"I got dibs on his office": (Re-)watching L.A. Law

Discussion in 'TV Central' started by Mel O'Drama, Jan 14, 2017.

  1. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    BOUNDS FOR GLORY / JUSTICE SWERVED / WATTS A MATTER?

    Douglas's sex life has started to permeate the show again. Now he's involved with a sleazy sex worker. Is sexual surrogacy a thing? I'm sure this isn't the first time I've seen it represented on TV. Surely it's just a euphemism so the sex worker can feel better about selling herself and the punter can feel better about paying for a whore. It's typical Brackman sleaze, but coming from everything gelling at the firm it feels disappointing to have the character returning to operating in a vacuum.

    Rosalind's arc is getting juicier and juicier. I enjoy that her scheming is mitigated by moments of professionalism and - at first glance - genuine concern for others. Her tearing a strip from Arnie, for example, was done in support of Abby. The subtlety of the way she operates is enjoyable. Even though I was sure she had an agenda when she ordered Leland to wear his hearing aid to the office (ostensibly to reduce the risk of a lawsuit through potential miscommunication), it was still time to boo and hiss at the screen when it became clear she'd done it to play up his age and infimity to clients, ensuring they felt less confident in Leland's ability and more confident with Rosalind. There was a brief détente between Ros and Ann when Rosalind supported Stuart on a drink driving charge after he had wine with lunch, but it won't last. And now she's had a fiery scene with Victor when he found out she had used her authority to override a key decision he'd made. This is what keeps me coming back at the moment.
     
  2. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    BANG... ZOOM... ZAP / FORGIVE ME FATHER, FOR I HAVE SUED / OUTWARD BOUND

    I found these episodes to be something of a curate's egg. Some great moment, but we seem to have moved away from the consistent greatness of earlier in the season. Or perhaps I'm viewing the earlier episodes nostalgic in retrospect.

    The great was mostly Rosalind-based. Her story has given all the main players some juicy scenes, and that trend continued with Victor walking out on her and Leland's battle to reclaim senior partnership from Ros. There was even a great moment for Abby who used Leland's need for her support as an opportunity to blackmail him into guaranteeing she and Jonathan consideration for partnership. It could be said that Rosalind has been to L.A. Law what Ciji was to Knots Landing. She's brought all the main players into one bigger storyline that shows just what this show is capable of. She's now made her exit, but I know she'll be back for a run with some equally memorable moments (including the show's best-known incident) next season.

    Great to see Cagney & Lacey's Dick O'Neill continuing his catholic theme by playing a cleric being sued for not giving absolution. He brought the necessary gravitas, and helped make this a very watchable trial.

    Michael is promising to leave forever. IMDb tells me not to get excited by this as he's in every show next season. He was supposed to be leaving to look after his dying father, but the whole thing seems to have been an excuse for Michael and Grace to hook up for goodbye sex. Meanwhile Grace, unhappy in her new role as a judge, has been wooed by Leland to join the firm. Michael had told Leland Grace wasn't enjoying her role, and tough, boundaried Grace seemed to have no problem with her confidence becoming public knowledge. OK then...

    Arnie has hooked up with a slutty wannabe actress secretary (what is it with women who do glamour model fish lips all the way through sex scenes?), right before accepting his girlfriend's proposal (pig that he is, it should be noted that his girlfriend has only been divorced herself for a matter of weeks and did use Arnie's affection for her little girl as leverage to entrap him).

    Roxanne's father's episode got wearing. Yes, it showed the stress of people living with dementia, but the bit with him thinking he was some character from a TV show I've never seen became irritating, as did Roxanne getting characteristically victimy and squinty. Susan Ruttan did have a couple of nice moments in this episode where she got to show a slightly deeper side, but I suspect I didn't find it as gripping as it was intended to be.
     
  3. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    THE LAST GASP

    Somehow I missed John Pleshette's credit at the beginning, so it was even more of a treat to see him as a lawyer in the courtroom. Even though he was thanklessly involved in the episodes frivolous court case - involving a complaint about a football game - it was great to see him in action. He had significantly more hair than in his Knots days, which seemed a little odd (while I can easily believe Kevin Dobson would be vain enough to worry about his hair loss, for instance, it doesn't seem like JP would).

    Victor trying to overturn his old friend's death sentence gave a little more grass roots to his character. The mentions of his past all felt true to the character we've been watching for four seasons. I'm still not convinced we needed to see someone being murdered by the state. On the one hand it wasn't a pleasant watch, and a nice job was done of reflecting the sombreness and sense of dread for the person being killed and the people who are asked to witness it. But on the other there's no way on earth a scene like this in a 1990 evening drama was going to be able to truly show how horrific someone being killed by poison gas is. While it seemed that the show was edging towards an anti-capital punishment stance, there was room for the viewer to walk away thinking "well, it wasn't that bad", which is not a good thing in my opinion. A. Martinez was very good in the role as the condemned man and the chemistry between he and Jimmy Smits worked very well.

    In other news, Arnie married and Grace officially joined the firm. The latter could be great for the dynamics on the show. The former, not so much.
     
  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Season Five


    [​IMG]



    THE BITCH IS BACK / HAPPY TRAILS / LIE HARDER / ARMAND'S HAPPER / SMOKE GETS IN YOUR THIGHS / VOWEL PLAY


    Rosalind's return has ensured the season started with strength. Her suing the firm for sex discrimination and hauling everyone onto the stand proved very watchable indeed. We've seen all these characters in action separately, and it was good fun to see them in the courtroom en masse arguing over how things should be done and picking fault with the tactics of their own team.

    Ironically, where Rosalind's actions arguably had her at her most unpleasant, the proceedings served to flesh out her character and add new layers. In particular, the layers of vulnerability and loneliness came out of the picture painted by Mackenzie/Brackman et al of Rosalind as someone who cannot get along with people and has no friends. The harder they worked to prove how unpopular she is - even having Ros's estranged daughter brought in to testify against her - the more sympathy I gained for her, enriching the experience of watching her. Which latterly made her post-trial conversations with Leland - where they grew towards an understanding and even a possible friendship - completely credible. At this point in time, Diana Muldaur's name appearing in the post-title credits make me smile.

