"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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    Oh - and the best dialogue so far has come from Leland, who observed that he felt there was "too much law and not enough justice."

    I've really grown to love Leland the past couple of seasons.
     
  2. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    WINE KNOT / MY FRIEND FLICKER / LOVE ON THE ROX / HELTER SHELTER / CHRISTMAS STALKING

    Some of the changes are really working for me this season. Some are not pleasant at all.

    Let's get the unpleasant stuff over with first:

    Arnie's association with the film producer - while in character and appropriate in tone - aren't holding my interest. I don't hate it, but I feel quite ambivalent towards it. There's an underlying feeling that it's disposable and none of it really matters so I'm hesitant to invest. It also occurs to me that it's simply a continuation of the kind of scenarios he was playing out with Susan Bloom but without her there Arnie is pretty much operating in a vacuum. Consequently his scenes feel like watching a spin-off rather than L.A. Law itself.

    David Schwimmer has appeared in three episodes so far. Or is it just two but it feels like three. I quite enjoyed his first episode, but he's worn thin already. His character is meant to be a sleaze, but is just an irritant. I'm remembering why I haven't been able to watch Friends for the last decade. Could there be any less inviting scenario than a courtroom scene between he and Gwen.

    And then there's Gwen. Oh my God - Gwen. They really don't know what to do with this character, and I feel a lot of that is down to the limitations of Sheila Kelley herself. She's either floating round the office insinuating herself into the other characters' lives or she's involved in a kind of manufactured drama. It doesn't help that as played it ALWAYS feels like the character has an agenda. She certainly does have an agenda when it comes to the male colleagues. So one dimensional is she that there are no interesting dynamics with colleagues. Even scenes with Ann or Roxanne which feel like an attempt at a friendship don't ring true because Gwen (or perhaps Kelley) doesn't feel like the kind of woman who gets along well with other women. But that's not acknowledged in the writing, making her female bonding scenes feel forced.

    But it's her behaviour with men that's most irritating. She keeps throwing herself at male colleagues. Then saying they threw themselves at her. Then getting annoyed about something and ranting at them. And then throwing herself at them again. This season it's Daniel. Before that it was Frank. And Arnie. There are probably some others. She even sent mixed signals to Schwimmer's character. And her peck on Leland's cheek felt like there was an agenda too. I don't feel any empathy for her because there's nothing coming across to tell me anything about her other than her actions. There are times when the writing could be read as giving her a scene that's sweet or even moving. But what appears onscreen appears incongruous because the acting is the same as in every other scene. She's either wide eyed or pouty. There is no other gear.

    She's currently involved in an agonising stalker storyline (the agony coming from the amount of screen-time given Gwen). And it's bringing out some REALLY ugly colours in her. There's the whiny victim, accusing every male on the show of being her stalker. She accused Stuart of stalking her to Ann's face without any form of apology. She then accused Daniel of stalking her in the most passive aggressive way by being frosty with him and forcing a scene. She managed to apologise to him, though, because there was something in it for her (a romantic interlude with a vulnerable widower). And lest we forget she was so wrapped up in self that when Tommy walked by with a present she had histrionics and battered it, even though it wasn't intended for her.

    Much of this is down to the writing, of course. But I find myself cutting Gwen less slack than other characters. She's had something like three seasons to win me over, but I constantly find myself questioning what the hell she's even doing there.



    Then there's some stuff I feel on the fence about:

    Tommy is a character I thoroughly enjoy watching. Roxanne not so much (I grew to really dislike her during her marriage to David and she's never managed to win me back round completely). Their pairing has me torn. Tommy is still watchable and likeable, and Roxanne is fine here too. But it just feels forced. Like they were the two characters who weren't romantically involved with anyone so they threw them together. And it feels too quick and easy. Where's Tommy's guilt over feeling like he's "cheating" on Zoey, for example?




    Fortunately, this is balanced out by some really good stuff:


    Stuart's head injury and off-key behaviour has been tremendous fun. In spite of the great promise he showed at the beginning in his courtship with Ann, I haven't found Stuart to be a particularly useful or interesting character. I like him lots and enjoy having him there, but since those early days with Ann he hasn't had an arc that's been this enjoyable. It hasn't helped him that he and Ann seem almost like one unit, but then Ann manages to shine and be a fully rounded character in addition to her pairing with Stuart. Somehow Stuart hasn't managed that. I've got the feeling that at the start of every season the writing team have struggled to think of what to do with him so they just throw something big in there and hope that it works. Last season it was the long lost daughter (yawn). Incredibly, in going so OTT with him this season he's become truly watchable. Even more bizarrely, his behaviour is the kind of thing that I found so irritating with Murray. Perhaps it works with Stuart because I'm more familiar with the "before".

