Matlock the Idol

Ben Matlock, stretching himself into a two-hour mold, finds the going entertaining enough as he closes out show's second semester at ABC. Andy Griffith credibly sustains the role of the aging Atlanta lawyer, the cast follows suit, and the mystery, even if automatic and predictable, should please, er, mellower viewers.

With:
Cast: Andy Griffith, Brynn Thayer, Daniel Roebuck, John Beck, Kale Brown, Marsha Dietlein, Michael C. Gwynne, Mitchell Laurence, Scott N. Stevens, Tara Winston, Eugene Vasassa, Paula Davis, Don Ferguson, Pilar Herrera, Gregg Jones, Heather Lynch, Andrea Powell, Tracey Powlas, Ann Tucker, Vic Ventura, Ralph Wilcox.

Ben Matlock, stretching himself into a two-hour mold, finds the going entertaining enough as he closes out show’s second semester at ABC. Andy Griffith credibly sustains the role of the aging Atlanta lawyer, the cast follows suit, and the mystery, even if automatic and predictable, should please, er, mellower viewers.

Anne Collins’ teleplay, family fare from the word y’all, involves a fastidious lawyer (Scott N. Stevens) — who worships his idol, Griffith’s Matlock — and his fiancee (Marsha Dietlein) vacationing in the Virgin Islands.

Several times a pretty young thing badgers the hapless lawyer when she finds him alone. A man snaps photos when the girl tosses herself at him; the scent of blackmail’s in the air.

But scripter Collins hauls in smuggling, gold, greedy travel agents Kale Brown and Tara Winston, and a couple of sudden deaths. There’s a fair buildup to the motives, and of course Matlock defends his colleague.

Program, on hold as far as ABC’s new season’s concerned, remains comfortably old-fashioned. Frank Thackery directs in a dependable manner.

Griffith, who originated Matlock back in ’86 over on NBC’s front porch, has turned folksy Matlock into a wise bungler.

Brynn Thayer plays his bright daughter, Daniel Roebuck his simple investigator. John Beck’s in as a resort hotel owner.

Tech credits are good.

Matlock the Idol

(Thurs. (19), 8-10 p.m., ABC)

Production: Filmed in Wilmington, N.C., by Dean Hargrove Prods. and the Fred Silverman Co. and Viacom Prods. Exec producers, Joel Steiger, Andy Griffith; co-exec producer, Gerald Sanoff; supervising producer, Jeff Peter; producer-writer, Anne Collins; co-producer, William S. Kerr; director, Frank Thackery; creator, Dean Hargrove; story, Collins, Steiger, Sanoff.

Crew: Camera, Jiggs Garcia; editor, Leon Ortiz-Gil; sound, Peter Bentley; music, Arte Kane; theme, Dick De Benedictis.

Cast: Cast: Andy Griffith, Brynn Thayer, Daniel Roebuck, John Beck, Kale Brown, Marsha Dietlein, Michael C. Gwynne, Mitchell Laurence, Scott N. Stevens, Tara Winston, Eugene Vasassa, Paula Davis, Don Ferguson, Pilar Herrera, Gregg Jones, Heather Lynch, Andrea Powell, Tracey Powlas, Ann Tucker, Vic Ventura, Ralph Wilcox.

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