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Matlock is an Americanmarker television legal drama, starring Andy Griffith in the title role of Ben Matlock. The show originally aired from September 23, 1986, to May 8, 1992 on NBC, where it replaced The A-Team, then from November 5, 1992 until May 7, 1995 on ABC.

The format of the show was similar to that of Perry Mason, with Matlock identifying the murderer and then confronting him or her in a dramatic courtroom scene near the end. One difference, however, was that whereas Mason usually exculpated his clients at a pretrial hearing, Matlock usually secured an acquittal at trial, from the jury.

In the United Statesmarker, the series can be seen on cable television network WGN America. It has also been on Hallmark Channel, but went on hiatus in May 2009; however, the network retains its rights to air the show.

Background

The show centered on widower Benjamin L. "Ben" Matlock (played by Andy Griffith). Matlock is a renowned, folksy, popular yet cantankerous defense attorney, (based on attorney "Big" Ben Baker, from Young Harris, Georgia,). He has also solved and subsequently won at trial almost every case he has taken, especially murder cases where everyone else was sure his client was guilty. Usually, at the end of the episode, the person who is sitting on the stand being questioned by Matlock is the actual killer.

He studied law at Harvardmarker, based his law practice in Atlanta, Georgiamarker, and lived in a modest farmhouse in a neighboring suburb. He is known to visit the scene of the crime to discover clues otherwise overlooked and come up with viable, alternative theories of the crime in question (usually murder). Matlock also has conspicuously finicky fashion sense; he generally appeared in court wearing a trademark light gray suit and, over the nine seasons, was seen behind the wheel of three generations of the Ford Crown Victoria— always an all-gray model (Andy Griffith always drove Ford products in his 1960's show, The Andy Griffith Show, as with Matlock). Some Mayberry alumni had guest shots on the drama: Don Knotts, Aneta Corsaut, Betty Lynn and Arlene Golonka.

Matlock was noted for his thrift and a fondness for hot dogs. After the series ended, his penchant for hot dogs was explained in the episode Murder Two of the television show Diagnosis: Murder. In it, Matlock blames Dr. Mark Sloan (played by Dick Van Dyke) for recommending a disastrous investment in 8-track cartridges. Matlock subsequently invested (and lost) his savings of $5000, while he survived by wearing cheap suits and living on hot dogs.

Matlock's thriftiness, liking for hot dogs, and the demands he placed upon his investigators were often points of comic relief in the series. Andy Griffith's prior career as a comic often showed through in things that Matlock did or said.

Over the years, there were many changes. When the show began, Ben had a law firm called Matlock & Matlock. Ben shared his caseload with his partners, which included a relative, his younger, smiling daughter, Charlene Matlock (played by Lori Lethin in the pilot, later Linda Purl) and private investigator Tyler Hudson (played by Kene Holliday), a black market whiz whom Matlock lured away from his work. The following season, Charlene left Atlanta to start her own practice in Philadelphia (Linda Purl left the show because she was unhappy with her character, and for not getting along with her castmates); the elder Matlock filled the void with Michelle Thomas (played by Nancy Stafford), a young, attractive legal partner who tried her hand in playing baseball after she majored in physical education, but detested it or might've done better. She met him on his trip to England and he immediately hired her on the spot after a cocky law student graduate. Cassie Phillips (played by Kari Lizer) also applied for a job with Matlock, but since Charlene was already working with him and there were therefore no openings for associates, Cassie was hired as a file clerk. She left the next year.

Usually, no prosecutor would compete with Ben except Julie March (played by Julie Sommars) a redheaded, feisty district attorney, and good friend of Ben's, who left Nebraska to work for the D.A.'s office in Georgia. Throughout the series run, Sommars was one of the regulars with the fewest appearances.

After Tyler quit (Kene Holliday was fired from the series due to his long battle with drugs/alcohol, after he was sent to rehab, which eventually forced him to miss 7 episodes sporadically in his third season, before being 3 months sober, and for not getting along with his castmates), Matlock was approached by a young North Carolina sheriff's deputy Conrad McMasters (played by Clarence Gilyard), to become his new private investigator. Both Matlock and McMasters had a lot in common --- from playing music to a fondness for camping. Proven to be a serious detective and one of Matlock's loyal partners, Conrad also falls in love with various girlfriends. He also had the knack of riding horses, a skill he acquired in past work as a cowboy (it is also interesting that Gilyard himself is a real-life cowboy), displayed when attending rodeo shows.

