter controversy provides a forum for having the uber-awesome James Earl Jones guest star.
The season ends on several nice and intriguing notes that are not cliffhangers but provide good cause for wanting to "tune into tomorrow" to see what is next for these legal eagles and those in their orbits.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Law" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.