Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Classic TV: The Defenders (1961)

Now, here's a show I've always wanted to see, but never got the chance.

The Defenders, which ran for 4 seasons on CBS (1961-5), was spun off from a 1957 episode of Studio One, "The Defender", written by Reginald Rose, the man who also was responsible for 12 Angry Men.

The Defenders had just two regular characters, a father & son team of lawyers played by E. G. Marshall & Robert Reed. Although it is a courtroom drama, much like another CBS staple of the period, Perry Mason, the focus of the show is the law itself, not the how's & why's of crime and what leads to trial. In other words, it wasn't a procedural crime drama, as Mason was.

After the series ended, Marshall would make a guest appearance, reuniting with Reed on The Brady Bunch. I believe this might've been when Marshall was still working on The Bold Ones.

Surprisingly, The Defenders was revived in 1997 by premium cable giant Showtime. Marshall returned, but Reed had passed on five years earlier, so while his role was not recast, Marshall would now be teamed with Beau Bridges and Martha Plimpton, the latter playing Marshall's grand-daughter. Suffice to say, this has no connection, other than the title, to a 2010 CBS dramedy that starred Jerry O'Connell & Jim Belushi, which was a flop, or the forthcoming Netflix series, which has its roots in Marvel Comics instead.

Following is a sample clip from the episode, "Killer Instinct". Guest star William Shatner had starred with Ralph Bellamy on Studio One four years earlier.

Shatner would later headline another courtroom drama from the same producers, For The People, which bowed during The Defenders' final season. This, too, failed, else Shatner would never have gotten icon status with Star Trek a year and a half later. He would, however, revisit The Defenders in an episode of his later series, Boston Legal, many years later.

No rating. The above clip wasn't enough of a sample.

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