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L.A. Law (1986-1994)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by The Drifter, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. Message #41 of 73 Jan 27, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
    The Drifter

    The Drifter Supporting Actor

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    Finished L.A. Law S01, and will start S02 in the next week or two (hopefully). Again, WOW. What an excellent show. It's too bad I missed this for so long, but better late than never.

    I'm very impressed by the score/music on the show. The opening theme song is obviously very well-done. And, the score in many of the episodes themselves has a very jazzy sound - this, combined with many of the night scenes (especially the far panoramic shots of the city, etc.) gives the show an almost noir-ish feel/tone - at least at times.

    Some notable storylines/episodes:

    -Grace Van Owen prosecutes a vicious career criminal, who has killed several people in prison. She pushes for the death penalty for the criminal, and gets it, despite being threatened by the criminal (in court) . In retaliation, the criminal (from behind bars) orchestrates a "hit" on her, by setting it up so that a young juvenile shoots at Gracie at the courthouse, hitting her in the arm. Though it's just a flesh wound, Gracie is understandably traumatized & turns to prescription drugs & alcohol to deal with the emotional pain. She eventually has to take a leave of absence from work & from Kuzac in order to get her head together.

    I found this storyline extremely realistic. Instead of depicting someone quickly bouncing back from a horrible experience like this, they depicted the emotional trauma that people can go through here. Well-done.

    -Kuzac helps a fisherman who has had his boat seized/impounded by a well known bureaucracy, even though he's done nothing wrong. As it turns out, it was just a mistake on the office's part - who got the name of his boat confused with the name of a boat they were suspicious about/had under surveillance. Despite the guy being innocent of all wrong-doing, his livelyhood is affected & he goes into debt. Kuzac then gives him a loan (that he knows he may never get back) to help the guy out.

    Not surprising at all than when the office that made the mistake realizes what happened, they give the fisherman a [email protected]$$ed apology - and that's it.
     
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  2. Message #42 of 73 Jan 27, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
    The Drifter

    The Drifter Supporting Actor

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    Shifting gears, the show has many comedic elements - which, again, are good counters to the extremely serious & disturbing story-lines.

    - The officious, bald Doug wears an obvious rug for a brief time. Instead of making his baldness less obvious, he just draws attention to this - to the extreme amusement of his co-workers. What's especially hilarious is when he goes to a gym & his rug keeps falling off - very funny ;)

    -Doug has a drawn-out feud with a neighbor who takes him to court over Doug's barking dog. This culminates when the dog suddenly dies (presumably because the neighbor gave it meat laced with poison), and, in retaliation, he punches out the neighbor. Because of this assault, Doug then goes to jail for a brief time.

    -Arnie Becker notices an attractive young woman while grocery shopping, and she recognizes him as the lawyer who presided over her parent's divorce years before - when she was just a kid. She is now a 21-year old successful & wealthy model, and gives Arnie her number. He initially thinks he's in like Flynn as she appears to give him all the right signals & mentions she had a crush on him when she was younger, etc.

    They're on a date not long after, and park in front of her house. They start making out in an expensive sports-car (with the top down). Within several minutes, her boyfriend shows up & asks her why she called him to meet her there. As it turned out, she was just using Arnie to make her bf jealous because he apparently wasn't paying enough attention to her - LOL. Arnie leaves, chagrined & deflated - ha ha. And, he is such a devious, sleazy toad that you don't feel sorry for him at all - but felt that he had it coming ;)

    -Becker hits on a temporary secretary (that briefly replaces Roxanne while she's on jury duty) and shortly realizes she's a terrible worker. However, she is attractive & so he asks her out to dinner. She rebuffs him - right after, he finds out she's only into women ;)

    - Victor has several "encounters" with some odd women he's initially interested in, notably:

    1)A dentist who interrupts their passionate kiss to floss his teeth (ha ha), and
    2)Another woman who seems to be turned on by lawyers, but then gets enraged at him when they "role play" and he cross-examines her - as she 'pretends' to be a working girl.

