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L.A. Law Fans Just Got Exciting News

Blair Underwood may be returning to the courtroom and reprising his role from a popular '90s legal drama that helped launch (nearly) a thousand careers. Deadline reports that ABC is currently developing a follow-up to the iconic NBC series L.A. Law, in which Underwood starred from the series' second season on.   

Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, and running between 1986 and 1994, the original series followed the interworkings of the fictional Los Angeles law firm McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney, and Kuzak and featured its wealthy attorneys and their support staff. Like much of Bochco's other work, including Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blues, Blind Justice, and Raising the Bar, the hit series examined crime from a micro and macro perspective and frequently tackled timely though tough, culturally divisive subjects like domestic violence, sexual harassment, homophobia, racism, classism, abortion, and capital punishment. 

The 15-time Emmy Award-winning drama also happened to feature several actors who would have major Hollywood careers, including Kathy Bates, Steve Buscemi, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Lucy Liu, William H. Macy, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Schwimmer, and Christian Slater. 

It's not clear yet who else besides Underwood may be attached to this sequel series, though The Hollywood Reporter notes that other original cast members may appear if the show is officially picked up. Underwood is currently set to return as attorney Jonathan Rollins.   

Unlike the original series, which Bochco and Fisher helmed, ABC is bringing in two Arrow-verse alums to oversee their spin on Los Angeles crime and punishment. Arrow co-creator Marc Guggenheim and Legends of Tomorrow writer Ubah Mohamed are slated to co-write the pilot, directed by The People v. O.J. Simpson's Anthony Hemingway, who is also attached to serve as an executive producer. Underwood, Guggenheim, and Mohamed join Hemingway as executive producers, in addition to Jesse Bochco and Dayna Bochco, the son and widow of the L.A. Law creator, who passed away in 2018.

The new series will follow a new generation of lawyers at L.A. Law's fictional firm

The follow-up will return viewers to the Los Angeles-based law firm, focusing on the firm's newest group of lawyers. Alongside Rollins, the new class is working at McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney, and Kuzak as it attempts to reinvent itself as a legal group specializing in particularly high-profile, boundary-pushing, and even incendiary cases. Once an idealistic attorney, Underwood's character will now embody a more conservative edge due to age. It's something that will ultimately see him go toe-to-toe with J.J. Freeman, a millennial lawyer who's got a different vision for how the firm should be moving forward in its focus on impacting political and legal change. 

Speaking to his time on the original series, Underwood told TVLine in a 2017 interview that the show "absolutely changed my life in every way. Professionally, financially. I'm here now, in part, because of that show and being able to have opportunities to build on that." 

He also noted how the show had paved the way for more inclusive storytelling by featuring couples and romances that were still considered too taboo for television. "One of the things we did was have interracial relationships. At the time, it was huge news. Now, you see it all the time, and nobody complains... Also, we had the first lesbian kiss on television," he said. "Huge news, very noteworthy and newsworthy. Now, it's not a big deal at all."

Produced by Disney's 20th Television, which also produced the original, this marks the second attempt to get L.A. Law back on the small screen. The first came from Bochco himself, who in 2016 shared that he was working on a reboot of the series, but never found a home after being pitched out to networks (via Variety). 

The potential ABC series joins several other reboots and sequels of popular older shows, including Night Court and Little House on the Prairie. It also comes at a time when networks and studios are re-examining how policing and the criminal justice system are portrayed on TV, a central tenet of many Bochco series.