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The Paper Chase: Season One
The Paper Chase Season One
Actors: John Houseman, James Stephens, Tom Fitzsimmons, James Keane
Director: Ralph Senensky
Genres: Drama, Television
G     2009     18hr 0min

The Paper Chase was a one hour dramatic series premiering on CBS in 1978 that won great critical praise, garnering the Emmy for Outstanding New Series. Based on the movie and novel, rural Minnesotan James T. Hart (James St...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: John Houseman, James Stephens, Tom Fitzsimmons, James Keane
Director: Ralph Senensky
Genres: Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Drama, Drama, Classic TV
Studio: Shout Factory
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 04/07/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/1978
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1978
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 18hr 0min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 6
SwapaDVD Credits: 6
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 13
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: G (General Audience)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Finally, the Law Comes to DVD!!
E. Hornaday | Lawrenceville, NJ United States | 01/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Fans of Classic TV shows should rejoice with the release of The Paper Chase on DVD.

Based on an unforgettable 1973 movie, the series focused on the lives of students struggling through law school at a prestigious university.

The series lasted only one season on CBS with 22 episodes, from 1978 to 1979, and this boxed set from Shout!Factory collects those episodes, which revolves around the students' first year of 'trial' and tribulatios.

PBS reran the series then the cable channel Showtime revived the series in 1983, where it lasted for three more seasons.

The series centered around student James T. Hart, a core cast of fellow-students, and one truly dominant force of nature in the form of a legendary law professor, Charles W. Kingsfield Jr., played beyond iconic perfection by the fabulous John Houseman.

Houseman had starred as Kingsfield in the movie version, then unbelievably reprised the role on the small screen to the delight of his fans. Sadly, Houseman died a year after the Showtime incarnation of the series ended.

Hart, played by James Stephens in the series, and by Timothy Bottoms in the movie, is a hard-working student from Minnesota whose background ill prepares him for the rough and tumble of law school.

Hart is utterly terrified and fascinated by Kingsfield, who challenges his students so vigorously that he has become a legend in his own time, and his classes are both loathed and cherished.

The professor, the undisputed authority on contract law, becomes an unwilling and unknowing mentor to Hart, who decides he will do anything he can to meet and exceed the expectations of the master legal-eagle. By the time the series ends on Showtime, Hart graduates.

While the series explores the relationship between Hart and his co-students who form a study group, it is Houseman's Kingsfield that inhabits every inch of the show, even when he is not on screen - a lasting testimony to the actor's skill.

Stephens and Bottoms have devoted fan bases who argue one actor's portrayal is the quintessential Hart. For me, Stephens brings a sensitivity and likeability that Bottoms does not. Of course, Stephens had many episodes to imbue the character with his style.

In the series, Hart's best friend, Franklin Ford III, is played by Tom Fitzsimmons, while actors Willis Bell, James Keane, and Betty Harford, (Kingsfield's secretary) round out the core cast in the first season, which aired on CBS.

The joy of the show was the great scripts which managed to combine humor, tension and incredible stress caused by constant, rigorous study, with friendship and deeper, philosophical issues brought up by the legal topics they were learning. In short, it was one of the best cancelled TV series EVER!

This boxed set includes the 22 episodes from the CBS season: The Paper Chase Pilot; Great Expectations; The Man Who Would Be King; A Day in the Life of...; Voices of Silence; Nancy; Da Da; The Seating Chart; Moot Court; Kingsfield's Daughter; The Sorcerer's Apprentice; Bell and Love; An Act of Desperation; Losing Streak; The Man in the Chair; A Matter of Honor; The Apprentice; Once More With Feeling; The Clay Footed Idol; The Tables Down at Ernie's; A Case of Détente; and Scavenger Hunt."
Deserves Your Attention
S. Lindvall | 02/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As others have written, "The Paper Chase" is one of the best, most compelling dramas ever made for television. A critical darling when it first aired, it was really too intelligent and did not find a large enough audience on CBS. However, it was so good that it just would not die quietly. After gaining more kudos in reruns on PBS, Showtime brought it back several years later luring back the key players from the first season to continue in "The Paper Chase - The Second Year" and "The Paper Chase - The Third Year." Showtime finished its run with a final six episodes called "The Paper Chase - The Graduation Year" which was actually a continuation of the third year. It maintained an incredible level of excellence from the first season through its Showtime years.

