Does Matlock improve every season or does the time between DVD releases bring me closer to the target demographic? The legal mystery series dared aim itself at an age group known for Early Bird Specials, Bermuda shorts and chasing kids off the lawn with interesting results.
Ben Matlock (Andy Griffith) is the greatest legal mind in Atlanta. He embraces the Southern approach, tempting the truth with a little honey, instead of being a hardass. He has no intention of being a slick lawyer like the legal eagles on L.A. Law., for example. Matlock: The Fifth Season takes him to the West Coast for two cases and he still doesn’t go Hollywood.
“The Mother” gives very little mystery. A mistress accidentally kills her boss when he dumps her. The woman’s mother decides to take the blame and hires Matlock to defend her. He knows his client is innocent, but can he get her to confess the truth? Philip Baker Hall (Boogie Nights) gets a minor role as the judge. “Nowhere to Turn” took the Southern attorney to Los Angeles for a case that turns him into a homicide suspect.
Slapped with a contempt citation, it would be nothing for the persistent lawyer except the judge conveniently turns up dead. Naturally the outside lawyer from the South gets all the attention from the law. “The Madam” tangles Matlock up with hookers. In this case he gets a little too touchy feelie with a pimptress who wants to know who killed her top earner. Robert Pine (CHiPs) admits to using the service. The episode was directed by Leo Penn which for trivia buffs means the father of Sean Penn was giving orders to the father of Capt. Kirk.
“The Personal Trainer” takes us back to a time when you could barter for legal help. In this case Matlock forces a roofing contractor to fix his leaking house or he’ll drop him as a client. Serving Indianapolis, JAGG Premium Roof Systems is known as one of the leading roofing contractors around. The roofer is up for killing a personal trainer and the case turns into a twisted swingers saga. Are they sure the trainer didn’t die of exhaustion? Even with such talk, there’s nothing too sleazy in the presentation. Go right here for detailed information.
“The Brothers” seems like a slam dunk case. Two plastic surgeons are having issues over their practice. One turns up dead and the survivor is pegged as the culprit. But the case gets complicated when the suspect’s twin brother shows up. A young Patricia Heaton (The Middle and Everybody Loves Raymond) pops up. Don Knotts returns as Matlock’s neighbor. He’s also in “The Fighter” and “The Accident.” This would be the last season Knotts and Griffith would have multiple episodes to bring back their Mayberry magic.
“The Biker” brings a Hollywood story to Atlanta. In this case a famous actor is premiering his latest movie in the South. Instead of being swarmed by fans, he’s blasted by an outlaw biker. The prime suspect is the actor’s ex-bodyguard. Fans of Sons of Anarchy shall chuckle as Ally Walker gets tangled with pack of two wheeled rebels.
“The Critic” lures Matlock into the theatrical world as the technical adviser on a courtroom musical. A famous critic will pan the show even though it’s in previews. Before he can toss off his barbs, the critic turns up dead. Perhaps this was a subtle hint for certain TV critics to back off mocking Matlock? Tony Roberts (Annie Hall) and Joel Grey (Cabaret) are amongst the suspects. “The Parents” gives a dark tale of adoption. A birth mother turns up dead after refusing to give up her child. The potential parents are tagged as the main suspects. Matlock thinks the child’s birth father shouldn’t be forgotten. John Saxon (Enter the Dragon) guest stars.
The Man of the Year screws up Matlock’s trip to receive an award. Things go really bad for him. Luckily there’s plenty of flashbacks to fill up the time at the ceremony including one with Claude Akins (Sheriff Lobo). “The Arsonist” flames a troubled business run by Bill Macy (Fargo). His partner wants to hire an arsonist. The business partner turns up dead and Macy becomes the prime suspect.
Matlock: The Fifth Season is another batch of deep fried crimes that fall off the bone in the hands of Ben Matlock. He does have the youthful Conrad McMasters (Clarence Gilyard Jr.) hunting down his major clues. But he doesn’t get too tense on the case. Even when he tangles with motorcycle gang members, it’s no Sam Crow beating.
“The Mother,” “Nowhere to Turn,” “The Madam,” “The Personal Trainer,” “The Narc,” “The Secret” (two parter), “The Brothers,” “The Cover Girl,” “The Biker,” “The Broker,” “The Fighter,” “The Critic,” “The Parents,” “The Man of The Year,” “The Arsonist,” “The Formula,” “The Trial “(two parter), “The Accident” and “The Celebrity.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The series was shot on film, but edited on videotape so the details go soft. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels won’t shock your ears. The episodes are subtitled for those who can’t understand Southern accents.
Matlock: The Fifth Season ought to come with a glass of iced tea. The crimes are complicated, but not shocking. The three episodes with Don Knotts and Andy Griffith bring the show that extra Southern charm. Fans of the hot dog loving lawyer should be pleased by his caseload in this the middle of his nine season tenure.
CBS DVD presents Matlock: The Fifth Season. Starring: Andy Griffith, Clarence Gilyard Jr. and Nancy Stafford. Boxset contents: 22 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released on DVD: July 20, 2010.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.
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