Robert Lewin — Producer
James Hart (James Stephens), a farmboy from Minnesota, starts his first year of law school. Being unprepared for his first day of ""Contracts"" he is 'shrouded' by Professor Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr. (John Houseman), pronouncing the hapless Hart as ""dead"" in his class. This means that he will never call on Hart and his part of the class's ""Socratic dialogue will be at an end. Hart finds out that Kingsfield shrouds one student each year and that student remains deceased all year long. Kingsfield is the reason Hart has chosen to come to this school; we are shown a couple of his nightmares now that he is the ""former Mr. Hart"".
Another student, Franklin Ford III (Tom FitzSimmons), is organizing a study group and invites Hart to join. The members of the study group decide to have each member do an outline of one of the classes that they can then copy for each member of the group. Hart wants to do the Contracts outline but the others worry that Hart cannot be effective if he is shrouded. InRead More
Anderson pushes Hart to run for the first-year slot on the Law School Council. Elsewhere, Ford's father and sister come for a visit. Ford's father is an alumnus of the school, and his very presence (at the school and in the classroom) puts extra pressure on Ford to excel. To impress his father, Ford decides to run for the Law Council post (against Hart) which forces the study group members to choose sides. Hart's part-time job is at Ernie's Tavern.Read More
Hart asks Kingsfield to answer a question before he thoroughly researched the case himself. As a penalty, Kingsfield gives Hart additional research that is due the following morning. Hart is lost in thought while bicycling across campus, and is struck by a car driven by Leanne Laski, the president of the Law Review. Meanwhile, Bell misplaces his Property outline (actually stolen by Ford, as a prank). Elsewhere, Logan is arrested when her off-hand legal advice to some high school girls results in a riot at the girls' private school.Read More
The study group plans a weekend getaway picnic to blow off steam, but Professor Kingsfield assigns a lot of work at the last minute, causing the group to drop the getaway and just have an on-campus party. Self-styled ladies' man Anderson makes the rounds, and inadvertently gets stuck at the scene of a campus burglary, and is hauled in by the police. Hart and the others come to his legal aid.Read More
As part of Prof. Rolf's prison internship program for first year students, Logan is assigned to help in a hearing of a political activist, Eric Ryerson, who was put in solitary confinement for stabbing a fellow prisoner. Ryerson convinces Logan that the prison establishment is only supressing him for his political activism and Logan is taken in, emotionally as well.
Kingsfield is not in favor of this program because he believes that the students are not ready scholastically and that it takes away valuable time from their other studies. Logan is banished to the back bench in his class for being late as a result of her work in the program.
Hart displays his fluency in Spanish, acting as interpreter of another prisoner, Sanchez - the prisoner who was stabbed. At first Sanchez denies that it was Ryerson who stabbed him (because he and other prisoners are afraid of Ryerson), but we find out that Ryerson stabbed him because Sanchez would not give Ryerson a cool pair of sunglasses.
THINKING LRead More
Hart has a girlfriend with whom he is very close and share's his deep love of the law. Together they uncover a ""secret"" repository of all of the collected books, articles, and even class notes of all the law school's professors (including Kingsfield). They look very good in the Contracts class the next day. Things seem to be moving to the next level when Hart is invited to her Father's house for the weekend.
All seems to go well, Father is impressed with Hart, Hart with the Dad. Dad makes Hart promise that, no matter what, he will try to help Nancy keep her dream alive of being a lawyer. Hart thinks the promise is a little odd, but agrees.
Back at school, a news bulletin shocks Hart and Nancy with the news that Nancy's father has been killed in a ""gangland hit"". We find out that Nancy's dad is an underworld figure, one that Nancy does not want to emulate, but whom she loves nonetheless. She and Hart try hard to make the relationship work, regardless of the constant interference of newsRead More
This episode focuses on Tom Clayton, the guy with the ""photographic memory"" in the study group. Early in the episode Kingsfield intimidates Tom to the point he is incapable of speaking and freezes up. In an effort to ""start at the very beginning"" and teach him how to talk again, Kingsfield tells him to say ""da da"". In this episode Tom's wife, Karen, announces she's pregnant. Faced with stresses due to his (losing) struggle with law school and the further complication of having a child, Tom goes on a drinking binge and falls behind in Kingsfield's class. In an all-night cram session, where members of the class impersonate Kingsfield, Tom is helped to learn to synthesize the material he so easily memorizes into fully developed ideas and he is able to make a good showing in the actual class the next day.Read More
The ""Paper Chase"" meets ""I love Lucy:"" as the weekend approaches, Hart gets a special, paying assignment to index Kingsfield's new book of essays, due Monday â€“ an impossibly difficult deadline. On top of that, Ernie, his employer, asks him to manage the tavern for the weekend while he's away. Meanwhile, Willis Bell, the portly, disorganized member of the study group who's always perceverating about his 200+ page property outline becomes obsessed with his goofy picture on Kingsfield's seating chart. He believes that it's why he always gets called on first in each class and sets about to get his picture changed. When Kingsfield's secretary declines to change it without his approval, Bell arrives on the hair-brained scheme to break into Kingsfield's office and change it. While everything possible is going wrong at Ernie's and the index is still looming large, Hart inexplicably agrees to accompany Bell in this ill-fated mission becoming the Ethyl to Bell's Lucy. Of course, even thougRead More
This is one of the standout episodes written by the John Jay Osborn, Jr., the author of the original book and screenplay for the 1974 movie. Moot court is the chance for first year law students to compete against each other (in teams of two) in a courtroom setting in front of a distinguished panel of judges, including Kingsfield. To win is a high prestige â€“ Kingsfield himself won this competition when he was in law school there. Teams are drawn at random and the pairings are: Hart and Logan (a pseudo romantic relationship ensues), Bell and Raymond Livingston (a new character introduced for this episode), Anderson and Gagarian (minor emphasis on this pair), and other minor pairings.