    One of the best things to come out of his chair throwing, glass smashing, electronic fixing, truanting, gun toting wackiness has been the friendship between Stuart and Benny. Now that Stuart seems to be on the road to recovery, I hope some of what's worked for him this year remains in place. I feel heartened to know that he will still have memory problems which could create some interest down the line.
     
  3. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    ODOUR IN THE COURT / SPANKY AND THE ART GANG / BARE WITNESS / PARENT TRAP / HELLO AND GOODBYE

    By this stage in the series I find myself viewing new arrivals with the slightly cynical view of working out which former character they're replacing. I can't decide whether Lisa Zane as Melina Paros is the new C.J. or the new Grace. She has elements of both. Whichever it is (if either) she's enjoyable to watch and has quickly come to feel like an integral cast member. She reminds me an awful lot of those pictures of young Madonna:

    [​IMG]

    The stalker storyline goes on. It's occurred to me that the storyline seems to cash in on the stalker thriller films (wasn't the subgenre known as "cuckoo in the nest" or something) that were in vogue in the early Nineties (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle; Single White Female and the earlier Fatal Attraction), which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The end result feels very much like what Melrose Place would regularly be doing a couple of years later (also taking its cues from pop culture). Again, whether that's good or bad is for the viewer to decide.

    The storyline has given Gwen more screen-time than is ideal. Being stalked and told that she has Huntingdon's Chorea (she hasn't) have shown her at her whiniest and most self-obsessed.

    Thankfully, though, the storyline feels bigger than that. Anne Twomey is very enjoyable in the role as the stalker and as others are getting involved Gwen is getting pushed aside to become so much white noise.

    Anne and Stuart's marital strain due to his reluctance to prosecute has felt quite authentic. Anne has brought their sex life into the open by wanting to sue the city for not getting involved sooner and costing Anne her sex life. This aspect of the arc felt like it could have been explored more, but perhaps it's a good thing it wasn't.

    Tommy's father has arrived and then died. I'm not familiar with William Hickey's body of work, but it looks very impressive. I couldn't really take to him here. He was meant to be quite unlikeable, of course, so maybe he was doing a good job. Tommy has fallen off the wagon after seven years. I can't remember if he's meant to be a recovering alcoholic. It certainly seemed to be implied, and I know that there was some trouble during his marriage to Zoey.

    The business with Douglas using a client's experimental pheremones to attract Sheila was right in character. It was pretty obvious that he was going to put the wrong one on and attract men, but it played out so well who cares. All the guys were good sports about it.
     
  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    WHERE THERE'S A WILL / F.O.B.

    Well, the guy that Leland wrongly imprisoned some thirty five years earlier has now been freed. There was a nice, suitably emotional scene between the two, with Richard Dysart conveying Leland's relief perfectly.

    Leland has been putting his stamp all over the shop, in fact. There was a very authoritative scene where he called a meeting and demanded the partners' 100% commitment to the company... or their resignations. Even Arnie committed to this one.

    Gwen's stalker failed yet again to kill her (she is the world's worst stalker) and was shot dead by a police officer. Or was it an irate viewer? Sheila Kelley conveyed Gwen's shock in the immediate aftermath by wearing no lipstick and saying she'd never get over it. But in the following episode she's reapplied and all is forgotten.

    Griffin Dunne had a guest-shot as a man who claimed to be a friend of the Clintons but who turned out to have some mental health issues. The thought of a high profile client brought out the best in Ann who - seduced by the idea of power - is at her most polished and assertive to handle his case. It gave us a classic Ann scene following her discovery of her important client in a confab with all her colleagues. She takes Leland and Douglas aside:


    ANN: "Suddenly I'm not in the meetings?"
    LELAND: "Ann, it was in informal get together."
    ANN: "Was it informal? Nothing of a business nature was discussed?"
    DOUGLAS: "Ann, you're not being excluded if that's what you're worried about."
    ANN: "That is what I'm worried about, Douglas. And if I'm not in the room I am, perforce, excluded. Now let's get one thing straight. I am doing all the spade work for this guy. I am carrying one hundred per cent of the workload. And if anything happens pertaining to him or his connections I wanna know about it. Are we in accord on that?"
    LELAND: "Yeah. Yes we are."
    ANN: "Good." (she calls the client away, giving Leland and Douglas a frosty look as they pass)
    DOUGLAS (out of Ann's earshot): "I have a feeling she and Hillary are gonna get along just fine."