    Michael's father's terminal cancer - and indeed Michael's father himself - has proved to be a MacGuffin. It has to be one of the most pointless things to date, its only purpose being to allow Grace to join the firm thinking that Michael was leaving L.A. The series has copped out of Michael leaving to spend time with his father by having his father decide to come to L.A. instead. Which would be fair enough except... he hasn't shown up and there's been no mention of him in the last half dozen episodes.

    Grace herself is now involved with another lawyer. Or at least she was. It seems to be over now after a literal rollercoaster (they visited a funfair).

    Roxanne's father is now a recurring player and has been in most episodes so far this season. They've toned him down a little, thank God, but he's still irritatingly wacky. The good news is that it hasn't meant more of Roxanne as I feared it might. He seems to be interacting with other characters as much as his daughter and a dynamic duo situation is being created with him moving in with Benny. I don't remember him at all from the episodes I watched when I was younger, so here's hoping he doesn't stick around too long.

    Amanda Donohoe has arrived as C.J. Lamb - a character I do remember. She's brought a nice, fresh energy with her and is interacting well. So much so I'm even able to get past her occasional American pronunciation (something that always jars when delivered with a British accent). She has a great sidekick: Tommy Mullaney played by John Spencer who seemed very familiar to me. Like Blair Underwood, it turns out that the thing I recognised him from was those dim and distant viewings of L.A. Law.

    There's been another ongoing race-related case (a white policeman had shot a black kid dead). It seems James Earl Jones was unavailable. In his place is a very similar character played by Paul Winfield. The dilemma faced by Jonathan in having to defend the white cop was good for his character development and the eventual outcome - with Winfield's character giving Jonathan what he needed because he recognised there wasn't enough evidence of the cop's guilt - satisfying enough. There was even a nice moment of contempt for Michael.

    The most enjoyable part of the above case for me was that it meant more material for John Hancock as Judge Richard Armand. He's been a consistently excellent supporting player in the series going right back to the Pilot and there's something about his presence that I find reassuring. It's taken me this long to learn the actor's name, and I was rather shocked to realise this episode is only his eighth appearance (out of a total of eleven). It feels like he's been in a good many more than that. Anyway - now that I know it's a limited run, I'll be savouring his next three appearances.

    Stuart's heart attack feels a little bit like a manufactured drama - something the writers came up with so that he has a "thing" this season. However, that's not to say it doesn't work. Already there is much conflict due to Ann's overprotectiveness of him, and there have been some raised voices. In general, Stuart has been something of a disappointment to me across the entire run so far. At the very start of the season, I connected to him and enjoyed his courtship with Ann. I've lost that connection over the seasons, and it sometimes feels like the writers don't care for him quite as much as they do other characters. That said, sometimes a character just being present can add something to the feel of the show, and I still feel glad he's part of this one. Particularly with the changes that are going to happen to the cast by season's end.

    Douglas's wackiness continues. This season it's entered a new dimension - that of the real world. His round-faced sex worker wife having been mercifully despatched in the first couple of episodes, he's now made an appearance on Wheel Of Fortune and has won over Vanna White herself with his charms. In a nice bit of continuity, he responded to Vanna's kiss by gently farting and keeling over in a dead faint (he'd become involved with his sexual surrogate wife because he became flatulent when in sexual situations).

    John Harkins - Christine Cagney's former nemesis, Bruce Mansfield - appeared in an episode as someone who'd been shamed on a hidden camera show. Like Douglas's brief toupee-wearing stint, there was a very unpleasant message from the show's writers as the judge, jury and even Victor - his defence attorney - broke down in fits of laughter at his expense. It could be argued that the show was mocking vanity.* But as I commented during the Douglas episode, a woman who'd lost her hair wouldn't be subject to this ridicule. Nor would someone who'd had reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy. There was a token attempt to wrap the pass-taking in a wafer thin veneer of earnestness by touching on some of these points and speaking about respect and dignity, but the ironic bottom line here is that the writers of the show saw the opportunity for a cheap laugh just as much as the fictional hidden camera executives did. Still - it was very good to see Harkins again.

    The gay couple separated when one of them became incapacitated with ALS and was kidnapped by his estranged parents out of guilt was genuinely moving. The situation was horrific: with one of them unable to even blink his eyes to let the courtroom know what his wishes were, he was sent to spend his final months with his parents, knowing he would not be able to be looked after by the person he needed most in the world. It made a very effective point about same sex couples not being legally recognised due to discriminatory laws regarding marriage - once again a hot topic in 2017. But over and above this, it was a stark reminder that in many situations the legal system is geared towards discriminating against all non-married people. It really got me thinking about western society's over-reverence of the ritual of marriage, and its automatic bias towards those who do not - or cannot - participate.



    *I recognise that my comments here might seem a little contradictory, given my observations about JP's hair in the previous post. I'm not going to provide an explanation other than to draw your attention to the spirit in which the observations were made and that in which the writers of the following episode used a toupee as a plot device for a cheap laugh.
     
  5. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    NEW KIDNEY ON THE BLOCK

    Tommy procuring a black market kidney for Grace's dying friend after someone with more money had purchased the kidney that was intended for said friend proved a good watch. Tommy really proved himself to be a force with which to be reckoned during this episode. Grace's moral dilemma - torn between her standing as a former judge and D.A. and the brutal facts of watching her friend lose her sight and die - gave the proceedings an electric undercurrent. Susan Dey's facial expressions all the way through the episode, Grace's initial refusal to be part of the plan and her finally thanking Tommy for doing what she couldn't do to save her friend made this a gripping arc for her. Even more satisfying was the conflict it created within the firm, with Leland finding out what had happened in his building and tearing a strip from both Tommy and Grace. There was something humbling about watching Grace lose a degree of standing in this episode.

    Benny and Murray's escapades feel very disposable. Their barroom brawl felt like filler, as did the run up to it with them passing themselves off as Leland and Douglas. Both work best as more peripheral characters: and Murray barely works at all for me. That said, I did enjoy the warmth of the episode's closing scene which simply showed them watching an old Lucy episode and laughing. It was a small but very effective moment. My hope is for more of this and less of the cartoony stuff in episodes to come.

