The Paper Chase (TV series)

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The Paper Chase
The Paper Chase.png
Title screen
GenreDrama
Created byJohn Jay Osborn, Jr.
Starring(See article)
Composer(s)Stephen Seretan (1.0, 1.1, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 1.15, 1.16, 1.17, 1.18, 1.19)
Charles Fox (1.2, 1.3)
Thomas Newman (1.20, 1.21)
Richard Shores (1.4, 1.6, 1.7, 1.9, 1.10, 1.11, 1.12)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes59 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Lynn Roth
Robert C. Thompson
Producer(s)Albert Aley
Robert Lewin
Ernest A. Losso
Editor(s)Axel Hubert Sr.
Rod Stephens
CinematographyGene A. Talvin
Running time47-48 min.
Production company(s)20th Century Fox Television
DistributorCBS
Showtime
Broadcast
Original channelCBS (season 1)
Showtime (seasons 2-4)
Original runSeptember 9, 1978 (1978-09-09) - April 24, 1979 (1979-04-24)
April 15, 1983 (1983-04-15) – August 9, 1986 (1986-08-09)
 
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The Paper Chase
The Paper Chase.png
Title screen
GenreDrama
Created byJohn Jay Osborn, Jr.
Starring(See article)
Composer(s)Stephen Seretan (1.0, 1.1, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 1.15, 1.16, 1.17, 1.18, 1.19)
Charles Fox (1.2, 1.3)
Thomas Newman (1.20, 1.21)
Richard Shores (1.4, 1.6, 1.7, 1.9, 1.10, 1.11, 1.12)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes59 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Lynn Roth
Robert C. Thompson
Producer(s)Albert Aley
Robert Lewin
Ernest A. Losso
Editor(s)Axel Hubert Sr.
Rod Stephens
CinematographyGene A. Talvin
Running time47-48 min.
Production company(s)20th Century Fox Television
DistributorCBS
Showtime
Broadcast
Original channelCBS (season 1)
Showtime (seasons 2-4)
Original runSeptember 9, 1978 (1978-09-09) - April 24, 1979 (1979-04-24)
April 15, 1983 (1983-04-15) – August 9, 1986 (1986-08-09)

The Paper Chase is an American television series based on a 1970 novel by John Jay Osborn, Jr., as well as a 1973 film based on the novel. It follows the lives of law student James T. Hart and his classmates at Harvard Law School.

Production[edit]

The CBS television network aired the series in the 1978–1979 season. John Houseman reprised his movie role, and James Stephens played Hart. It was cancelled after one year; PBS subsequently rebroadcast all of the episodes. In 1983, pay-cable network Showtime brought back the show with both Houseman and Stephens, as well as some other members of the original television cast. At the end of three seasons on Showtime, Hart finally graduates from law school.

Plot[edit]

Season 1[edit]

James T. Hart is a law student from rural Minnesota who enters the intensely competitive environment of Harvard Law School. He has chosen Harvard specifically to study with Professor Charles Kingsfield, the world's leading authority on contract law. Kingsfield inspires both awe and fear in his students in his unremitting determination to prepare them for the practice of law.

To cope with the heavy workload, Hart joins a study group organized by Franklin Ford III. Ford is under intense pressure to succeed. His family has produced an unbroken string of outstanding lawyers going back generations, culminating in his demanding father, the senior partner in a very prestigious Wall Street law firm. The study group includes smooth woman-chaser Thomas Craig Anderson, slob Willis Bell, idealistic activist Elizabeth Logan, and struggling Jonathan Brooks, who is married to Asheley. Of these students, Brooks left Harvard Law School after he was caught cheating.

Hart works part-time at Ernie's Tavern to help pay his way through school. In the pilot, he worked at a pizza parlor, and had a girlfriend back home. His co-worker is played by actress Marilu Henner.

Season 2[edit]

Hart survives the first year with flying colors and joins the staff of Harvard Law Review (an honor reserved for the top students), under the leadership of Gerald Golden. He becomes seriously involved with a new law student, Connie Lehman, only to lose her. Later, he repeatedly clashes with Law Review rival Rita Harriman, though he admits to Ford that he is perversely attracted to her.

Bell, working as a dorm adviser, is smitten with one of his charges, Laura Kiernan, but she just wants to be friends.

Season 3[edit]

Hart, now in his third year, is joined by two new students: Franklin Ford's younger brother Tom (Peter Nelson) and former housewife Rose Samuels (Lainie Kazan).

Season 4[edit]

It is now the final year for Hart at Harvard. In the 2-hour series finale, Hart finally graduates from Harvard, and even tries to take over the soon-to-be-retired Professor Kingsfield's job. But his dreams are shattered when Kingsfield tells him that he needs to experience more of the real world before he can teach. Disappointed, but not willing to give up, Hart ends up joining a law firm instead, thus bringing the series to a close.

Cast[edit]

CharacterActor
Professor Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr.John Houseman
James T. HartJames Stephens
Franklin Ford IIITom Fitzsimmons
Willis BellJames Keane
Elizabeth LoganFrancine Tacker
Thomas Craig AndersonRobert Ginty
Jonathan BrooksJonathan Segal
Mrs. Nottingham, Kingsfield's secretaryBetty Harford
ErnieCharles Hallahan
Connie LehmanJane Kaczmarek
Gerald Golden, president of Harvard Law ReviewMichael Tucci
Laura KiernanAndra Millian
Vivian ConwayPenny Johnson
Rita HarrimanClare Kirkconnell

Episodes[edit]

Theme music[edit]

In the first year, the theme song was "The First Years", written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, and performed by Seals and Crofts. In the pilot, the opening used an instrumental version, and the ending used a completely different vocal version. Starting in the second year, a piano instrumental tune replaced it.

Opening narrative[edit]

The study of law is something new and unfamiliar to most of you, unlike any other schooling you have ever known before. You teach yourselves the law, but I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush and, if you survive, you leave thinking like a lawyer.

Awards and nominations[edit]

CableACE Award:

DVD releases[edit]

Shout! Factory has released the first two seasons on DVD in Region 1.

DVD nameEp#Release date
Season One22April 7, 2009
Season Two19December 15, 2009

Syndication[edit]

In the late 1980s, The Family Channel rebroadcast the entire series in a late-night time slot, at midnight Eastern Time. The series was later seen in the early 1990s on A&E, and in the early 2000s on GoodLife Television.

External links[edit]