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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Practice
Complete First and Second Seasons


Starring: Dylan McDermott, Michael Badalucco, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Steve Harris, Camryn Manheim, Kelli Williams and Lara Flynn Boyle
Mediumrare Entertainment
RRP: £39.99
FHED 2915
Certificate: 15
Available 27 February 2012

Set in Boston, The Practice centres on a firm of passionate attorneys to whom every case is important and every client worth a fight to the end. Pursuing justice, however, sometimes means crossing the line. The Practice ran for eight seasons and spawned the spin off series Boston Legal...

The Practice: Complete First and Second Seasons collects together all eight episodes of the show's first season (1997) and the twenty-eight episodes of season two (1997-1998) over eight discs. The first two discs house season one and extras, while the remaining six discs contain season two.

Highlights in this season (and there are so many, so I've raised the bar (geddit?) and only included the very best of the highlights) include:

Betrayal: Joey Heric (John Larroquette) needs the help of the practice when he is accused of murdering his boyfriend. It looks like an open and shut case, but Heric is hiding quite a few secrets. Meanwhile Jimmy has to attend court on solicitation charges. He saw a prostitute client on the street and offered her a lift home and then gave her money to help her out of a tight spot. To a passing police officer it appeared that Jimmy was paying for sex.

First Degree: Bobby defends an adulterer who is charged with murdering his lover's husband, while Eugene represents a police officer who is claiming that his job has made him racist. Jimmy is acting oddly around Lindsay, and we discover it's because he is embarrassed because he has had an erotic dream about her.

Spirit of America: This is an interesting episode as, in part, it follows a documentary crew as they are filming a fly on the wall film about the personalities behind the law firm. The lawyers are attempting to get a man off death row - it's his last appeal before he is condemned to die. The story is mainly seen through the eyes of Jimmy. At the start of the episode he is uncomfortable about representing the condemned man and feels strongly that the death penalty is a fair and just one. However, as the episode progresses and Jimmy comes to know the man (who claims he is innocent) suddenly things don't seem so black and white). It's here that the raw documentary segments help to sell the story.

Hide and Seek: Bobby's old mentor, Raymond Oz, asks Bobby and Lindsay to second-chair in his current case because Oz is having slight lapses in his memory. In court it is obvious to Bobby that Oz's problems are acute, but Oz uses trickery to hide this fact from everyone else. Bobby must decide whether to tell the judge and end the career of a man he respects, or keep quiet and hope that Oz doesn't fall apart in court. Meanwhile Eugene has to defend a man on trial for raping and killing two young boys. It's this episode that starts to show Eugene as the show's moral compass, helping to flesh out the character and draw the audience to relate to him more than the other characters.

Line of Duty: While in bed with Helen, Bobby overhears a phone call that puts one of his clients in jeopardy. The police are going to perform a drugs bust and Bobby tips his client off. When the police arrive the criminals are waiting and end up killing several officers. Legally, Bobby had no choice, but it doesn't make his actions any easier to swallow. This is an interesting episode, but the consequences of Bobby's actions are soon forgotten - only in passing are they mentioned in future episodes. This episode also sees Jimmy in a story arc, that spreads over several episodes, as he tries to bring a case against an electricity company whose power lines seem to be the cause of a cancer cluster.

The Trial: When the body of a woman is found hacked apart in her apartment, it appears to be the work of a known serial killer. However, it soon becomes clear that it's a copycat crime and Dr. Jeffrey Winslow, who was having an affair with the deceased, is the main suspect. Bobby and Helen must go up against each other in court - which could spell the end of their romantic involvement.

Cloudy with a Chance of Membranes: This episode follows on from The Trial. Dr Winslow is in court to prove his innocence. At the episode's end there is a hint of a twist in the tale.

Checkmate: Joey Heric is once again in trouble as another of his lovers is found with a blade stabbed through his heart. This storyline actually started in the previous episode Another Day). He ends up firing Bobby and representing himself in court. It's in this episode we learn about Heric's narcissistic personality disorder. Could it be that Heric knows all along what he is doing, even when it appears he has slipped up? Meanwhile Ellenor represents an obese woman who is claiming damages from a carnival clown who made rude remarks about her appearance in public.

Axe Murderer: This is actually part two of an Ally McBeal / The Practice crossover story. It's a shame that part one wasn't included as an extra, but I'm assuming that this is down to rights issues. Ally and Bobby defend a woman who killed her husband, but has no knowledge of it. During hypnosis the woman claims to have been killer Lizzie Borden in a past life. There's an interesting scene between Ally and Helen where the two first meet. This is made all the more humorous when you know that Lara Flynn Boyle (Helen) was originally in the running to play the lead in Ally McBeal.

Duty Bound: Jimmy's old priest is accused of murdering a 15-year-old boy. The police have evidence that the priest has been at the boy's flat, telephoned him before the murder, and has accessed child pornography from his personal computer - all things the priest denies. Jimmy believes him, and sets about finding out what really happened. But, for Jimmy, getting too close to the truth could mean his own death.

Rhyme and Reason: The show's second season finale opens with a 13-year-old shooting his mother dead over a silly argument. The Judge (Louise Fletcher) must make the painful decision whether to charge the boy as an adult or not. But it's the second story line that's the most interesting. Here, Eugene represents a man who shot and killed two kids. Eugene has to explain to his son why he represents "bad men" and "criminals". The argument follows the line that someone has to be there to defend everyone from bad police practice. The ending to the episode see Eugene reflecting on his profession and the cost of sticking to his principals.

Notable guest stars include (in order of appearance) Natalia Nogulich (who played Admiral Alynna Nechayev in Star Trek: The Next Generation / Deep Space Nine); John Larroquette; Armin Shimerman (who played Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine); Willie Garson (Martin Lloyd in Stargate: SG-1); Tony Amendola (Stargate: SG-1's Master Bra'tac); Troy Evans (ER's Francis "Frank" Martin); John de Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation's Q); the late James Whitmore (who most modern audiences will remember as The Shawshank Redemption's Brooks Hatlen); Carmen Argenziano (Stargate: SG-1's Jacob Carter); Norman Lloyd (St. Elsewhere's Doctor Daniel Auschlander); John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise's Doctor Phlox); Carolyn McCormick (Star Trek: The Next Generation's perfect holosuite date Minuet from the episodes 11001001 and Future Imperfect); and Louise Fletcher (One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest's Nurse Ratched and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Winn Adami).

Extras include Setting up The Practice (17 min, 10 sec which explains the origins of the show and how/why it changed as it entered its second season. It was interesting to hear that Lara Flynn Boyle (who plays DA Helen Gamble) was originally in the running to play the lead in Ally McBeal, a part that eventually went to Calista Flockhart).; and a photo gallery.

It was a shame that the writers appeared to leave Bobby in the background the more the show progressed. We hardly get to see any of his personal life and there's no ongoing story arc as there are for the majority of the other main cast. In fact, other than his brief relationship with Helen, and on/off affair with Lindsay, you never get to learn much about him. The same is true of Lindsay.

Whether you fondly remember this show, or enjoy legal dramas, The Practice: Complete First and Second Seasons is well worth adding to your collection.


Darren Rea

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