Picket Fences: Season One – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Creator

David E. Kelley

Cast

Tom Skerritt Sheriff Jimmy Brock
Kathy Baker Dr. Jill Brock
Costas Mandylor Kenny Lacor
Lauren Holly Maxine “Max” Stewart
Holly Marie Combs Kimberly Brock
Justin Shenkarow Matthew Brock
Adam Wylie Zack Brock
Fyvush Finkel Douglas Wambaugh
Ray Walston Judge Henry Bone

DVD Release Date: June 19, 2007
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 989 Minutes on 6 discs

The Show

The town of Rome, Wisconsin, is much like the towns of years gone by. They have all kept up with the times and whatever progress comes their way, but they like their lives to be as simple as possible. Well, that’s what they’d like to let everyone think. The inhabitants of Rome also share the same quality that comes with almost every small town ever and that’s sticking their noses where they don’t belong. That doesn’t make things easy for Sheriff Jimmy Brock as he tries to keep order in a town that he vows to not let get out of control.

Sheriff Brock has a wonderful family. His wife Jill is a successful doctor and he has two young sons and a daughter who are well known in the community. They are just a normal family trying to live their lives like everyone else, but of course it’s not that simple. Sheriff Brock’s main deputy is Max Stewart who always seems to get herself into more trouble then it’s worth because she tries to take on more then she can chew. Her methods of police work are more FBI investigation then they are small town cop and that doesn’t always work in her favor.

Rome can never just get the normal crimes that should be associated with a small town. It goes far beyond the occasional shoplifting charge or domestic abuse. Not even on shows like CSI or Law & Order (any of them) will you witness a midget on a stolen elephant stroll into town. You won’t witness the team from N.C.I.S. in an uproar over finding out a transsexual is teaching a class somewhere on a naval base. No one on Criminal Minds is going to witness a cop having a kid arrested for having sex with his daughter. But in Rome? Well, those are just another day or two at the office in this “quiet” little town.

Picket Fences is a show that is just as enjoyable today as I’m sure it was when I was twelve years old and it first started airing. The storylines are serious yet fun and that is what keeps the show entertaining from one episode to the next. The cases are really far out there sometime and each one has a gimmick to it instead of being a normal shut and close murder or robbery. One of the best cases in this season and one of the strangest is “The Frog Man.” There is no rhyme or reason as to why anyone would leave frogs at the scene of all their crimes as their so-called calling card. It’s a scene right out of Home Alone and the Wet Bandits.

The creativity just continues to flow with each different, and absurd, criminal or motive. But the good thing is that there is continuity in the show, but not too much of it. The crimes don’t carry over to each episode but are solved by the end of whatever one it starts in. Yet anything that happens to someone in town or the Brock family will be mentioned in the next or future episodes. For instance, the mayoral race actually runs for about three or four episodes with bringing up past occurrences of why certain candidates bowed out of the election or just couldn’t continue. It was quite enjoyable to watch everything in order and actually remember back a few episodes when something was mentioned and you can just be like, “Oh yeah, that was when the maid stopped being a mute and said murder!”

Episodes

Disc One:

Pilot (Special Extended Episode)>: The quiet town of Rome, Wisconsin , is thrown into the middle of a murder investigation after the Tin Man from the community theatre production of The Wizard Of Oz ends up dead. The chaos escalates with the arrival of a famous rock group who isn’t what everyone expected.

The Green Bay Chopper: One of Zach’s classmates bring the unique show-and-tell object of a severed hand to show everyone. When another one is found on a roadside, the FBI is brought in to investigate but Max still gets herself involved anyway.

Mr. Dreeb Comes To Town: A midget named Mr. Dreeb saunters into town on a sick, and stolen, elephant and promptly draws a lot of attention especially from Max who has the hots for the “little guy.” Meanwhile a popular teacher asks Jill to perform a risky operation after he finds out he has a brain tumor.

Disc Two:

The Autumn Of Rome: All the candidates for the upcoming mayoral election end up in some kind of controversy that it’s beginning to seem as if there will be no-one left to vote for until Sheriff Brock starts thinking he may be able to do a bang-up job in a higher position.

Frank, The Potato Man: Sheriff Brock is in the middle of a very confusing case of a person nicknamed the “serial bather,” who sneaks into people’s homes and takes a bath while they are away. So far all signs point to a homeless guy named Frank the Potato Man. At the same time, a farmer is accusing his neighbor of getting his cows drunk on the runoff from the neighbor’s illegal still.

Remembering Rosemary: Ten years ago, Rosemary Bauer committed suicide. But when her maid, who hasn’t spoken since Rosemary’s death, utters the word “murder,” Sheriff Brock reopens the case to find out the truth.

The Contenders: Sheriff Brock thought about it, but Jill is going to do it as she hears women’s rights ignored once too often and decides to run for mayor. Meanwhile Kenny learns of a former boxer who is in town wanted for tax evasion, but wants to put his skills to the test and challenges him to a fight.

