Matlock: Nowhere to Turn

Matlock, who is a member of the Bar in several states, flies to California to defend a man whose Fifth Amendment right is denied by a judge. The plane is delayed, Matlock’s suitcase is lost, his hotel reservation is canceled, and he arrives late at the hearing. A heated exchange with the judge lands him in jail on a contempt charge. Later, he finds the judge dead in his chambers, and is then knocked out and drugged, thrown out of a bar, mugged, left unconscious in an alley Downtown, arrested and charged with the murder. This all takes about half an hour, which is about twice as fast as the going rate on television, and I left out the opening scene where a jogger on the Sepulveda Dam acquires a truckload of arms.

Later still, Matlock is knocked out and drugged a second time, but he isn’t dumped in a dark alley. The CHP finds him dazedly roaming the San Diego Freeway at high noon. He decides to take the case himself.

Four Green Berets in Vietnam, now an attorney, a psychiatrist, an FBI agent, and the late judge, have set themselves to spreading democracy by selling arms for drugs for cash, first in Central America and then against a “religious dictatorship” in the Middle East. Seeing their ventures come to nothing inspires them to keep the cash, but the judge objects, on principle. Ergo, he is eliminated.

Many fine location shots enliven this telefilm, which is noteworthy among other things for its portrait of the attorney in his beach house, wearing a pink polo shirt and baggy beige trousers, surrounded by etched glass and serving crab salad and Chardonnay to distract a visitor (Nancy Stafford as Michelle Thomas) while her hotel room is being searched.


Matlock: The Outcast

Matlock forgets his client’s name, decides it’s time to retire. He drives away to the country to fish.

The small town he’s chosen has a racket going. Illegal immigrants die and are shipped back home in caskets full of drugs. This is nicely taken from Jack Smight’s “A Little Plot at Tranquil Valley” (McCloud) and given a fine point.

Morgan Woodward has a good turn as an honest farmer, and Doug McClure heads the ring round the town.


Matlock: The Final Affair

“The Final Affair” is a bracing dissection of certain contemporary phenomena. For the purpose, a two-pronged approach is taken. The major premise is a football coach arrested for fixing games, then losing his case because his lawyer is having an affair with his wife, though she denies it. Finally, the coach dies under suspicious circumstances.

The minor premise is a homeless man arrested as a peeping tom. His case is the usual syndrome, verbatim: drinking, abandonment, “out of society”.

This story of an amazingly destroyed man (there is only one) turns beautifully on a mob plot to ace the coach out of the ministry of his church, so as to use the charity food program to ship drugs out of the country (the homeless man is merely concerned for a widow’s maltreatment of her dog).


Matlock: The Murder Game

A résumé of three episodes (“The Critic”, “The Con Game”, and “The Talk Show”) told as anecdotes by Matlock in the course of a police investigation into the murder of a fabulously wealthy maker of electronic games, owner of an amusement park, etc. It takes place under the same circumstances as Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, without any characterizations among the suspects but with these three facets of murder to be considered.


Matlock: The Scam

A tale of other people’s money, downsizing, etc., from a Gogolian vantage point with Matlock working out to fit back into his collegiate barber shop quartet costume.

In a variation on Chinatown, an insurance company sells fictitious policies to another, and uses fictitious death certificates to reap the benefits.