Saturday, January 24, 2009
Matlock: The Second Season (CBS DVD, $49.99) brings to order 23 new cases in which Ben Matlock has to defend those accused of murder when the evidence points right at them. Approximately 20 years after Andy Griffith had made a name for himself with the popular TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, he made a comeback in the "prime years" of his life as attorney Ben Matlock, on this series. The series began in 1986 on NBC and ran until the mid-90s when it ended on ABC, and has been a fixture in every home (including retirement homes) ever since. Matlock may seem very homely and down-to-earth with his "southern charm," but don't let his demeanor fool you. He is actually a very aggressive attorney that will take the tough tasks (for only $100,000) and prove that his client is not guilty. He is much like a more aggressive version of Perry Mason.
The second season begins with the two-hour episode "The Billionaire," where Matlock proves his international fame by going to London to help defend an American businessman accused of murder. In "The Husband," Matlock has to defend a woman accused of killing her husband, but he quickly finds out that the man had several wives. Robert Downey, Sr. and Dick Butkus guest star in "The Annihilator." It is an episode of NBC stars when Betty White (Golden Girls), Jason Bateman (Hogan Family), Rhea Pearlman (Cheers), ALF, and others make cameo appearances on the episode "The Network." Santa Claus (or at least a guy dressed like him) is accused of murder in "The Gift," so can Matlock save the day? Sheldon Leonard makes a cameo in the episode "The Gambler."
It is a tale of sordid sex stories when an aerobics instructor is killed in "The Body." Matlock has to represent a classmate from Harvard that is accused of murder in "The Reunion." A man is accused of killing his employer--an umpire--in the episode "The Umpire." Richard Kline (Three's Company) guest stars. Matlock is forced to become a peacemaker to protect his client from incriminating himself in the two-part episode "The Investigation." An advice columnist is murdered (with an award that she won) in "The Lovelorn." Matlock's nephew is accused of murder in "The Genius." The season ends with "The Heiress," where a fast-talking New York attorney comes in to help Matlock when a girl is accused of murdering her wealthy aunt.
The packaging for the set is pretty straightforward and simple, like many other CBS DVD products. Basically, we just have the standard DVD case with six discs inside. Each disc contains four episodes, except for the first disc, which contains three episodes (the first of which is a two hour season premiere). What is surprising (and I'm not complaining about this) is the fact that CBS DVD actually put all of the episodes from this season in one set, rather than their typical practice of splitting dramas into two volumes. As this is a CBS DVD product, there is no disc artwork. The menus on the set are similarly unimpressive, with nothing more than a listing of each episode contained on each disc and a Play All option.
The episodes on this set all do appear to be unedited, but there is one minor issue that will certainly annoy many fans. When these episodes originally aired, each episode had an opening teaser that previewed the upcoming episode. These opening teasers actually air in syndication, as well. However, the DVD set does not contain these teasers. I didn't find it to be a big deal personally, since they only contain a series of short clips that are within the episode anyway, but it is important to know that they are not included. Each episode on this set runs around 47 minutes. The video and audio quality of each of the episodes on the set is not going to wow anybody, but it is definitely more than adequate. Each episode on the set is closed-captioned, which will definitely come in handy for the older fans of the series.
The set does contain one minor (but very important) special feature. For the episode "The Hucksters," there were some alternate endings aside from the one that aired originally. On this set, you can watch all three of these alternate endings. In fact, you can even set the episode to play all the way through with whichever special ending you may wish to choose. It would have been nice for the set to have had some interviews or promotional footage, but I feel like the inclusion of the alternate endings as a special feature was a very good idea, especially since that is one of those special features that couldn't simply be "made up" on a later set.
Matlock is such a fascinating series, and this DVD set demonstrates why the series has never been off the air in the United States since it premiered over 20 years ago. Not many TV series can honestly say that. The series has managed to become engrained in pop culture in many ways, and has quite a following, particularly among the elderly (anybody remember when Mayor Quimby told the senior citizens at the retirement home on The Simpsons that he would be building the Matlock Expressway?). Personally, I think that the series really hit its stride once Don Knotts began to make appearances as Les Calhoun, which occurred in the third season of the series, but there certainly are some great episodes in this season. It isn't just for the old folks, for sure. So if you are in the mood for an aggressive attorney with a bit of folksy southern charm, Matlock is the man for you!
-- Reviewed by skees53
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