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Matlock is an American legal procedural about a widowed criminal defense attorney in Atlanta. The series aired on two U.S. networks from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s. The series' protagonist is lawyer Ben Matlock, played by TV veteran Andy Griffith. A Harvard Law School graduate, the crusty Matlock lives in a renovated farmhouse in the suburbs of Atlanta, but spends most of his time in his office within the city. A criminal defense attorney, Matlock's responsibility is to have his clients acquitted of the crimes they are accused of.

Most episodes of this 60-minutes drama showed Matlock's hands-on approach to defending his clients. This included visiting the scene of the crime to get a handle of the environment and enlisting the services of a number of private investigators employed by his firm. The second half of each episode took place in the courtroom, where the actual perpetrator of the crime would be tripped up by Matlock while they were on the witness stand.

Matlock had a rotating group of lawyers and private investigators who assisted him during the show's run. In the first season, Matlock worked with his prosecuting attorney daughter Charlene (Linda Purl). When she left at the end of the first season, Matlock replaced her with lawyer Michelle Thomas (Nancy Stafford). In later seasons she was joined by Matlock's other daughter Leanne, a prosecuting attorney from Philadelphia.

Private investigators assisting Matlock in his cases included Tyler Hudson (Kene Holliday), who remained with the show for the first three seasons, and former sheriff Conrad McMasters (Clarence Gilyard, Jr.), who was Hudson's replacement. In later seasons, McMasters was joined by Cliff Lewis (Daniel Roebuck) as a second investigator. He eventually became the prime investigator when McMasters left the series.

Created by Dean Hargrove, Matlock premiered on the American television network NBC in September of 1986. In 1992, the series moved to ABC, where it completed its run in May of 1995 after 195 episodes.

NBC
1 Season, 23 Episodes - Canceled
March 3, 1986
Crime, Drama, Mystery
7.0/10
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Matlock Full Episode Guide

  • Matlock defends young, streetwise Amy Adler when she's accused of killing her boss, a photographer whose beautiful, well-known patrons harbor secret motives for murder. Matlock discovers a web of blackmail involving old racy photos of prominent women in the community.

  • Matlock takes on the defense of Gerald O'Hara, president of a builders union, who has been framed for murder. The sizzling trial is brought to a screeching halt when mild-mannered witness Harry Craven claims that Matlock offered him a bribe to lie on the witness stand. Julie March, the case's tough prosecutor and long-time friend and admirer of Matlock, is so sure of her opponent's integrity that she quits her job to defend Matlock, in a sensational turn of events.

  • When movie idol Brett Cassidy makes a strictly confidential visit to a clinic for some relaxation and therapy the news is soon leaked to the press, making Cassidy furious. When Cassidy's therapist is found murdered all evidence points to the movie star. Matlock takes on the scandalous "front-page" case. Meanwhile, a bold, enterprising young law student, Cassie Phillips, camps out at Matlock's office, hoping to talk her way into a job as Ben's assistant.

  • Framed for the murder of his sadistic lieutenant, a frightened Pvt. Chris Hughes faces a court martial. Matlock, amid resentment from the military because he's a civilian attorney, works to uncover a scandal meticulously buried among four officers. Meanwhile, Charlene discovers that the murdered lieutenant was blackmailing Lt. Jim Lynch. Tyler, posing as a private, discovers that cocaine is being shipped out of the supply depot. Matlock's investigation of Capt. Campbell, Major Hamiliton and Colonel McRae yields surprising evidence.

  • Matlock defends Kathy Dawson, a young live-in nurse charged with the murder of her multi-millionaire patient, who left her his vast fortune.

  • Young, good looking and very successful Adam Gardner is arrested for the murder of a Hollywood starlet. Matlock believes Gardner was framed and heads to California to find the real murderer, one of Gardner's rowdy "rat pack" friends.

  • When author Mary Ann Newton writes a scandalous book exposing people in a small town she becomes the target of a bullet that kills a priest instead. Matlock defends the accused man, the town doctor, Phillip Eagen.

  • Matlock defends curmudgeonly Tom McCabe, a street-corner Santa accused of murdering his landlord, who was determined to demolish the building where McCabe and some other poor people live. While TV cameras are filming McCabe anthem other tenants picketing the building, they catch landlord Alan Rollins shoving McCabe out of his way. When McCabe's fingerprints are found on a letter opener that was used to stab Rollins, he is arrested for murder. But McCabe's neighbors band together and hire Ben Matlock, insisting that McCabe may be a grouchy Santa but he's no killer.

  • Matlock defends a flashy rock star named Angel, who is accused of murdering her manager. Both the mounting evidence and Angel's refusal to tone down her appearance and behavior in the courtroom endanger the defense and exasperate Matlock. An incorrigible party girl, the inebriated Angel passes out in the bathtub of her manager's mansion and awakens to find him dead. Angel is seen fleeing from the mansion by the housekeeper minutes after the murder. Convinced of Angel's innocence, Charlene persuades Matlock to take the case, though he and his new client suffer a severe personality clash. Angel can't seem to grasp the gravity of the situation, nor can she recall what she was really doing on the night of the murder.

  • When an elusive mobster is murdered, the detective who has tried for years to arrest and convict the dead man is accused of the murder. Frustrated by his inability to arrest mobster Larry Landers, Detective Joe Peters roughs him up. For that action, Peters is stripped of his badge and gun by his superiors. The mob uses this opportunity to murder Landers and frame Peters for the crime. Matlock takes the case, even though the last time he saw Peters in court the controversial cop was trying to railroad Matlock's client into jail.

  • Matlock won't let harassment keep him from defending organized-crime boss Nicholas Baron whose grown children are among those with motives for framing the frail, dying Don for murder. Baron has had two heart attacks in prison. His son Dan tells Matlock the anxiety of a court case could kill his father. Son Paul and daughter Cathy each has his own reason for wanting Matlock off the case. Baron insists on clearing his name before he dies, and Matlock is determined to keep his reputation and win the case against his nemesis, prosecuting attorney J. L. Brackett.

  • Jose Ferrer guest stars as Nicholas Baron, a powerful organized-crime boss. Baron, who has just been released after a long prison term, is accused of murdering the man who put him behind bars. Despite his son Paul's objections, the fatally ill Baron hires Ben Matlock to defend him. Baron believes Matlock is the only one who can vindicate him before he dies. Matlock's longtime adversary District Attorney J.L. Brackett prosecutes the highly publicized and controversial case.

  • Matlock takes on the defense of an aging football star, who is accused of murdering the team's owner. Over-the-hill football star Brad Bingham is having an affair with the team's majority owner, Cynthia Hyland. Rumor has it that Brad is dating Cynthia so he won't be axed from the team. When Cynthia is found murdered in Brad's apartment, Matlock steps in to defend Brad in a sensational front-page case. There's only one problem - Brad's only alibi is an elusive young woman who denies she spent the night with him.

  • Matlock defends an exotic dancer, Carla Evans, charged with murdering Jason Hardiman, her vindictive ex-husband, who aimed to prove her an unfit mother. Hardiman intended to sue Evans for custody of their 5-year-old son, so an upset Evans confronted him. Later, Hardiman was found shot, and while he recovered in the hospital, someone disconnected his life-support system. As the circumstantial evidence mounts against Evans, Matlock steps in to defend her in this headline grabbing case.

Most Popular Matlock Episodes

  • Season 1 Episode 6 The Don (Part 2) 11/04/1986
  • Season 1 Episode 22 The Widow 5/05/1987
  • Season 1 Episode 1 The Judge 9/23/1986
  • Season 1 Episode 23 The Doctors 5/12/1987

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