Thursday, May 1, 2014

Classic TV: Matt Houston (1982)

If the basic concept of Matt Houston seemed so familiar when the series launched in 1982, well, look no further than the guy who was the show's producer---Aaron Spelling.

Series creator Lawrence Gordon came up with the idea of Houston, a Texas oil magnate, spending his free time in LA as a private eye. Basically, Houston (Lee Horsley) was the diametric opposite of another famous Texas oil magnate in prime time----J. R. Ewing (Larry Hagman, Dallas). Houston spent his money to finance his cases, mostly helping friends in distress. But the point I was trying to get to was that, aside from the oil, Houston was a civilian version of Frank Gilroy's millionaire cop, Amos Burke, and Spelling was a producer on Gene Barry's seminal crime drama, Burke's Law.

Helping Houston along was lawyer C. J. Parsons (Pamela Hensley, ex-Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), who not only dispensed legal advice, but also some tender loving care, and more than once ended up a damsel in distress.

However, not all was well. The supporting cast was overhauled after the first season, with only Hensley returning, aside from Horsley. Paul Brinegar (ex-Rawhide) played a ranch hand, his first TV gig in years. In the 3rd season, TV legend Buddy Ebsen, a few years removed from Barnaby Jones, joined the show as Houston's uncle. That mirrors Universal's decision to bring in Fred Astaire to back up Robert Wagner on It Takes a Thief. The end result was the same. Matt Houston was cancelled after 3 seasons.

Here's the open:




Horsley would follow up with Paradise, which was rechristened Guns of Paradise in its 2nd season, then teamed with 70's icon Lynda Carter in Hawkeye, a one year wonder for producer Stephen Cannell.

Rating: B.

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