    God - I love when snarky Ann comes out to play. The reveal of the client's psychiatric issues showed Stuart at his best too, working to support him in light of his own difficulties this year. I'm wondering if he may have found a niche in which to specialise.
     
  5. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    COLD SHOWER / THAT'S WHY THE LADY IS A STAMP / COME RAIN OR COME SCHEIN

    Jason Beghe's appearance struck me as being almost a dry run for the role of his I'm most familiar with. Here he plays a police officer who is a closeted gay man who gets outed and then fears for his career. The following year in Melrose Place he would play a naval officer who is a closeted gay man who gets outed and then fears for his career. The difference with the L.A. Law appearance is that he's playing an antagonist of sorts. Jonathan's client had got fenced a painting for Beghe's character, Greg, who was secretly investigating him for art fraud. Now the client's defence was that he had done it out of love because they had slept together. So he was a crooked cop who used underhand methods to get the job done. Beghe once again put himself out there and played the truth of his character, flawed as it was:

    JONATHAN: "You're not getting married, Detective. You're a gay man living an outright lie."
    OPPOSING COUNSEL: "Your Honour, I've made an objection..."
    JONATHAN: "How long are you going to let your police work be compromised by your sexual activity..."
    GREG: "Hey. Hey! I never let that happen. I never, ever let it get in the way of my work. Listen to me... this man is a criminal. OK. This was a good bust."
    JONATHAN: "Never let what get in the way, Detective."
    [A silence falls over the room. It's some time before Greg responds]
    GREG: "I'm so... I am so... tired... of hiding. Hear me? So the whole world's gonna know I had sex with this guy? OK. I did. OK? So the whole world's gonna know I'm a f****t. I'm a f****t. I mean I just... I mean I can't... I can't keep doing what I've been doing. I just... I can't keep it hidden any more."



    Another familiar face the following episode was Leland Orser. He's one of those actors that seems to have appeared in every other film in the mid to late Nineties, frequently playing almost nondescript everyman types (something I remember being utilised to good effect in The Bone Collector). Nondescript he may be, but he commands the screen well and does great things with a script.

    Tommy has had something of a crisis about becoming a father, which he at first took out on his work by pressing for a sixteen year old kid to be tried as an adult (he withdrew the request at the last minute). He's come clean with Roxanne and left her literally carrying the baby.

    Leland's awkwardness on discovering a stash of porn amongst his deceased old friend's stamp collection was very endearing.
     
  6. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I've now started watching Season Eight, but before that a few thoughts on the final episodes of S7:


    VINDALOO IN THE VILLOWS / TESTING, TESTING, 1... 2... 3... 4 / BOURBON COWBOY / HACKETT OR PACK IT

    Benny's girlfriend's rape storyline has been riveting. The actress playing Rosalie is a great little actress and it's nice seeing them together. Best of all has been Kathleen Noone as Rosalie's mother, Fran. This aired almost consecutively with the Knots Landing series finale, so I'd guess that she either filmed this in between Day Of The Assassin and Just Like Old Times (IMDb indicates a two month gap) or perhaps even after Knots had wrapped entirely. It's good to see her playing a different role to Claudia, and she did good things with a relatively small part here. I'd been hoping they'd return for the next season and in taking a peek I got a fairly major spoiler about the last season. But it answered my question at least.

    Ann defending the teacher who had previously (presumably) wrongly been accused of molesting a pupil was watchable enough too. The American pronunciation of "paedophile" was used about a dozen times and I can't get used to it. Changing the first syllable to "ped" sounds like they're talking about feet.

    Gwen and Daniel's relationship is over. While I didn't care for it, it felt a little shoehorned in. One episode they were lovey dovey, the next there was tension everywhere. But that seems in character for Gwen. And - because the writers don't seem to know what to do with her - in the very same episode she ended things with Daniel her tutor made a move on her. I have such a problem with this. Why does studying hard to pass the bar have to become a victim scenario. I want to lay this at the feet of the writers, but again I feel they're probably writing around the actress's limited ability.

