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MURDER ONE: The Complete First Season

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 1035 minutes (23 episodes on 6 discs), two audio commentaries, Making The Case: season One featurette


RELEASE DATE: 2-8-2005

ANALYSIS: MURDER ONE is murderously addictive (or just one of the best TV shows of the 1990s). It's like a good book you can't put down as you want to find out what happens next. It is one of the best produced and written seasons of a TV show ever. MURDER ONE did the serialized novel format before 24 came along and did it.   The first season was powerful with it's twists and turns.  The second season was OK, but it just didn't match the intensisty of the nail biting first season.

Steven Bochco came up with the idea of following one murder trial all season from the defense attorney's point of view. Thus MUDER ONE was born. The first season focused on the trial of TV actor Neil Avedon (Jason Gedrick) who is accused of murdering his 15 year old girlfriend, Jessica Costello. His defense attorney is intelligent (and bald) Teddy Hoffman (Daniel Benzali). Ted suspects entrepreneur-philanthropist Richard Cross (Stanley Tucci) has killed Jessica despite the fact that Richard is dating Jessica's older sister, Julie Costello (the sexy Bobbie Phillips), and putting up $1 million bail for Neil. Richard Cross was the first suspect in the murder of Jessica. Many people Ted begins to suspect as he finds out that Dr. Graham Lester is friends with Richard Cross. What game is Richard Cross is playing? Will Ted and his firm be able to prove Neil is innocent despite Neil's recent troubles with drugs and a damning video?

MURDER ONE intrigued me with it's twist and turns when I watched the show in repeats on A&E a few years ago. Now, the show is just as good when I rewatched it. MUDER ONE is drama at it's best.

VIDEO/AUDIO: All 23 episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 Full Frame format. The transfer is very disappointing. Colors and image detail is great. However, blacks are slightly murky at times and every episode suffers from varying amounts of grain/video noise. Even worse, color bleeding and rainbowing (also known as aliasing) show up.  Maybe the source printes they used weren't as good as hoped or something happened when they were transfering (and mastering) it to DVD.  The aliasing shows on buildings, striped shirts, and the blinds in Hoffman's office.

You can hear the episodes in English 2.0 Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, or Spanish Dolby Surround with the option of English or Spanish subtitles. Dialogue comes through clear as a bell while the music comes across strongly.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Two commentary tracks are on this DVD release: Chapter 8 with Jason Gedrick and Chapter 15 with director Randy Zisk. Jason's audio commentary is horrible and he should stick to acting and interviews (but no commentaries by himself). Randy's commentary for Chapter 15 is better. He talks about the show, the actors, and directing.

The other extra is on disc six. MAKING THE CASE: SEASON ONE is a 25 minute featurette on the first season of MURDER ONE. The cast (Jason Gedrick, Daniel Benzali, Barbara Bosson, Mary McCormack, and J.C. MacKenzie) and some of the crew are interviewed. They say how the show was like a novel with great writing. They also talk about the photography of season one and the camera angles in the court room seasons. Daniel Benzali best sums it up by saying MURDER ONE is like a modern film noir.

PACKAGE DESIGN: MURDER ONE has to have my favorite packaging design of the year (it will be hard to top this one). The body bag art with what appears (and feels) like a zipper is on the box. Each DVD art sleeve features the body bag zipper lower with each case (three slim cases are in this set with each case holding two discs).

MENUS:  The main menu of each disc has a group of video clips that show things from episodes on that disc.   Whether yor not you have seen the episodes, I don't like it.

FINAL ANALYSIS: MURDER ONE is superior TV. The first season is addictive with plenty of twists and drama. If you're a fan of MURDER ONE, buy the DVD. If you're looking for something great to watch, this is the DVD set for you. I hope they get rid of the rainbowing for the season 2 set and include a Play All option (and get rid of the video clip menus that spoil episodes on the discs).

this DVD Review is (c)2-18-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia