Twenty-five years ago, today, the television series The Wright Verdicts debuted on CBS. Created and executive-produced by Dick Wolf, it starred Tom Conti, Margaret Colin and Aida Turturro as the main cast (Variety also lists John Glover but, IMDB does not.). Notable guest stars were Candy Clark, Peter Facinelli, Allison Janney and Leslie Mann.
There were only six episodes that aired between March 31 and June 11 with a seventh episode intended for a May slot, never airing. It’s first episode was on a Friday, the second episode aired the following Wednesday, the third episode went back to Friday, the following week and the fourth episode showed up on a Sunday, the next week. The last two aired episodes were on Sundays in June. [No wonder it failed. ~Vic]
Legal drama with Charles Wright, an Englishman, working as a lawyer in New York City. Sandy Hamar is an ex-NYPD detective who serves as the mandatory private eye and Lydia is the super efficient secretary.
The Wright Verdicts is mature in the best sense. [I]t’s smart, has no false innocence and has the right amount of fun. Criminal lawyer Charles Wright (Tom Conti) will win juries over like clockwork and the series should likewise charm viewers. The character’s chief skill is blarney or, as his investigator puts it, shucking and jiving. Charles is bumbling and self-deprecating one minute, erudite and mischievous the next. Conti brings off Wright’s sense of humor and his status as a ladies’ man. The dynamic between Conti and his two female employees […] needs some work. [T]here’s so much flirtation that the relationships in this office triangle seem headed in only one direction.
The hour has a surplus of spectacular aerial shots of Manhattan.
With crimes revolving around designer drugs and cellular phones, the show poses itself as a Perry Mason for the ’90s. It’s about as conventional and formulaic as that old warhorse. The parlor-game plotting is more than passable but, the writing is undistinguished. Only Conti’s malty voice and trilling accent are enough to elevate the program’s mark a little.
Executive producer Dick Wolf has cannily combined two genres…Murder, She Wrote’s warm coziness and his own Law & Order’s cold, complex cases…and come up with a lukewarm show that’s nonetheless pretty irresistible.
Quick Promo Advertisement
Forty-five years ago, today, the Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie All Creatures Great and Small aired on NBC. Based on two novels by James Alfred Wight (pen name James Herriot), If Only They Could Talk (1970) and It Shouldn’t Happen To A Vet (1972), it was the first of a series of films and TV series based on his work. Directed by Claude Whatham and produced by David Susskind, it starred Simon Ward (as James Herriot), Anthony Hopkins, Lisa Harrow, Brian Stirner and Freddie Jones.
It is 1937 and newly qualified vet James Herriot travels to Yorkshire to apply for the post of assistant in Siegfried Farnon’s practice. He soon learns the facts of country life but, struggles to overcome the prejudices of the Darrowby locals who are skeptical of the novice vet’s ability. In between cases, Herriot courts pretty farmer’s daughter Helen Alderson and finally marries her.
From Turner Classic Movies:
A gentle, episodic account of author Herriot’s apprenticeship in the mid-1930s to an eccentric rural English veterinarian and his awkward courtship of a farmer’s daughter.
The story of a young veterinarian’s apprenticeship to a somewhat eccentric, older vet in the English countryside and the young man’s hesitating courtship of the daughter of a local farmer.
♦ Although born in Sunderland, England, James Herriot spent the first twenty-three years of his life in Glasgow, Scotland and never lost the accent, as can be heard in television interviews. Simon Ward however, plays him as a Londoner.
♦ Known to the cast and crew as “All Creatures Grunt and Smell”.
Twenty-five years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was Major League II, a sports-comedy starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert, James Gammon, Omar Epps, Alison Doody, David Keith, Bob Uecker, Jay Leno (as himself), Jesse Ventura (as himself), Randy Quaid (uncredited) and Rene Russo (uncredited). Released on March 30, it was a sequel to Major League (1989). David Ward directed both and most of the same cast remained. Omar Epps replaced Wesley Snipes in the role of Willie Mays Hayes.
After winning the division the previous year, the Cleveland Indians return the following season with a new-found confidence. Their previously ragtag players are now stars. Roger Dorn has gone from player to owner, removing the unhealthy management and influence of Rachel Phelps. New players have been contracted and the team roster looks stronger than ever. What could possibly go wrong?
From Peter Rainer (Los Angeles Times):
Except for the fact that it was a commercial hit, the 1989 baseball movie “Major League” was not the sort of film that cried out to be sequelized. But, a lot can happen in five years…for one thing, baseball movies seem to be hanging in there. So, here’s another go-round with the cloddy, come-from-behind Cleveland Indians sluggers who once again stumble in pursuit of the American League Eastern Division championship. Bob Uecker, as the Indians’ perpetually bedraggled play-by-play radio announcer, puts in another appearance, dressing down from his Liberace-like duds to a T-shirt as the Indians slide into the cellar. (His aghast expostulations are the film’s highlight.) We learn all sorts of homiletic life lessons about the value of sportsmanship and Being True to Yourself. Why do sports movies always have to devolve into civics lessons? To its credit, “Major League II” doesn’t go in for a lot of moony sentiment about America’s past-time but, it ends up tenderized anyway.
♦ Opened the same weekend as D2:The Mighty Ducks, a sports comedy sequel which starred Charlie Sheen’s brother Emilio Estevez.
♦ In the outfield during their second game there is a sign that says “Emilio’s Repo Depot“. Charlie Sheen’s brother Emilio Estevez was in the movie Repo Man (1984).
♦ One of two films released in 1994 to feature the Chicago White Sox as the arch-rival team. The other was Angels In The Outfield.
♠ Worst Sequel (David S. Ward & James G. Robinson/1994 The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)
♠ The Sequel Nobody Was Clamoring For (David S. Ward & James G. Robinson/1994 The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)