The Practice Articles and Reviews

'Practice' Is Perfect

By Bruce Miller

Series makes law fun again

The last thing television needs is another law series.

"Law & Order" and "Murder One" handle those chores nicely. "L.A. Law" and "Picket Fences" all but exhausted the available storylines.

Still, "Fences" creator David Kelley has come up with a new take that's as addictive as anything created by Steven Bochco.

Called "The Practice," it follows a scrappy law firm as it deals with issues that never occurred to Arnie Becker or Michael Kuzak.

Because its partners are young, hungry and broke, "The Practice" is willing to defend the indefensible, settle sooner than it should.

Led by Bobby Donnell (Dylan McDermott), the group makes plenty of mistakes while taking on the giants.

In one of the opening episodes, Donnell agrees to represent a man against a big tobacco company. Obviously the kids are outclassed. Certainly, they don't have a trail of expert witnesses. But they do have pluck.

That gets them into the arena and onto a playing field that's hardly even.

McDermott squares his jaw more than he needs to but has the earnestness necessary to hold it all together.

When the partners ask if they can get a table for their office, "The Practice" becomes a reality check for anyone who thinks law is a one-way ticket to the bank.

The folks who keep the practice going seem less glamorous than the vast majority on television and, given Kelley's words, they emerge as ones you'd trust implicitly with your life.

Had Bochco ripped a page from Kelley's playbook he might not have problems keeping "Murder One" on the air. Kelley stretches cases over several weeks, but makes sure there's enough in each episode to keep audiences enthralled.

"The Practice" has the best chance for longevity of any series introduced this spring. It's great, it's gritty, it's a fitting replacement for "NYPD Blue."

Tune in and you won't take your business elsewhere.


Transcript courtesy of Sioux City Journal
1997 All Rights Reserved

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