    Michael's trial this episode contained some interesting social commentary. He was representing someone who, after burning a flag during a protest, had been punched out by a thug. Through its dialogue, the episode approached the sticky subject of the importance some place on patriotism and symbols of it. For instance:


    While the dialogue above comes from a doctor brought in to provide an excuse for the man who had committed assault, it does raise some very valid points. Watching the storyline unfold - before the doctor's comments - I had commented myself how unsettling I found certain aspects of patriotism: The unhealthy attachment to symbols. The xenophobic "them and us" dynamic that it creates. The indoctrination of children in educational establishments. And the stigma attached to those who question - or even disagree with - elements of it.

    So with this in mind, I was interested in watching this to discover that flag burning was allowed under American free speech law. Which clearly meant that the person who had burnt the flag hadn't broken a law, while the person who had seriously assaulted the flag burner was the person who had committed the crime. And yet, in another statement, the episode's end saw the thug let off the hook and the man who had used his free speech penalised. Leading up to this, the bias of the jury had been shown when the thug's representative proved his point by burning a flag. The entire courtroom gasped in comic unison.

    In some episodes, the judge has taken it upon themselves to chastise the jury for making a decision that was clearly wrong given the facts and overthrow the decision. I'm not clear on why that wouldn't happen in a situation like this where someone who had indisputably broken a law was rewarded and the victim punished. Perhaps, like the doctor's observations, it was a true reflection of some societies in the early Nineties. And once again, it's perhaps more relevant today than ever.
     
  6. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    GOD REST YE MURRAY GENTLEMEN / SPLATOON / PUMP IT UP

    C.J. and Tommy are now in the credits. Sometimes I fast forward the credits and sometimes not, so I'm not sure exactly when they were added. But there they are, making things feel more expansive.

    In my previous post I hoped for more smaller moments between Benny and Murray, and that's exactly what the first of these episodes gave me. The cold opening had Murray confused over the date and flying into a rage because Benny brought in a Christmas tree during what Murray thought was October. It was good to see these two at work, with Murray being restrained by Benny ("you're having your Alzheimers again"). The next scene they shared was one of those sweet ones in which Murray had wired up the Christmas tree lights to the TV remote control and put a present under the tree for Benny - wrapped in December's newspapers.

    So I got what I wished for with these two. And then in the next scene Benny returned to find Murray dead from a stroke, rocking in his chair and the strains of Holly Jolly Christmas eerily emanating from the TV (or radio). It was very effective due to its suddenness and mid-episode placement. I didn't see it coming. I feel a little sad about the loss. His final few scenes finally utilised the character well: the Lucy scene from the previous episode has become even more meaningful in retrospect. It's a shame Murray had to go, but I'd rather he exited with me feeling good about him than a further series of the larger-than-life cartoony antics that are David E. Kelley's sometime trademark. Unfortunately, Murray is one of the characters that seemed to have been singled out for this treatment. But I feel good about the way his final scenes were handled.

    There was an awful lot happening in the Christmas episode which - in theory - one would think would make the 45 minutes feel shorter. Actually it felt like it was much longer. But not in a bad way. It was almost like watching one of those TV mini-series where by the time you're half an hour in you've experienced someone's entire childhood and adolescence. The episode seemed densely written and showed just how efficiently the time can be used with so many soapy developments and revelations in amongst the procedurals (this is much the same experience I had watching the Cagney & Lacey episode Turn, Turn, Turn Part One).

    It was good to see Noah Cowen back. The writers strike a perfect balance in writing for his Tourette's Syndrome. It manages to be shocking, funny and poignant at the same time. It's not always comfortable. When interacting with Jonathan, for instance, Noah intermittently utters the word "nigger" involuntarily. The fact that Noah is seen to fight against his utterances and that Jonathan himself ignores it, recognising it as a symptom of Noah's condition speaks volumes in terms of acceptance. During his two-episode stint, Noah has proved to be a memorable and likeable character. Thanks to actor Lenny Wolpe, the character of Noah keeps the audience's empathy the whole time and isn't diminished by the humour which while it gets close to the line of questionable feels more good-natured than malicious or cheap. If anything, I would hazard a guess that the storyline may have proved a consciousness raising exercise.

    In Noah's original episode, he'd been fired because of his disability. A separate storyline in Noah's second episode parallels this one. In this case it's John Glover, playing a doctor, Paul Kohler who has been disfigured by Neurofibromatosis (a name that trips easily off my tongue thanks to Dallas). Once again, he had been fired because his condition is viewed to make him anti-social. Kohler is shown to be a tragic figure. Even after winning the case, he's shown to not really win. His counter offer to his former practice manager was to pay him the figure awarded as salary over three years and allow him to return to the practice. An offer which was rejected. Like Noah, it's shown that Kohler's key aim is to be part of society and to be accepted. And it's sad that he couldn't.

    In soapy storyline terms: Grace and Victor have hooked up, to the chagrin of Michael. Leland and Rosalind have also hooked up to the chagrin of... well, everyone. Stuart and Ann are an item again after a short separation (Stuart's turn as Rambowitz in the paintball exercise was the most interesting he has been in quite some time). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Arnie is cheating on his wife with a client.

    Abby has found out she has been overlooked to become a partner, with major fallout between she and Ann. Ann, meanwhile, is horrified to learn of Leland's partnership bribe to Abby and Jonathan. This and his affair with Rosalind prompted her to call a meeting to discuss concerns. There's so much bad feeling in the partnership at the moment... it's great!!!
     
  7. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    REST IN PIECES / HE'S A CROWD / DANCES WITH SHARKS / THE GODS MUST BE LAWYERS / THE BEVERLY HILLS HANGERS / GOOD TO THE LAST DROP / MUTINIES ON THE BANZAI / AS GOD IS MY CO-DEFENDANT / SPEAK, LAWYERS, FOR ME

    The storylines this season are so tightly woven and absolutely riveting. I know that I was watching the show avidly by this point the first time round. Curiously, though, there's no element of nostalgia for me. I remember very little of the show other than a general knowledge of most of the characters. Even watching these episodes isn't jogging my memory.

    The procedurals remain really watchable. Among the cases handled have been a military court appearance for Grace; a man with multiple personalities - one of whom is a killer; a trans woman who was fired when her gender status came out (interestingly, she was represented by Douglas who eventually overcame his personal discomfort - this felt satisfying given his views in the opening episodes of the series which weren't directly referenced here); a couple whose faith prevented them from getting medical assistance for their gravely ill child and a fascinating trial of a woman accused of hanging her husband to inherit his fortune before he divorced her that allowed the audience to get invested in a whodunit. Michael did his best Columbo and worked that last one out, and I have to tip my hat at how well written it was.

