The Olive Films February 27, 2018 DVD of the 1979 film adaptation of the 1968 Broadway musical "Hair" is further proof that Olive reflects the criterion for DVD and Blu-ray releases of art house and cult films. This release coinciding with separate Blu-ray releases of the very different Burt Lancaster films (the soon-to-be-reviewed) "The Birdman of Alcatraz" and (the reviewed) "The Hallelujah Trail" further proves this.
As a first aside, the Lancaster releases follow simultaneous Olive Signature extras-laden Blu-ray releases of the Cary Grant films "Father Goose" and (the reviewed) "Operation Petticoat."
As a second aside, this remastered DVD presents the film in a scope with a sound that is better than seeing it in a theater in 1979 and is ALMOST as good as watching a live-stage production.
The third aside is that folks who are only familiar with the stage musical will notice several differences. Most of the alterations make sense, and all of them enhance the social conscience aspects of the production.
The awesomeness of "Hair" extends well beyond the iconic soundtrack (the title song, "Good Morning Starshine, "The Age of Aquarius," etc.) and the famed nude scene. This phenomenon has enough social commentary for three productions.
Director Milos Forman ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus") "Hair" opens with "Aquarius" accompanying aptly drab scenery of the Oklahoma countryside as local farmboy/draftee Claude Bukowski (John Savage) waits for the Trailways bus to take him to New York. His awkward goodbye with his father, who is torn between wanting his son to do his duty (and to not end up either in jail or Toronto) but knowing that he probably is going to die in Vietnam, perfectly represents that aspect of that era.
Bukowski arriving in bright, sunny, colorful Central Park is comparable to Chez Gale crashing down somewhere over the rainbow. He soon encounters a "tribe" of Broadway/Hollywood friendly hippies led by George Berger (Treat Williams). (One spoiler is that the film version of "Hair" excludes a look at the treat of Williams and everyone else.)
The other fateful encounter at that time involves making extended eye contact with horseback riding debutante Sheila Franklin (Beverly D'Angelo). All three worlds collide with the hippie shenanigans/harassment of Franklin lead to Bukowski jumping on a horse and showing the entire group his mad riding skills.
In a manner that remains true to the vibe of two strange dogs literally and figuratively sniffing each other out during this entire portion of the film, Berger soon convinces Bukowski the Okie to abandon plans to visit the Empire State Building in favor of hanging out and smoking hash. Suffice it to say that our hero soon adapts to his new environment.
The next morning brings heavy symbolism as Berger defaces an image of Sheila in a highly meaningful way and then essentially whistles over a retreating Bukowski and convinces him to join the pack in crashing a party at Chez Franklin. Watching the long-haired tye-dye wearing interlopers and Bukowski in his ugly brown polyester suit from Sears among the impeccably dressed one-percenters cannot get any better until it does when a patriarch sends a wimpy preppy school boy over to confront the group.
The real fun begins when all assembled gather for a formal sit-down lunch and efforts to oust Berger leads to an elaborate "Coyote Ugly" style song-and-dance number. Seeing Charlotte Rae get into the spirit of things in full Edna Garrett fashion is the icing on the cake. (Another fun moment comes on recognizing the voice of Nell Carter ("Gimme A Break") emanating from a Central Park hippie.)
The aftermath involves a wonderfully enthusiastic "Chicago" style song-and-dance number involving the titular tune; this portion of the film also provides greater insight into Berger.
The hi-jinks continue until Bukowski and his fellow draftees undergo a purposefully humiliating induction procedure; this being "Hair," a hilarious raucous counter-culture song-and-dance number lightens the mood.
The film then moves in a different direction in every sense as Berger convinces his people (and a few tag-alongs) to take a road trip to the Nevada Army base where Bukowski is undergoing basic training. This leads to further counter-culture mischief with a surprise twist on the end that everyone knows is coming.
The ending is very true to the spirit of both the musical and the film. The genocide of boys-next-door in Vietnam was to benefit the people who stayed at home. Further, going over there was a rite-of-passage that sobered up boys who either were cruising around suburbs and small towns in their American cars or were smoking hash and taking acid in the big city.
Either way, their deaths destroyed their futures and devastated all who loved them. This is not to mention the guys who made it back but still are screwed up 50 years later.
The DVD extra is the extended theatrical trailer.
