Murder One-Case One (1995)

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Released 6-Apr-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Chapter 8, Jason Gedrick (Actor)
Audio Commentary-Chapter 15, Randall Zisk (Director)
Featurette-Making The Case: Season One
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 1029:32
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Marc Buckland
Jim Charleston
Donna Deitch
Joe Ann Fogle
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Daniel Benzali
Jason Gedrick
Mary McCormack
Michael Hayden
Grace Phillips
J.C. MacKenzie
Patricia Clarkson
Stanley Tucci
Dylan Baker
Vanessa Williams
John Fleck
Kevin Tighe
Barbara Bosson
Case ?
RPI $74.95 Music Mike Post


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This show (especially this first season) was required viewing every week at our house when it first aired in the mid-1990s on Australian television. It was a TV series like nothing I had ever seen with an amazing intensity which did not let up over the entire series. It has been fascinating to revisit this series nearly ten years later and find that not only has it stood the test of time but it was just as enthralling the second time around. Luckily, I had forgotten what happened in the end so this made it exciting all over again.

    Murder One was different for a lot of reasons. First and foremost it followed one case over the entire season, unlike every other law show I have seen which follows a different case each week. This sort of made it the 24 of legal shows. Other differences include the wonderful cinematography including different camera angles and the exceptional use of light, dark and shadows. Obviously, in order for one case to hold the audience's interest over twenty-three 45 minute episodes it has to be an interesting and intriguing one, which of course means that the writing must be of the highest quality. It certainly is here. There are constant twists and surprises and quite a few red herrings.

    The show was created by the same man who created LA Law, Hill Street Blues & NYPD Blue, Stephen Bochco. A lot of the action in this series takes place in the courtroom as it follows through preliminary hearings, bail hearings, jury selection and the main trial or other cases which may or may not be related. The casting is excellent with all the main actors fitting their roles well and doing a great job. The casting of David Benzali was critical and his steely resolve and calmness created a great central character to build the rest of the story around. Fans of Dharma & Greg should keep an eye out for Jenna Elfman in a small part.

    It is really impossible for me to give you episode synopses for each episode without spoiling the story, so I won't. Instead I will give you a rundown of the crime, the lawyers and their significant allies and the protagonists in the case itself. Each episode progresses the main story and many of them also include subplots such as other cases the law firm is involved in or relationships between the various characters and their families or each other. Annoyingly each and every episode is preceded by a 10 second warning about copyright which you cannot skip, even though there is a warning as the disc loads. Seems a bit over the top to me.

The Crime

    A 15 year old girl is found in her apartment, raped, bound and murdered. She is a drug user, sexually promiscuous and possibly a prostitute. Her name is Jessica Costello. The case is known to the media as the Goldilocks case.

The Lawyers, Police and other investigators

    The important characters who at least start the show on the right side of the law are:

The Protagonists in the crime itself and related characters

    These characters all play an important part in the story of the crime:

    This is great television and is one of the best TV series I have ever seen. It is a great shame that they decided to remove Daniel Benzali from the second series as he was a major contributor to its success. Highly recommended for lovers of legal dramas. Must see TV, certainly better than Lost or Desperate Housewives!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality improves from poor to acceptable over the course of the series. The first few episodes have significant video issues but from the second disc on most of these are improved, or gone completely. Even after the improvement there are still some issues which cannot be ignored.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was fairly soft in the early episodes, and was affected badly by grain and chroma noise amongst other things. This got better as the series continued but it could certainly never be described as sharp. The grain was terrible in the last ten minutes of Episode 2. The shadow detail was poor early on but again got better as the series progressed. Due to the style of the program and its impressive use of dark and shadows, some of this is an artistic choice.

    The colour in the early episodes is very noisy with very little solidity in backgrounds or anything with colour. The colours are much more solid towards the end of the series. One of the worst colour artefacts on display is cross colouration which occurs throughout the series. For some reason everyone in a suit wore a striped collar which results in every collar having a delightful rainbow effect. This same effect extends to furniture and other things, even the sides of buildings. Chroma noise is also quite prevalent at the beginning of the series but calms down after Disc 1.

    Artefacts are quite prevalent in this series. Aliasing is regular throughout the series and constant at the start. This occurs on buildings, Venetian blinds and virtually anything with stripes or lines. There are some specks of white here and there but these are not too bad. I also noticed some moire on television screens, reasonably obvious edge enhancement and mild macro-blocking, especially in the early episodes. An example of the edge enhancement is at 42:91 in Episode 1.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. The subtitles were clear and easy to read but slightly different to the spoken word.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is fine but nothing special.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s. The original show was in surround sound.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The award winning score of this series by Mike Post is excellent and the theme tune is very effective and memorable.

    The surround speakers added some mild atmosphere only despite the encoding.

     The subwoofer was not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu included an intro, scenes, music and the ability to select scenes and subtitles. The video quality in the menus is even worse than in the show with significant MPEG artefacts including pixelization.

Commentary Episode 8 - Jason Gedrick

    This is one of the worst commentaries I have ever heard. Sometimes he will just sit there giggling without saying anything which is very annoying. When he is talking it is usually about how much he lusted after Bobbie Phillips or one of the other female cast members. Occasionally he says something vaguely interesting but it is not worth sitting through the rest of the commentary for. Don't waste your time.

Commentary Episode 15 - Director, Randall Zisk

    This is certainly better than the previous commentary but not by that much. He spends most of his time sucking up to Stephen Bochco, saying how wonderful it is to work on his shows. He does say some more interesting things about the cast and the process of directing one episode of a continuing series. In total he directed three episodes of the series. He does pause a bit too much and repeats himself.

Featurette : Murder One - Making the Case (24:20)

    This is definitely the best of the extras, although that is not hard. It includes interviews with most important cast members, except Stanley Tucci and some of the crew although notably not Stephen Bochco himself. This was made in 2004 and it is certainly interesting to see how the people have changed, although Daniel Benzali still looks exactly the same. The same cannot be said for Mary McCormack and Barbara Bosson. It covers various topics including the technical development and differences that the show made use of, the visual style, the use of legal consultants to ensure everything was done properly and the fact that the cast did not know who had done it until just before the last episode was filmed to avoid them changing their approach. Worth a look.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This set has been released in the same format globally except for PAL/NTSC differences. Reviews indicate that most of the issues I have mentioned in terms of video quality also exist in the NTSC version in Region 1.

Summary

    A great television series, different and ground-breaking at the time which stands up well to repeat viewings.

    The video quality varies from poor to acceptable.

    The audio quality is decent but nothing special.

    The set has three extras, two of which are pretty ordinary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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