Sunday, November 24, 2013

Picket Fences - one of the best.

Lately I've been watching this almost forgotten gem of a series called Picket Fences, that aired during the early nineties. If you haven't seen this show before, I highly recommend that you take a look.

There are a lot of good things about this Emmy winning series, but I think one of the most important things about the show is how well it manages to cover different aspects of life.

What I mean by this is that at the same time Picket Fences is a cop show, a lawyer show, a medical show and also a show about a family. There are a lot of things going on here.

Another thing about the show is that it was created by David Kelley, who later became known for his lawyer shows, like Ally Mcbeal, The Practice and Boston Legal. These shows managed to win a lot of Emmy Awards too.

Even though these other shows are probably more well-known to most, I think Picket Fences is Kelley's best. Whenever I watch it, I feel that it's his most 'complete' series.

Needless to say, this show had a lot of memorable characters: the sheriff dad played by Tom Skerrit, the doctor mom played by Kathy Baker, the flamboyant lawyer played by Fyvush Finkel and the judge played by the veteran Ray Walston.

The supporting cast, perhaps unexpectedly turned out to be equally strong.  The deputy sheriffs, played by Lauren Holly and Costas Mandylor were fully realized characters. Kelly Connell's quirky pathologist also provided consistent laughs.

The kids were all likable and relatable too. Adam Wylie, Justin Shenkarow and Holly Marie Combs had their fair share of dramatic storylines that ranged from getting bullied at school to even getting shot and getting temporarily paralyzed.

Picket Fences wasn't afraid of tackling 'hot button' issues. In fact, for Kelley it was natural to write about different kinds of moral dilemmas. He was fair, balanced and compassionate at the same time. His writing was full of integrity and kindness.

I still haven't completely re-watched the first three seasons (Kelley left the show after the 3rd season) but there are so many favorite moments from the show that make me appreciate this era that was actually the real 'golden age' of television.

Who can forget Frank the potato man, the beauty queen mayor that wasn't actually that dumb, the other mayor that happened to spontaniously combust, the guy with the alzheimer's, the midget secretary that was found in the freezer..

The cows that gave birth to human babies, the teacher that changed sex, sexual obsessions, powers struggles in the town. The fights in the courtroom. The list is almost endless..

There were almost too many great moments considering that Kelley wrote most of the scripts and  that you had to write twenty-two episodes per season. I guess he had to get a lot of help from others in order to maintain the quality of the show.

Yet, considering how much the quality of the show dived after Kelley left after season three, one can't help but to think that Picket Fences was still, nevertheless, a one man show. One guy was in charge of making the show great.

That's probably one of the reasons that the show was snubbed when the best 100 television series of all time were listed. Perhaps it was a bit too hard for a lot of people to digest that a show like Picket Fences and a writer like Kelley could actually exist.

Anyway, if there's one thing that I'd like to see happening, it would be that at some point I'd like to be able to buy Picket Fences on dvd. Because, amazingly enough,  they still haven't released this show past season one. That's a shame to say the least.

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