The second season of Matlock brought some change to the series. Matlock’s daughter was written out of the series when Purl left the series after the first season. In the 2 hour opening episode of the second season Matlock meets Nancy Stafford (Thomas) in London when he goes there for a case. The episode was filmed on location and marked a spectacular return for the sophomore series. The Stafford character filled in for Matlock’s now departed daughter to become his new junior partner. CBS also tried a little gadgetry in this season. With the episode The Hucksters, callers were invited to call one of three special numbers to select who they wanted the killer to be. The ending was then used that corresponded to the callers’ request. In this release you get a choice of all three actually filmed endings. They are actually identical, with only the “big reveal” having changed.
Imagine Sheriff Andy Taylor older and now an attorney, and you pretty much have the set up for Matlock. Forget for a second that both characters were played by Andy Griffith. That’s not all they have in common. Matlock is every bit the “southern gentleman” that Taylor was. He might be a little smarter, but he walks and talks like Andy Taylor.
Matlock began life as a television movie from Dean Hargrove, who brought us Columbo. Hargrove would later work the same magic with Dick Van Dyke in Diagnosis Murder. In fact the two shows could easily have been companion pieces. Both featured sit-com stars from the 1950’s and 60’s that had become somewhat iconic characters. Both would don the role of professionals. Both shows would subscribe to the “formula” mode of storytelling. Diary Of A Perfect Murder would set up the Matlock formula. It’s simple, really. Matlock was a lawyer in Atlanta. Some wronged defendant, usually charged with murder, would show up asking for Matlock’s help. Matlock and his team would investigate the crime with an eye toward, as OJ Simpson is fond of saying, finding the real killer. His team consisted of his daughter Charlene, herself a competent lawyer, and Tyler Hudson (Holliday), his private investigator. In the pilot the Matlock character was less Andy Taylor and a little more slick at first. I’m sure that while it was intended to show Matlock’s prowess as a high priced attorney, somewhere along the line it became obvious that the show’s finest asset was Griffith himself and that southern charm he was already famous for. Whatever the reason, you can see the character soften significantly during the early episodes of the season. And that decision was a smart one, as Matlock would continue for nearly a decade.
Each episode of Matlock is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. There’s not a lot to love in this transfer. The picture is almost always grainy. There are too many overt instances of compression artifact. In general this was not a carefully prepared transfer. I’m sure Paramount expects the fans to take it as it is. Colors are fair, but there is a subdued overall tone to the entire presentation. Black levels suffer the most and are quite poor.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation. The jazz music theme comes out nice and clean.
Just the alternative endings for The Hucksters.
Except for the cast change, the show continued to deliver the same “Southern Comfort” law style that made this show a little different from the other lawyer shows before or since. Griffith’s own charm really carries the day. There isn’t anything all that special about the cases. You watch because it’s fun to watch Andy Griffith. Since his days at Mayberry it seems some things never change. The evidence is clear. “Case dismissed.”