Season One L.A. LAW (Pilot) Fresh off a complete series watch of Cagney & Lacey, I found it almost impossible to watch without comparing these two series - particularly since Terry Louise Fisher's name is attached to both series. These comparisons are likely to appear in early posts here as a natural part of my viewing transition. Hopefully any comparison will add to the process rather than detract. Firstly, I was aware of the pace feeling very fast to begin. The first few scenes in particular feel like they were designed to feel quite frenetic: short, punchy with lots of movement and dialogue delivered in a very quick-fire manner. It was quite dizzying at first - helped not one iota by PAL speedup. I'm still not sure whether I adjusted to the pace or the pace slowed down a little as the episode progressed. I'd lean towards the latter, but it's perhaps a bit of both. The initial - and sustained - impression is one of high, kinetic energy. The writing and production captured that perfectly, presumably as intended. L.A. Law does have that mid-eighties, slightly flat, pastel look that was so prevalent on TV in that era. It's how I remember the show looking. Compared with Cagney & Lacey, there's something a little artificial-feeling about L.A. Law. I went in expecting this, and was pleased to find that it's not quite as muted as I feared. There are even some walls in the office that have deep, rich colours on. Clothing, too, is a curate's egg. There are some elegant lines that hold up well. The men's suits in particular feel quite classic. Though there are some dodgy ties and a couple of loud patterned shirt and tie combos worn by Arnie Becker that start to enter offensive territory. The women's clothing hasn't been as disastrously mid-Eighties as it could have been. The hair and makeup feels more dated than anything but it hasn't been distracting. Coming from watching a show with two firm leads into a larger ensemble takes a little adjustment. Granted, the credits imply the ensemble is a hierarchical one, which is another layer to consider when experiencing the dynamics on the show. There aren't any characters I haven't enjoyed getting to know in the first few episodes. Arnie in particular was pleasingly brash. His response on discovering one of the firm's partners dead at the top of the show (included in the thread title) and his dirty play with the woman who wanted a clean divorce - producing evidence of her husband's lover to ensure he got to take him for all he was worth - provided the perfect showcase for his less attractive qualities. In retrospect it's occurred to me that there was little to give him balance. On paper he's a little one-dimensional. But frankly, I don't see the problem with that at this stage if his function serves the show as a whole. Which it does - perfectly. I don't remember Brackman being quite so slimy either. His sense of entitlement paired with the understanding that he's there because of nepotism provided some nice tension. That he got to go ugly with the transphobic dismissal of an employee only made me want to see more of him. In fact, there were a number of technically one-note characters that added to the landscape of the show. Roxanne is a character that I remember as being consistently likeable simply from her occasional observations. Whether she becomes more than that, I can't recall. Patricia Huston as Mrs. Brunschwager was a delight. Blubbing her way through the entire episode while wandering into completely unrelated scenes provided some huge laugh out loud moments. Perhaps the biggest laugh came in a speech at Chaney's funeral where Georgia revealed her gender identity (and Chaney's homosexuality) in a speech at the service. The organ music stopped dead and there was a cut to Mrs. Brunschwager who momentarily stopped blubbing to gulp loudly and look flabbergasted. Georgia's arc was an interesting one. To Rob Knepper's credit it was played for complete truth and the result was a very sympathetic portrayal. Jill Eikenberry as Ann Kelsey won me over in an early boardroom scene where she had quite a spiel to deliver passionately. I also appreciated the relationship between the two women on the show being one of mutual support rather than competition (again, shades of C&L). The jury's out for me on Michele Greene as Abby. I've pretty much forgotten her from watching it as a teen (I'd even forgotten she was part of an infamous scene down the line). Watching this episode I could understand why. She's watchable enough. But she's just so... nice. And she's also shown to be a victim. The scene where she became the good little martyr wife defending her drunken husband immediately after he'd thrown a drink over her didn't do her any favours at all. It was more pathetic than sympathetic (I found him more sympathetic than her). I'm not interested in seeing a "breaking free from the nasty man" journey. I want to see a character who is interesting in her own right. And as sweet as she is, she's not that. It could get old, but there were a couple of little moments that gave me hope for her character. Michael Tucker as Stuart Markowitz was a favourite of mine when I watched the show in the Eighties. His wounded teddy bear quality was evident here and so far served him well. I recall rooting for Stuart and Ann the first time round and the groundwork laid here suggests I'm likely to do it all over again. Victor worked well as the "eyes" of the viewer, getting to know the characters. I enjoyed his attitude and his unwillingness to compromise. Mario Van Peebles as Andrew Taylor was a revelation to me. I didn't remember him as being on the show (and the second episode explained why). I was distracted as it took me a little while to place him (at first, I was convinced he was one of Madonna's pretty backing dancers from her early Nineties tours). He had little to do in this episode, but was memorable all the same. His unhappiness at Victor's arrival gave an enjoyable undercurrent of conflict to his scenes, and he - to get shallow for a moment - was certainly the most attractive guy in the Pilot (pushing Hamlin and Smits into second and third place). Hamlin and Dysart were entirely serviceable and watchable, though neither had the gravitas that their billing suggested. Alfre Woodard gave the Pilot one of two Emmy wins (the other was Gregory Hoblit for Outstanding Directing). And her character's arc gives this episode much of its depth. And a meaty part it is: she's the victim of a gang rape who is also dying of leukaemia, for goodness' sake. She does good stuff in the role, as do the actors playing the rapists who were all more concerned with walking free than the stress caused to their victim (at one point I wanted someone to slap Don Swayze's smirking character). While she has a couple of bigger moments, Woodard stays subtle for the most part. Or at least as subtle as the situation allows. There's a sense that her performance is in harmony with the writing rather than trying to outdo it. All in all, a very strong start.