    Frickin' hilarious ;)
     
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  3. Message #43 of 73 Jan 27, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
    The Drifter

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    Some other comments about S01:

    -Arnie's working relationship with his secretary Roxanne is...interesting, to say the least. I liked the episode(s) where she stood up for herself & demanded that he pay her more $ or she would leave the job - even though he eventually realized that he had to pay her out of his own pocket (which he could definitely afford). She was doing a lot of personal errands for him (taking & picking up his shirts from dry-cleaning, etc.) & had been taken advantage of for years, so this was a very reasonable demand on her part. In fact, it's obvious that she should be getting a lot more than she is - given all of the work she does & all of Arnie's crap that she puts up with ;)

    The one good thing that Arnie has done in S01 is not become intimate with her, even though he had the opportunity to do so; though the reason for that could very well be that he wasn't really into her (granted, I haven't seen the later seasons). And, a lot of this is obviously because he's so self-serving; if he hurts her emotionally too much, she would obviously leave the firm & he would suffer as a result - since he wouldn't be able to dump on her anymore ;)

    I get the impression that Arnie sees Roxanne as a kind of mother-figure that he can confide in. In any case, the "relationship" definitely started out as somewhat co-dependent & twisted early in the season, but by the end Roxanne is dating (one of the firm's clients) and Arnie can't "depend" on her anymore like he used to ;)

    -Though the PQ is obviously awful, I am impressed by some of the night-time exterior sequences, notably a couple that show the L.A. freeways?! at night. One in particular shows a purple dusk, which looks nice with all of the lights of the cars, etc. Another great scene shows a freeway @ dusk with a red sky. These are obviously not effects, and look fantastic.
     
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  4. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    For season 1, just the first 2-3 episodes.

    For season 2, just the first one so far.
     
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  5. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    At least a few have it-- better than nothing!
     
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  6. sjbradford

    sjbradford Stunt Coordinator

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    I remember the episode with the fisherman.

    They did a great job of mixing the humor with the dramatic. It was this mix that was off in the later seasons.

    Mike Post - a frequent collaborator of creator Steven Bochco - did the music, and it was very good.
     
  7. Message #47 of 73 Jan 28, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
    The Drifter

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    Additional S01 comments:

    -An early storyline depicted Doug getting sued by the residents of a run-down apartment building, given that he is the absent landlord - and has done nothing to fix/repair numerous serious structural/plumbing/etc. problems in the building. And, the residents' health & safety has suffered as a result. He actually enlists the law firm he works for to represent him/help him. This culminates in a scene when the residents have him "kidnapped" and he's forced to go to the building (where he's never been) & see the horrific conditions that the residents have to deal with each day - and, only then does he agree to fix the issues. But, it was only after he was threatened that he agreed to spend money to fix the problems - typical. What an a-hole.

    -Mike & Victor get involved with a company that is helping an organization who is trying to figure out whether they should go to court over a lawsuit against them. So, the company sets up a "mock" jury trial, with Mike & Victor being the mock lawyers. They also have to pick "mock" jurors to serve in the trial. This is useful for the organization that is being sued, because they can get an idea of how a real jury trial would possibly play out.

    This whole storyline was especially fascinating to me. I've never been involved in a court case, but I have gone through the jury selection process - though I've never been picked to serve. So, I have always found it interesting how much work goes into selecting a jury & determining who to pick/who not to pick, etc.
     
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  8. Message #48 of 73 Feb 3, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
    The Drifter

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    Started on S02 of L.A. Law, and am as impressed - if not more impressed - than I was with S01. I'm about 1/3 of the way through, but expect to finish the season soon. I know I'm "waxing euphoric" re: this show, but it's a true masterpiece - and I don't say this lightly. Some comments:

    -Victor is the defending lawyer in a case where a young boy has been tragically disfigured because his pajamas caught on fire - while he was playing with lighter fluid. The prosecution is claiming that the pajamas were not using the most flame retardant material, and that's why they caught on fire - and they are suing the company as a result. The prosecuting lawyer, Hamilton Schuyler (brilliantly played by the late UK actor David Rappaport) is a small person, and uses his physical appearance to elicit sympathy from the jury - and to relate to the disfigured boy to an extent. This is a sleazy tactic, and Victor calls him out on this in front of the judge.