    On the plus side, the writers did acknowledge the tendency of the character to fall from relationship to relationship amongst her colleagues when the man who she was filing a harassment suit against did a little research. What he revealed echoed a previous observation of mine:

    Now this could have been brilliant. Of course, sexual history shouldn't be any factor in this case. But what I found interesting here was how little impact the scene had. In Cagney & Lacey, a similar scenario was used very effectively after Chris was sexually harassed by a superior. There, thanks to the strength of the writing and acting it served to disgust both viewer and the characters that someone would be tacky enough to question the sexual history of a character who was single and comfortable in her consensual sexual liberation. This was a moment that the L.A. Law writers could have taken the story someplace special by picking up on a pattern (even though it came from their lazy writing to begin with) and using it to make a very important point. Instead, the scene kind of fell flat. The history was flung about, Gwen - as she does every other episode - looked incredulous. And that was that.

    The writers did good things with Dave's return, however. It seems fitting that Roxanne's final arc should be with him, and with them working on becoming friends again. Roxanne's treatment of Dave during their marriage is an arc from which I've found it difficult to recover in terms of liking Rox, so the respectful treatment between she and Dave was a little gift to me too. Considering her motives seemed questionable around Dave's finances before, the only way it could have worked was with Dave being broke and Roxanne helping him out financially. It's the least she could do after taking him for everything she could get before, and it showed some growth for the character who spent far too many episodes moaning about not having money during the show's earlier seasons. After a little deliberation I even chose to trust that she mostly felt genuine love for Dave when she asked him to take her home.
     
  7. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Season Eight

    [​IMG]


    BOOK OF RENOVATION, CHAPTER 1 / LEAP OF FAITH / HOW MUCH IS THAT BENTLEY IN THE WINDOW? / FOREIGN CO-RESPONDENT


    What would L.A. Law be without the annual cull? The titles of each new season's first episode are always the time to place bets, if one is so inclined, as to who will have been unceremoniously dumped and who will arrive to fill the gap.

    This time round it's the turn of Roxanne, Gwen (yaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!) and Melina to have gone. None have been even name-checked.

    The new arrivals are perfectly adequate. I googled Alan Rosenberg after a few episodes to see where I knew him from (Cybill, it turns out) and discovered that he and Debi Mazar's characters - Eli and Denise - had been transplanted from another series which had been cancelled (Civil Wars). This perhaps explains why they've immediately been given so much screen-time, with Eli immediately being thrust into a major murder storyline without much integration into the main cast. I'm enjoying them well enough. Eli's ongoing murder case had some nice moments. Max Perlich was endearing as Eli's client who was on trial having been set up by the real murderer (boo, hiss). And we got a recurring role for Elliot Gould as the father of said client.

    Alexandra Powers as Jane is the third arrival. I'm not sure about her yet. She seems to be there as a new potential conquest for Arnie with her USP being her far right religious convictions (she's an out and proud virgin). Said convictions do have potential to cause conflict within the team - as already acknowledged by Ann in particular - so that could be promising.

    Even though it's not the case, it feels like the show has picked up several years on, rather than after a few months. Everyone looks older, and the energy levels feel quite low. I'm curious about the renovations that are being done in the office. Is it a way of cost-cutting and using fewer sets and extras (though there are still a number of labourers in shot, it seems like less people than usually float around the office). Or was there some issue where it was cancelled after the previous season and the sets destroyed? Perhaps the whole thing is an elaborate way to introduce Daniel's bland and pouty architect love interest (he has a type, it seems).

    Whatever the reason, it just doesn't feel like things are firing on all cylinders. Most of the main players have been given less screen-time - Ann in particular has had very little to do so far this season - and the big cases are being taken on by newer arrivals Daniel, Eli and Jane. Already the show has a feeling of a series winding down.
     
  8. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    THE GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME / SAFE SEX / PACIFIC RIMSHOT / ELI'S GUMMING / RHYME AND PUNISHMENT / HE AIN'T GUILTY, HE'S MY BROTHER / MCKENZIE, BRACKMAN, BARNUM & BAILEY / COLD CUTS / AGE OF INSOLENCE / GOD IS MY CO-COUNSEL


    Well, the final season is proving an enjoyable watch. I'm probably liking it more than the couple of years preceding this one.

