Written by Senora Bicho
Matlock was a legal drama that aired from 1986 to 1992 on NBC and then on ABC from 1992 to 1995. Andy Griffith was the star of the show as widowed defense attorney Benjamin Matlock based in Atlanta, Georgia. The character was based on real-life attorney Bobby Lee Cook from Summerville, Georgia. The premise of the show was very similar to Perry Mason with a part of the show being the investigation into proving the innocence of the client and the rest of the show set in the courtroom. The real killer was always the last person called to the stand with Matlock unveiling the truth. The primary difference between Matlock and Perry Mason is the attributes of the main characters. Mason was more of a highbrow serious intellectual with Matlock being a lovable good old southern boy well known for his love of playing the guitar and eating hot dogs.
In Season Two, Matlock joins forces with Michelle Thomas (Nancy Stafford) as a new junior associate. He meets Michelle while on a case in London in the season premiere and after the case is over he offers her a job that she quickly accepts. In Season One, Matlock’s daughter was a fellow partner, but Linda Purl was unhappy with the direction of the character so she was written off at the end of the season with the story being she was going off to start her own firm. Matlock is also aided by his private investigator Tyler Hudson (Kene Holliday) and his assistant Cassie Phillips (Kari Liz). Another regular recurring character is District Attorney Julie March (Julie Sommers) who is also Ben’s friend and love interest.
While the majority of the cases take place in his hometown, Matlock is also willing to travel to defend the innocent. In this season he travels to London, Washington D.C., Hollywood, and Las Vegas. There are many guest stars to be found such as David Carradine, Greg Evigan, Michele Green, and Bruce Greene. It is fun to see all of these stars looking so young. Interestingly enough the episode that is set in Vegas features Marg Helgenberger who is best known for her long run on CSI, which is set in the same city.
The DVD set includes all 23 episodes from the Second Season along with one special feature, alternate endings for the episode “The Hucksters.” When the original show aired, viewers were given the opportunity to call in and pick one of three potential murders. You can watch the show as it aired to see who America picked or you can select the murderer of your choice.
I recently watched several episodes of Perry Mason and was really surprised at how smart it was and really enjoyed it. Matlock is much more simplistic, but if you like courtroom drama, there is no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy it. Andy Griffith is also entertaining and makes the show fun. In addition, Matlock’s clients are not always innocent, which makes the show more interesting and realistic. I must note, however, that the picture looks pretty bad; it is unfortunate that they didn’t do anything to enhance it.