    Re: this storyline, I completely agree with the defense in this case. It's definitely a horrific tragedy that the boy got disfigured in the fire, but - as Victor correctly stated - any pajamas he was wearing would have caught on fire under these circumstances - no matter which company made them.

    One of the best scenes of the series (so far) is when Victor goes to the restroom @ the court-house, and sees three punks beating up/humiliating Hamilton. Victor easily beats all of them up, and they quickly leave. Obviously, it's possible Hamilton would have been killed (or at least much more injured than he had been) if Victor hadn't intervened.

    The prosecution wins the case & the plans are to award the boy & his mother a large settlement. But the judge doesn't agree with the verdict - and the case is definitely going to be appealed.

    I really like how the storyline ended.
    Even though Victor & Hamilton had been "enemies" in court, Hamilton later told Victor he & his clients were willing to settle - given that they both knew the verdict would be appealed. And, he admitted to possibly being over-zealous during the case & thanked Victor for saving him from the punks in the courthouse. So, they formed a brief friendship (of sorts), and it's obvious that Victor held no hard feelings towards Hamilton - and vice-versa. I was impressed by the humility exhibited by Hamilton here, and was surprised that the episode ended this way...which is, again, a testament to the brilliant writing in the show.

    Note that DR was (among other roles) one of the leads in Terry Gilliam's iconic sci-fi comedy Time Bandits - one of my favorite '80's films. Sadly, he died @ age 38 in 1990.
     
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  9. Message #49 of 73 Feb 3, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
    The Drifter

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    Re: the L.A. Law S02 DVD's, I am impressed that the Picture Quality (PQ) is definitely better than S01's. I'm especially impressed by the exterior shots of L.A. (both during the day & at night) - they are somewhat sharper than what was seen in S01, as are the other scenes. It's possible the source material for S02 was better than what they had for S01, which is why the remastering (such as it is) looks better - this is sheer speculation on my part, though. And, there's still a hell of a lot of room for improvement.

    Some other episode/storyline reviews:

    -Douglas gets to be a "judge" (and I use that term loosely - LOL), and is presiding over small claims court. It's funny to see Douglas in action here, dealing with trivial, small $ cases that most judges would find "beneath" them. However, he deserves this type of position, especially given that he's such a pompous jerk ;) And, it's obvious he likes the power it gives him - ha ha.

    -Douglas is going through his father's old papers, and comes across some notes regarding a "Rusty". He does some research, and finds out that "Rusty" was his late father's mistress. He tracks her down, and as it turns out she still lives in L.A. After going and talking to her, he realizes that his father was supporting both her & her son (Douglas' half-brother) for years - without his family's knowledge.

    He then tracks down his half-brother, Errol Farrell. Errol is a sleazy ambulance-chaser - also living in L.A. When Douglas goes to his office, it's hilarious that Errol is a shorter, chubbier, and sleazier (if that's possible) version of Douglas, with the same exact male pattern baldness - ha ha. Great casting here!

    Later, Errol wants Douglas to get involved in some shady deals, but is refused. Errol then threatens to expose the whole "secret" about he and his mother Rusty to Douglas' mother, and Douglas tells him to go ahead.

    It's evident that Douglas regrets opening up the "can of worms" involving his father's "secret life", and certainly wishes he would have left well enough alone - ha ha.
     
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  10. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    I wonder why the improvement for the second-season DVDs of L.A. Law on the picture quality-- did Shout! realize the validity of the first-season PQ complaints, or were there other reasons?

    BTW, don't know if I told you, but there is one of the episodes (maybe two) on that second-season release that has the actual 20th Television Fox logo of the time, instead of the 20th Television distribution logo-- you'll get to it in due course; I did, and when I saw it, I thought it a most welcome surprise.
     
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  11. Message #51 of 73 Feb 3, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
    The Drifter

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    Have no idea why the DVD PQ is improved in S02 (from S01). I suspect that either the S02 source material was in better shape than S01... or Shout! did a better job with the remaster....or a combination of both.

