Archive for Corbin Bernsen

L.A. Law Season 1 (1986-1987) Review Vol. 1

Posted in L.A. Law Season 1: Vol 1 with tags , , , on March 25, 2014 by Last Road Reviews


*** ½ Out of 5

Premiere Date: September 15th, 1986

Starring- Harry Hamlin, Susan Dey, Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins, Michele Greene, Jimmy Smits, Michael Tucker, Susan Ruttan and Richard Dysart

(I’ll be breaking down the first season in two blogs since it would be much too long for 1 blog).

L.A. Law ran for 8 seasons (1986-1994) on NBC and was one of the most successful shows of all time winning various awards during its run. The series was created by Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues) and Terry Louise Fisher. Season 1 of L.A. Law was very good, but the show was developing during its first season and while there weren’t any episodes I would say were poor, but some were better than others. In my opinion through the first 5 seasons the show would get better and better and I personally find seasons 4 & 5 amongst the best seasons any show had. Season 6 struggled in the first half, but had a great 2nd half, but all that is for another review. I don’t wanna undersell the first season, which again was very good, but between the first 6 seasons, perhaps this might be the weakest, but again its still a terrific season that was still finding its formula for success and during the first season it very much hit its stride and became a great season.

L.A. Law holds up as a powerful drama and while certain cases may not be as controversial as they were in 1986, but for the most part L.A. Law still packs a punch with subject matters that I think will always remain relevant. What I love about L.A. Law is the moral side of the show. There are times the lawyers represent someone know they is guilty, but its their job to give that person a fair representation. And I believe in that as well due to the fact what’s to stop an innocent person from not getting a fair trial?

Some of the plots range from light to serious. We follow a group of lawyers at McKenzie-Brackman-Chaney & Kuzak. The firm is lead by senior partner Leland McKenzie and new to the firm are Abigail Perkins (Greene) and Victor Sifuentes (Smits).

While the shows focuses on all the characters I’d say Michael Kuzak (Hamlin) would be seen as the lead. The Pilot episode has Michael Kuzak defending a man who along with two others raped a woman. Each suspect has their own lawyer and the guy Kuzak is defending, his father has put a lot of money into the firm and Kuzak has little choice, but to defend him. Like most rapes cases the victim is put on trial and while one lawyer is attacking her its clearly bothering Kuzak. L.A. Law is quite interesting in the morality aspect since like in this case, Kuzak knows the guy is guilty, but he has to do his job and as he says “I may not always believe in the client, but I have to believe in the system”. In some episodes they win their cases, but helped someone they know is guilty go free, which is something rarely seen in these kind of shows and at times they truly believe in their client only to find out they were wrong and this does have an effect on the characters.

Within the first 11 episodes the show was strong, but there was potential here for the making of a classic show. Some of the main plots revolve around Kuzak meeting ADA Grace Van Owen (Dey) and my only problem is they fall for each other too quickly. Most of their scenes are Kuzak flirting and asking Grace out and she keeps saying no since she’s engaged to a man she likes, but doesn’t love. Episode 5 Simian Chanted Evening has Kuzak crashing Grace’s wedding in a gorilla suit in a quite funny ending and that episode is the start of their relationship, which would play a major role through the first 5 seasons (Hamlin would exit after the 5th and Susan Dey after the 6th). However their relationship would again play a major role in the 2002 L.A. Law TV movie.

Another relationship being developed in the first few episodes is between Anne Kelsey (Eikenberry) and Stuart Markowitz (Tucker) and while they seem like an unlikely couple on the show, Tucker and Eikenberry are actually married in real life. Another plot has both hoping to make partnership at the firm.

Arnold ‘Arnie’ Becker (Bernsen) is the sleazy womanizer who more often than not gets involved with his clients, which causes some jealousy from Roxanne (Ruttan) who is in love with Becker. While its implied its made more clear when Becker gets dumped by a woman he actually liked. Becker is kind of arrogant, but yet still likable and we do see a softer side of him at certain times during the season. The story between Roxanne and Becker would be pivotal in future seasons. Another plot with Becker has his parents getting a divorce and both want him as their lawyer.

Abby Perkins is getting a divorce from her husband who is abusing her physically and mentally and she hires her co-worker Arnie Becker. Abby’s husband ends up abducting their child and Abby is frantically trying to find her son while also focusing on her job.

Victor defends a 13-year old girl accused of killing her brother who she says was raping her and as Victor digs deeper he finds out her father was sexually abusing both her and her brother.

Kuzak represents a man on death row for raping and killing a woman and also killing her husband. Kuzak takes the case since he’s opposed to the death penalty. He than learns the arrest and confession may not have been legal and gets the man out on bail. This was quite interesting as Kuzak angers some of his co-workers and even Grace by defending the guy and getting him out. As much as I loved Kuzak as he’s generally good person with a lot of strong morals he could be a little self righteous in his beliefs. But he believes in the law system and even though the guy was guilty what will stop others who are innocent from getting a fair trial? Though when all is said and done Kuzak confesses to Grace that if this guy committed another rape and or murder he wouldn’t be able to live with himself.

After a dispute with Leland, Victor considers leaving the firm.

Douglas Brackman (Rachins) is an insensitive jerk who’s out for money and always trying to save a penny. However rather than dislike Douglas you can’t help but love him as Alan Rachins in such a terrific actor and a lot of the lighter stuff on the show involves Douglas. We learn Douglas is a slumlord though he had no idea on the conditions these people were living in and we see that despite his antics he is a caring person. There is a slight change in Douglas where he’s a lot more polite though it thankfully doesn’t last long as soon he’s back to the classic lovable jerk.

