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Featured TV on DVD Review: Matlock: Season Eight

February 8th, 2013

Matlock: Season Eight - Buy from Amazon

The penultimate season of Matlock comes out on DVD this week. I mentioned in the previous review that the show's quality was slipping, but does it recover this season? Or does it decline more?

The Show

Sadly, it declines a little more. The Play starts the season off on a weak note. Ben Matlock is cast in a play and he is bad, really bad. He's so bad that the director, Rene Auberjonois, is going to cut him. However, when an actress is murdered and Rene is charged with the murder, Ben agrees to help him, as long as he's not cut from the play. In The Fatal Seduction: Part 1 & 2, Lucy, Billy's sister and Matlock's high school sweetheart, dies and Ben, Billy, Leanne, and Cliff go to North Carolina for her funeral. However, when they get there, they find out Lucy was very popular among the local youths, including Clyde, Lucy's roommate. When one of Clyde's friends gets in trouble and then drowns, they realize something is up. It's a better episode and features Jeri Ryan, the second Star Trek alumni in as many episodes. Strange. The Diner takes place in 1962 and involved Ben Matlock's very first case as a defense attorney. He defends a black cook accused of killing the white sheriff. It's a good premise, but a weak episode.

The View feels a bit like Rear Window, which is a good source to borrow from. In the episode, Matlock sees a women get into a fight and then later she is murdered, but when her husband is arrested for the murder, Matlock tries to convince the police that it was another man he saw fighting with her. Milton Berle shows up in The Last Laugh, but the guest shot is the best part about the episode. A conman is sentenced to death in The Capital Offense, but the detective on the case, Art LaFleur, thinks he was innocent and asks Ben Matlock to talk to him. This begins a five-year quest to prove he's innocent.

In The Haunted, Cliff decides to go out on his own for a case, but ends up being romantically involved with his client, a woman accused of murdering her plastic surgeon. Meanwhile, a widow is haunted by the ghost of her husband. At least that's what she thinks is happening. The reality is a little too Scooby Doo for my liking. Granted, I'm happy it wasn't a real ghost (that's not really a spoiler, as this isn't a supernatural show) but the actual solution was too out there. In The Conspiracy, a lawyer is first accused of causing a law firm to lose a big case and is fired. Then he's accused of killing the the associate who fired him. Matlock's Bad, Bad, Bad Dream takes place in the 1930s and it is all a dream of Matlock's. It's a sign that they are running out of ideas.

Disc four begins with The Defendant, Leanne McIntyre falls in love with a charitable businessman, who is accused of killing his partner. It's not a bad episode, but the surprise twist is telegraphed far too much in advance. In the two-part The Kidnapping, the two worse kidnappers ever try to abduct Leanne, but end up kidnapping Billy instead. I wouldn't pay the ransom. I wouldn't take Billy back if they returned him for free. The real case begins when an FBI agent is killed and his partner is the one blamed. In The Temptation, Leanne gets a stalker, which is bad. However, the stalker is a collection agent for an organized crime boss. That's much, much worse.

The Crook has a guest appearance by William Sanderson, but otherwise it is merely an average episode. The Murder Game is another episode that's a little too high concept. In it, Ben Matlock agrees to take part in a murder mystery weekend, but of course there's a real murder that happens in the middle of the game. George Dzundza stars as the titular Brennen, an A.D.A. Ben Matlock has to deal with in court. The P.I. was a backdoor pilot starring Tracy Nelson and George Peppard as father and daughter private investigators. It is one of the better episodes this season, but it wasn't picked up.

The final disc begins with The Godfather. Ben Matlock's goddaughter is getting married and she wants Ben Matlock to give her away at the wedding. Ben agrees, but instantly regrets it when Leanne begins to plan a pre-wedding reception at his house. He was right to be worried, when someone is murdered at the bachelor party. The season ends with the two-part episode, The Idol. Ben Matlock has a fan in The Idol. A fellow lawyer is a huge fan and Ben agrees to help him after he's accused of murdering a P.I. that was blackmailing him.

The Extras

There are no real extras on the DVD, unless you really like the episodic teasers.

The Verdict

Matlock has slipped off its peak by Season Eight. This is understandable, as this tends to happen to any show that's lasted this long. Is it still worth picking up if you are a fan of the show? Yes. There are still enough good episodes and I do like the chemistry between the two leads. However, I can't be enthusiastic about that recommendation when compared to previous seasons.

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Filed under: Video Review, Rene Auberjonois, George Dzundza, Andy Griffith, Art LaFleur, George Peppard, Jeri Ryan, William Sanderson