Monday, February 29, 2016
This Week in Television History: March 2016 PART I
Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:
As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
February 29, 1996
A television summit was held between U.S. President Clinton and broadcast industry representatives.
At the meeting, the American television, cable and production community announced that it would establish and implement a voluntary rating system by January 1, 1997.
March 3, 1986
The pilot episode of Matlock aired on NBC.
The show centers on widower Benjamin Leighton "Ben" Matlock, a renowned, folksy and popular though cantankerous attorney. Usually, at the end of the case, the person who is on the stand being questioned by Matlock is the actual perpetrator, and Matlock will expose him, despite making clear that his one goal is to prove reasonable doubt in the case of his client's guilt or to prove his client's innocence.
Matlock studied law at Harvard, and after several years as a public defender, established his law practice inAtlanta, living in a modest farmhouse in a neighboring suburb. He is known to visit crime scenes to discover clues otherwise overlooked and come up with viable, alternative theories of the crime in question (usually murder). Matlock also has conspicuously finicky fashion sense; he generally appears in court wearing a trademark light gray suit and, over the series' entire run, owned three generations of the Ford Crown Victoria—always an all-gray model (Griffith's character had always driven Ford products in his 1960s series, The Andy Griffith Show). Some Mayberry alumni—Don Knotts, Aneta Corsaut, Betty Lynn, Jack Dodson and Arlene Golonka—made guest appearances on Matlock.
Matlock is noted for his thrift and a fondness for hot dogs. After the series ended, his penchant for hot dogs was explained in the 1997 episode "Murder Two" of Joyce Burditt's Diagnosis: Murder. Matlock blames Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke) for recommending a disastrous investment in 8-track cartridges, in which he lost his savings of $5,000 in 1969, forcing him into wearing cheap suits and living on hot dogs. Despite his thrift, Matlock's standard fee is $100,000, usually paid up front, but if he or his staff believe strongly enough in the innocence of a client, or if the client is unable to pay immediately (if at all), he will have them pay over time, or will reduce the fee significantly or waive it entirely, albeit reluctantly in some cases. He will also, reluctantly, take a pro bono case occasionally, and at least on one occasion, he has worked as the prosecuting attorney in a trial.
These traits, and the demands he placed upon his investigators, were often points of comic relief in the series. Andy Griffith's prior career as a comic often showed through in things Matlock did or said.
Matlock generally defended his clients in the Fulton County Courthouse, which was actually the Second Church of Christ, Scientist located at 948 West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles.
March 4, 1996
Minnie Pearl dies.
A longtime fixture of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, comedian Minnie Pearl dies on this day. Pearl was famous for her comic monologues about hillbilly life, and was featured on the long-running syndicated show Hee Haw from 1970 to 1990.