TV always loved lawyers. And, we love TV series of Law as well. In recent years, Suits, Boston Legal are famous, entertaining and engaging TV Series for all Law-lovers. But in 90’s, there were some awesome Legal TV series from which a law student can learn a lot of things to count on.
L.A. Law (1986-1994)
This groundbreaking series about a boutique law firm, McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney & Kuzak, did for lawyers what Hill Street Blues did for cops. Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher (Cagney & Lacey), L.A. Law depicted them as smart, driven, fallible, sexy and as varied as the rest of humankind. For lawyers of a certain age, Leland McKenzie is the managing partner they are still looking for. Douglas Brackman Jr. is the manager they seem to end up with.
TRIVIA: Norman Chaney, a firm name partner, is found dead of a heart attack in the very first episode and is never actually seen on camera.
The Practice (1997-2004)
Bobby Donnell was a handsome, driven defense attorney who surrounded himself at the self-named firm of Robert Donnell & Associates with talented lawyers who lacked the pedigree necessary to cut it in BigLaw. They made up the difference with street smarts and sheer tenacity. Lawyer David E. Kelley created and produced the show just after he developed Ally McBeal. Unlike AMcB, The Practice appreciated the cognitive dissonance between applications of the law and real life.
TRIVIA: Kelley created the role of Helen Gamble for Lara Flynn Boyle after auditioning her for the role of Ally McBeal.
Night Court (1984-1992)
Judge Harry Stone (Harry Anderson) presided over the late-night antics of a misdemeanor court in New York City, which featured a lecherous prosecutor, a no-nonsense court clerk, a droll set of bailiffs and a string of cover-girl public defenders. Full of pratfalls and seriously good intentions, the show managed to humanize the one place where most people meet up with the law.
TRIVIA: John Larroquette (prosecutor Dan Fielding) narrated the original version of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Murder One (1995-1997)
This electric legal serial featured Daniel Benzali as Teddy Hoffman, a zealous no-nonsense defense attorney who was never quite sure whether his client was guilty or not. Benzali was replaced in the second season by Anthony LaPaglia, and the show suffered from a lack of continuity.
TRIVIA: The single-case first season motif, which required lengthy explanations of previous action, was dropped in the second season.
Reasonable Doubts (1991-1993)
Mark Harmon played an investigator who, because of his knowledge of sign language, was assigned to work for the DA (Marlee Matlin), who happens to be deaf. The oil-and-water relationship between the two sustained the show for a surprising 45 episodes.
TRIVIA: A poster for Reasonable Doubts decorates the office of a TV producer in an episode of Seinfeld.
The irrepressible Andy Griffith played Atlanta defense attorney Ben Matlock as a crafty, high-priced defense genius who didn’t merely defend clients—he solved crimes Perry Mason-style. Even after the series ended, Matlock lived on in TV movies.
TRIVIA: Matlock is purportedly based on the practice of famed Georgia trial lawyer Bobby Lee Cook.
Law & Order (1990- 2010)
Law & Order matches the legendary Gunsmoke as the longest-running TV drama series ever. Producer Dick Wolf is said to have conceived the show’s format—first half, investigation and arrest; second, trial and verdict—after watching tapes of a British show while working as a writer on the 1980s hit Miami Vice. The show is legendary for its twisted takes on real-life legal issues, its popular (and not so popular) spinoffs, and an ensemble cast that is consistently one of the hardest-working in TV.
TRIVIA: S. Epatha Merkerson (Lt. Anita Van Buren) is the show’s longest-running cast member, appearing in 368 episodes—three more seasons and 23 more episodes than Sam Waterston (Jack McCoy)
Ally McBeal (1997-2002)
This David Kelley invention had no pretensions to be a vehicle for legal issues. Built around an old romance (Ally’s ex-boyfriend, now married, is a partner at Cage Fish, the firm where she worked), the show was a slapstick soap opera whose law office served as a setting for anorexic fashion, sex-driven dialogue and permutating relationships.
TRIVIA: Calista Flockhart’s character was so popular and so unlike the Type-A women who appeared as lawyers in other shows that she was featured on a Time magazine cover in June 1998 with the headline “Is Feminism Dead?”
What are you waiting for? Go and watch these TV Series.
Also, do you know any other good 90’s legal TV series? Then mention it in the comment below.