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HTF DVD REVIEW: Matlock: The Sixth Season

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#1 of 7 Matt Hough

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Posted January 16 2011 - 08:51 AM

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Matlock: The Sixth Season
Directed by  Christopher Hibler et al

Studio: CBS/Paramount
Year: 1991-1992
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1  Running Time: 1030 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround English
Subtitles:  SDH


MSRP:  $ 49.99


Release Date: January 25, 2011

Review Date: January 16, 2011



The Season

3.5/5


There were changes on the way for Matlock as its sixth season proceeded. Moved by NBC to an ill-fitting Friday time period, the show sank in the ratings and was let go (though ABC picked it up for the remainder of its run: three more seasons). Mini-movies and two-part episodes played a greater part in the season for the show than in past years. And the cast, though still intact from the previous season, was going to change fairly drastically by the start of season seven. Still, Andy Griffith returns once again in season six playing the wily Atlanta attorney whose folksy ways mask a diabolical ability to ferret out the truth from the tiniest of clues.


An above average courtroom mystery series, Matlock is easy going and easy to take, and the writers seemed to be trying this season to make up for the somewhat lackluster season five. There are a variety of unusual episodes this season, from a dream case where Ben, conked on the head, transports himself and his friends back to the Old West for a fun mystery to a black and white flashback episode where Andy Griffith plays Ben’s auto mechanic father who teaches his law student son a thing or two about outfoxing various suspects in crimes. In one case, he actually loses against a fiery, young D.A. and in another he decides to retire. The folksy, shambling charm of the Ben Matlock character is exaggerated even more this season to emphasize his pinchpenny ways (the 93-minute season opener wears on the nerves a bit as seemingly every person in Ben’s hometown taps him for a large money loan, and he grudgingly gives in to every one of them).


Nancy Stafford is back this season playing Michelle Thomas, Matlock’s junior partner in his law firm, though she would leave the show after this season, and it’s obvious she’s on the way out as she’s in fewer episodes than ever this season. In the season finale, Brynn Thayer (who’d guest starred in a couple of earlier episodes this season in other roles) is introduced as Matlock’s daughter Leanne who’d join the regular cast in season seven.  Also part of the staff is Clarence Gilyard, Jr. playing Conrad MacMaster, Matlock’s investigator. Julie Sommars as prosecuting attorney (and platonic Matlock sweetheart) Julie Marsh, gets elevated to series regular this year, but she, too, was on the way out. Most of the episodes continue to feature David Froman as Lt. Bob Brooks, the official Atlanta police representative.


Though Matlock had required a $100,000 fee for his services in earlier seasons, by season six, the monetary transactions for his services aren’t mentioned very often, and he takes on a wide range of cases, often not representing affluent clients. As in Perry Mason, the mysteries are almost always solved on the witness stand and most are constructed along a standard formula: we’re shown a person with a number of enemies, the person is killed, and Matlock and company sniff out the killer. Occasionally, a Columbo-styled episode is attempted: we’re shown the murder first including who did it and how (the season’s first regular length episode “The Strangler” is one such case). Then, we watch as Matlock tracks down clues to lead him to the solution we already know though sometimes with an unexpected twist. The show never quite reaches the heights of surprise or suspense of Perry Mason or Columbo, but the episodes on their own are entertaining enough, especially with the congenial Andy Griffith playing the title character with charm and sass and always showing us the missing elements needed to solve the crime before the end of the hour. The writers also seem a little more willing this season to provide some telltale clues in the open for viewers to catch. In previous seasons, this was almost never the case.


Matlock did entertain some top guest stars and excellent character actors during its sixth season. Among the most recognizable ones are Kathleen Freeman, M. C. Gainey, Marge Redmond (in a recurring role as Matlock’s feisty Irish housekeeper), Andrew Prine, Ken Swofford, Matt Battaglia, Bryan Cranston, Aneta Corsaut (in a recurring role as a judge), Richard Burgi, Lonny Chapman, Constance Towers, Matthew Laurence, Andrew Robinson, Peter Haskell, Mitch Ryan, Doug McClure, Christina Pickles, Don Knotts (in the recurring role of an annoying neighbor), Randy Travis, Sharon Farrell, Dirk Blocker, Stuart Margolin, Rene Auberjonois, and Daniel Roebuck.


Here are the eighteen episodes contained on six discs in this sixth season set:


1 – The Witness (93-minute episode opens the season as Ben returns home)

2 – The Strangler

3 – The Nightmare (the Western dream episode)

4 – The Marriage Counselor

5 – The Dame

6 – The Suspect (93-minute episode: my favorite of the season)

7 – The Defense

8 – The Game Show

9 – The Foursome (Matlock loses a case!)