The Warner Archive January 2016 Blu-ray release of the Kafkaesque 1956 Hitchcock docudrama "The Wrong Man" continues a series of reviews of exceptional Archive releases from the not-too-distant past. Hitchcock forgoing his usual Stan Lee style tongue-in-cheek cameo for a highly-stylized introduction is the first indication that this largely shot on location one is different.
The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer (which the BD includes) for "Man" features the monolgue that is discussed below. It also highlights the suspense and (also mentioned below) soundtrack.
This opening monologue stating that The Master of Suspense is shifting his focus from tales of murder and mayhem to the real-life story of the titular "innocent" Stork Club musician Christopher Emmanuel "Manny" Balestero (Henry Fonda) is another indication of a deviation from the norm. "Psycho" co-star Vera Miles playing Balestero spouse Rose and composer of the peerless "Psycho" theme (and other music of that film) Bernard Herrmann doing his thing here provide a sense of business as usual.
A coincidental sense of continuity is that "Man" is one of three recently acquired Archive releases that includes a new DVD of the (soon-to-be-reviewed)1966 Doris Day romcom "The Glass Bottom Boat" in which Day sings her signature song "Que Sera Sera" that she premieres in the 1956 Hitchcock thriller "The Man Who Knew Too Much."
The larger theme is a combination of a concept that makes Hitchcock so great and a related "it could happen to you" element of the work of Franz Kafka that Hitchcock often emulates. The Hitchcock formula for success includes moving terrifying events from the creepy mansion on the hill to the house next door. The source of fear this time is being wrongfully accused of a crime getting you wrapped up in a legal system that often is defended on the basis that it is the best alternative out there.
Readers are asked to consider the following discussion of "Man" both in the context of imagining themselves in the shoes of Manny and regarding the larger issue of the "Me Too" movement. The SINCERE disclaimer regarding this is that the discussion of "Me" is not intended to suggest anything other than the harm IF an accusation is false. No opinion is being expressed regarding the validity of ANY "Me" claim.
Men and women in power often abuse their positions and most claims of abuse by Hollywood power brokers are undisputed. Further, determining the truth in disputed cases involving 30 year-old events can be very challenging; this is not to mention one man's innocent hug being another woman's sexual assault
The other side of the coin is that "Me" is subject to abuse by someone who wrongfully targets a person with a solid decades-long reputation that is worth millions of dollars and that allows him or her to walk the streets without being the subject of active scorn.
In typical Hitchcock style, "Man" begins depicting the then ordinary life of Manny before it spirals out of control. He is happily jamming in the New York landmark that employs him, takes the subway home, checks in on his peacefully sleeping young sons, and then goes into his marital bedroom to learn that the pain of four impacted wisdom teeth are keeping Rose awake.
The everymanny sense of the main character continues with him and Rose discussing their poor fiscal health and options for funding the dental procedure that she requires. Their fateful decision the next morning to borrow from the life insurance policy on Rose triggers their nightmare.
Manny goes to the insurance company office later that day thinking that inquiring about the value of the policy as collateral for a loan is going to be routine. The reality is that a woman who works there mistakenly recognizes him as the man who robbed the business months ago.
A subsequent police report puts NYPD Blue on the trail of Manny; being a nice guy and believing that his innocence is his get out of jail free card prompts our innocent to fully cooperate with the detectives who literally knock on his door.
The cringing by viewers begins with the detectives questioning Manny without reading him the well-known Miranda rights that the U.S. Supreme Court establishes 10 years later. Their criminally negligent behavior continues with conducting numerous blatantly suggestive witness identification procedures that include having Manny walk through robbed stores without informing him of the purpose for doing so.
This leads to arresting Manny without even telling him of his rights to an attorney and to remain silent as the cell door slams. The detectives additionally still are telling their suspect that he has no cause for concern if he is innocent.
Hitchcock and Kafka fully merge in this black-and-white film as the shadow of the cell bars falls across the face of a terrified Manny. This leads to a memorable scene as he sits still while the camera spins around him in a manner reminiscent of several "Psycho" shots.
Audience sympathy grows for Manny as defeat repeatedly is snatched from the jaws of victory. This includes the highly improbable thwarting of every effort to establish what should be a solid alibi. This likely raises the thought of many viewers in this age in which many of us live alone and that DVRs and/or On Demand video (not to mention highly portable cell phones) are in virtually that PROVING that we are "home watching television" on a "night in question" may be very difficult.
The additional element that attracts Hitchcock to the story is the toll on Rose. The overall experience and the related thoughts cause her great angst with effects that last well beyond the truth coming out.
