Murder One: The Complete First Season (review)

Years before 24, in 1995, Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue) gave us Murder One, the story of a single court case told across a TV season’s worth of episodes — 23 in all here, though the series terms them “chapters,” a completely appropriate affectation. The plot — a sordid tale of sex, drugs, blackmail, and of course murder in Hollywood — is novelistically complex, with numerous subplots and a roster of characters, each with his or her own slew of quirks and secrets, that you might need a cheat sheet to keep up with. Star Daniel Benzali (The Grey Zone) is absolutely riveting, in a smarmy kind of way, as Los Angeles defense attorney Teddy Hoffman, and makes an excellent foil for the always fascinating Stanley Tucci (The Core) as superrich entrepreneur and all-purpose pervert Richard Cross; the supporting cast is also exceptionally strong, and features Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2), Mary McCormack (Full Frontal), and Patricia Clarkson (Dogville). A daring example of experimental television drama, this may be one of the high points of ’90s prime time. Extras include audio commentary on two episodes — one by cast member Jason Gedrick (who plays murder suspect/celebrity playboy Neil Avedon) and one by director Randy Zisk — and a making-of featurette.

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