Disc Three:

Sacred Hearts: The entire town starts to rethink their lives and do a little soul searching after a nun is picked up and suspected of murder. It seems she was practicing euthanasia to grant those who were suffering, a little bit of mercy.

Thanksgiving: There isn’t much to be thankful for when Jill’s father shows up with his new twenty-six year old girlfriend. Also Wambaugh has his wife arrested when he finds her in bed with another man.

Snake Lady: With another suspicious suicide comes another investigation as a woman’s death names her sister and husband as suspects. During this investigation Max finds herself attracted to another man she shouldn’t get involved with, the dead woman’s husband.

Pageantry: Louise Talbot, Zack’s teacher, goes against a ban to hold a Christmas pageant on public property. But there are bigger things that concern the townspeople about Ms. Talbot as it is revealed she is a transsexual.

Disc Four:

High Tidings: Another holiday that isn’t quite so jolly and one of the best episodes in the set. Sheriff Brock catches his daughter Kimberly having sex and has him arrested. The Sheriff also promptly cancels Christmas in the Brock household. And at the police station, a deranged Santa Clause holds Max and Ginny hostage at gunpoint.

Frog Man: A strange series of events earns a thief the nickname of “Frog Man” as he leaves live frogs at the scene of all his crimes. Sheriff Brock, Kenny, and Max are hot on his trail but they soon realize there isn’t exactly strength in numbers.

Bad Moons Rising: Wambaugh defends a woman who ran over her husband with a steamroller and believes he will be able to win his case by claiming insanity by reason of menopause.

Nuclear Meltdowns: There’s trouble all over the place as a goat is sacrificed during a funeral service, Kenny’s girlfriend finally comes face-to-face with her long lost twin, and a pregnant girl is brought to the forefront when it appears her child may be a case of incest.

Disc Five:

The Body Politic: Sheriff Brock is up in arms when he finds out his dentist is HIV-positive which quickly finds the dentist out of a job and in the middle of a lawsuit. A man is at war with his mother-in-law when it’s found out that he is keeping his pregnant, and brain-dead, wife on life support in his home.

Be My Valentine: Women are being killed off one by one by a killer nicknamed “Cupid” who finds his victims through the personals. Max risks her life by going undercover to bring him to justice. This is another one of the better episodes in the series because undercover work is always enjoyable and Max does it well.

Fetal Attraction: Jill has to put her own feelings aside and ask fellow doctor, and ex-fiancé, to perform a controversial fetal tissue operation on a man who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Sightings: Sheriff Brock finds the remains of an officer who disappeared thirty-eight years ago so the case is reopened. When the town coroner believes radiation emitted from a UFO is what killed the officer, tons of alien enthusiasts make their way to town.

Disc Six:

Rights Of Passage: An Indian tribe holes themselves up in the courthouse with lots of weapons after the town decides to enlarge the golf course over into a sacred Indian burial ground. Matthew stands up to the school bully so his younger brother Zack won’t have to.

Sugar & Spice: Kimberly is confused after she shares a kiss with her friend Lisa and doesn’t exactly know how to feel about it. Max and Kenny compete for the under-sheriff position which Max ends up losing out on. Her anger has just started to boil though when she finds out she didn’t get the spot because she is a woman.

The Lullaby League: Jill has an unruly patient that isn’t happy by the use of a pig’s liver to save her life when it was the only choice. Max takes steps to adopt a baby after the mother, who is wanted by the FBI, gives birth and then hightails it out of town.

The Video

The episodes are shown in 1.33:1 Full Frame format and look perfectly fine. Doesn’t seem as if much was done to tweak the colors or anything during the transfer to DVD from when the episodes originally aired. But things look bright when they need to be and never are scenes too dark too see; so all works out nicely.

The Audio

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and also sound good. Everything can be heard clearly and crisply without any sort of interference at all. As with the video though, there is no apparent upgrade in the sound as to when you would see the episodes in reruns.

Special Features

All Roads Lead To Rome – This is the story behind the whole show. David E. Kelley, producers, and members of the cast discuss everything there is to know about Picket Fences, but were afraid to ask. Kelley talks about how he wanted the city of Rome, Wisconsin, to be as much a character in the show as the actual cast was. Coming in at close to fifteen minutes, it’s a short but nice look at how successful everyone thought the show would be and what they believed would work or not work in all they were doing.

The Inside Pulse

Picket Fences was a show that I watched a good number of episodes of back when it first appeared on TV. I remember that my mother was a big fan of the show and I was only sixteen by the time the show went off the air, so it isn’t like I remember much. But seeing it again now some fifteen years after its debut, the show truly withstands time and is something that would get high ratings on any network today. The show delivers humor, mystery, and even some family morals all together in a great crime drama with extremely likable characters. Hopefully in later seasons the special features will get more in depth, but I don’t expect much in that department with any TV DVD set any more. This is a set anyone should pick up and really get into a show that was canceled way before its welcome had run out.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Picket Fences: Season 1
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

7
THE VIDEO

7
THE AUDIO

7
THE EXTRAS

4
REPLAY VALUE

7
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)