10 – The Picture (Part 1)

11 – The Picture (Part 2)

12 – The Outcast (91 ¾-minute episode)

13 – The Big Payoff

14 – The Abduction

15 – Mr. Awesome

16 – The Evening News (Part 1)

17 – The Evening News (Part 2)

18 – The Assassination (93-minute season finale)



Video Quality

3/5


The programs are framed in their original 1.33:1 broadcast ratio. Shot on video, the series does not look particularly good on DVD and never has. There are interlacing artifacts everywhere and sharpness really varies from shot to shot but never achieving the clarity and depth of the best film transfers. Black levels are good and color can be rich though the discs have a hard time handling bright reds without issue. There are intermittent scratches and some moiré patterns as well, but they aren’t major problems. Each episode of regular length has been divided into 6 chapters while the extended episodes have 9 chapters.



Audio Quality

3.5/5


The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround mix features well recorded and nicely rendered dialogue in the center channel and with good spread across the front soundstage. Only the music occasionally reaches the rear channels and that happens not as much as one would like. It’s also sometimes too loud and drowns out the dialogue track though this doesn’t happen regularly.



Special Features

0/5


There are no bonus features included with this set.


There are promotional trailers for The Andy Griffith Show – 50th Anniversary, Cannon, Jake & the Fatman, Walker Texas Ranger, Barnaby Jones, and Perry Mason.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


Matlock had quite a few interesting cases during its sixth year on the air, and while changes in the show were coming, the season overall featured a stable cast of regular characters and was well above average. Fans will likely enjoy adding another season of the show to their collections.




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 7 Mr. Pacino

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Posted January 17 2011 - 06:26 AM

MattH. -thanks for the review.


I don´t own the series on DVD yet but I think about to buy it.


My question is:


Until which Season is the show good?


Can you give a recommendation for Season 1-4?


The last time that I´ve seen the show was in the 80´s.......



#3 of 7 Steve...O

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Posted January 17 2011 - 07:59 AM

Thanks, Matt, as always.  I look forward to picking this up.


Nico - in my view the series was fairly steady most of the way thorugh.  I really enjoyed the Brynn Thayer/Dan Roebuck  episodes which aren't even released yet (they are seasons 7 & 8 I believe).  Season 9 is the last one and I frankly don't remember those as well since the cast turned over yet again and I was losing interest at that point.


The thing about Matlock is that whereas Perry Mason was driven by great writing, strong character actors, and a steady ensemble cast, Matlock relies a lot on Andy Griffith's charm as an actor to make it work.  There is a large amount of cast turnover and the series has an '80s feel to it.  I'd suggest starting at the first season to see if it has held up for you.


Please help UCLA restore the Laurel & Hardy films: https://www.cinema.u...aurel-and-hardy

#4 of 7 Matt Hough

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Posted January 17 2011 - 08:37 AM

I agree. Andy Griffith is the motivating factor for the series, and if you like him in season one, you're likely to continue to like him. The character doesn't change much during the run of the show even though his supporting cast rotates out with alarming frequency. I did enjoy this season of the show more than season five, but there is a lot of padding for Matlock to diddle with things that irritate him: prices of things, traffic tickets, judges, etc. that often have nothing to do with the case at hand.


#5 of 7 Wiseguy

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Posted April 18 2013 - 04:13 PM

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Matlock: The Sixth Season
Directed by  Christopher Hibler et al

Studio: CBS/Paramount
Year: 1991-1992
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1  Running Time: 1030 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround English
Subtitles:  SDH


MSRP:  $ 49.99


Release Date: January 25, 2011

Review Date: January 16, 2011



The Season

3.5/5


There were changes on the way for Matlock as its sixth season proceeded. Moved by NBC to an ill-fitting Friday time period, the show sank in the ratings and was let go (though ABC picked it up for the remainder of its run: three more seasons). Mini-movies and two-part episodes played a greater part in the season for the show than in past years. And the cast, though still intact from the previous season, was going to change fairly drastically by the start of season seven. Still, Andy Griffith returns once again in season six playing the wily Atlanta attorney whose folksy ways mask a diabolical ability to ferret out the truth from the tiniest of clues.


An above average courtroom mystery series, Matlock is easy going and easy to take, and the writers seemed to be trying this season to make up for the somewhat lackluster season five. There are a variety of unusual episodes this season, from a dream case where Ben, conked on the head, transports himself and his friends back to the Old West for a fun mystery to a black and white flashback episode where Andy Griffith plays Ben’s auto mechanic father who teaches his law student son a thing or two about outfoxing various suspects in crimes. In one case, he actually loses against a fiery, young D.A. and in another he decides to retire. The folksy, shambling charm of the Ben Matlock character is exaggerated even more this season to emphasize his pinchpenny ways (the 93-minute season opener wears on the nerves a bit as seemingly every person in Ben’s hometown taps him for a large money loan, and he grudgingly gives in to every one of them).


Nancy Stafford is back this season playing Michelle Thomas, Matlock’s junior partner in his law firm, though she would leave the show after this season, and it’s obvious she’s on the way out as she’s in fewer episodes than ever this season. In the season finale, Brynn Thayer (who’d guest starred in a couple of earlier episodes this season in other roles) is introduced as Matlock’s daughter Leanne who’d join the regular cast in season seven.  Also part of the staff is Clarence Gilyard, Jr. playing Conrad MacMaster, Matlock’s investigator. Julie Sommars as prosecuting attorney (and platonic Matlock sweetheart) Julie Marsh, gets elevated to series regular this year, but she, too, was on the way out. Most of the episodes continue to feature David Froman as Lt. Bob Brooks, the official Atlanta police representative.


