Synopsis by Hal Erickson
During its first year on the air, the weekly, hour-long ABC series Murder One was unique among legal dramas, in that it dealt with only a single murder case per season. Debuting September 19, 1995, the series spent all of season one focusing on the murder of a young substance-abusing woman, with her lover, obnoxious movie star Neil Avedon (Jason Gedrick), as prime suspect. Handling Avedon's defense were Chris Docknovich (Michael Hayden), Arnold Spivak (J.C. MacKenzie), Justine Appleton (Mary McCormick), and Lisa Gillespie (Grace Phillips), all ambitious young attorneys working for celebrated, controversial, and not entirely ethical criminal lawyer Theodore Hoffman (Daniel Benzali). Appearing for the prosecution were ruthless Assistant DA Miriam Grasso (Barbara Bosson), who worked for the even more ruthless DA Roger Garfield (Gregory Itzin). The Grasso-Garfield team included police detective Arthur Poulson (Dylan Baker) and investigator David Blalock (Kevin Tighe). Among the other first-season regulars were Patricia Clarkson as Theodore Hoffman's long-suffering wife, Ann; John Fleck as Hoffman's office manager, Louis; and Grace Phillips as his receptionist, Lila. While the "one case per year" gimmick attracted a lot of publicity, and -- for a while, anyway -- a lot of viewers, the ratings for Murder One fell precipitously as season one wore on. Thus, when the series returned for its second season, several changes had been imposed, the first being that three cases would be dramatized, rather than merely one. On the docket for season two were a political assassination in which DA Garfield was implicated, an O.J.-like celebrity murder case involving an arrogant basketball star, and a case involving a serial killer who preyed only on professional criminals. Series co-star Daniel Benzali was gone, replaced by younger but no less crafty and cunning defense attorney James "Jimmy" Wyler (Anthony LaPaglia). Also missing was Grace Phillips as Lisa Gillespie, whose replacement, hotheaded junior attorney Aaron Mosely, was played by David Bryan Woodside. Concluding its weekly run on January 23, 1997, Murder One briefly returned five months later in a miniseries format, remaining on the air from May 25 to 29, 1997.