Archive supplements the film with the making-of documentary "Guilt Trip: Hitchcock and the Wrong Man." Peerless film historian Robert Osborne and genuinely acclaimed film director Peter Bogdanovich are among the talking heads who provide insight regarding this compelling docudrama
Properly reviewing the Lionsgate February 20, 2018 DVD release of S1 of "MacGyver" requires the analytical thinking needed to be on the payroll of the Phoenix Foundation as a member of Team MacGyver.
The good news is that this entertaining reimagining of the '80s action-adventure series about the exploits of hunky 30-something science-whiz-secret agent Angus MacGyver stays very true to the original concept; it also has an abundance of fresh elements that prevent undue deja-vu regarding the original.
The following YouTube clip of the Lionsgate promo. for "MacGyver" S1 provides a good look at the new faces in this franchise and includes plenty of action shots.
Lucas Till, who aptly plays young Havok in the "The X-Men" prequel films, has the good looks and boy-next-door persona that filling the shoes of hunky original star Richard Dean Anderson requires.
The reimagining includes replacing middle-age desk jockey handler Pete Thornton with younger and more active Patricia Thornton, who does not seem to be related to her Mac Universe predecessor. Further, longtime friend-colossal flake Penny Parker keeps her name and relative age to MacGyver but is a more frequent presence and is much less flighty.
Producers Lee David Zlotoff and Henry "Fonzie" Winkler also alter Nikki Carpenter. Her background is less fleshed out this time, and we meet her after she is the spy who loves MacGyver.
Nikki also reflects an element that requires the aforementioned analysis regarding the '16 series. Her apparent departure from the series in the pilot sends our hero in a tail spin that is an element for many S1 episodes. However, folks who are familiar with this genre in general and with the OS specifically can predict the subsequent developments. The same is true regarding the general plot line regarding allegedly literary-loving arch-nemesis Murdoc.
Thoughts regarding the recasting of recurring character buddy/irritant Jack Dalton likely are more controversial. A purely objective opinion is that the (arguably skilled) portrayal of that character by Bruce McGill is so loathsome that there is a memory of avoiding episodes in which he appears.
The same bias reflects liking the new Dalton, who appears in every S1 episode. Zlotoff and Winkler properly rely on the fan base of George Eads from his 335 episodes on "CSI" in casting him as the permanent sidekick of MacGyver. This likable Dalton plays up his good ole boy persona to entertain Team McGyver, always looks out for MacGyver rather than tries to con him, and actively puts himself in a position in which he may take a bullet to protect his buddy. For his part, Dalton makes an amusing joke that he hates nerdy CSI (i.e., forensic science) stuff.
Similarly, the aforementioned loved Murdoc is a more constant presence than his roughly once a season OS appearances. He first shows up mid-season as an assassin with a contract that is very personal to our group.
We further see bounty hunters/proposed spin-off stars the Colton Family get a makeover.
The aspect that requires the aforementioned perspective regarding this fast-paced series (which provides at least three lessons in how to MacGyver household items in each episode) reflects the difference in the television landscape between 1985 and 2016.
The OS was a "guy" show competing with the Monday-night sitcom lineups of CBS and NBC. Additionally, the relatively few cable networks of that era mostly either aired very specialized content or obscure reruns.
Conversely, network broadcast series of 2016 compete with 100s of basic and premium cable channels that mostly show original content. This is not to mention the numerous streaming services that do the same. One need not be a rocket scientist to realize that this makes going with a sure bet much safer then being experimental.
One only need to look at the new "Fuller House" and "Will & Grace," both of which seem to SOLELY exist to amuse the stars, and the upcoming "Roseanne" that likely will be more of the same to see that content providers are looking to the past to put butts in front of a screen in the present.
The '16 "MacGyver" outshines the other reboots by being completely free of smirks as the star does things such as use a Mylar balloon to lift a foot print and utilize common kitchen items to transform a wine bottle into a potentially lethal projectile. We further do not get any lame insider jokes regarding the former incarnations of the characters.
(A side note is that your not-so-humble reviewer is proud of once using a coat hanger to retrieve a kitchen sink sprayer hose from a bend in a drain.)
What we get are well-crafted stories that (sometimes repeatedly) center around cliched plots; this reflects a statement by Roseanne before the premiere of her OS that there are only 10 sitcom plots. A hilarious aspect of that is her saying then that she never is going to resort to the lower middle-class Conners winning the lottery.