Though Matlock had required a $100,000 fee for his services in earlier seasons, by season six, the monetary transactions for his services aren’t mentioned very often, and he takes on a wide range of cases, often not representing affluent clients. As in Perry Mason, the mysteries are almost always solved on the witness stand and most are constructed along a standard formula: we’re shown a person with a number of enemies, the person is killed, and Matlock and company sniff out the killer. Occasionally, a Columbo-styled episode is attempted: we’re shown the murder first including who did it and how (the season’s first regular length episode “The Strangler” is one such case). Then, we watch as Matlock tracks down clues to lead him to the solution we already know though sometimes with an unexpected twist. The show never quite reaches the heights of surprise or suspense of Perry Mason or Columbo, but the episodes on their own are entertaining enough, especially with the congenial Andy Griffith playing the title character with charm and sass and always showing us the missing elements needed to solve the crime before the end of the hour. The writers also seem a little more willing this season to provide some telltale clues in the open for viewers to catch. In previous seasons, this was almost never the case.


Matlock did entertain some top guest stars and excellent character actors during its sixth season. Among the most recognizable ones are Kathleen Freeman, M. C. Gainey, Marge Redmond (in a recurring role as Matlock’s feisty Irish housekeeper), Andrew Prine, Ken Swofford, Matt Battaglia, Bryan Cranston, Aneta Corsaut (in a recurring role as a judge), Richard Burgi, Lonny Chapman, Constance Towers, Matthew Laurence, Andrew Robinson, Peter Haskell, Mitch Ryan, Doug McClure, Christina Pickles, Don Knotts (in the recurring role of an annoying neighbor), Randy Travis, Sharon Farrell, Dirk Blocker, Stuart Margolin, Rene Auberjonois, and Daniel Roebuck.


Here are the eighteen episodes contained on six discs in this sixth season set:


1 – The Witness (93-minute episode opens the season as Ben returns home)

2 – The Strangler

3 – The Nightmare (the Western dream episode)

4 – The Marriage Counselor

5 – The Dame

6 – The Suspect (93-minute episode: my favorite of the season)

7 – The Defense

8 – The Game Show

9 – The Foursome (Matlock loses a case!)

10 – The Picture (Part 1)

11 – The Picture (Part 2)

12 – The Outcast (91 ¾-minute episode)

13 – The Big Payoff

14 – The Abduction

15 – Mr. Awesome

16 – The Evening News (Part 1)

17 – The Evening News (Part 2)

18 – The Assassination (93-minute season finale)



Video Quality

3/5


The programs are framed in their original 1.33:1 broadcast ratio. Shot on video, the series does not look particularly good on DVD and never has. There are interlacing artifacts everywhere and sharpness really varies from shot to shot but never achieving the clarity and depth of the best film transfers. Black levels are good and color can be rich though the discs have a hard time handling bright reds without issue. There are intermittent scratches and some moiré patterns as well, but they aren’t major problems. Each episode of regular length has been divided into 6 chapters while the extended episodes have 9 chapters.



Audio Quality

3.5/5


The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround mix features well recorded and nicely rendered dialogue in the center channel and with good spread across the front soundstage. Only the music occasionally reaches the rear channels and that happens not as much as one would like. It’s also sometimes too loud and drowns out the dialogue track though this doesn’t happen regularly.



Special Features

0/5


There are no bonus features included with this set.


There are promotional trailers for The Andy Griffith Show – 50th Anniversary, Cannon, Jake & the Fatman, Walker Texas Ranger, Barnaby Jones, and Perry Mason.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


Matlock had quite a few interesting cases during its sixth year on the air, and while changes in the show were coming, the season overall featured a stable cast of regular characters and was well above average. Fans will likely enjoy adding another season of the show to their collections.




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC

 



#6 of 7 Wiseguy

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Posted April 19 2013 - 06:49 PM

Those 90+ minute episodes are really 2-parters.  The network just decided to show them all in one night.  Sometimes they are shown in the opposite format for the network rerun (2 parters as 2 hour broadcasts or vice versa).  They are released on DVD in the manner they were shown originally, but in syndication, all 2 parters and 2 hour broadcasts are shown as 2 parters.  To count 2 hour broadcasts as one episode makes the episode count inaccurate.  This is true for all series although many people can't seem to understand this point of logic.  There are 22 episodes in the 6th season of Matlock and 195 over nine seasons. By the way, Matlock did more 2-hour stories in nine years (32) than the Perry Mason movies did in ten (30).  



#7 of 7 Matt Hough

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Posted April 20 2013 - 04:08 AM

I appreciate your expertise on the show, but I only listed the episodes in the review the way they were listed in the set. Don't shoot the messenger.







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