    There have been one or two fails along the way. As God Is My Co-Defendant saw C.J. and Zoey in a b-story where they spoke about American law to international visitors that seemed intended to be wacky and lighthearted. Indeed, it was both, but it just didn't work. There was a sense that everyone involved - writers and actors both - were trying too hard. C.J. is one of the characters I remember best from my first time round, and I'm sorry to say that I don't feel she's as much fun as I remember. Amanda Donohoe is great, but she's being very poorly used so far.

    The personal crises and romantic dramas continue to captivate. Victor's fight to allow his brother's life support to be switched off after he was brain damaged in a car accident was appropriately harrowing. Victor and Grace are now lovers and Grace is pregnant. Arnie's marriage and Arnie himself as a result have both broken down. The personal material has also provided two of L.A. Law's most iconic and memorable scenes (and two that I can remember watching before): Rosalind's shocking death by lift shaft and American TV's seminal "lesbian kiss" between C.J. and Abby. Watching Rosalind's death, I found it satisfying that the person I was watching with - a first time viewer - went through a mini gasp/hold breath/holy crap cycle at the sheer unexpectedness of the scene.

    But it's the internal schisms that are really propelling this season. Each episode seems to up the ante and drive the partnership further and further apart. There's a sense that the whole foundation of the series is crumbling and a feeling that things can never be the same. It's very soapy... but it's good soap. Great soap, in fact. After five seasons of seeing these relationships working I'm invested. So to suddenly see them not working feels quite shocking. Each new episode sees a new revelation, betrayal or rivalry. The partner's concern with the way Leland is running things has escalated, with melodramatic heated business meetings, firings, en masse resignations and court battles as Michael left to start his own firm, followed by Grace, Victor, Abby and Jonathan. The dynamics are fascinating. I particularly enjoyed an arc between Ann and Grace which started with Ann's hurt at not being asked to leave with them leading to a conversation where Grace explained the reasons and they reached an understanding. Which was quickly shattered when Grace realised Ann had broken a confidence and given Leland's firm leverage in the process. The butting of heads between Michael and Leland/Douglas has been great. Dave has made a dramatic return. Benny has been an interesting watch. He didn't appear in several episodes, then he was pretty much a background character for another several (he literally didn't say a word). Just as I gave voice to wondering if Larry Drake was ill with something affecting his voice, Benny had a meltdown and started screaming and throwing things round the filing room. It then dawned on me that his silence was the series' subtle way of showing the character internalising his stress about the office dramas and it going unnoticed by everyone who was too wrapped up in themselves. Very impressive.

    The last episode I watched featured Harry Hamlin's departure from the show, in a fitting ending where he walked round the darkened office by himself and left bidding it - and the audience - goodbye. I've had my struggles with Michael. The seemingly endless Gracie/Mickey slobbering of the early seasons still resonates - and not in a good way. His acting can jar occasionally (to balance it, though, there are equally occasional moments of greatness). And I still can't quite believe him as a series lead. But he does represent a lot of what this show is about, and the writers got every bit of mileage out of his history with the show and the characters in his final episodes. With more departures around the corner, I'm curious about how Season Six is going to look. And indeed, how Season Five is going to end.
     
  8. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    THERE GOES THE JUDGE / ON THE TOAD AGAIN / SINCE I FELL FOR YOU

    An unexpected end to the seasons. Knowing that the season finale is the last episode for both Victor and Abby, I thought the building work going on in the building signified a dramatic exit along the lines of "death by faulty wiring" or perhaps something even bloodier. As it was, there was nothing in the episode that suggested they would not appear in the next, which leads me to think that writers and actors didn't know they wouldn't be back. Perhaps contract negotiations broke down.

    Both characters, however, had some significant life changes in their final couple of episodes. Abby was made partner and decided to give the lesbian thing a go with C.J. (the two events unrelated, I hasten to add). Victor and Grace got married in a nice twist. Even better, they were married by Judge Armand ("Life sentence with no parole", he declared as it became official). And the icing on the cake was that Mark Gilliam was a witness. He'd barged into chambers thinking Victor - his representative and friend - was settling his suit against a medical company for not covering him for his AIDS treatment. With everything this character has been through, it was nice to see him get a happy ending of sorts by winning his case. His sometimes tactile friendship with Victor and Grace was an interesting watch, and I couldn't help thinking it was quite a statement to make in the early Nineties.

    The pairings between regulars have really notched up. Not to be outdone by Leland & Rosalind; C.J. & Abby and Grace & Victor, Arnie and Roxanne have consummated their relationship - falling through the ceiling into Leland's office. This gave Leland one of my favourite moments to date as he saw they'd landed on the bust of Rosalind that she'd left him in her will and chastised them, lamenting "You've broken Ros."

    Ann's case was quite gripping, representing a mistress accused of killing her lover. Thinking her guilty, she'd used the only defence she could: accusing the man's wife. When her client was freed, Ann suspected she may want to kidnap the man's son and so warned his wife. Only for the mistress to be shot dead at the family's home with the young son claiming to have killed both his father and the mistress. Now Ann's breached a confidence by revealing this to prevent the wife from getting imprisoned. And got herself suspended from practicing law. Stuart has joined her after an outburst towards the judge (one of the character's few memorable scenes for some time). I'm looking forward to seeing where this is going. Jill Eikenberry is always a treasure to watch.


    I rounded the season off by watching the 100th Episode special. Not having seen much - if any - behind-the-scenes material, it was good to see some background and interview with the actors and crew.

    Rosalind has definitely been a highlight of this season. Every scene of hers has been memorable and some downright iconic. With so many exits, I may have approached the thought of Season Six more tentatively. As it is, the injection of newer characters this season have worked fine. Tommy in particular holds my attention whenever he's on-screen, and Zoey and C.J. have fitted in well too. So I'm feeling hopeful that another good year might lie ahead.
     
  9. JamesF

    JamesF Soap Chat Member

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    I've just caught up with this thread - really interesting observations about a show that seems really oddly forgotten in TV history given how popular it was at the time.

    I watched the series for the first time about two years ago and although a lot of it has now muddled in my mind, you've had very similar reactions to me I think. The fourth and fifth seasons which are when, I believe, David E. Kelley took over were absolutely compulsive viewing for me. I rarely find episodic dramas binge worthy but Rosalind's inclusion just seemed to impact on everybody and as the tensions mounted, I was glued.