    The office revamp - now it's finished - looks good. Eighties pastels have been tastefully replaced with blues and greens contrasting nicely with the burgundy of the wood and furniture and all pulled together by bold tartan wallpaper. I've noticed a few tartan ties too. It probably dated quickly, but curiously enough tartan seems to be enjoying a renaissance today (plus ça change...), so I'm looking on admiringly. It's a shame there will be so few episodes with the new look.

    There are some other references which are perhaps representative of their time. Most notably the case involving the explorers who got lost and resorted to cannibalism instantly made me think of Alive, and a quick check shows the film preceded this episode by about a year so would have been very much in the psyche of the viewer.

    Roxanne and Dave's guest-shot in the show as a married couple asking Tommy to relinquish his claim on their daughter was a nice touch and gave a kind of closure to that storyline.

    Benny and Rosalie have married in rather a lovely wedding on the beach with the requisite last minute drama (Rosalie had forgotten she was previously married, so an annulment was hastily arranged), horrible wedding dresses and introspection from the guests.

    Jonathan has forced his hand and become partner. The other partners aren't too thrilled at the way it's come about so there's some nice tension at play.

    After some faltering plot-driven steps (like Season Seven's daft bunny boiler storyline) we're back to studying character. As a result, the quirky and serious stories are feeling balanced again.

    Age Of Insolence is a good example of this balance. As well as the office politics of Jonathan's power play, we cut between a very meaty storyline of a young man trying to win custody of his adopted daughter and a more frivolous case which saw a prudish librarian, Madeline, who kept fainting at the mention of sex. The former tapped into Ann's former adoption storyline (she was defending the adopted mother) and showcased some powerful, long, wordy courtroom scenes. The lighter story gave the chance for Arnie to put his sleaze to the test on learning of Jane's client's tendency to keel over:


    MADELINE: "As you may or may not know, our opponent is something of a cad."
    ARNIE: "He keeps using those upsetting words, doesn't he."
    MADELINE: "Yes, he does."
    JANE: "We should probably get back to work."
    ARNIE: "Just one second" [he turns to Madeline] "I find you to be a fascinating woman. I'm sorry - was that too forward?"
    MADELINE (blushing): "No."
    ARNIE: "The relations between the sexes is my daily work, so to speak. Hence my curiosity. So I find myself wondering... is it the word or the implication of the word that gets you upset?"
    JANE: "Arnie. I really need to get Madeline going here."
    MADELINE: "I'm not sure I know the difference, Mr. Becker."
    ARNIE: "Some words are exclusively sexual. They either refer to genitalia or various sexual acts..." [Madeline starts squirming uncomfortably] "whereas other words acquire their sexual meaning from the context in which they're used."
    JANE: "Arnie...!"
    ARNIE: "A restaurant chain is called 'Hooters'. Now if you infer that that name refers to the waitresses' breasts rather than to owls, would that cause you to faint?"
    MADELINE: "Contrary to what you may think, Mr. Becker, I am not a naïf. I know to what the name of these restaurants refers, and while I choose not to patronise such an establishment, neither would the name cause me to faint."
    ARNIE: "If a man told you that he was gonna go home to 'polish the Bishop'..."
    JANE: "OK, Arnie, that's all we have time for..."
    ARNIE: "One more. One more. A woman walks into a room full of men and asks 'Which one of you is Eric?'. Now if you were to hear this as 'Which one of you is erect', thereby conjuring up images of orgiastic behaviour, multiple penetration and so forth, would that cause you to faint?"
    Madeline stands up to leave and faints dead away.
    ARNIE: "My God. It works."


    Jane's resulting anger towards Arnie gave them an angry scene together - the drama writer's version of foreplay - so it feels that the groundwork continues being laid for a relationship between the two. Meanwhile, Arnie is still trying it on with Denise. Benny also had a little crush on Denise. And Eli has kissed Denise as well as juggling his old flame from New York and a sexy woman investigator. He's perhaps the most unlikely sex symbol, but then that's the point. And I've known plenty of plain, harmless looking men who use that to their advantage. That said, the sexual imbroglios within the office interest me less than the more subtle character dynamics.

    Denise is essentially in a similar position to Gwen in previous seasons. Everyone is falling for her. But to her credit, Denise remains an interesting and autonomous character. Rather than Gwen's pattern of acting the ingenue and creating drama from the situations, Denise's reactions have ranged from nonchalance to mild amusement. Then she wanders off and carries on doing her Denise thing. I really like her.

