Murder One: Case Two +
May 19, 2005
Marc Buckland, Jim Charleston, Donna Deitch, Joe Ann Fogle, Michael Fresco, Lesli Linka Glatter, Charles Haid, James Hayman, Elodie Keene, Joe Napolitano, Adam Nimoy, Steven Robman, Nancy Savoca, Rick Wallace, Randall Zisk, ,
Starring: Daniel Benzali, Anthony LaPaglia, Mary McCormack, Michael Hayden, Grace Phillips, J.C. MacKenzie, D.B. Woodside, Stanley Tucci, Dylan Baker, Vanessa Williams, John Fleck, Kevin Tighe, Barbara Bosson, Patricia Clarkson, Jason Gedrick, ,
The creative minds behind TV greats such as NYPD Blue, Doogie Howser M.D, L.A Law, Dark Angel and The Shield are at it again. This time Steven Bochco and Charles H. Eglee, are revising what worked and what didn’t in producing a second series of Murder One. Deciding that an audience couldn’t keep up with the running of one whole murder case over an entire season, this time we are treated to three murder cases brought before the attorneys and this with their main honcho Teddy Hoffman out of the picture.
In steps Anthony LaPaglia, as ex-District Attorney Jimmy Wyler, as our leading character, who has also undergone a re-working. Instead of the moral bound family man, we have someone apparently a bit more exciting for television. Someone who’s not afraid to use dirty tactics or bed a woman or two during the course of the season, including Justine Appleton returning from season one.
The second season is made of 18 chapters and is split into thirds with each part concentrating on a major trail. First up is young beautiful blonde catholic school teacher, Sharon Rooney, who has been accused of unloading a barrage of bullets into the head of the Governor of California, Tom Van Allen and the girl who was sharing his bed at the time. This gives us the chance to see Jimmy Wyler in action for the first time and also brings prosecuting attorney Miriam Grasso back from the first series. The case unfolds quickly in comparison to the Avedon case from the first series and is wrapped up in seven chapters.
Being weaned slowly in from chapter four onwards is the second trial. NBA Basketball star Ricky Lattrel is up for killing team owner Sandy Fortes. Also returning from the first series is Chris Docknovich, who heads this one with newcomer Aaron Mosley played by DB Woodside (Buffy, 24). The series could have ended with chapter twelve, not perfectly but nicely. Instead a third case is forced in. The case of serial killer Clifford Banks, once again throws Jimmy into the foreground and is perhaps the most controversial as he prepares his case to defend a man who we know has committed seventeen murders.
The whole phenomenon of Murder One is incredibly well written and covers a range of plots throughout the three trials such as dirty politics, police corruption, mob informants, racial prejudice, rival agents, dissension within the associates and the flawed structure of the legal system. The style still upholds that of old film noir quality and is perhaps even darker than the first series. Where ‘Murder One: Season Two’ fails is that it’s too produced for an American audience to understand. Some of the originality that made the first series a massive success is lost with characters becoming more ‘for TV’ and conventional. Also the shocking twists and turns that came fast and furiously in the first series are almost completely missing. The twists and turns are still here but the shock factor has vanished, except for two occasions through season two.
Anthony LaPaglia, although having done a decent job of playing Jimmy Wyler, does not posses the screen presence that Daniel Benzali did as Teddy Hoffman. The supporting guest stars all perform wonderfully especially Missy Crider as Sharon Rooney and Pruitt Taylor Vince is every bit as good as he was in ‘Identity’ and delivers superb performance as Clifford Banks.
With the main star gone, and the originality gone – it’s a wonder that this second season is a good as it is. Although not a patch on the first ‘Murder One: Season Two’ is still a triumph for excellent writing, excellent television and should be proud that it paved the way for shows like ’24’. If only all television was this good on its bad hair days.
As with the seasons themselves, the season two loses out in comparison with first. No commentaries on any of the chapters. But as with the first boxset, we are giving a fine 20-minute featurette, with the stars of season two looking back at their time on ‘Murder One’.