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LA Law Season One DVD Review

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#1 of 10 mattCR

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Posted February 27 2014 - 09:20 AM

LA Law Season One DVD Review

The 80s are fond memories for me. Middle school and High school and everything that captured youth. My parents and I would watch a lot of programming; but NBC was a staple in our household, and it didn't take me long to fall for a hip show about an LA Law office and all the wacky happenings there.

Looking back at LA Law now, as an adult, I'm reminded of how different the world is. I can watch a western or a scifi show from any era and not be caught aback by the issues presented. But a show like LA Law acts like a piece of history; a barometer of where society was 30 years ago on some social issues versus where we are now.


Cover Art


Studio: Shout! Factory

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio:

Subtitles:

Rating:

Run Time: X Hr. X Min.

Package Includes: DVD

Disc Type: DVD-9 (dual layer)

Region:

Release Date: 02/25/2014

MSRP: $29.99




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

LA Law is a show that we don't see that much of anymore. A legal program from the perspective of the attorneys who handle private practice, defense as well as those who handle prosecution. We get teases of this kind of program now and again on cable networks, but most of the standard network fare at this point is oriented around the prosecution viewpoint. What I always found interesting about LA Law was the need to defend even those who are clearly guilty.

When this show hit the air, it was easily praised as one of the most exciting pilots since Hill Street Blues hit the air. Even decades later, watching the fast paced pilot reminds you of how a sharply written series can survive the test of time.

LA Law made news when in it's first season, Episode 10 "The Venus Butterfly", they addressed issues of HIV, discrimination and the rights to determine your own healthcare. The first season is built like that, and it is sometimes refreshing to look back at a show 30 years ago tackle issues that are still societal complications today.



Video Rating: 3/5  3D Rating: NA

Unfortunately, the video quality on this title is not great. While preserved as well as is likely possible, color bleeding and static is evident in many moments. Pops and video errors are numerous, but it still is likely as good as we will ever expect from a series that was originally recorded on video so long ago.

A series like LA Law will never see a Star Trek type remastering, and so as a buyer you have to be appreciative that you are buying this title for the content, not for an unbelievable encode.
Still, the video quality is satisfying enough that I didn't find myself pulled out of the storyline.



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

LA Law is a TV show built around series of monologues and hushed conversations. Presented in Dolby Digital Stereo, the dialogue is crisp and clear and you are able to follow the storylines. The best way to present a title such as this is to focus on delivering the content as it was meant to be heard. LA Law was originally presented in Stereo, I'm glad for a stereo offering here that effectively presents the show exactly as it was meant to be heard.

There are a few audio pops here and there, but they are rare; and the title itself is a fun listen. LA Law reminds me of an era where I could sit and listen to a TV show in another room and have an exact idea of everything that was happening.



Special Features Rating: 2/5

Special features presented on disk 6 are primarily interviews with cast members and Steven Bochco. It's fun looking back at the TV series that gave so many of these actors there start, and how they remember it now.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

There is a reason to grab hold of classic TV titles, the way we remember them and nostalgia is part of it. But LA Law has something else going for it; I am always grateful for programming like LA Law to show my younger nieces/nephews and children: this is the way people discussed major issues you may be taking for granted today. Think about what the next thirty years will be.

I've always respected programming like Hill Street Blues, LA Law and others as a way to look back at history through entertainment as a medium.

In a series with 23 solid hours - of which there are very few clunkers, I wanted to take my time and really go back and experience LA Law. All I can say, in my final thought is: I hope this sells well enough that we see more, because this journey back in time was well welcomed by this viewer.


Reviewed By: MattCR


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#2 of 10 mattCR

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Posted February 27 2014 - 10:57 AM

I didn't take a lot of stills, but I wanted to use one to show an example of what I'm talking about with video 'pops'

 

DDh6jaj.jpg

 

See them in his jacket and ceiling?  If I could catch this better, there are moments where this effect can clutter a screen with minor tears and breaks in the image, I assume due to wear.   It doesn't hurt the quality of the program, but it is something to be aware of.


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#3 of 10 Steve Tannehill

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Posted February 27 2014 - 11:11 AM

I watched the first few years of LA Law religiously. I never will forget the show where Rosalind fell down the elevator shaft to her death...the title of the episode? "Good To The Last Drop."

I also remember the character moment in the first season where Susan Dey and Harry Hamlin sit on the front stoop and suck down helium to alter their voices. Magic.

Thanks fort the review!
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#4 of 10 Keith Cobby

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Posted February 27 2014 - 11:29 AM

This has been out in the UK for some time now. A great show, well defined characters, great title, great signature tune and credits. The actors had such chemistry together. This and ER are my two favourite US television shows.


