The 25 Greatest Legal TV Shows: Honorable Mentions
And now a dozen others (listed alphabetically) our judges thought worthy of mention:
Adam’s Rib (1973) Nora Ephron scripted this serial adaptation of the Tracy-Hepburn classic. Ken Howard and Blythe Danner play the Bonners—he a prosecutor, she a defense attorney—who are married but somehow don’t always see eye to eye.
Arrest and Trial (1963-1964) This 90-minute drama was the first of its genre to split investigation and prosecution into equal parts. Sgt. Nick Anderson (Ben Gazzara) nailed them and defense lawyer John Egan (Chuck Connors) bailed them.
The Bold Ones: The Lawyers (1969-1972) The Bold Lawyers had to share the spotlight with Bold Doctors and Bold Cops in this oddly episodic series. But Burl Ives, James Farentino and Joseph Campanella sparkled on the weeks they were on display.
Family Law (1999-2002) Kathleen Quinlan shines as a bitterly divorced lawyer who starts her own family law firm. The show’s opening theme was Edwin Starr’s War. That says it all.
I’ll Fly Away (1991-1993) Before he was Jack McCoy, Sam Waterston was Forrest Bedford, a self-contented DA in a Southern town who is drawn into the civil rights movement through the influence of his children’s nanny.
The Jury (2004) Barry Levinson’s entry into TV law drama. In this POV drama, various juries contemplate capital murder cases.
Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005) The shortest-lived venture of the L&O franchise, this show displayed the workaday grind of a criminal case—from arraignment to verdict aftermath—for prosecution and defense.
100 Centre Street (2001-2002) Film director Sidney Lumet’s gritty, two-season entry in television’s Law & Order lottery.
Picket Fences (1992-1996) David Kelley’s zany and endearing take on a small Wisconsin town plagued with more bizarre violence than Cabot Cove. Actor Fyvush Finkel’s endearing take on blathering defense lawyer Douglas Wambaugh is simply classic.
Raising the Bar (2008- ) Steven Bochco plays it Ally McBeal-style in this sometimes over-the-top view of public defenders and their nemeses—friends and lovers on the prosecution side. It succeeds despite its way-too-earnest intentions.
Shannon’s Deal (1990-1991) Independent filmmaker John Sayles created the storyline of a Philadelphia lawyer (Jamey Sheridan) who loses his job and family to compulsive gambling, but finds redemption as a defense attorney who knows how to deal with the odds.
The Trials of Rosie O’Neill (1990-1992) Sharon Gless played the title character, who dumps her husband and her corporate job to help heal herself and the world around her as a public defender.
Also see: “The 25 Greatest Legal TV Shows.”