Raymond Livingston is being put through law school by the military, he is black, and from an economically challenged background. He is highly motivated to achieve in all endeavors of his life and unhappily finds himself in a team with the lazy, slovenly Bell who doesn't care to win (his main focus has alRead More
This episode features Elizabeth Logan. Supreme Court Justice Reynolds pays a visit to campus to commemorate a milestone anniversary of women being admitted to the law school. During a question and answer session in Kingsfield's class, Logan confronts the judge as to why he has never hired a female law clerk. Professor Kingsfield attempts to stifle her, yet she persists, but does not get an answer from the judge. News of Logan's audacity quickly spreads across campus, and to national women's activist organizations, who send a bunch of demonstrators/hecklers to campus for the judge's celebratory speech. Much to Logan's dismay, the outsiders have turned it into an embarrassing circus.Read More
A female friend from Hart's hometown comes to visit Hart while trying to sort out her struggling marriage. As usual, Hart is swamped, so he asks Bell to keep her company for a few days. Love-struck Bell skips classes to be with her, and goes so far as to start looking for apartments where he and she can live together. Her husband shows up to reconcile, but Bell forgets to inform her of that development.Read More
A struggling Jonathan is so desperate to pass Kingsfield's midterm, he hires someone to steal a copy of the test. He tricks the rest of his study group into believing that it is an old Kingsfield exam, making them unwitting accessories to his cheating.Read More
Anderson, who has been making a small killing at poker amonst his friends, sees a lovely 3L (3rd year law student), Chris Carlyle (Christine Belford), and wants to get to know her better. She lives in the Hamilton Society House, known for it pokerplaying, less than academically gifted upper classmen. She is bright, but because of her limited cash flow she exchanges room and board for her class ""notes"". Kingsfield tells her that he regrets the fact that the others get by ""on her coattails"". Anderson, who visits her at the Hamilton House, get sucked into their nightly poker game and loses to the tune of $800 and signs a countercheck for the amount (for which he know he doesn't have the funds). His gambling gets him behind in Kingsfield's class who gives more work to make up for his lack of preparation in class. The rest of the study group feels he is not fufilling his contract to the group, but they help him to get his extra work done and Ford through Logan gives him the money to payRead More
A new student, Paul Chandler, joins the class mid semester. He is wheelchair bound yet athletic and handsome. The study group welcomes him in and in their interactions we gradually see that contrary to the good initial impression Chandler makes, he is manipulative, takes advantage of his situation, and is highly competitive. We also learn that through his mother he is friends (on a first name basis) with Kingsfield.
