Paramount // 1992 // 837 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // February 29th, 2012
It takes a legend to play a legend.
Ben Matlock's seventh year heralds some big changes. After six seasons on NBC, our legal eagle flies the peacock coop and lands in the nest of ABC. More importantly, the courtroom procedural drama -- set in Atlanta, Georgia -- moves its production offices and sound stages from Hollywood to Wilmington, North Carolina, home state of series star Andy Griffith.
The shake ups continue in Ben's personal and professional lives: After five years of faithful service, law partner Michelle Thomas (Nancy Stafford) has gone, replaced by his attorney daughter Leanne (Brynn Thayer, The Bannen Way). The practice also takes on newbie Cliff Lewis (Daniel Roebuck, The Fugitive) who has just passed the bar, getting to know Matlock and daughter in a novel way...as the prime murder suspect in the TV-movie length season premiere!
Here are the case files...
* "The Vacation"
* "The Legacy"
* "The Ghost"
* "The Class"
* "The Singer"
* "The Mark"
* "The Juror"
* "The Fortune"
* "The Debt"
* "The Revenge"
* "The Obsession"
* "The Divorce"
* "The Final Affair"
* "The Competition"
The players may have changed, but the game remains the same. You can spend a great deal of time protesting that Matlock relies as much on coincidence, serendipity, and ludicrous contrivance, as it does Ben's keen analytical mind, or you can give up and enjoy the show for what it does best: showing off Andy Griffith's considerable charm. Were you similarly put off by the lack of real police procedurals Griffith employed during his tenure as Sheriff Andy Taylor?
Though not celebrity-overloaded, Matlock: The Seventh Season does boast some familiar faces, including country music superstar Randy Travis (reprising his role as Billy Wheeler), Gregory Itzin (24), Mary-Margaret Humes (Dawson's Creek), Amy Yasbeck (Wings), James Stephens (The Paper Chase), and Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill: Volume 1).
Paramount's full-frame standard definition transfer looks pretty good, its image quality coming across as fairly clean and consistent, if a bit soft on detail. Then again, this shot-on-video wonder never really looked all that great in the first place. The Dolby 2.0 stereo mix tends to drop out every now and then, but with English SDH subtitles and a bit of imagination, we're able to keep up with the aural proceedings. True to form, there are no bonus features.
Will the jury foreman please read the verdict?
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 837 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Not Rated