Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Murder One (television)
The dramatic structure of the show was based on a single serialized storyline threaded through the entire season's 23 episodes. While there were many plot twists and misdirections, fundamentally the entire season consisted of one defense case for Hoffman and Associates.
In the series opener, a young girl is murdered in suspicious circumstances in the home of one of Hollywood's leading young actors. The first season of the show follows the intricacies of the investigation and trial of the defendant. Stanley Tucci played Richard Cross, Hoffman's old friend-turned-nemesis
Although the show did not achieve high ratings, its viewers enjoyed Murder One. It is thought that the serial nature of the drama left viewers who either missed episodes or did not see the series from its premiere at a loss to follow the plot. There was also a break of several weeks after episode 9, necessitating a 5-minute synopsis at the beginning of episode 10. However, the acting and writing (Murder One was written by Stephen Bochco of Hill Street Blues) are believed to be satisfactory, and Benzali's tightly-focused performance was singled out for critical praise.
Main Characters, 1995
- Theodore Hoffman - Daniel Benzali
- Annie Hoffman - Patricia Clarkson
- Justine Appleton - Mary McCormack
- Neal Avedon (defendant) - Jason Gedrick
- Richard Cross - Stanley Tucci
- Francesca Cross - Donna Murphy
- ADA Miriam Grasso (prosecutor) - Barbara Bosson
- Julia Costello (victim's sister) - Bobbie Phillips
- Judge Beth Bornstein - Linda Carlson
- DA Roger Garfield - Gregory Itzin
Following somewhat disappointing first season ratings, ABC and Bochco revamped the show significantly for the 1996-7 season. Gone were Benzali and his character (it was rumored that Benzali was unhappy with the first season and left the program, though it has also been reported he was fired) as well as many of the show's former regulars (some of the departures were expected as there was no possibility of including many of the case-context characters in ongoing parts).
The producers brought in Anthony LaPaglia as the new owner of the firm, Hoffman having retired to save his marriage as it were. The second season of the show was far less successful than the first. The original concept of the series as surrounding a "James Bond"-like defense attorney could not be salvaged with a replacement lead - not least of which because LaPaglia's character, James Wyler, spent most episodes trying to borrow money to keep the firm afloat.
The actual storyline in season two was generally considered a decent one, although less compelling than that of season one's. However, the cast changes along with the change in theme of the show buried the series before the year was out. ABC did broadcast all the episodes filmed, and the plot was prematurely wrapped up in the final episode. The series was dropped at the end of the '96-'97 season.
There was some discussion that Benzali might agree to return to the role of Ted Hoffman in a series of TV movies or short miniseries to develop the program more. This did not ultimately happen, much to the chagrin of the show's loyal fans.
Over its two year run, ABC aired 41 original episodes of this series. The first season of Murder One has aired several times on cable networks such as A&E and Court TV in the United States. (Court TV was pastiched in the series by the fictional "Law TV".)
Both seasons have been released on DVD in the US and UK, with different packaging in each country.
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