1 9 8 7 – 1 9 9 2 (USA)
170 x 50 minute episodes
Created by the award-winning production team of Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, this series echoed several aspects of its predecessor, Hill Street Blues. Namely tremendous ensemble acting, sophisticated continuing storylines and fine scripting.
Centred on courtroom theatrics and law office intrigue, with a mix of comedy and drama, LA Law revolved around the law firm of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak, which handled both criminal and civil cases.
Leland McKenzie was the paternal senior partner, Douglas Brackman Jr the penny-pinching, egocentric, balding son of one of the founding partners, and Michael Kuzak the hard working, compassionate litigation partner. Chaney died in the opening episode.
Working with them were Ann Kelsey (another litigation partner), Stuart Markowitz (the tax partner and Ann’s future husband), and the philandering divorce partner, Arnie Becker.
Also in the team were their associates, the Hispanic Victor Sifuentes (brought into the firm to satisfy racial quotas), new arrival Abby Perkins and Roxanne Melman, Becker’s secretary. Grace Van Owen was Kuzak’s Deputy DA girlfriend (played by Susan Dey of Partridge Family fame) who sometimes had to oppose him in the courtroom.
Black lawyer Jonathan Rollins and mentally handicapped office boy Benny Stulwicz were added later.
Political and romantic ambitions punctuated the legal activities of the company, with associates vying to become partners and workmates trying to become bed-mates. Abby set up on her own but found life hard away from the practice and soon returned.
New litigator Roz Shays was brought in and proved too disruptive before she fell into an empty elevator shaft and was killed, and Grace became a judge but decided she preferred attorney work and packed it in to join the firm.
Later, Kuzak left to form his own company, resulting in a name change for the firm to McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Becker, and the arrival of three new attorneys. They were freelancer Tommy Mullaney, his former wife, Zoey, and English litigation lawyer, CJ Lamb.
Combining soapy storylines with responsible handling of touchy subjects like AIDS and racial abuse, LA Law also proved that TV lawyers were not infallible. Like the cops on Hill Street, the legal eagles in LA were not always successful, but the show received rave reviews, critical acclaim and an impressive five Emmy’s all in its first season.
Douglas Brackman Jr
Grace Van Owen
Cara Jean ‘CJ’ Lamb