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STUDIO: Shout Factory
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 1050 minutes
Semi-classic legal drama gets a television series. Few people bother to watch.
John Houseman, James Stephens, Brent Spiner and Jon Lovitz in a bizarre cameo
Professor Charles W. Kingfield, Jr. is back to teach a bunch of idiots how to interpret the law. Faster than you can say activist judge, the young legal eagles are ready to spread their wings. James T. Hart returns along with his fellow classmates for their second year of learning about life and love. This season also marks Showtime’s pick-up of the series following CBS’s dismissal of the show. That’s right, folks. This show was too un-hip for CBS.
He poops with dignity.
My Dinner with Kingsfield is the episode where I realized that The Paper Chase shouldn’t have been stretched past the Oscar winning film. While the showrunners never tried to soften Kingsfield, it became hard to plug the John Houseman character into situations outside of his expertise. The second season is this weird attempt at trying to move past Hart and Kingsfield, so that we can see the larger world of the legal students. But, you don’t see anybody outside of the Year 1 and 2 students.
The second season did sport a rather solid episode about one of the younger law students. A first year kid kill himself and his father goes around the school trying to find out why it happened. Every student has their version of why, but it doesn’t matter. How the father is able to piece together what happened to his son is a revelation. Still, that’s just one episode in a nineteen episode line-up.
If that’s not enough, there’s the whole problem with James Stephens as Hart. It had been some time since I watched The Paper Chase and I couldn’t get over the mediocre Stephens. So, you’ve got one lead character that is rather one-note and another lead that’s boring as hell. While the show might have its moments, you still can’t get around this central problem. You don’t give a shit about the lead characters or the typical drama that arises from their interactions.
Lawyers. Insert your witty comments in the Talkback section below. That is if the Captcha is working. It isn’t? Oh well, the world will never know what Dickblood 69 had to say about this screenshot.
Syndicated prints were used for this season’s DVD transfers. While I wish they could’ve found the clean visuals that were produced for the Showtime run, the PBS prints don’t look too bad. After all, it was a cable show shot for the cheap in the early 1980s. What does suck is that if you try to pause it, you’ll see the visible distortion on the print. It’s aging material that will probably never get a remaster. Couple that with the lack of supplemental material and you’ve got a release that is just begging to be ignored. However, I’d recommend checking it out as it was one of the first serious cable dramas.