At the end of the sixth season, Matlock's older divorced daughter Leanne MacIntyre (played by Brynn Thayer), moved from Philadelphia (where Charlene works as a lawyer) back to Atlanta, giving her the chance to become an equal partner of her father. However, this caused some confusion to viewers who remembered that Matlock mentioned he only had one daughter in the Linda Purl episodes. Michelle Thomas gave the job to Leanne and left (Nancy Stafford left the series to spend more time with her husband, when she didn't want to leave him, hence, production moved to North Carolinamarker). The next season, law school graduate Cliff Lewis (played by Daniel Roebuck), came to Matlock in hopes of working for him, complements of his father Billy Lewis, who happened to be Ben's old friend. After Conrad left, (Clarence Gilyard already left the show to co-star in Walker, Texas Ranger for CBS). Lewis became a partner and a private investigator to Matlock, while Matlock hired a final private investigator Jerri Stone (played by Carol Huston) to help out in each of the cases. Unlike her boss's former co-worker, Conrad McMasters, both Matlock and Stone had at least something in common, from driving Ford automobiles to singing classic songs (it is also interesting that Huston is a very good singer herself), including lullabies.

Midway throughout the series, the show focused mostly on Matlock & Michelle, then Matlock & Conrad on NBC. When the show moved to ABC for its last three seasons, it focused on Matlock & Leanne, and finally, Matlock, Cliff & Jerri.

His age increasing, Griffith appeared less and less on the show when it departed NBC for ABC. During the NBC era, production was filmed in Los Angeles, Californiamarker. When the show moved to ABC in 1992, production was filmed in Wilmington, North Carolinamarker 's EUE Screen Gems Studios. Griffith's home state is North Carolinamarker. The Perry Mason-style whodunit format was also adjusted to a more Columbo-style howcatchem format.

Although never officially confirmed, a widespread rumor suggests that the character of Ben Matlock was largely based on well-known Georgia attorney Bobby Lee Cook. Cook, whose practice also includes representation of plaintiffs for personal injuries, is frequently called the dean of Georgia criminal defense attorneys.

The long-running show finally came to an end in 1995, when Andy Griffith, who was the only actor to appear in all 195 episodes of the series on NBC and ABC, decided to slow down to spend more time with his family.

Episodes

Matlock aired a total of 195 episodes across nine seasons. 179 episodes were hour-long, and four were 2 hour long episodes. There were 32 two part episodes of the program

Main cast members

  • Andy Griffith - Ben Matlock - A prominent attorney who's fond of wearing gray suits and wins many cases with his clients
  • Linda Purl - Charlene Matlock - Ben's younger daughter who became a partner to her father before she moved to Philadelphia to set up her law practice (1986-1987)
  • Kene Holliday - Tyler Hudson - Ben's first private investigator who was a black market whiz (1986-1989)
  • Kari Lizer - Cassie Phillips - Ben's young file clerk who desired to become partner after Charlene left, was smart but immature and cocky (1987-1988)
  • Nancy Stafford - Michelle Thomas - A former baseball player who became an equal partner to Matlock (1987-1992)
  • Julie Sommars - Julie March - A district attorney who became a good friend to Ben Matlock (1987-1992, recurring thereafter)
  • Clarence Gilyard - Conrad McMasters - Ben's second private investigator who was a young, handsome ladies man, who in turn was also a former deputy sheriff and a rodeo rider (1989-1993)
  • Brynn Thayer - Leanne MacIntyre - Ben's older daughter who worked for her father after Michelle left (1992-1994)
  • Daniel Roebuck - Cliff Lewis - Ben's partner and private investigator who graduated from law school. He's also the son of Ben's childhood friend, Billy Lewis (1993-1995)
  • Carol Huston - Jerri Stone - Ben's last assistant and private investigator who had the knack of singing lullabies (1994-1995)