    As hoped, Jane's fundamentalist Christian views have created some friction between her and her colleagues. Denise is one (Jane questioned her about her wearing a cross as a fashion statement. After Denise shot her down in flames, Jane bought Denise a Bible for Christmas). Ann is another. Any character that inflames Ann is a good one in my opinion. I never tire of seeing her read the riot act to people.
     
  9. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I forgot to mention that there was a scene in this episode where Madeline's colleague deliberately tried to irriate her by dropping the F-word two or three times in rapid succession. Naturally, it was bleeped out.

    Presumably - given how prudish American network TV is around this kind of this language - it was written with the specific intent of being bleeped out during transmission and that was that. Most TV shows of this time may have planned for syndication and repeats, but almost certainly not for box set binge watching, so an uncensored home video version probably wasn't on the radar.

    The scene was amusing enough and the bleeps got my attention, but it did leave me wondering what the intent was here. Was it designed as an intentional statement of the limitations of the medium: a way of saying that the show was so progressive that it had outgrown the network? Or was there ever a possibility of this being shown uncensored - perhaps the network agreed to it and then balked?

    Either way, as shown the overall effect was a little too knowing and fourth wall. A wink to an audience that wasn't quite in on the joke.
     
  10. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    THREE ON A PATCH / WHOSE SAN ANDREAS FAULT IS IT ANYWAY? / SILENCE IS GOLDEN

    Steven Eckholdt has joined the cast. Fresh from his stint on Melrose Place, if my calculations are correct. On that show he was essentially a nice guy - albeit one who put a couple of people's noses out of joint and was shown to have a darker side. First impressions of his L.A. Law character, Patrick Flanagan, were similar. Friendly, smiling, compliant and owning up to his past mistakes with surprising frankness. One couldn't help wondering if Daniel was making too much of his feeling that Patrick had behaved inappropriately when they had opposed each other in court.

    Indeed, Daniel was so incensed by the vote to take Patrick on that he has quit the firm. I thought this was going to be one of those two episode jobs where he'd float round interacting with other characters by force of circumstance and return after Patrick either made amends or was proven to be a bad egg. Instead, A. Martinez has left the series entirely. I'm quite sorry to see him go but it has been good for the show in showing that as we approach (literally) the Finish Line, all bets are off.

    As for Patrick, Daniel was absolutely right and he's proving to be deceitful and unprincipled. Which is great! Of course, the character would seem to be Rosalind Shays redux, but as a viewer being in on his actions with most of the other characters seeing only his clean cut all-American charm, I couldn't help being put in mind of Knots Landing's Chip Roberts. Already there is much conflict coming from it. Not just from Daniel, but from Arnie who Patrick (as second chair) has screwed over by going over his head to strike an illegal deal with a client. I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes.

    Among those charmed by Patrick is Douglas. After Douglas blew his son's chances at a swish prep school, Patrick made a phone call and reversed the situation. Prior to that, there was the fun of seeing Douglas go overboard to impress the school head, Ted Waldron, by inviting him to the firm to show how inclusive Douglas was. There's a classic Douglas scene where he walks Ted round the office in a very kinetic scene, talking at Ted the whole time and trying to score points at his colleagues' expense:

    DOUGLAS: "We think it's more important to have a sense of community than to just maximise profits. It's also important that it be a diverse community. And here I'm talking about race, gender, ethnicity. The whole shop." [they approach Ann] "Here's one of our female attorneys. Ted Waldron. Ann Kelsey."
    ANN [slightly bewildered]: "Nice to meet you."
    DOUGLAS: "And here's her husband, Stuart Markowitz who also works here and who, parenthetically, shares childcare responsibilities with his wife."
    STUART: "Uhhh... how do you do."
    DOUGLAS [pointing significantly at Ted]: "Ted is headmaster at Free Birds."
    [Ann and Stuart both nod and smile as the penny drops]
    DOUGLAS: "Matthew is going on four now?" [Ann and Stuart nod. Douglas leans towards Ted] "They'll be calling you any day now."
    STUART: "From what I understand Free Bird is one of the best."
    DOUGLAS: "As far as we're concerned it is the best."
    TED: "There are a number of very good schools in Los Angeles."
    ANN: "The truth is, Mr Waldron, Stuart and I are great believers in public school education. We have a terrific school in our district and we intend to send Matthew there."
    DOUGLAS [quickly steering Ted away from the grinning couple]: "Great talking to you. This is Jonathan Rollins. Ted Waldron, headmaster at Free Bird Academy." [They walk on and he whispers to Ted] "Just made partner." [They approach Daniel's office] "And over here we have... well, actually he's not here any more. We had a very fine Hispanic attorney who just left recently. For issues having nothing to do with race."

