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Matlock is an American television legal drama starring Andy Griffith as Ben Matlock. The format of the show is similar to that of Perry Mason, with Matlock figuring out who the murderer is and then confronting them in a dramatic courtroom scene near the end. The show ran from 1986 to 1992 on NBC, then until 1995 on ABC.

In this widely syndicated TV series, Benjamin Leighton Matlock is a renowned, folksy yet cantankerous defense attorney who is worth every penny of his $250,000 fee. Known for visiting the scene of the crime to discover clues otherwise overlooked and his down-home style of coming up with viable, alternative theories of the crime in question (usually murder) while sitting in his office playing the banjo or polishing his shoes, Griffith's character also had conspicuously finicky fashion sense. Ben Matlock always appeared in court wearing his trademark gray suit and, over the nine seasons, was seen behind the wheel of numerous iterations of Ford's large, four-door sedan, the Crown Victoria -- always an all gray model. Matlock studied law at Harvard, based his law practice in Atlanta, Georgia and lived in a farmhouse in some neighboring suburb.

Throughout the series, three different women played Matlock's daughters, all of whom worked on cases as his co-counsel. Lori Lethin played Charlene Matlock in the March 1986 pilot episode/TV movie Diary of A Perfect Murder. Linda Purl starred in this role for the rest of the first season. After Matlock's hired associate counsel Michelle Thomas (Nancy Stafford) left the show at the end of season six, Brynn Thayer joined the cast as Leanne MacIntyre, another daughter. In the second last episode of season six, Matlock's daughter Leanne arrived as a barrister, successful in her own right, who returned home to work with her father for a while after breaking up with her former husband. Leanne's ex-husband Peter MacIntyre (Robert Desiderio) appeared in a season seven episode entitled The Debt when, predictably, he needed her help to defend himself against a murder charge.

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 Matlock's old friend Billy 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 Carolina.

Matlock had four investigators working for him over the course of the series' nearly nine year run. First Tyler Hudson (Kene Holliday) in seasons one through three and later Conrad McMasters (Clarence Gilyard Jr.) during seasons four through six. In season seven (1993) Daniel Roebuck's Cliff Lewis character became the regular sleuth. For the ninth season, Carol Huston's Jerri Stone became the sleuth. Roebuck, of The Fugitive fame, and Warren Frost (Cliff's father Billy Lewis) became regular cast members until the conclusion of the ninth season and the series in 1995. Roebuck appeared on at least four previous occasions playing characters Dr. Bobby Shaw (The Doctors, 1987), Alex Winthrop (The Ambassador, 1988 and The Priest 1989), and Assistant District Attorney Sadowsky (The Assassination, 1992).

Jake and the Fatman was a spin-off based on a character that originated in The Don, a two part Matlock episode from season one. Fatman aired on the CBS network from September 1987 to March 1992. It featured a Hawaiian district attorney from Los Angeles, Jason Lochinvar "Fatman" McCabe (played by William Conrad), and his special investigator, Jake Styles (played by Joe Penny). Working closely with the Honolulu Police Department, the duo strived to put every major mob criminal in Hawai'i behind bars. In The Don, Conrad played prosecutor James L. McShane. Styles played Paul Baron, the son of Matlock's client. Executive Producer Dean Hargrovewas responsible for both Matlock and Jake and the Fatman and worked as a writer or producer on a host of other familiar TV mystery shows like Columbo, McCloud, Diagnosis Murder, Father Dowling Mysteries, and Perry Mason.


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"My favorite Matlock episode is the one with Michelle Thomas's old friend from law school Sandra Townsend. In the episode, Sandra plays a woman who has a double identity. In one half of her life she is a trashy woman with a sleazy boyfriend, in the other half she is a prestigious, high-profile attorney.

I also love the episode with the two sisters who kill their aunt just to see if they can."




Aired: September 20, 1986 - September 7, 1995

Cast: Andy Griffith, Nancy Stafford, Don Knotts, Linda Purl, Kene Holliday, Kari Lizer

Network: NBC

Genre: Legal Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of NBC

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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