    Interestingly I do remember season 6 but in the interests of not spoiling anything, I'll keep quiet!
     
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  10. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you James. I'm glad you've enjoyed reading through.


    Yes indeed. These two seasons have gone by very quickly and been a very easy watch. Kelley's humour can be a little too broad for me at times, but it's pulled right in in L.A. Law and rarely crosses the line into silliness. Even with toad licking and the like.


    I hope you'll join in with some thoughts as I get stuck in. I'm just about to sit down and watch the Season Six premiere.
     
  11. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Season Six


    [​IMG]



    SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NUDE / TV OR NOT TV / DO THE SPIKE THING


    For the first time in a few seasons, I'm feeling less enthused about L.A. Law. The weird thing is that these early Season Six episodes aren't ostensibly different from the episodes I've been watching directly before. But there are some changes that feel a bit forced. And perhaps they were.

    My biggest gripe is that Victor and Abby's departures feel like a slap in the face to fans. There's a definite sense that the writers were planning a future on the show for these two characters. Both were set to begin exciting new phases: Victor as a married man; Abby as a full partner with the firm getting involved in a new relationship with CJ. Instead, these two original main cast members have been despatched offscreen with a couple of lines of throwaway dialogue from other characters. For a show that is so well-constructed this is especially disappointing.

    Adding insult to injury, replacing these two in the main titles is Sheila Kelley. How this has happened is beyond me, but it's a travesty. Her character is so dull I can't even remember her name.* Apart from sleeping with Arnie in her initial appearance she hasn't done anything of note. I'm not interested in her professional life nor her personal one. And don't even get me started on that pouty thing she does with her lips. To give it some context, she feels like she would comfortably fit right in to early Nineties Dallas. There's something about Kelley's blandness that represents what's wrong with the entire show at the moment. Mark my words: nothing good can come from this.

    Two potentially more interesting characters have slipped into the show. One quietly, one not so much. Our quiet entry is Tom Verica as Bill Castroverde. He was in a couple of Season Five episodes, but I missed his credit in his first and didn't immediately recognise him. I associate him with his in roles Central Park West (as the wavering spouse who I vaguely recall became a psychotic stalker after the ill-advised revamp) and Will & Grace as Grace's jilted lover from the Pilot. I hadn't realised how good looking he was before. He has a kind of Ben Affleck quality to him here and certainly commands attention when he's on screen.

    The louder of the two new arrivals is Conchata Ferrell as Susan Bloom. I'd forgotten all about her but I do remember this as being the role that probably brought Conchata's name to my attention (even though I'd probably seen her in numerous appearances before this). She's a nice enough addition, though as a new female character who is rubbing everyone up the wrong way I do find myself wanting to compare her with Rosalind. And she ain't no Rosalind Shays. Wisely, they've gone in a different direction. I'll watch with interest, but apart from ruffling some feathers with a little bluster she's done nothing of any note yet.

    Along with Victor and Abby, Grace and Victor's baby has also been written casually out - again something that came from the dialogue. Now I find myself wondering: what was the point? It served no purpose. Just like Victor and Grace's wedding (and entire relationship). There was no drama. No conflict. No challenges. And nothing has changed as a result of it. It has the air that the writers are madly improvising to accommodate actors' sudden exits. There's been an attempt to inject an undercurrent of grief into Grace's arc so far, with which Susan Dey is doing a wonderful job and which feels like it's building towards some big breakdown or outburst. But I can't stop thinking that it's all so meaningless. Like the entire latter half of Season Five was simply a series of MacGuffins that have left me feeling ripped off as a viewer.

    The main fallout of this is that I feel reluctant to invest in other ongoing stories from here on in. Zoey and Jonathan getting together could have been great if done well. Instead, they went for the soapy cliche of Tommy discovering them in bed together and I found myself rolling my eyes at yet another hasty pairing within the firm. It's starting to feel like Melrose Place where the writers are too lazy to work on the subtleties of the group dynamics and so take the easy and predictable route of romantic entanglements and love triangles. The working environment provides the perfect opportunity to study all kinds of human relationships and interactions: something that has been a strength of this show. Random, meaningless bed-hopping is starting to tarnish the show by bastardising the entire premise. Please make it stop.The Arnie/Roxanne pairing gets filed here too.

    Likewise, Arnie becoming a TV anchorman feels a bit like the writers running a little empty.

    The procedural cases continue to work well. So that's something.



    * I had to look it up. It's Gwen.
     
  12. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    SPLEEN IT TO ME, LUCY / MONKEY ON MY BACK LOT / BADFELLAS / LOSE THE BOSS

    I'm running empty on things to say about this show. The court cases hold my interest, but there's a sense with most of them that they won't matter by the next week. Meanwhile, the personal storylines are not holding my interest and there's little interest in watching way the group interact with each other at the office. There's the odd gem of a scene - a dialogue between Grace and Ann was a joy to watch. But far too much tedium.

    The last episode I watched was a Gwen-heavy affair which left me with a headache from rolling my eyes. I cannot STAND the woman. The character is an anomaly to start with - part secretary, part law student, part love interest. And wasn't she some kind of wannabe actress? A little like Abby in early episodes, it's like the writers struggle to know what to do with her. Unlike Michele Greene, though, Sheila Kelley has no warmth or charisma to engage the viewer. She plays Gwen as though she's carrying a huge chip on her shoulder and it gets tedious. The writing doesn't always help. She's written as a victim too much of the time, facing sexual harassment first from Arnie and now the new British guy. But I can't help thinking the writers are conscious of Kelley's limitations. There's the occasional line that suggests Gwen is a powerful woman fighting back, but unfortunately those moments are played exactly the same way as all her other scenes and she ends up as victimy as ever. Her regular diatribes feel more like whiny outbursts than genuine rebuttals or learned observations. "He made it perfectly clear what he wanted," she pouted about Arnie "Complete subordination. That word isn't even in my vocabulary". Ann, Grace or even Abby could ride the wave of this line and mean them, taking the viewer with them to a place of empowerment. From Sheila Kelley these just feel like empty words, read from a page of more words. All meaning is lost (it didn't help that this particular line came from a scene between Gwen and the show's other resident whiny victim: Roxanne). As a result, the character's moment of "empowerment" at the end of the episode - calling in to Arnie's show and blackmailing him on air - felt completely hollow. Like Red Riding Hood kicking the shins of the big bad wolf. Unlike other women on this show who manage to shine without having to make someone else look bad. At the moment, almost two more seasons more of this woman is a very unattractive prospect.
     