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#5 of 10 mattCR

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Posted February 27 2014 - 02:45 PM

I watched the first few years of LA Law religiously. I never will forget the show where Rosalind fell down the elevator shaft to her death...the title of the episode? "Good To The Last Drop."

I also remember the character moment in the first season where Susan Dey and Harry Hamlin sit on the front stoop and suck down helium to alter their voices. Magic.

Thanks fort the review!

 

That's in later seasons, but yeah, some of those later seasons, especially everything that involved Rosalind was some fantastic catty 80s TV.   Rewatching the first season reminded me how much I really enjoyed it.  It's a show that ages quite well, actually.


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#6 of 10 davidHartzog

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Posted February 27 2014 - 06:12 PM

A favorite at the time. Excellent, perceptive review that has convinced me to get the first season and watch these episodes again.
Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

#7 of 10 Todd Erwin

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Posted February 28 2014 - 12:11 PM

... it still is likely as good as we will ever expect from a series that was originally recorded on video so long ago. 

 

Not to be a real stickler here, but the series was shot on film, posted on standard def video, like most series from the 80s and early 90s as a cost-saving measure (which is why we'll likely only see them on DVD). Even so, some of the film anomalies (such as dirt and pinholes) were likely always there, but not as evident since most viewers watched the show on a 27" or smaller CRT in 480i or lower resolution. The show was never meant to be seen on anything larger than that.  Video dropouts are another issue, possibly from wear and tear of the broadcast master and/or poor storage and age.

 

I always get a good chuckle whenever a new volume of MST3K is announced and posted for pre-order on Amazon, and a few people begin grumbling that the series isn't being released on Blu-ray.


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#8 of 10 mattCR

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Posted February 28 2014 - 12:20 PM

Not to be a real stickler here, but the series was shot on film, posted on standard def video, like most series from the 80s and early 90s as a cost-saving measure (which is why we'll likely only see them on DVD). Even so, some of the film anomalies (such as dirt and pinholes) were likely always there, but not as evident since most viewers watched the show on a 27" or smaller CRT in 480i or lower resolution. The show was never meant to be seen on anything larger than that.  Video dropouts are another issue, possibly from wear and tear of the broadcast master and/or poor storage and age.

 

I always get a good chuckle whenever a new volume of MST3K is announced and posted for pre-order on Amazon, and a few people begin grumbling that the series isn't being released on Blu-ray.

 

This is what I get for checking Google & Wikipedia for a source on that question.   :)     That's good to know.  It is mostly pinholes and abrasions.   Still, it was a great watch through.  


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#9 of 10 Virgo Video Voyeur

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Posted March 12 2014 - 08:27 AM

MattCR and Steve Tannehill - How funny both of you mentioned the "helium" moment, would either of you - or anyone else - recall in which episode that scene ended?

My memory always assumed it was the first season, but obviously I was wrong.

 

Advanced thanks and appreciation for any info.


Edited by Virgo Video Voyeur, March 12 2014 - 08:28 AM.


#10 of 10 Nick*Z

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Posted April 15 2014 - 03:53 PM

I have to say the quality of this release left me flat. Softly focused and chroma bleeding everywhere. Also, low contrast, orange flesh tones, halos around just about every moving object in the frame and color distortion that would make a kid with his Crayolas blush!

 

As has been pointed out - the series was shot of film first and then transferred to video for the credits. I can't imagine the original film based stock did not survive. So, what Shout! via Fox ought to have done is use the film-based stock for the bulk of the episode remastering and then do their best to clean up a viable copy of the video-based credits, simply reinstating them at the front of each episode. You would have noticed the difference but you would have been appreciative of the quantum leap in visuals. But again, this takes time and money - commodities a lot of companies refuse to spare when doing releases of vintage television shows. 

 

We're not talking about a no-name TV show shot in some forgotten country half way around the world that only ran for one season and had maybe 10 followers at its zenith. This is L.A. Law - ground-breaking television in its time and one of NBC's main staples for nearly a decade. The show deserves far better than Shout!'s transfers. I'd be interested in knowing if the U.K. releases (seasons 1-5 already available for some time) have better quality than these in Region 1, the same way The Greatest American Hero from Anchor Bay looks infinitely superior to the re-issue via Mill Creek, which has compressed too many episodes per disc and really sacrificed its bit rate. Badly done!!!

 

On a more encouraging note is NBC's reissue of Little House on the Prairie on Blu-ray - a magnificent example of what can be achieved when time, effort and yes - money are spent correctly. Someone made the comment that L.A. Law can never look like Star Trek on home video. Fair enough - it can't. But it can look a heck of a lot better than it currently does on this offering from Shout! No thanks. These discs are Frisbees. Fling!







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