Picks and Pans Review: The Paper Chase

UPDATED 07/02/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/02/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

Showtime (Tuesdays, 8 p.m., Fridays, 7 p.m., Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)

Any program that can make lawyers human and even likable has to be miraculous. Paper Chase is that, especially on reexamination. Chase is nicely fast-paced, switching among a handful of mini-plots in each episode, holding interest and packing an hour full of action (that is, the old kind of action, the kind that did not include gunpowder, blood or cars). The feel of Paper Chase is quite similar to that of St. Elsewhere and even Hill Street Blues. The world, it seems, was not ready for such shows when Paper Chase, TV's sequel to the movie, came and quickly went in the '78-79 season. PBS affiliates picked up the reruns; then Showtime made new episodes, seven last year and another dozen this year, that will air through August. If you were never addicted to the show before, try it now. Much of the original network cast is back: James Stephens is the centerpiece lawyer-to-be Hart; his sidekicks include Tom Fitzsimmons as Ford, James Keane as the whining Bell and Michael Tucci as the snooty Golden. There are new students too, most notably Andra Millian as Laura, a one-of-the-guys first-year student. And, of course, there is Professor Kingsfield, John ("Earrrrrrm it!") Houseman, the skinny Orson Welles. If this is a way for quality TV to live on, then cable is paying its rent.

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