At the same time, Tom and Jerry chasing and battering each other have entertained us for more than 60 years, and the Scooby gang has done the same regarding their pursuits of bad guys who try to scare off meddling kids and others. This demonstrates that a properly executed concept can be eternal. One should remember as well that some shows are crave-worthy comfort food, rather than rare delicacies.
The reason for mentioning this is that the (again entertaining and well-produced) 21 episodes in S1 of the '16 series packs in several seasons' worth of fan-favorite concepts. This includes Murdoc appearing in four of the twenty-one offerings.
We also get two episodes in a row in which a good person does a really bad thing because the real villain is holding a family member, two separate episodes in which a sort of a homecoming for MacGyver embroils him in intrigue, MacGyver not allowing a contract on his head to prevent him from going out in the field, Team MacGyver having a dangerous mole, and a season finale in which the bad guys obtain control of the Phoenix headquarters.
We further get a cross-over episode in which MacGyver and Dalton team up with the finest from the new "Hawaii Five-O" to save the day. Folks who recall the excitement of seeing folks from "Cheers" and "Frasier" visiting each other, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel reuniting a few times, the "Star Trek" crews merging, and even "CSI" teams joining forces can relate to the appeal of this one.
Two other plot lines pay homage to the "CSI" past of Eads. One episode finds him buried alive. Another one in which a hunt for a serial killer is personal for a member of Team MacGyver and requires especially heavy use of forensic science is another awesome nod to the CBS classic procedural that precedes "MacGyver."
The debriefing regarding this mission to provide a sense of '16 S1 is that "MacGyver" is unique in having a strong ensemble with a lead who appeals to viewers from 8-to-80. Further, a barrage of familiar elements in S1 often is needed these days to help ensure an S2. This site will review the DVD of that season in a year
The Warner Archive January 16, 2018 DVD release of the 1960 Southwestern Gothic drama "Home From the Hill" is a perfect example of the bounty from the the Ted Turner era at Warner prime.
This MGM film is part of the catalog that Turner recognizes as Golden and Silver Age ore, and that he begins making readily available to watch at home. This treasures also remind us that that great films are not limited to the oft-broadcast ones during the prehistoric era of getting a television signal from an antenna on your roof.
Vincent Minnelli directs this movie that wins two National Board of Review, USA awards and that that organization deems to be one of the top 10 films of the year.
"Home" gets its title from an apt literary reference that generally refers to a man returning from a test of his masculinity. As the below shows, the film also has a coming-of-age element.
The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Home" provides a strong sense of the scope and the drama of the film.
The common elements of "Home" and the classic prime-time soap "Dallas" are obvious from the opening moments of the former. Family patriarch/local millionaire Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum) does not return from a hunting trip with a shotgun marriage to a hillbilly wife but does follow the Ewing tradition of getting shot during that outing. The lone gunman does so out of revenge for Wade making a loved one of that shooter the latest notch in his bedpost. This shooting and seducing as well as a desire to pass down the family dynasty to son Theron (George Hamilton) makes Wade the J.R. of the Hunnicutt clan.
Hunting companion/underling Raphae (George Peppard) soon comes to the rescue; both the bond between the men that is clear from the start and subsequent developments make the reveal, which the DVD back cover spoils, that Raphae is the illegitimate son of Wade not very surprising. This makes stoic Raphae the Ray Krebbs of the group in that he is the bastard son who has a relatively good job and otherwise is treated well so long as he understands his status.
Seventeen-year-old Theron is the "good son" with some edge Bobby of the group. This ultimate rebel with a righteous cause starts out quiet and well-mannered is this film that largely is his coming-of-age story. His literally being taken on a middle-of-the-night snipe hunt provides a wake-up call that prompts him on his road to manhood.
Wade helps this quest by assigning Raphae to be a big brother to a (then unsuspecting) Theron. This includes shooting lessons that involve the most humorous moment in "Home."
Additional foreshadowing comes in the form of an early reference to an area of quicksand from which no one ever emerges; of course, the primary test of manhood for Theron requires that he enters that forbidden zone.
Matriarch Hannah Hunnicutt (Eleanor Parker of the highly entertaining (reviewed) broads-behind-bars melodrama "Caged") is a combination of Miss Ellie and Sue Ellen. She largely stands by her man throughout his philandering but has limits regarding the embarrassment that she will endure; she also has relatively good emotional stability but has limits regarding that as well.
