For Hicksflicks.com, March 7, 2014

The popular TV series "L.A. Law" (1986-94) has been a long time coming to DVD, but here it is at last — and although it was groundbreaking in its outrageousness in the 1980s, well, actually, it's still pretty outrageous. Even in the television landscape of the anything-goes 21st century.

A combination of serious exploration of sensitive subjects, satirical comedy that sometimes waffles between laugh-out-loud funny and off-the-wall weird, and a first-rate cast playing characters that only confirm our suspicions about attorneys, "L.A. Law" is never less than entertaining.

The Los Angeles law firm of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak is the setting. And the character whose name is third in the firm's partnership, Chaney, dies in the first episode's opening moments, with a shocking secret about him later revealed at his funeral.

The other partners are played by, respectively, Richard A. Dysart, Alan Rachins and Harry Hamlin, and attorneys in the firm include Susan Dey, Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker, Michele Greene, Jimmy Smits, Blair Underwood and others that come and go.

Of those names, Hamlin is perhaps the best known (he starred in the original "Clash of the Titans"), along with Susan Dey (a former member of "The Partridge Family") and Jimmy Smits (who hit it bigger in "NYPD Blue"). And fans of "Psych" may not even recognize Bernsen, who now plays Shawn's bald, paunchy middle-aged dad in that show. Here, Bernsen plays a dashing, blonde-haired, unrepentant womanizing cad. He's also a divorce attorney, and his escapades contribute many of the show's laughs.

If, from this description, you are still unsure of "L.A. Law's" tone, perhaps a look at its backstage pedigree will help. Co-creator Steven Bochco came up with this show after "Hill Street Blues" and before "NYPD Blue." And his chief writer, who eventually took over running "L.A. Law," was David E. Kelley, who would go on to create and write "Picket Fences," "The Practice," "Ally McBeal," "Boston Legal" and "Harry's Law," among others.