Producer David E. Kelley has managed to have a golden touch when it comes to creating TV dramas, finding success with "Ally McBeal", "Chicago Hope", "Boston Public", "Boston Legal" and "The Practice". "The Practice" ran on ABC for 8 years, and while the series started falling apart in the last season or two (the series underwent a major cast change in the last season, then was followed up by Kelley's even better "Boston Legal"), it was a powerhouse up until that point, winning Emmys for Best Drama in 1997 and 1998. The show starred Dylan McDermott (in his best role) as Bobby Donnell, a powerful Boston attorney who decides to go it on his own, starting up a law firm. At first, he soon realizes that it's more difficult than he even realized.
Joined by Ellenor Frutt (Camryn Manheim), Lindsey Dole (Kelli Williams), Rebecca Washington (Lisa Gay Hamilton), Jimmy Berluti (Michael Badalucco) and Eugene Young (Steve Harris), Donnell finds himself and his fellow attorneys taking on a series of varied cases, starting with an innocent girl accused of drug trafficking when she was trying to protect her brother. Meanwhile, Lindsay finds herself going up against one of her law professors in a case against a big tobacco company, a story that will stretch until the fourth episode.
As with all of his shows, Kelley manages to do a marvelous job smoothly moving back-and-forth between multiple cases/stories. Some of the highlights of the episodes included here are: "Betrayal" (Eugene, Ellenor and Bobby are tricked by a man connected with the murder of a city councilman), "Part IV" (Linday's tobacco case comes to an end and the trial against Ronald Martin has unexpected consequences after the non-guilty verdict); "Reasonable Doubts" (Bobby finds himself attracted to a beautiful client who he's convinced is innocent, even though she's accused of shooting her neighbor to death), "The Blessing" (Bobby defends a doctor who increased a patient's morphine dosage to a leathal level, while Lindsay and Eugene defend a bookie caught in a sting) and "Search and Seizure" (when Lindsay winds a case for a drug dealer, she's upset to find that more dealers want her to defend them.)
I'm not as much of a fan of "The Practice" as the show that followed it ("Boston Legal"), but that's not to say that "The Practice" doesn't make for riveting TV, as the series boasts a marvelous ensemble cast, sharp dialogue and a fast pace. In a move that will likely not please fans, the first release of "The Practice" is a "volume" release only, which includes the short first season and the first several episodes from season 2.
1. 1- 1 4 Mar 97 Pilot
2. 1- 2 11 Mar 97 Part I
3. 1- 3 18 Mar 97 Trial And Error
4. 1- 4 25 Mar 97 Part IV
5. 1- 5 1 Apr 97 Part V
6. 1- 6 8 Apr 97 Part VI
7. 2- 1 20 Sep 97 Reasonable Doubts
8. 2- 2 23 Sep 97 Betrayal
9. 2- 3 27 Sep 97 The Blessing
10. 2- 4 4 Oct 97 Dog Bite
11. 2- 5 11 Oct 97 First Degree (1)
12. 2- 6 18 Oct 97 Sex, Lies and Monkeys (2)
13. 2- 7 25 Oct 97 Search and Seizure
VIDEO: "The Practice" is presented by Fox in 1.33:1 full-frame. The presentation quality is about equal to broadcast quality, although there are some minor concerns present. Sharpness and detail are not noteworthy and the picture can sometimes appear a tad soft, but the picture never appeared so soft as to be hazy or blurry. Some minor grain is seen, but no other issues were seen on the presentation. Colors remain a tad subdued by intent and seem accurately presented.
SOUND: The series is presented in Dolby 2.0. Audio is crisp and clear, with no distortion or other issues.
EXTRAS: Only a brief featurette, "Setting up the Practice", which combines new and old interviews with clips to provide an overview of the development and first season of the show. Hopefully, future sets will provide more in the way of supplemental features.
Final Thoughts: I'm not as much of a fan of "The Practice" as the show that followed it ("Boston Legal"), but that's not to say that "The Practice" doesn't make for riveting TV, as the series boasts a marvelous ensemble cast, sharp dialogue and fast pacing. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality, but minimal extras. Recommended.