05 May 2008

The Best Show You Didn't Watch

In the fall of 1995, in full wake of the OJ Simpson Murder Trial, ABC began airing a somewhat unconventional lawyer show, Murder One.

What is uncovnetional is not the fact that the leading man has absolutely no hair anywhere (alopecia?), but rather that the entire 1st season focuses on one case. Apparently the prolonged Simpson proceedings made producers realize that this was possible.

Of course, unlike the Simpson case, there is not an overwhelming mountain of evidence proving the fictional defendant's (a Hollywood heart-throb actor named Neil Avedon) guilt. There is, in fact, an incredibly sexy Stanly Tucci as a sleazy, conspiratorial, billionaire with shadowy intentions who probably has more to do with the "Goldilocks Murder" (as the case is dubbed by the fictional media) than he lets on.

In addition to Tucci and The Bald Guy, we get Dylan Baker, some guest spots from Donna Murphy (with terrible hair), and this guy John Fleck who brought a lawsuit against the NEA in the early 90s when they said his performance art was indecent and unfundable

I admit, I am only about 20% through the season, but it has been engrossing. True, it is a little "old school" (this was made before HBO taught us we could make TV shows that look like movies, and not TV shows), and the other cases the firm deals with on a weekly basis, though interesting, are more of a conventional throw-back to what you would expect from LA Law or The Practice. And it does come off as a bit pretentious and even preachy at times. But, thus far, Murder One has been fascinating and addictive.

In 1995, before TV on DVD, DVR or iTunes, a show like Murder One, with its cumulative plot line, didn't really stand much of a chance. Those who missed the beginning episodes, or a week here and there were lost, and ratings were low.

(The producers apparently thought they could solve this is the second season by focusing on 3 cases, each of which would take up 8 episodes. They also replaced the bald buy with Andy Garcia. I do not plan on watching that season.)

But the good news is, Season One of Murder One is on DVD, or you can watch it for free at Hulu.com (though you will have to deal with a lot of Chili's commercials and buffering).

Here's a YouTube video of the aforementioned John Fleck. On Murder One, he's some sort of assistant and usually tells Bald Guy that someone is waiting to see him. But he's an intriguing presence nonetheless.

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