Based on the novel by John Jay Osborn Jr. The Paper Chase and the motion picture of the book The Paper Chase, the television series far surpasses the quality of its predecessors. It reminds me in some ways of "M*A*S*H," the series, which was far and away better than its original book and movie. Unfortunately, unlike "M*A*S*H," once Showtime finished "The Paper Chase" more than 20 years ago, it has been rarely seen since. It is so well written, so well acted, so compelling and dramatic, that it deserves a chance to find a new audience on DVD.

If you watched it in its day and liked it, please purchase a copy and show the distributor (Shout Factory) that there is a market for the rest of the series. Even if you did not see it when it first aired, but you appreciate intelligent, thought-provoking drama, give it a try and spread the word. You don't have to be a lawyer or law student to identify with the characters and the daily events in which they find themselves. It's a story and television series for all of us."
L'escribe | ohio USA | 02/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This has to be one of the most eagerly anticipated debuts to DVD set for those who were devotees of the 1978 CBS-TV show, "The Paper Chase". I have one show that I taped on VHS back in 1979, which I had been watching, hoping and praying for the DVD set to be released. And now it has!! This is simply television drama at its best, the ensemble, headed by the great John Houseman,reprising the character of the fascinatingly brilliant curmudgeon Kingsfield, who both teaches and torments his students to become the best that they can be, is a tour de force acting triumph. His Academy Award was well deserved. His presence in the series gives a bit more humor and interest, building the character as the episodes progress, than that of the motion picture. James Stephens, in my opinion, is the quintessential Hart, giving more sensitivity and naivete than the portrayal by Bottoms, with a bit more of a moral edge. The rest of the students in the study group are also much more effective and likeable than those in the motion picture. I felt the motion picture study group was very one dimensional, we only saw arrogant Harvard kids. But the television series study group is a bit more diverse, allowed to develop into interesting personalities we grew to love, with lots of humor and pathos, especially the character of the luckless Willis Bell --remember "Liberty" Bell?. One of the best episodes in this set is "The Seating Chart" which illustrates the understated and comedic talent of James Keane, who played Bell. All of the actors are excellent and blend well as an ensemble. I can't wait to purchase this set, it is well worth the money. Not hard to understand why this program was voted Outstanding New Series. Of course one knew that it would be cancelled by the network, it was way before its time. Now, it can be appreciated and revered by a whole new set of fans. Kingsfield would be pleased INDEED."
Revisiting old times at law school
Arthur Leonard | New York, NY USA | 05/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've long been a big fan of the Paper Chase movie, which I saw shortly after receiving my own law school acceptance letter during my senior year of college. Attending Harvard Law after seeing that movie was a "real trip." But when I moved to NYC after law school and began working, I didn't really have time to watch network TV series, so I didn't see the TV follow-up. Now I'm having a grand time watching the first season of The Paper Chase, from the late 1970s. John Jay Osborne, the author of the novel on which the movie was based, wrote some of the TV scripts and was technical consultant for the series, so the classroom scenes present a reasonably accurate picture of contract law (a subject I've been teaching as a law professor for the past twenty years). Some of the plots are silly, of course, and some of the events would not happen during the first year of law school. The production is done more cheaply than the movie, so the class and classroom is smaller - but having an entire season to flesh out the character gives John Houseman much more to play with as Professor Kingsfield, and James Stephens makes an acceptable leading man as "Hart." The supporting players are fine as well, although it does seem strange that new students are constantly popping up in this class as the guest-star of the week. One puts reality aside a bit for a network TV series. But there are some really good insights into the law student experience, and I've found myself thinking that some of my own 1L's could profit by watching certain episodes. Vastly entertaining."