Have we really come to the end of Matlock? Nine seasons is a lot, but it felt like the show lasted longer than Gunsmoke. Maybe it was just the sweet slow Southern nature of Andy Griffith that made Matlock feel like it started production when he quit being Sheriff Taylor. Abe Simpson made it sound like Matlock was playing when he returned from the war. The show merely started in 1986 and had the final gavel hit in 1995. Matlock: The Ninth and Final Season wraps up the series without making it feel like a grand finale. There was no major guest stars each week to pay tribute to its legacy. Why weren’t the Golden Girls in the jury box? They didn’t even bring back Don Knotts for one last reunion moment. Ben Matlock was going out as he entered, a lawyer who was a courtroom fixture.
“The Accused” kicks off the season with a double episode. A reporter kills a gangster. She claims self-defense and needs to get Matlock to clear her name. Cliff Lewis (Daniel Roebuck) returns as Andy’s prized investigator, but he has competition in Jerri Stone (Carol Huston). Along with being a good snoop, she can harmonize when Matlock breaks out his acoustic guitar. Leanne McIntyre (Brynn Thayer) has vanished from the office. “The Scandal” makes Matlock defend a female attorney who killed her boss. Things get complicated since it turns out the law firm was a refuge for dirty old men. Terry O’Quinn (Lost) bets that Matlock can’t solve the perfect crime. They insane O’Quinn kills Matlock’s pal to prove it. “The Tabloid” kills a newspaper editor and a politician marked as the suspect. Matlock must defend the politician. “The Coach” ices a team booster. There are several NCAA coaches wishing they could eliminate annoying alumni that think they can call plays from their front row seats. Cliff gets in major trouble when a woman he met through a dating service turns up dead in “The Dating Game.” Matlock and Jerri have to use the service to uncover the real killer.
“The Confession” does return Julie March (Julie Sommars) to the courtroom. She needs advice from Matlock on how to free a man from jail. Can he do that when she might still have his heart imprisoned? A radio DJ gets murdered in “Dead Air.” The prime suspect is his on air partner. Imagine that there was a time when radio stations could afford live DJs. “The Getaway” arrests a man for robbing the bank he hit years before. Matlock needs to prove that the guy wasn’t trying to do it right the second time. “The Verdict” gets tricky since Matlock’s client turns out to be the prosecuting assistant district attorney’s ex-lover. “The Deadly Dose” gets Jerri’s nurse sister busted for being an angel of death. Nobody is protected from being Matlock’s client. “The Target” murders a judge, but Matlock thinks someone else was in the assassin’s hit list. “The Assault” proves that no good dead goes unpaid. Matlock gets mugged and a kid helps him out. Matlock repays him by being his lawyer on an attempted homicide charge. That’s a pretty sweet reward. “The Heist” sends Matlock to the beach to watch Cliff run a triathlon. But business crops up when he meets an old friend who will soon need a lawyer to beat a homicide charge. “The Scam” gets Cliff in trouble one last time. His old college buddy is being blackmailed to dump a case. When a body turns up, Cliff is the patsy. Can Matlock give his employee even more free legal work?
Why did Matlock come to an end? Andy Griffith was pushing 70. He’d spent the last decade in the courtroom. He brought the show back to his home state of North Carolina. But he wanted to spend time enjoying life so it was time for Matlock to eat his last hotdog. There’s no sense of closure at the end although it needs to be pointed out that my brother was in the courtroom for the final episode. Nobody spoke of the show ending as he worked as an extra. There would be no end. Matlock is eternal.
“The Accused” (two-parter). “The Scandal,” “The Dare,” “The Tabloid,” “The Coach,” “The Dating Game,” “The Confession,” “Dead Air,” “The Getaway,” “The Verdict,” The Deadly Dose,” The Target,” “The Assault,” “The Heist” (two-parter) and “The Scam” (two-parter).
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers aren’t quite sharp since the show was shot on film, but post-produced on standard definition video. This helps Andy Griffith look a bit younger. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. You can appreciate Andy’s traditional musical moments. The episodes are subtitled.
Episodic Teasers (0:30) are on each episode.
Matlock: The Ninth and Final Season brings to an end the fine legal career of Andy Griffith. The episodes have a lot of people getting murdered, but doesn’t kill off the show. Matlock is immortal thanks to all the preservatives in his hotdogs.
CBS DVD presents Matlock: The Ninth and Final Season. Starring: Andy Griffith, Daniel Roebuck and Carol Huston. Boxset contents: 15 episodes on 5 DVDs. Released: July 16, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.