    I'm just glad it's better, since it makes the show more enjoyable to watch. While the S01 DVD's had PQ comparable to a VHS rip, S02 looks significantly better - though still far from perfect.

    Good to know about the 20th TV Fox logo - I'll have to look for this.
     
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  12. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    So far most of the Season 2 Region 2 episodes have the 20th Television Fox logo.
     
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  13. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    Better value for that over there in England than here, I take it?
     
  14. Message #54 of 73 Feb 3, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
    MatthewA

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    I would say so, and I would say the picture is slightly better in R2. Maybe it just sold better there so that's why it got finished there.
     
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  15. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    Quite right-- I only wish it were region-free so those who want to see it all could see it all.
     
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  16. Message #56 of 73 Feb 6, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
    The Drifter

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    Continuing my review of L.A. Law S02:

    -One of the best storylines in the show (so far) is the one involving Benny, a mentally handicapped man in his late 30's. He first comes to the attention of the law firm in S01, when he is defended by them because he committed a theft/criminal act under coertion. Benny's mother is elderly & ill, and passes away in S02. She was his only family, so the law firm takes him under their wing & gives him a job, etc. And, various members of the firm (notably Abby, Mike, Victor, and Arnie) form a sort of friendship with him by giving him life advice at times, etc.

    And, some of the most powerful S02 episodes (so far) showcase Benny being accused/charged with assault, and Mike & Arnie defending him - given that they knew he didn't commit the crime.

    These episodes truly illustrate how poor/disabled/uneducated people really get screwed by the system. I.e., if two people are accused of committing the same crime (whether or not they did it) & one is wealthy/influential & can afford to hire the most expensive & best lawyers, in many cases that person will get off. Conversely, if the person is poor, they will fall between the cracks & will almost certainly get convicted.

    In this fictitious case on the show, the only reason that Benny didn't get convicted was because of the interest Mike & Arnie showed in him & the case, their correct belief that he didn't commit the crime (due to their adamantly interrogating him & asking him details, etc.), and Mike's skill/expertise as a lawyer. However, if Benny (or someone like him, in similar circumstances) hadn't coincidentally had friends in the legal profession due to his affiliation with the firm, he would not have gotten the best legal representation & would have definitely gone to jail - possibly for the rest of his life.

    Benny was played by the late Larry Drake, who I've seen in other movies/TV shows playing bad guys/villains. And, he did an incredible job here - very convincing. Performances by Drake & others on the show just illustrate how fantastic the cast is in this series. From the largest role to the smallest cameo, all of the actors/actresses on this show are perfectly cast - very impressive.
     
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  17. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I agree, but what's also remarkable is how many moments on the show are fall-down, flat-out, laugh-out-loud funny. In an era when sitcoms were trying to be more dramatic with varying degree of success, you also saw dramatic shows such as this one adding humor to the mix.
     
  18. The Obsolete Man

    The Obsolete Man Cinematographer

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    As someone who was buying it as it came out, things did not look good for a while.

    Seasons 1-6 came out at a decent clip in 2012 and 2013, then nothing. Two years of rescheduling, waiting, and wondering. Finally, in 2016, 7 and 8 appeared and finished off the series. For a while, it looked like the series would be abandoned on both sides of the pond. But the Brits came through.


    Anyway, for those who aren't in the market for R2 DVDs but don't mind yet another streaming service, IMDB TV (whatever the hell that is) has grabbed a bunch of Disney titles and LA Law is one of them.

    https://deadline.com/2020/02/imdb-tv-grabs-streaming-rights-to-disney-tv-titles-like-desperate-housewives-1202852411/

    So is St. Elsewhere, for those who are interested. And since that usually comes up alongside LA Law in the "Where the fu*k is this show?!?" comments, well... there you go.
     
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  19. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    That's nice, but one wonders whether the picture quality will be any better than the DVDs.
     
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  20. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    True enough-- of course, for some, that will be in the furthest recesses of their minds; they'll take the show any way they can get it, whether the picture quality is pristine or horrible.
     
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