Girl-next-door Libby Halstead (a.k.a. Pamela Barnes-Ewing) provides the final piece of this puzzle. She catches the eye of Theron, who initially is so shy that he convinces Raphae to do his courting for him with ultimately (largely) predictable results. The father of Libby holding Theron responsible for the sins of the father provides additional drama.
Theron strutting home at 2:00 a.m. with his open shirt revealing his (of course) perfectly tanned chest leaves little doubt regarding the night that Libby fully makes a man out of him.
"Home" remains true both to epicish films of this type and to "Dallas" in having the drama amp up in a manner encompassing every major element of the film in the final 15 minutes. An adulthood of adultery catches up to Wade, Theron resolves his daddy issues, and the role of Raphae is resolved. For her part, Hannah shows that that he is just as tough as all of her "boys."
The DVD extras include the epic-long four-minute theatrical trailer for "Home."
The Mill Creek Entertainment February 13, 2018 Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo Pack release of the 1974 family film classic "Benji" gives men whose significant others shave their legs and/or their faces a chance to be a Valentine's Day hero. This is not to mention allowing parents to score big with their special someones who are too young to shave anything.
This low-budget indie film looking pawtastic in Blu-ray is only the tip of the iceberg. This tale of a mutt who already has the heart of a small town and goes onto outshine Lassie regarding two kids who have "fallen down a well" genuinely appeals to anyone from 4 to 90.
Writer-director-producer Joe Camp, who goes on to make several other Benji movies, hits all the right notes with this film debut of this star of the '60s ruralcom "Petticoat Junction." The strongest selling point is the cuteness of the lead and his expressiveness that is obvious to both the people in "the business" and to the general population.
Camp shows further knowledge of psychology by centering "Benji" around a small creature to whom adults refuse to listen even when he has crucial information to convey. Virtually every child and many adults relate to futilely "barking" only to have authority figures ignore them and/or shove them out the door.
Camp demonstrates additional understanding of his audience by populating the cast mostly with stars from '60s and '70s sitcoms.
Patsy Garrett who plays neighbor Mrs. Fowler on the fantasycom "Nanny and the Professor" plays kindly housekeeeper/surrogate mother Mary at the abode with the two moppets where Benji eats breakfast every morning. We also get Frances "Aunt Bea" Bavier as "woman with cat" who has a love-hate relationship with our star, and former Benji (nee Higgins) co-star Edgar "Uncle Joe" Buchanan as a kindly diner owner. Casting against type has Tom "Eb" Lester playing bad guy Riley. Deborah Walley of "The Mothers-In-Law" joins Lester in trading her sweet young thing image to play fellow neer-do-well Linda.
"Benji" opens with the titular former shelter puppy going about his daily business to the accompaniment of the Golden Globe winning and Oscar-nominated song "Benji's theme" sung by country singer Charlie Rich. (A segment in the TV special "The Phenomenon of Benji" that is a DVD extra shows Benji being among those who go up to accept that award.)
The first sign of trouble is when the group of young criminals that includes Riley and Linda breaks into the abandoned home that serves as a large two-story dog house for Benji.
The worlds of Benji collide when the lawbreakers show up with the aforementioned moppets gagged with their hands tied in front of them. This being a G movie results in the kids not looking any worse for wear and not seeming exceptionally frightened.
This discovery prompts Benji to race to the home of the kids to alert their father (Peter Breck of the Western "The Big Valley") and the police about the whereabouts of the children; unlike Lassie, Benji is kicked out of the house. He soon discovers that none of his other human friends are any help.
The film title and this being a '70s kids movie ensure that Benji keeps trying until he succeeds. His next effort proves that his skills apparently include the ability to read a dog-eared note, which he brings back to the crime scene.
This second bite at the Kong is one of the best ones in the film; seeing defeat essentially being ripped from the jaws of victory is a surprising twist that is equally frustrating for the audience and Benji. We also thrill on seeing him overcome staggering odds to finally convince the adults to pay attention to him.
Camp deserves additional credit for avoiding cartoonish cliches regarding the inevitable chase of Benji back to the house where the kidnap victims are being held. There are no comic efforts by large bodies to fit in small places, no knocking pedestrians off their feet, and even a very limited element of an exasperated Benji waiting for the slow and clumsy humans to catch up with him.
Benji being happy with his current existence and even having a love interest whom he meets and courts in an adorable scene creates three possibilities for the mandatory happy ending. Either he returns to his standard routine of visiting his friends every day and spending his nights in his squat, or is adopted by the family whom he reunites and becomes an indoor dog, or his new life falls somewhere in the middle.
