Andy Griffith and Don Knotts had a special kind of magic inside the Mayberry sheriff office. They were small-screen magic when it came time to bust Otis and Ernest T. Bass. They made Andy Taylor and Barney Fife fictional law enforcement icons. But after five seasons, Don Knotts went off to become a cinema superstar. Three decades later Andy Griffith returned to the world of the southern justice system in Matlock. There seemed to be someone missing from his staff of hot Southern Belles and tough private eye (Kene Holliday). Matlock: The Third Season reunites what Andys character needed: a touch of Don Knotts. But instead of making Don his law firm partner, Dons Les Calhoun is a neighbor meant to spice up the show instead of shake up the structure.
“The Lemon” introduces Don as Andys new neighbor. Hes a retiree who is ready to enjoy the golden years as a swinger. Hes ready to buy a hot car to lure the ladies back to his bachelor pad. Don finds himself between two rival used car dealers. Seymour Cassel runs a low profile lot. His rival wears a cowboy hat and does goofy ads on TV. The Wild West showbiz dazzle causes Don to buy a car thats a complete disaster. Don cant get the cowboy to take back the clunker. He goes to an extreme measure to return it. This action has Andy bailing him out of jail. Things go really wrong when the used car cowboy ends up dead. Dons the prime suspect. Can Andy prove hes innocent or will he be electrocuted? How many people thought Cassel was George “Goober” Lindsay also making a Mayberry cameo? Whats interesting is that Don is not merely updating Barney Fife. Hes got a new character to play against Andy. Hes not going to nip anything in the bud. He also doesnt become a regular character.
“The Ambassador” is fingered for the murder of his mistresss husband. The guy can easily claim diplomatic immunity, but he cant live with this stigma on his name. He hires Matlock to prove that while hes a cheating cad, hes not a homicidal horror. Things get nasty when the ambassador finds himself targeted by the real killer. “The Mistress” has another homicide revolving around a mistress action. This time its a wife whose only hope at proving shes not a husband killer is his skanky lover. Except they cant find this harlot. “The D.J.” reminds us of the great shock jock infestation of the late 80s when everyone wanted to be Howard Stern on the radio. In this case theres two rivals on the Atlanta airwaves. In the middle of drive time one of them dies of a gunshot. The prime suspect is the other D.J. who was taking his lunch break and playing a pre-recorded segment. Matlock doesnt like his client, but it turns out the oral skank is sleeping with Michelle (Nancy Stafford). Matlock cant let her down by letting her lover get strung up. This could have had a happy ending with the DJs being part of a murder-suicide pact. Not to give away the ending, but Matlocks fatal clue involves John Lennon. Is this Yoko Onos favorite Matlock?
“The Starlet” takes us back to the days when Nia Peeples was a rising star. Shes part of a beauty contest that awards a movie contract the crown. Her main competition is Rebecca Staab (Lauren Masters) whose mom (Honey Wests Anne Francis) was the first winner. Turns out that someone isnt happy with the judges decision. Theres a beautiful corpse to mess up the evening. Its up to Matlock to sort out the true killer from the innocent actress wannabes. The pageant is run by Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes). He looks good outside the chimp makeup. “The Psychic” has Matlock hired by a woman who swears shell be accused of a murder during a New Age conference. Her vision of a man stabbed with a crystal wand comes true. Will Matlock believe in mystical powers as he seeks to get her a not guilty plea? Don Knotts brings necessary humor to these ESP flakes. “The Cult” forces Kene Holliday to infiltrate a brainwashing outfit so Matlock can get a client sprung. Sadly enough, the cult doesnt worship the magic of Barney Fifes single bullet that kept Mayberry crime-free.
Watching Don and Andy playing neighbors is heartwarming. These two belonged together on the small screen. They have such a charming ease when playing two guys in the South. My only complaint is that each episode should have ended with Don and Andy sitting on the porch, hand cranking ice cream and wrapping up the case. Matlock: The Third Season has plenty of interesting corpses and cases to accompany the reunion of these lifelong friends.
“The Lemon,” “The Ambassador” (two parter), “The Mistress,” “The D.J.,” “The Captain,” “The Vendetta,” ” The Mayor” (two parter), “The Black Widow,” “The Other Woman,” “The Starlet,” “The Psychic,” “The Thief” (two parter), “The Thoroughbred,” “The Model,” “The Cult,” “The Blues Singer” and “The Priest.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. While shot on 35mm, the series was edited and mastered in video so theres a softness to the image. This allows Andy and Don to look much younger. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The sound levels makes sure you dont get lost following Matlocks investigation.
Matlock: The Third Season pulls off the surprise reunion of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. Fans of The Andy Griffith Show will be elated seeing them as neighbors in Atlanta. Its entertaining to see Don as a homicide suspect. The cases keep up the twists so you cant completely spot the real killer in less than five minutes.
CBS DVD presents Matlock: The Third Season. Starring: Andy Griffith, Don Knotts and Kene Holliday. Boxset Contents: 20 episodes on 5 DVDs. Released on DVD: July 7, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Andy Griffith, Atlanta, Matlock