    Doug tops this off by offering (in front of a shocked Leland) to pay for some new equipment at the school. Douglas and Sheila's response to finding out they were turned down is characteristically OTT and very enjoyable.

    Jonathan has hit on one of his clients - a model. Impropriety aside, they make a nice couple. She seems very sweet.

    There was a little Cocoon tribute with three male retirement home residents who discover a new lease of life thanks to testosterone patches. Two of the randy old men were Harv Smithfield and Uncle Jesse Duke.
     
  11. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    DEAD ISSUE / TUNNEL OF LOVE / HOW AM I DRIVING? / WHISTLE STOP / FINISH LINE

    And so I reach journey's end. The final episodes continued to entertain with one fairly major storyline thrown in - a murder-mystery in which Arnie became a suspect after finding the body of a madam (none other than Holly Harwood).

    Wacked out judges have become de rigueur: one of them became an Alex Forrest type when Arnie ended their relationship due to her increasing unpredictability. She was my top suspect as the murderer, since Arnie knew the madam, thereby becoming a threat to her. And she was certainly there pressing to have him thrown in prison forever. I did ponder if she was too obvious, and this was the case when Arnie worked out that a client of his - also a client of the madam - had killed her to prevent her revealing she'd been providing him with male sex workers (my second suspect had been the man's estranged wife). There was a form of closure when Arnie - having been vindicated - had a final scene where he threatened to destroy her if she came after him again.

    The other judge was fascinating. Tommy has been in a relationship with a judge for some episodes now, and one of his cases brought him before another judge whom she had previously been in a relationship with and who knew about the two of them. I enjoyed trying to work this one out, and found myself both confused and impressed when the judge was giving fair rulings that sided with Tommy. But in close ups the judge was shown to be twitchily tapping his pen or looking as though he was somewhere else. All seemed well, and then he showed up at the house of Tommy's new love interest, shouting about how unhappy he was. It certainly added some tension to the final ruling where I seriously wondered what he was going to do as he began giving a speech. I actually had visions of him producing a gun or something. As it was, he chose justice over the law, by releasing a man he was duty bound to imprison. Which impressed Tommy. So there was a kind of closure there too.

    Surprisingly - since it seems the writers knew things were wrapping up - there was no comeuppance for resident villain Patrick. But that's fine too. I like the idea of him still being there, stopping things from getting too comfortable and safe.

    In the penultimate episode, Leland paid a visit to the doctor who had bad news for him, which set the scene for the final episode in which Leland faced three major life events: his sixty fifth birthday; the prospect of dying within five years and - as a result of the two other events - the decision to retire.

    In light of Leland's news, the cold opening for the final episode featured a reprise of Arnie's classic line from the cold opening of the Pilot: "I got dibs on his office" (he actually said "I've..." this time, but it's close enough). This made me really happy, and makes the thread title even more appropriate. I had no idea it would be used again. It was actually semi-reprised in the series' final scene when Leland knowingly quipped to Arnie "I'm sure you've got dibs...".

    The situation with Leland did feel like a potential game changer. Not knowing the details until towards the end of the episode, I wondered if the series might even end with Leland's demise. Thankfully, it didn't, and the final scene - with the entire cast assembled to celebrate Leland's birthday and talking him into staying - felt wholly appropriate.

    I feel like I'm leaving the show in a good place. There have been a lot of comings and goings over the eight seasons, and I've struggled with a couple of the characters, but the current cast is one I like very much. There's nobody who feels like a chore to watch and all the chemistry works. All the pieces are working.

    The final scene was a reminder of the characters that have been constants as part of this journey too: Ann, Leland, Douglas, Arnie and Stuart have been here from the very start, with Benny and Jonathan coming shortly afterwards. Barring the occasional minor hiccup, all have been enjoyable to watch over that period.

    My previous watch, Cagney & Lacey was a very tough act to follow, and L.A. Law is quite a different animal. At times of struggle it's sometimes because I've been unfairly comparing the two (I've felt less connection to the characters in this show than the previous, for example). I've certainly grown to love many of the characters in L.A. Law and have looked forward to my almost daily fix. And now I find myself thinking I'll miss it and - as it turns out - this show will also be a tough act to follow.
     

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