Actress Kathy Bates is, and should forever be considered one of the greatest of the last 40 years. While “Misery” wasn’t her first film role, it broke her to the mainstream with a dynamic performance that showed she was capable of anything. Her next fete? Taking up the mantle of one of the most iconic detectives in television history- Matlock.
From 1986 to 1995, Andy Griffith played the charming southern lawyer who has since become a staple of syndication and the lives of octogenarians. Well, the latter part is true if you’re an avid viewer of “The Simpsons” at least.
The show was a successful legal drama that had all the formula of “Perry Mason” coupled with an endearing lead character. Ben Matlock’s folksy charm belied his sharp legal mind, leading to him being a highly successful defense attorney. A large amount of credit has to be given to series creator Dean Hargrove whose previous pedigree involved writing for “Columbo” and “McCloud.” Not to mention Andy Griffith bringing the earnest character to life in a way that only he could.
If anyone can create a reinvention of a popular character, it’s Kathy Bates. This new version of “Matlock” is not connected to the previous series in anyway. Bates will portray a new version of the character, named Madeline Matlock. She’ll reportedly be similarly folksy and unassuming, while also being a wily and brilliant legal mind. After being successful in her younger years, Madeline Matlock comes back out of retirement to a prestigious law firm to win lawsuits and fight corruption.
This isn’t Bates’ first turn in a legal drama. From 2011-2012, Bates starred in David E. Kelley‘s “Harry’s Law.” Kelley, the creator of other legal shows “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” has a knack for casting highly talented actors and actresses in meaty parts. The role earned Bates two Emmy nominations. It was also a role she was quite attached to as when the show was cancelled by NBC, she did not hold back in verbally skewering the network.
Jennie Snyder Urman (“Jane the Virgin”) will helm the show alongside Eric Christian Olsen (“NCIS: Los Angeles”). It’s one of a few legal and mystery related programs CBS has in development. They’ll also be making another “The Good Wife” spinoff, “Elsbeth.” There’s also a Sherlock Holmes related show simply titled “Watson.”
We can’t help but wonder what Bates will be able to do with a new take. Let’s see if she can take the series back from being a joke and turn it into the kind of legal drama it deserves to be remembered as. “Matlock” is currently slated for the 2023 – 2024 television season with Bates attached as an executive producer. Catch episodes of the classic series on PlutoTV.