A Law Procedural
like no other; the first season follows a single murder case across twenty three episodes, covering ground almost never seen in any other legal drama (several episodes are spent on the process of jury selection, for instance). The second season, with several key cast changes and a softening of the previous tight focus, was not as successful, but it's hardly devoid of interest.
Series One provides examples of:
- Always Murder: Slightly averted in that several other trials, mostly not murders, are shown, mostly during the earlier episodes. But, well, it is right there in the title.
- Amoral Attorney: The firm's lawyers often walk down the knife edge of acceptable behavior, staying just out of this trope. One divorce lawyer that we meet, however, not only embodies this trope but gleefully embraces it. The morality is made even grayer by the fact that, while defending people they may know to be murderers, the lawyers genuinely believe in what they are doing, that every individual deserves the best legal aid they can get.
- Big Secret: An awful lot of people have them. They tend to be very closely related to the case, rather than being incidental.
- Disregard That Statement: Frequently. We also see the reverse, with lawyers attempting to limit testimony and questioning in advance of the witness taking the stand because "you can't unring a bell weeks after it's been rung".
- Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Nuh-uh. Teddy Hoffman, as played by Daniel Benzali, is a good lawyer, but he's not a Good Guy. Not a Bad Guy, either, mind you: he's in a class of his own. And although there are a few innocent people scattered about, most of the clients that Hoffman and Associates are seen to represent are guilty, and require good defense lawyers to get them the best possible deal, rather than a not-guilty verdict.
- Hello, Attorney!: Multiple examples, with Mary McCormack as Justine Appleton being the most apparent.
- Hollywood Law: Averted. The lengthy process of trials and appeals are shown without obvious errors in law.
- Honor Before Reason: Ted and the firm are in the habit of representing clients known to be guilty or at least facing impossible odds because they believe its the right thing to do.
- Law Procedural: To the extent that, apparently, law students were advised to watch it as it covered more stages of trial than any other series before or since.
- Never One Murder: Although the series focuses tightly on the murder of Jessica Costello, people get killed in pursuit of the truth.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Played straight with Teddy's refusal to represent Jessica Costello's murderer for the sum of twenty million. After seeing how much damage he has caused, he tells him there isn't enough money in the world.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Averted, then played at full strength. Richard Cross has massive amounts of both money and connections, including being a financial supporter of the current DA. It doesn't do him a whole lot of good, initially, as everyone is keen to be seen not to be caving in to him. After everyone has demonstrated for the press and public just how unimpressed they are, things change.
- Shout-Out: Hoffman and his associates often refer to an unseen "Ensalmo case," a running gag in Moonlighting.