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Featured TV on DVD Review: Matlock: Season Six

February 4th, 2011

Matlock: Season Six - Buy from Amazon

Matlock lasted nearly a decade on TV, which is quite a feat. Over those years, barely a season went by without some change in the cast, but the most iconic line-up had Ben Matlock, Michelle Thomas, and Conrad McMasters, with the occasional guest shot by Don Knotts. While this is the last season for this cast, does the show maintain its high quality from years past, or was it clearly time for a change.

The Show

As usual, the season starts with a two-parter, this time The Witness Killings. The story starts back in Matlock's hometown with three boys witnessing a killing, but when the body disappears before they can bring the sheriff back, no one believes them. Now 15 years later, one of the kids is writing a book about the event, but he's killed. Then the second boy is. Now Matlock has to prove it wasn't his client who did it before he's convicted, or worse. A good episode with a very solid mystery. Plus seeing Matlock go back to his old town is quite fun. In The Strangler, Matlock becomes the target of a serial killer who first wants to humiliate Matlock before killing him by beating him in court. The Nightmare is a bit of a high-concept episode as it is all a dream Matlock has after he takes a hit to the head. He imagines he's in the old west and has to defend Conrad after he's accused of murdering a sheriff.

Disc two starts with The Marriage Counselor, in which Matlock has to defend a man accused of murdering his marriage counselor, Bryan Cranston, who sleeps with his female clients. The Dame starts with Ben Matlock and Julie March out to brunch when Ben is slapped by a woman. The rest of the episode is then a flashback to a case involving the murder of a rich man that lived just outside of Ben's hometown and who was murdered, by his widow. The Suspect is the second two-parter from this season. In it there are two cases, in the first a father is accused of killing a corrupt cop who got his daughter hooked on drugs. Ben Matlock is roped into handling the case after the accused fires his lawyer, by punching him in the face. (It's a rarely used legal maneuver.) In the second case, a widow is accused of murdering her husband, her much older, incredibly rich husband.

Disc three starts with The Defense, in which a teenage boy kills his abusive father after his father threatened to kill his mother. However, despite the history of abuse, there's no police record, so it will be hard to prove in court. In The Game Show, the producer of a highly successful game show is killed. There are a lot of suspects, ranging from the recently fired host, to his brother who took over the show, to the employee he was harassing. The Fourseome starts with a rich businessman trying to pay off his daughter's obnoxious fiancee, but when the same man winds up dead, Matlock has to defend him, which is hard, because he's as obnoxious as the victim was. He's also up against a new A.D.A., who is determined to win against the legendary Ben Matlock.

Les Calhoun makes an appearance in the two-part The Picture. In this episode, Ben Matlock helps his cousin, whom he hates. She's first looking for her missing husband, then being tried for murder. The only other episode on this disc is also a two-parter, The Outcast. This episode starts with Matlock blowing an important case, which causes him to retire. However, while on his way to the lake to do some fishing, he picks up a hitchhiker and when that hitchhiker is murdered, he decides to investigate.

The Big Payoff leads the way on disc five. In this episode, Matlock is trying to get his house painted, so when a family friend of Michelle's gets into trouble, she's the one who has to take the lead in defending him. This does free up some time for Randy Travis to sing a song or two. In The Abduction, Matlock and Michelle travel to Los Angeles for a conference where he is approached by an old friend, a fellow lawyer who became the exclusive lawyer to a mob boss. Before he can discuss it with Matlock, he's killed. Then Michelle is kidnapped in a effort to find out what the man told Matlock. (On a side note, Sam Lloyd from Scrubs makes a brief appearance.) In Mr. Awesome, the honky tonk bar Conrad goes to has a bit of a commotion when the head waitress breaks up with her boyfriend and he doesn't take it too well. When he winds up dead, Conrad asks Ben Matlock to defend her.

The final disc has two two-part episodes, starting with The Evening News. This episode starts with Ben being interviewed by the local news, but there's a lot more news happening behind-the-scenes that doesn't make it on air. (Stuart Margolin from The Rockford Files has an important guest shot on this episode.) In the season finale, The Assassination, the mayor of a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia is assassinated and it's unknown if it is part of a conspiracy or a lone nut. (Don't worry. Odo's part of the team trying to sort it out.) Meanwhile, Ben Matlock's daughter, Leanne, comes into town. Brynn Thayer joined the cast next season as a regular, so the season finale was a good introduction for viewers. (On a side note, shooting a corpse is not murder, but it's still attempted murder, or any number of lesser crimes.)

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD, but there are play all buttons, subtitles, and proper chapter placements.

The Verdict

Season Six of Matlock is another solid season in a show that really never jumped the shark. The cast might change, but the writing and the acting remained ever strong. If you've picked up the previous seasons, there's no reason to stop now.

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