Murder One: The Complete Second Season

After its innovative first season — in which a single murder trial was stretched over an entire 22-episode arc — got a lot of attention but failed to find a loyal audience, the show was renewed, but with a different format. Season two maintains its detail-oriented, extended storylines, but crams in three prominent trials. Taking over from departed lead Daniel Benzali is Anthony LaPaglia (Without A Trace), who joins most of the returning cast as the law firm's new centrepiece. It's easy to lament the change of format — especially since season two's pacing is occasionally wonky, offering nine episodes for the first trial but only four for the last, but it remains compelling television. Trials involve a prominent basketball star accused of murdering his team's owner, the sex-scandal death of a governor and a righteous serial murderer who sees himself as the axe of justice — all rich topics well mined for their social and political impact. The extended story arcs come off as much more plausible than the in-and-out format of contemporary shows like Law and Order; on DVD, their intricacies are much easier to follow. It's not nearly as good as the first season, but Murder One still rises above most procedural drek that currently dominates prime time. Plus: making-of featurette. (Fox)