"Benji at Work," which then "Eight is Enough" moppet Adam Rich hosts, is another TV special in this two-disc set. While "Phenomenon" is a '70slicious tribute to the popularity of the dog of that century, "Work" focuses on "behind-the-scenes" footage of Benji doing his thing. Mill Creek additionally gives us the four-minute "Benji" trailer complete with audience reactions.
The Warner Archive January 16, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 first season of the NBC comedy "Trial & Error" provides current fans a chance to catch up before the S2 premiere in a few months and gives folks who who have never seen it another bite at the apple. Bringing John Lithgow back to an NBC comedy and successfully combining two clever television concepts compete for being the most notable aspect of the series.
"Trial" additionally seems tailor-made for DVD in that the season-long story-arc complete with cliffhangers calls for the seamless marathon viewings that this format facilitates. Getting caught up in the plot and suddenly realizing that you have watched eight episodes is very easy. One can assert that this is the "OJ Syndrome."
The following YouTube clip of a "Trial" promo. tells you everything that you want to know about the series that you are not afraid to ask.
The element of "Trial" chronicling the efforts of the defense team in the high-profile murder case in which small-town poetry professor Larry Henderson is prosecuted for the death of second wife Margaret from crashing through a plate-glass window is an homage to the 2004 dramatic series "The Staircase" that documents a similar real-life case.
The mockumentary style of having the characters record video interviews throughout the series evokes strong thoughts of the NBC comedy "The Office," which introduces that concept to American audiences. However, setting "Trial" in the quirky small town of East Peck, South Carolina makes it more like "Office" follow-up series "Parks and Recreation" than the Steve Carell workplace comedy.
Considering "Northeastern" attorneys to be the chosen people prompts Larry brother-in-law/local tobacco tycoon Jeremiah Jefferson Davis to hire a New York law firm to represent Larry. That white shoes corporation sends young untested Josh Segal (who is "Northeastern" on the side of his father) to provide that counsel. Nicholas D'Agosto plays this legal professional fresh off playing District Attorney Harvey Dent on the Fox drama "Gotham."
A "Green Acres" element (complete with a New York attorney finding himself living among small-town rubes) is evident when Segal quickly discovers that his dream team consists of dim-witted investigator Dwayne Reed and essentially office manager Anne Flatch (Sherri Shepherd of an eponymous sitcom and several other series), whose many afflictions include a complete inability to recognize anyone no matter how often they meet or how many times that their paths cross.
This group finds themselves squaring off with ambitious prosecutor Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays of "Glee"), whose primary goal is to execute someone in order to advance her career. Her secondary goal is to examine the briefs of Segal.
Much of the best humor comes relates to Segal and his team planning the defense. Like Oliver Douglas of "Acres," Segal largely accepts the lunacy in order to avoid going crazy himself. Memorable segments include childlike excitement each time that the murder board is updated and the support staff suggesting absurd theories.
Lithgow is surprisingly sedate; he mostly seems more like a befuddled senior than a quirky intellectual or a pompous ass. He still plays his role well, but more always is better regarding Lithgow-style zaniness.
Veteran showrunners Jeff Astrof and Matthew Miller additional obtain comic silver from the absurdity of changing the persons-of-interest in the primary case and associated crimes that follow just as frequently as a cannonball is shot off in the East Peck town square. These "unusual suspects" include virtually everyone other than the main cast and even a couple of members of that ensemble. Including a one-armed man in that rogue's galley is particularly awesome.
The inevitable "30 Rock" mini-reunion is a "Trial" highlight. Astrof and Miller choose wisely regarding whom they bring back. Seeing Lithgow interact with this guest shows that they still have it and should get co-star in another series. Learning if Team Henderson discovers a Tommy gun requires watching.
"S1" ends on a cliffhanger that also can serve as a series finale that is typical for a show that is on the bubble; Segal still gives a hoot about Lithgow after his trial concludes, and this legal eagle takes on another ripped-from-the-headlines case that likely seems open-and-shut and almost certainly involves a great deal of baggage.
Just as is the case in a legal proceeding, judging the quality of "Trial" requires considering every relevant circumstance. The underlying satirical elements of the series are solid; each cast member does a respectable job with his or her role; America always love a trial that involves numerous scandals, and this show is much better than most sitcoms on broadcast and cable channels.