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Year: 1991, 1992
Genre: TV series, Drama
Country: United States
Starring: Andy Griffith, Clarence Gilyard Jr., Nancy Stafford, Don Knotts, Julie Sommars
Creator: Dean Hargrove
Run time: 17 hours 10 minutes
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
Related reviews: Matlock Season Four, Matlock Season Five
I love me some Matlock! Season Six, out January 25th from Paramount Home Entertainment, opens with a two-hour special episode that’s all about family. See, Matlock is going back to his home town for some kind of celebration. Andy Griffith returns to Mayberry! Except that this town is far more backward and shitty than Mayberry ever was. Everyone in the town (including his own family) hate Matlock! Why? Well, presumably because he left town and became a big success elsewhere. Which is EXACTLY why I despise Alanis Morrisette. You’re either going to be a BIG success HERE, or we disown you!
Wait – actually, we’re the complete opposite, aren’t we? We claim any moderately famous person who has stopped by to wipe their ass in Ottawa. Did you know Matthew Perry was from Ottawa? And Tom Cruise as well? Norm McDonald? Well…not really they weren’t. They just stopped by with their families, ate a bowl of cereal or two, then moved on. Maybe this is a big-city vs. small-town mentality. Or maybe Mayberry has just become bitter and angry in 30 Andy-Griffith free years. Was he the only person holding that town together and keeping it from being insane? Maybe…
Anyway, Matlock manages to show up in his home town in time for a murder, then he uncovers a conspiracy and points out the real killers, and turns the opinion of the town to his favour. There’s a running gag where every single person in this town demands money of Matlock. I guess he can afford it, since they make such a big deal of his “more than $100,000 fee!” all the time. But I guess the denizens of Small Town America became lazy, shiftless freeloaders without a wise, guitar-playin’, fishin’ sheriff. This must have made the old people watching Matlock in the early 90s very angry. Almost as angry as it makes Matlock himself!
There are other two-part episodes, like The Picture, in which Ben Matlock’s family pops up again. This time it’s his clinically insane rageaholic cousin who has driven her husband away into the arms of a younger, hotter, less loony woman. Then there is a photograph that leads to an investigation, and an investigation that leads to some murders, the murders lead to more investigations, which lead to more murders and a counterfeit money ring, and eventually to a trial and to Matlock solving the crime and saving the day. There’s a two-parter called The Evening News, where a scheming bunch of newspeople start with a real estate scam and end with faking their own deaths, murders and payoffs to gangs.
Then the season ends with another two-hour special (on DVD, a two-hour special lasts about an hour and a half). This time, it’s family again – only this time, Matlock’s daughter shows up! Wait…Matlock has a daughter? Who knew? The writers of the show were clearly aware that they had never brought up a daughter before, so they made sure it was just as surprising for all the characters on the show too – “Ben hardly EVER speaks of you”! Which makes Matlock look like a pretty shitty father, and his attitude sort of mirrors the attitude of his lousy small town from the FIRST two-hour episode. You left and did what you wanted to do and were a success! That makes me so angry…
Thankfully, Matlock doesn’t make me angry at all. It’s a wonderfully silly diversion, and Andy Griffith is so fun to watch that I can put on many episodes in a row. As I did when I was running on the treadmill for a couple of hours yesterday. Which is why I know that some episodes are two-parters, and others are two-hour specials. The difference between the two is that the two-parters have credits run in the middle. And…that’s it. Matlock rocks!