The Paper Chase: Season Two

The Paper Chase: Season Two
Somehow this smart, well-written dramatic series from the late '70s and early '80s endures. Based on the 1970 novel and 1973 hit film, The Paper Chase centres upon a stern law professor, Charles Kingsfield, and his top student, Hart. As brilliant as he is, Kingsfield is so intimidating that his students tremble before him. Kingsfield himself can't be bothered to remember the names of the students he frightens yet inspires, not even Hart's. That tension drives The Paper Chase in all its incarnations. What's missing from season two of the Showtime series (Showtime revived the show in 1983 after one season on CBS), however, is Hart's secret affair with Kingsfield's hot daughter, which added another layer of intrigue. That oversight can be forgiven because of the the sharp writing that actually doesn't talk down to its audience, creating fleshed-out characters, people you can recognize as university classmates with their own ambitions and pressures. Of course, towering above all is John Houseman as the imperious Kingsfield. No other actor could have played this role. The folks at Shout! Factory have earned a good reputation for repackaging old movies and TV shows. However, there are no bonus features on this disc, such as a commentary from a TV scholar or one of the show's writers, actors or producers. Another note is that four of the 19 one-hour episodes are sourced from inferior-looking tapes, since the masters have gone missing. Those with big-screen, high-def TVs will notice the age of the source tapes, but the strength of the show should overcome this technical imperfection. Packaging is economical and practical: two discs bundled into each slim DVD case, with all three cases fitting nicely into a slipcase. Adjourned. (Shout! Factory)