Recurring cast members

  • Lucille Meredith - Judge Irene Sawyer - A judge at the Fulton County Courthouse, where Ben's cases are usually tried (1986-1990)
  • Richard Newton - Judge Richard Cooksey - Another judge at the Fulton County Courthouse (1986-1992)
  • Michael Durrell - District Attorney Lloyd Burgess - Chief district attorney for Fulton Countymarker (1986-1992)
  • David Froman - Lieutenant Bob Brooks - Ben's contact on the Atlanta Police Department, killed in the line of duty (1986-1994)
  • Don Knotts - Les "Ace" Calhoun - Ben's next door neighbor who was once a client and continued to appear periodically, mostly as a nuisance to Ben (1988-92)
  • Warren Frost - Billy Lewis - Ben's annoying and needy childhood friend (Ben was suppose to marry his sister but didn't) and Cliff's father (1991-1995)


Notable guest stars

  • Randy Travis - Country music star Randy Travis appeared in a 1992 (season six) episode "The Big Payoff" as character Billy Wheeler. In "The Mark" (a season seven episode), Travis reprised the role of Wheeler, an aspiring country singer who wins the lottery and shortly thereafter finds himself framed for the murder of his cheating business partner. Both Travis and Griffith originate from the same state, North Carolinamarker.
  • Dick van Dyke - Long before he would take the memorable small role as D.A. Fletcher in the 1990 movie Dick Tracy, TV legend Dick Van Dyke had a villainous guest starring role in the first regular episode of Matlock. He played a judge who murdered his lover and then presided over the murder trial where Ben was trying to clear someone's name for the crime. Van Dyke would later hire Griffith to reprise his Matlock role in 1997 on an episode of his own series Diagnosis: Murder. When he played Dr. Mark Sloane of Diagnosis: Murder, Andy Griffith played Matlock in that series for the episode "Murder Two", the two universes were linked.
  • David Ogden Stiers played a murderer in the episode "Blind Justice", and a crook in "The Ambassador" in Seasons 9 and 10.
  • Bryan Cranston appeared in two episodes -- "The Marriage Counselor" and "The Gift". In "The Marriage Counselor", he plays a "Marriage Counselor" who is murdered by not one but three patients with whom he is having affairs.
  • Former silent film actor Eddie Quillan made his last television appearance on Matlock in 1987.
  • Author Patricia Cornwell played the part of "Denise" in the episode "The Formula".
  • Jeri Ryan in The Fatal Seduction: Part 2, 7 October 1993 (Season 8, Episode 3)
  • Jonathan Frakes played prosecutor Mr. Park in "The Angel."
  • Nana Visitor, another Star Trek actress appeared in no less than three episodes: as Vanessa Douglas in "The Best Friend (1987)", as Erin Whitley in "The Other Woman," and as Dr. Clara Farmington in "The Divorce (1993)".


Other guest stars

During its nine-season run, many established and pre-fame actors made guest appearances on the show. Notable guest stars include:



Program format

There were a few changes in the format in the introduction of each episode. The introduction of characters was essentially the same, the only changes being the actors for each season. Andy Griffith, Linda Purl, Kene Holliday, Nancy Stafford, Clarence Gilyard, Jr., Brynn Thayer, Julie Sommars, Kari Lizer, Daniel Roebuck, and Carol Huston were all featured in the intros for their seasons.

Season 1-6 episode intros showed a few scenes from the show and had no music. In the 1992-93 season, following the move to ABC, most episodes now had Griffith's voice saying "Next on Matlock..." and classical-sounding music similar to the theme tune.

The Matlock commercial screen also changed. The early episodes had a scene of Ben Matlock in front of a brown screen, approx 1987, this was changed to gray. In 1992, this was changed once again, to the same gray, but with a blue square around the "M" on Matlock. Later in the 1993-94 season the commercial screen was removed.

Spinoffs

Jake and the Fatman was a spin-off on CBS, based on a character that originated in "The Don," a two part Matlock episode from season one. In "The Don," William Conrad played prosecutor James L. McShane. Joe Penny played Paul Baron, the son of Matlock's client. Executive Producers Dean Hargrove and Fred Silverman were responsible for both Matlock and Jake and the Fatman as well as Diagnosis Murder in 1993 on CBS (which itself was a spin-off of Jake and the Fatman), Father Dowling Mysteries in 1988 on NBC and ABC, and the Perry Mason made-for-TV movies from 1985 until 1993 on NBC, all of these series were produced by Viacom Productions.

DVD releases

CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount) has released the first three seasons of Matlock on DVD in Region 1.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The 1st Season 25 April 8, 2008
The 2nd Season 24 January 13, 2009
The 3rd Season 20 July 7, 2009


References

External links




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