Chandler's competitive nature reveals its dark side when he sets his sights on Hart. He tries to seduce Logan, thinking that she is Hart's girlfriend, he applies to a need-based scholarship that Hart is trying hard to win, and both he and his mother try to use their relationship with Kingsfield to win the scholarship. Finally, in Kingsfield's office, he experiences a life changing moment where he sees himself as what he is and turns over a new leaf.Read More
A black woman has an inferiority complex because she was accepted to law school through the Affirmative Action program. At Kingsfield's request, Hart reluctantly becomes the angry woman's tutor. An influential white alumnus, his son having been rejected despite having better grades than the woman, does his best to change the government's stance on Affirmative Action.Read More
Kingsfield hires Hart to help his assistant on an important appellate case, an unprecedented distinction for a first year student. The assistant, much sought after and soon to graduate, dumps most of the work on Hart so he can go to job interviews. When Kingsfield finds out, he fires the assistant, leaving Hart to carry the burden alone.Read More
Kingsfield has his students form groups to argue both sides of a case of their choice. When Hart's study group selects a case that the professor lost early in his career, they start to question his ethics after they learn that he did not file what appears to them to be a routine appeal. Even Hart has his doubts after a now-prominent attorney who assisted Kingsfield on the case refuses to shed light on the matter.Read More
This episode further develops Kingsfield's character and fleshes-out his past. It begins with the news that Ernie's bar, a favorite campus hangout for generations, will be closed along with the other small businesses on the block. All the buildings will then be razed for parking for a new gym the college is building. Kingsfield has been retained by the school to represent the school's interest in the project. Meanwhile, Hart has taken on the cause to save Ernie's (where he works) and he confronts Kingsfield in his office. After some difficulty finding a lawyer who will take the case, Hart appeals to Kingsfield's nostalgic side by telling him he knows that he frequented that establishment back in his law school days in the 1930's because there is a table with his initials carved in it. This sparks some distant memory in Kingsfield's mind and he pays a visit to Ernie's. It so happens that the original Ernie, Sr. is there at the same time and they recognize each other and reminisceRead More
Although this was not the last episode shown, as the production numbers tell, it was the last one produced. I remember that the last episode was about Hart falling in love with a Russian gymnast. John Houseman did not appear as Kingsfield in this episode. I heard that, because the network had caused the scripts to be ""dumbed"" down to this level, that Houseman refused to be in it. A visiting professor played by Pernell Roberts had to help Hart with his love life. I also understand that Houseman refused to do the Showtime seasons unless it was understood that this episode would never be reshown.Read More
The main story concerns a ""scavenger hunt"" assignment that Prof. Kingsfield gives the students. They must get at least 70 questions correct out of 100 concerning various aspects of contract law whose answers may be found anywhere in the University. There are no rules and anyone who does not get the required numbers of questions will flunk the assignment.
A secondary story line involves the visit of Bell's younger sister, Lisa (Wendy Rastatter), onto the scavenger hunt crazed campus. She is a free spirit who ends up ""distracting"" Ford from his scavenger hunt obligations to his study group.
Bell shines as the ""bulldog"" of the scavenger hunt, outdoing even the illustrious Hart at finding answers to the questions. THINKING LIKE A LAWYER: The purpose of contracts is not simply words on a page. Contracts evolved as a vehicle and context for people to cooperate and work together to achieve that which they cannot do individually and in a way that is fair to everyone.Read More
The second year begins with Hart and Ford moving to an off-campus apartment, while Bell is still at the dorm as the advisor for the 1-L students. Some of the 1-L students hound Hart for his Contracts outline, until Ford and Bell auction it off (against Hart's wishes). Meanwhile, 1-L Connie Lehman shows a personal interest in Hart ... or is it only his outline?Read More
Kingsfield's friend and former student, now the Attorney General of the United States, asks him if he would accept a nomination to the Supreme Court. Hart decides to celebrate Kingsfield's eightieth birthday, even though it is known that the professor disapproves of such festivities.Read More
Hart has a tough choice when multiple firms offer him internships, while Bell is anxious because all his interviews go badly. Ford considers turning his father in for violating school policy by taking students' grades into consideration when selecting interns.Read More
As usual, the Law Review is behind schedule, but this time Golden is sidelined with pneumonia. Second-in-command Shaw seizes the opportunity for a power play, but it predictably backfires. Law Review activities are further complicated when, while their new computer is being installed and tested, a power failure threatens their precious deadline - until they enlist the help of the 'Wonks'.Read More
Hart's girlfriend receives a scholarship offer in England. Hart tries to presuade her to stay with him, she suggests he come to England, which he refuses. Awaiting her decision on whether to accept the scholarship or stay there with Hart, she asks him to go with her to Kingsfield's empty classroom which she describes as a ""temple of reason"" (you knew then which she had chosen). Hart leaves angrily, but Golden talks him into seeing her before she leaves. As she leaves, Bell is there to comfort his friend Hart. True to form, Hart announces that he needs to check on what assignments Golden has for him and then he will study for Kingsfield's seminar.Read More
A minor incident between Golden and an engineering student about a parking space causes hostilities between the law students and the engineering students (or ""Wonks"" as they are called on campus). Golden has the Wonk's car impounded and the Wonks retaliate by moving Golden's car into the Law Review office (which is in a basement...). A romance between a law student and a Wonk is strained by the conflict. The matter is settled by a contest of legal knowledge between Kingsfield and a computer.Read More
The episode which brings it together. We learn of the future plans of the characters. Enjoyed Ford's talk with Hart before leaving for the ceremony. Remember the ending of Hart's speech? Addressing Kingsfield, ""How you've changed my life . . .It has never been easy for me with you, and this moment I find most difficult of all, thank you, and goodbye"".Read More