  13. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    THE NUT BEFORE CHRISTMAS / GUESS WHO'S COMING TO MURDER / BACK TO THE SUTURE / ALL ABOUT SLEAZE / I'M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP, MR MARKOWITZ

    Good news/bad news when Tom Verica made his exit as Billy. Having been a reliable-but-underused player for the first third of the season and a couple of episodes in Season Five, he was at least given a half-decent final episode, accepting his firing graciously by showing up at the Christmas party dressed in a Father Christmas suit; and then talking a suicidal temp down from the ledge outside a window she'd smashed. He continued to convince, and I found his eyes very expressive in the window-ledge scene. I'd like Billy to have stuck around longer. He scores, too, for avoiding the sexual shenanigans that all the others seem to be involved in.

    Office pairings in these few episodes include the continuation of the Tommy/Zoey/Jonathan triangle; slutty Gwen throwing herself at the brittle British guy (after first pouting her way through her usual martyred "I'm not even remotely attracted to you" dance) and even Leland making a pass at Grace, planting a big smacker on her. I struggle to think of how much lower they can go with this.

    The Tommy/Zoey/Jonathan thing is proving involving enough, with Tommy having shot dead a guy who Zoey had been prosecuting who had come after her (in drag, to boot). The scene had shades of Greg Sumner "saving" Abby from Mark St. Claire by shooting him dead after the situation was defused. That's exactly what happened here. John Spencer has done a nice job with Tommy's ensuing guilt over it, something that has brought these two closer together. Jonathan is exactly the kind of guy you'd hate to see your ex get involved with, being all insecure and the controlling alpha male type, so it's easy to empathise with Tommy here.

    In a similar vein, Ann's (male) nanny has made a series of passes at her which Stuart has shrugged off and suggested she ignore (when did he get to be so secure?) and C.J. asked Arnie to defend her lover who was going through a messy divorce and custody battle. It was a watchable scenario and the upshot of this was that C.J. outed herself to her colleagues, adding another layer to the proceedings.

    Kevin Spacey made a fun-but-bizarre guest appearance as an eccentric potential client. Ken Kercheval had an appearance as a corrupt chemical manufacturer. While it was a fairly thankless role, it was interesting to see Ken Kercheval and John Spencer share the screen since Spencer's looks and style of acting have frequently reminded me of Kercheval earlier on in his Dallas role.

    In an unexpected turn of events, Benny has now become the temporary legal guardian to a young homeless boy he'd taken in.

    Veronica Cartwright has returned as Margaret Flanagan. We're seeing a different side to her this time round as she's having flashbacks to childhood abuse and has decided to sue her father. I believe the next episode will be her final one. Flanagan has been a great recurring character, particularly during the Earl Williams trial, so I'm curious to see how things end. Let's hope the final episode is worthy of a memorable character.
     
  14. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    STEAL IT AGAIN, SAM / DIET, DIET, MY DARLING / GREAT BALLS AFIRE /FROM HERE TO PATERNITY

    After the frustrating lack of closure, I was very happy to see Victor return for the case against the drunk driver who'd killed his brother. There was a lot packed in to the forty five minutes, with a lot of screen-time for the character and some satisfying sense of resolution balanced with the recognition that life is going on for Victor outside of the show and will continue to do so. Jimmy Smits's return has made me even more curious about the circumstances of him leaving the show. Was this appearance contractual, à la Farrah's guest stints on Charlie's Angels? Or was it something he wanted to do to honour the character? Perhaps it was both. Whatever the case, I'm glad it's happened.

    Veronica Cartwright's recurring run on the show has been enjoyable. Margaret Flanagan's final episode was suitably dramatic, though with no indication she wouldn't be returning. The Earl Williams trial was one of the series' triumphs and I very much associate her with that block of episodes.

    The main cast seems to be very large at the moment. Three of the main cast have left over the last season, yet no less than six new characters have appeared in the titles during that time. It never feels too busy, and I suspect it has given the main characters the luxury of time. A character from the main titles may not appear on screen for several episodes. And like the saying goes, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

    There have been more long-lost relatives in the past few episodes. This time it's the daughter Stuart didn't know existed. She's mildly irritating, but that's meant to be the case. At least in part. As always, Jill Eikenberry is shining through her role in the events.

    As if that's not soapy enough, Arnie's smitten colleage has thrown herself at him and, when he refused she's met with Roxanne and led her to believe they had sex, leading to Arnie and Rox splitting up. The seduction scene between Arnie and Julie led to an eye-watering injury where his balls got twisted and his left one threatened to become gangrenous. To which I'm sure every male viewer crossed their legs in sympathy. The episode titles continue to be amusing, and this one being called Great Balls Afire is a great example of that.

    With this show now having two British characters (played by British actors), my language radar is honing in on their vocabulary and pronunciation to see just how British they're allowed to be. It still sounds wrong to my ears to hear C.J. say "elevator", for example, but there it is. Meanwhile, my ears pricked up when Frank Kittredge twice pronounced "harassment" with the emphasis on the second syllable in the style of Frank Spencer: something a middle class Brit just wouldn't have done twenty five years ago (today, sadly, is a different matter). Confusing me further, a scene later in the same episode saw him pronounce it the "British" way, with the first syllable stressed. Michael Cumpsty is from West Riding, which has me wondering if it's as much a regional British variation as it is a mid-Atlantic thing.

    With Tom Verica's exit, there's a new bit of man candy replacing him in the office: Alex DePalma. So far, so good. His unwilling involvement in a sting operation against a judge means there's interest already.