Through the first 11 episodes L.A. Law was a terrific mix of drama and comedy, but it also had its ups and downs during this time as well, but the potential was clearly there. After the Pilot, which in my opinion is one of the most gripping episodes of any series I’ve ever seen, is when it struggled a little bit in finding its identity, but soon enough L.A. Law begins to hit its stride and becomes a powerful and gripping show and its easy to see why it was so acclaimed.

Its quite difficult to pick a favorite character since all of them are terrific. But if I had to pick it would be either Michael Kuzak or Douglas Brackman.

Here are my ratings for the first 11 episodes.

Episode 1: Pilot- **** ½

Episode 2: Those Lips, That Eye- ***

Episode 3: The House of Rising Flan- ***

Episode 4: The Princess and the Wiener King- ****

Episode 5: Simian Chanted Evening- ***
This was the first episode written by David E. Kelley who would write 68 episodes of the series and ended up becoming the main creative force behind the show and would exit after the 5th, but with subpar reviews for season 6, both Kelley and Bochco returned for the 2nd half of season 6 and got the series back on track and both would again exit after the 6th.

Episode 6: Slum Enchanted Evening- *** ½

Episode 7: Raiders of the Lost Bark- **** ½
In someways this was a turning point for the series. While maybe not every episode that followed was great, but this episode is the kind L.A. Law would be known for as its both dramatic and funny.

Episode 8: Gibbon Take- *** ½

Episode 9: Venus Butterfly- **** ½

Episode 10: Fry me to the Moon- *** ½
(Becker’s mother is played by Corbin Bernsen’s real life mother Jeanne Cooper best known from her time on the Young and the Restless).

Episode 11: El Sid- *** ½






The Dentist (1996) Review

Posted in Dentist with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- It’s Been Six Month. Time for Your Check-Up!

Release Date- October 18th, 1996

Running Time- 92-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon & Charles Finch

Director- Brian Yuzna

Starring- Corbin Bernsen, Ken Foree, Linda Hoffman, Molly Hagan, Virginya Keehne, Jan Hoag and Earl Boen as Marvin Goldblum

Released in 1996, on first thought most will probably write The Dentist off as just another stupid horror flick, but there is actually more here than one might expect. Obviously The Dentist isn’t a classic of the horror genre, but it wasn’t attempting to be anything more than a fun flick. But what this movie does have is a solid cast and some excellent filmmakers involved. Stuart Gordon best known for directing Re-Animator and From Beyond was one of the writers and Dennis Paoli was also one of the writers and he was also one of the writers on Re-Animator and From Beyond plus a whole slew of other Gordon flicks. Corbin Bernsen is the most notable of the cast and he’s one of my favorite actors; Bernsen is best known for his role as Arnie Becker for 8 seasons on the courtroom drama L.A. Law and Bernsen also has several films under his belt and he’s known to the modern audience for playing Henry Spencer on the USA show Psych. What I love about Corbin Bernsen is he’s an actor who can play dramatic roles as well as comedic roles and of course for playing sleazy type characters and hard asses, but he’s also an actor not afraid to ham it up and be a little silly and over the top like he was here in The Dentist as Dr. Alan Feinstone.

The Dentist often gets mixed reviews, but sometimes I think people take the movie a little too seriously and I suppose with Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli involved expectations might run a little high, which is understandable based on their body of work, but if you just go in and take the movie for what it is a silly low budget horror flick you might find yourself entertained by it. Like I said the Dentist isn’t a classic of the genre, but its a highly entertaining film. In many ways its the last of its kind as a couple of months later Scream would be released and it would totally reinvent the horror genre and low budget films like this were either getting even lower budgets or trying to copy the format of Scream. Even though the Dentist was released before Scream after what followed this film almost feels out of place.

The screenplay by Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon & Charles Finch is what it is; it’s not meant to be a deep character study or anything like that. The script is meant to be a little silly and just entertain and I do think Paoli, Gordon & Finch succeed at doing that’ no doubt this isn’t one of Paoli’s and Gordon’s strongest work of their career, but it’s still a fun script. There isn’t much character development, but it didn’t hurt the film. Overall the script is a lot of fun and that’s all that really matters.

Director Brian Yuzna from the start sets up a fun tone and while the pacing can be slightly sluggish early on its never boring and as the film goes on the pacing gets stronger. There isn’t much suspense, but Yuzna goes for a more fun tone and for the most part he succeeds. Brian Yuzna has had a bit of a weird career; he’s done some solid work like the underrated Return of the Living Dead III and two Re-Animator sequels as well as producing the first part and he was also involved as producer on Warlock & From Beyond and even was a writer on Honey, I shrunk the Kids along with Stuart Gordon, but Yuzna has also made some poor movies like the god awful Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: The Initiation and he wrote Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker, which wasn’t the worst movie, but wasn’t all that good either. But with The Dentist, Yuzna makes a very fun movie and while I don’t think this is his best flick I think it’s one of his most fun flicks.

The cast was actually pretty good something you most likely wouldn’t expect in a low budget horror picture like this and the performances were also strong. Corbin Bernsen is one of my favorite actors and he seems to having a total blast and was just wonderful. Ken Foree also stars playing a Detective, Foree of course is best known as Peter in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Earl Boen also appears and he’s one of those actors you may not know his name, but once you see him you’ll know who he is. Virginya Keehne as Sarah I thought was an excellent performance; she’s playing a teenage girl who is finally gonna get her braces off after 2-years and she gives a far better performance than one might expect; while the character might lack some depth, Keehne has the awkward and shy teenage girl down to perfection. Molly Hagan and Mark Ruffalo also appear.

The Dentist is by no means a masterpiece of the genre, but it’s quite a lot of fun; after a somewhat slow stat it picks up and becomes highly entertaining and was followed by an equally as fun sequel.