    Grace taking on the case of a baseball player who was accused of rape echoed an episode from late Season One - that of a footballer accused of acquaintance rape. This one proved to be even more fascinating from a psychological aspect. The footballer passed a polygraph test and it was interesting to see the alleged victim testifying very convincingly and thinking how I'd probably believe her if I was on the jury. And then, as Grace and Jonathan prepped their client to take the stand, going into more detail, it became clear that he'd passed the polygraph because his definition of rape was very different to that of the victim, Grace, Jonathan and the law. He'd convinced himself that no meant yes. And the revelation that he had committed rape made clear to him that he had done so on many occasions with many different women. With Grace pulling him from the stand, the evidence seemed pointed towards a guilty, but with the jury taken in by his fame, he was found not guilty and quickly bought into his own press, with Grace finding him in a bar surrounded by young women Like the Season One footballer case, elements of this one brought the Ched Evans case to mind (though the L.A. Law episodes steered clear of a pouty girlfriend offering financial "inducements" to key witnesses and the sportsman's misogynistic fans harassing the victim).
     
  15. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    P.S. Your Shrink Is Dead

    Surprising myself, I'm quite enjoying the current twists and turns in the Arnie/Roxanne romance. This episode saw him fight fire with fire by recording a conversation with Julia in which she incriminated herself and let Arnie off the hook. Even after this, I've lost track of whether Arnie and Rox are on or off though. Arnie's therapist has died mid-session. To what avail I'm not sure.

    Susan and her toyboy are most definitely on. Or at least, they're now married. But it seems it's for public consumption, which has shown a slightly tragic private side to Susan.

    Benny's foster son has now teamed-up with Douglas's boy. There's something about watching two bratty kids get drunk that's a real turn off.

    Language watch: Frank pronounces the word "schedule" as "skedyool". This has me so curious. Is he doing this deliberately to fit in, I wonder (perhaps at the orders of the show's producers) or has he just subconsciously picked up the pronunciation? Or maybe this is how he's always pronounced it: a regional British thing. Enquiring minds want to know.
     
  16. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    LOVE IN BLOOM / SILENCE OF THE LAMBSKINS

    The relationship web is as tangled as ever. In these episodes, Susan and her green card hubby are now really having sex. Douglas and Sheila are moving towards a reconciliation, which in spite of their history I find myself buying. I'm even starting to root for them. Jonathan and Zoey's relationship seems to be constantly affected by racial politics and I can't help thinking the writers are making mountains out of molehills. Whorey Gwen has thrown herself at sleazy Frank. Gwen being Gwen, by the next day she'd found something to be incensed about and was bursting into Frank's office calling him a son-of-a-bitch. Can they do nothing else with this character. She seems to be on an endless loop of sexual tension/consummation/fallout. She's definitely the most irritating thing to have happened to this series. Benny has lost his foster son (finally - Larry Drake got a scene worthy of his talent for the first time in ages). Meanwhile, Mike's sculptress wife from Jaws The Revenge is working with - and seems to have fallen for - Tommy. And who can blame her.

    Stuart represented Don, a condom manufacturer whose American flag condoms had been confiscated at customs for being obscene. Silly as it was, this proved an entertaining little diversion. And it proved to be a sequel to the previous flag burning/first amendment episode. Plus it provided opportunities galore for tongue-in-cheek comments:


    DON: "It's the best damn sheath I ever made, and I'm not just talking visual impact. The stars: they're raised ever so slightly for the added stimulation of the female partner. The stripes: triple-ribbed. Maximum pleasure... I guess this puts the kibosh on my Lady Liberty model. The torch forms a reservoir in the tip."

    ARNIE: "I think it's ok to use as long as you fold it after you take it off the pole."
    GRACE: "And don't let it touch the ground."

    JONATHAN: "It's our flag and I think we should respect it. Wherever it's hung."


    OPPOSING COUNSEL: "Your honour, I'd like to enter this Patriot condom as respondent's exhibit A."
    JUDGE: "So entered."


    STUART: "Inspector, we realise this can be offensive to some people but there is a deeper; a more... penetrating, if you will, issue here."
    JUDGE: "Counsellor."


    OPPOSING COUNSEL: "How does wearing the flag on a man's genitalia constitute free expression."
    INSPECTOR: "It's not like he was hanging it out his window on Veteran's Day."
    STUART: "But if he were hanging it out his window on Veteran's Day that would be free speech? Is that what you're saying?"


    STUART: "Your honour. If it's ok to burn [the flag] one can reasonably argue it's ok to ejaculate into it."



    The client's office was great fun with posters of fictitious condoms everywhere, bizarrely shaped inflatable rubber items and some fake willies on a shelf in the background. For those keeping score, he won the case, but the victory was appealed and as he was losing orders, Don decided to ship the Patriot to Japan from where there was some demand for it: "Gives new meaning to the phrase 'Rising Sun', doesn't it?" His parting gift to Stuart was a six pack of Patriots.


    Language watch: British Frank pointed out something under his "nightstand", rather than his bedside table. Meanwhile, the word "Patriot" was used so many times during the course of the episode I was on the verge of cracking and forgetting how to say it in British English.
     
  17. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    BEAUTY AND THE BREAST / DOUBLE BREASTED SUIT / SAY GOODNIGHT, GRACIE

    Quite a satisfying end to the season, with Grace getting a decent exit. Victor returning to sweep her away to New York also semi-redeemed the show for his lack of closure at the end of last season. That said, with all the groundwork laid in the first few seasons - where virtually every episode ended with Grace and Michael slobbering over one another - it still feels a little strange that those two didn't end up together. Still, I'll definitely take it over poor Abby's exit.

    Speaking of exits, Frank had been found out as a generally nasty man and was on the verge of being asked to leave by Leland, Arnie and Susan. There was a great shouting match between Leland and Susan which came from her being unhappy he'd gone over his head. Both angrily agreed they were as stubborn as mules, but reached an understanding ("Frank's history", Susan angrily exclaimed as she stormed out). It all came out because Gwen realised (again!) that he'd used her after hearing an answer phone message from the woman in question. Naturally, this gave her a chance to pout and be all outraged, self-righteous and victimy. She floated out false hope by making a show of packing to leave but was asked to stay on by Leland... with a promotion. Which means another season of Gwen. Jesus!

    CJ became involved with a blind male lawyer. The chemistry was good, and as she's shown to be completely comfortable with her bisexuality, CJ's choice of an opposite sex partner didn't feel jarring in a Steven Carrington way. The story's only let down was that the lawyer didn't don a red suit with a horned cowl and swing round the streets when evening came.

    Zoey perjuring herself on the stand was quite a moment. She's become consistently watchable, as has the nice black head judge lady person who has been around for years and who in this instance bullied Zoey into her untruth. And then, just as Zoey is about to redeem herself by telling the truth, she's shot by the man who lost the case because of her lie. The moment when he produced the gun in the corridor and started randomly firing at people gave a sense of disorientation and shock that a situation like this must have. The series got to have this way, first giving the impression that Zoey was dead - lying completely still with her eyes staring up at nothing - and then cutting back to an extreme close up where we can hear her struggling to breathe. So we get the double shock followed by the cliffhanger. This would definitely have been resonating in my mind all summer had I been watching in real time.
     
  18. JamesF

    JamesF Soap Chat Member

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    We had a similar reaction then! I made the dubious mistake of looking up the behind-the-scenes producer shuffling before embarking upon the whole series so I knew in advance that Kelley and Bochco had taken a back seat at the start of season 6. Combined with the standard five year contract term for main players, I expected a different feel to proceedings but it wasn't quite as disastrous as I expected. It just seemed far more disjointed and lacked the polish and addictive nature of seasons 4 and 5.

    Right. Even thinking about her makes me need to take a deep, cleansing breath. Now I'm sure Sheila Kelley is a perfectly lovely person. But I had such a violent dislike and resentment of Gwen and, tbh Kelley's performance in the role, that I don't think I could ever watch another show with her in it. What the hell was she supposed to add to the ensemble? She was just a vortex of bland. She whined about anything and everything. We were supposed to buy her as being bright, feisty and sexually irresistible but she came across as an ill-defined, simpering, entitled leech. Perhaps it was a case of the actress playing against the writing or something (if I'm going to be charitable). Brace yourself for her season 7 storylines if you've not already started...

    I had completely forgotten about this character until reading through but yes, he brought some charisma with him. I seem to recall he he had some likeability or at least watchability that wasn't there with some of the other newbies.

    From memory I was lukewarm towards most of the newer characters in later seasons (Tommy and Zoey being an exception) but I did enjoy Susan Bloom. I could see that she would be a marmite character and while you're entirely right that she's no Rosalind, Susan seemed to have potential to fill that hole, albeit in a completely different way. I also liked the Hollywood aspect she brought with her which had usually only come to the show through guest characters and stories of the week. With the likes of Gwen and cluttering of newer characters, it seemed that the producers were throwing anything at the wall to see what would stick. Susan at least stood out from the crowd for me.

    Ultimately Susan Dey stayed a season too long. I think they could have done more with her but it just fizzled and she seemed to hover around the office looking for a storyline.

    I thought this was great. They clearly realised the actress had a spark and brought her back to do something with it.

    Overall whilst season 6 seemed chaotic, season 7 took on a different tone again... try and bear with it as there's still gold to be found.
     
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  19. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I grew to enjoy a great deal of Season Six, but that initial cast change really took some getting used to. Having just begun Season Seven I'm experiencing the same thing, though to a lesser degree.



    You've summed up my feelings about the character.

    It puzzles me that she's been in the show for so long and getting a healthy amount of screen time for doing nothing in particular while more interesting characters have come and gone. I've come to assume Sheila Kelley had a very good relationship with someone who had a say in running the show. In fact at one point I looked online to confirm an assumption that she must be related to David E. Kelley but didn't find anything to verify it.


    You're right. Susan was one of the things I grew to enjoy about Season Six.


    Underused as she was, I still enjoyed her presence during Season Six very much. Particularly because she was - for the most part - without the romantic complications of previous seasons.

    Thanks. I've started it and so far, so good. I'll go into some more depth on it in my next post here.
     
  20. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Season Seven


    [​IMG]



    L.A. LAWLESS / SECOND TIME AROUND / ZO LONG


    Another season, another cast cull. No less than five of the main cast have been removed from the main titles with just one addition to replace them. The overall feeling is of a series making cuts and winding down.

    Grace, naturally, is the biggest loss on paper. A lead character who has been on board practically since show's first season. Susan Dey has never received lower than second billing, remember. And she was first-billed for her final season. But she's the character I haven't spent too much time missing in these first three episodes. It felt like her time to leave and she had a decent exit from the show. A happily ever after, to boot.

    Frank was on the way out. It was clear he'd been fired in the final episode of Season Six and despite his exit feeling there are a couple of "i"s not dotted, his absence is expected.

    CJ and Susan's exits feel like more of a blow to the series. There was no sign of them planning to leave. CJ hasn't proved quite as outrageous or controversial as I remember, but she has good chemistry with her screenmates and has proved watchable in most storylines. The end of Season Six seemed to be setting up a new relationship with Daredevil which showed some potential.

    Zoey came back to have an exit storyline over the first three episodes of the new season. I've found it to be very well constructed. Cecil Hoffman's billing changing from the main title to a post title credit was the only indication that she was leaving and there has been the satisfaction of seeing her recover from her trauma a changed person and realising that she wants out. She had some nice scenes with Ruby - the nice, stern, black, lady D.A. which was pleasing considering their arc last season. Especially enjoyable were the final scenes between Zoey and Tommy. I will miss their chemistry, but Tommy has come a long way from his introduction as CJs sidekick and meshes so well with the cast that any fear that he might be diminished as a character by the departure of Zoey as his main motivator is minimal.

    A. Martinez has joined the main cast as Daniel Morales. So far I'd describe him as adequate. Sadly, nobody's mentioned the time he went to the gas chamber, but some spontaneous-feeling dialogue between Daniel and Stuart mentioned that he'd previously been based in Santa Barbara. I couldn't help feeling this was a tongue-in-cheek nod to his previous form on that soap.


    It's a bold choice for the show to feature the L.A. riots, and yet at the same time it feels organic and right. Stuart's ordeal of being dragged from his car and beaten, gave the event a human face which allowed the viewer to attach themselves to the events.

    Something about the depiction of the riots has reminded me that we're now into the early Nineties. A very different era to that at the start of the show. The decade of greed is over and different tensions are coming to the fore. The Eighties soaps have all but finished (Knots Landing's final season ran alongside this one). The back-to-basics realism of thirtysomething has been and gone, impacting on the way dramas are viewed (Ann was a viewer. It got a mention during her pregnancy). Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place are ushering in the era of fast-paced drama for Gen-Xers. Somehow L.A. Law is continuing to tick most of the right boxes and feel relevant. Its heyday may be over, but these first episodes of Season Seven feel like the show still has something to say.
     

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