PICKET FENCES Season 1 is the first season of the critically acclaimed series from creator David E. Kelly ("Ally McBeal", "Boston Legal") starring Tom Skerrit and Kathy Baker, in the story of a sherriff and his family in R... more »ome, Wisconsin, a town where things never seem to be business as usual. This long-awaited fan favorite is available on 6 discs.« less
Michel D. (michelann) from WALNUT GROVE, MO Reviewed on 7/8/2017...
I had nearly forgotten how GREAT this series was! Each week we waited with anticipation to see what happened next in Rome Wisconsin because we knew it would be special and unique, from the severed hand in a school classroom to a serial bather who goes from house to house leaving clues behind. Maybe it would be the Catholic nun who specializes in euthanasia to relieve pain. Especially memorable characters in this mix included the ever present attorney Wambaugh aptly played by the late Fyvush Finkel and honorable judge Bone well played by Ray Walston. Lots of fun with a few serious moments thrown in for luck!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Norm S. from LAS CRUCES, NM Reviewed on 9/4/2009...
Great tv show, wonderful to watch without commercial interuptions
Makes you think, whether you like it or not.
scott welles | los angeles, ca United States | 05/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ninety percent of all stories are based on the Idiot Plot -- you've seen it: any conflict that could be resolved in three seconds if not for the fact that everyone involved is an idiot. (Seinfeld based an entire series on this idea, but at least in their case it was intentional.)
Then there's the other nine-point-nine percent, in which the plot involves a real problem, worthy of the main characters' attention (and, therefore, the audience's as well). NYPD Blue, ER, and other shows with life-and-death professions fall in this category. (At least, the good ones do.)
Picket Fences, that last tenth of a percent, is the rarest of the rare, in that each episode seems to start off with the Idiot Plot, everyone getting stirred up by minor little things that should be solved easily...but then something very unusual happens. You slowly realize that this issue is much deeper and more complex than it first seemed. Pretty soon, the most innocuous of personality quirks has expanded into weighty moral, ethical and philosophical territory, and everyone's got an opinion worth considering, whether you agree with them or not. Ain't no slam-dunk solutions in Rome, WI.
I don't know how David Kelley did it, but he handed us the single most compelling drama series I've ever seen. There are shows I've enjoyed more, with characters I liked better, with action that was more satisfying (action in the story sense, not just violence), but few that compelled me to think like this one did. Even when things ended badly, horrible travesties of justice unfurling as we watched, I couldn't help but think, "I hate it, but I can see their point."
(On the downside, the quality of the series also took the biggest, fastest nosedive in TV history in its last season, when Kelley left the show and let someone else revamp it...but that's sometimes the penalty for such a high level of excellence in the first place, I suppose.)
A few other notes: No review would be complete without mentioning Ray Walston's Emmy-winning role as 'The Judge Of All The Earth', as I think of him, and I would be remiss if I didn't add that this series had one other quality achieved only by the finest of dramas: it's funny as hell."
People who don't watch "Picket Fences" shouldn't throw stone
Steven Bailey | Jacksonville Beach, FL USA | 06/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Back before David E. Kelley's skewed TV viewpoint became predictable, he did a wicked little number called "Picket Fences."
Kelley first gained TV fame in the early 1990's by injecting his wry humor into Stephen Bochco's then-ailing lawyer show "L.A. Law." (Kelley penned the episode where wicked lawyer Rosalind Shays met her demise down a vacated elevator shaft.)
After that, Kelley settled at CBS, where he created -- and wrote or co-wrote -- the first season of "Picket Fences." It took place in the fictional town of Rome, Wisconsin, meant to represent Everytown, U.S.A.
At first glance, you had to give the show credit just for daring to be out of the ordinary. The pilot episode alone featured the town's musical production of "Wizard of Oz," only to have the actor playing the Tin Man drop dead on-stage. (The town's newspaper can't resist running the headline, "If I Only Had a Heart Attack.")
As if that isn't enough, sheriff Jimmy Brock (the beautifully understated Tom Skerritt) has to contend with the town's first murder case. Mind you, no ordinary murder would do for this occasion; it consists of a housewife who was crammed into a running electric dishwasher.
"Picket Fences" never failed to exercise its flair for the bizarre. But upon second glance, the offbeat stories were merely attention-getters for some of TV's best fleshed-out characters. Among them were Jimmy's family (including Holly Marie Combs, later to star in The WB's "Charmed"), headed by his doctor/wife Jill (Kathy Baker). And in Kelley's seeming take-off on "Law and Order," the town's many legal cases were overseen by Judge Henry Bone (Ray Walston) and ambulance-chasing lawyer Douglas Wambaugh (deservedly Emmy-winning Fyvush Finkel).
Rarely has a TV ensemble exploded on the scene with such gutsiness and flair. Among many first-season highlights, my favorite is the Thanksgiving episode, in which Jill must contend with the new fiancée of her father (an Emmy-winning guest turn by Richard Kiley). The episode hinges on a scene where Jill's bitter argument with her father is counterpointed by Wambaugh's equally heated discussion with his wife. It's one of the most perfectly acted and edited pieces of television I've ever seen.
Be aware that the show doesn't shy away from hot topics (though it never goes for cheap thrills or laughs, as so many "relevant" dramas and sitcoms do). But if you know that going in, then you'll be rewarded with some very riveting TV viewing.
One of the best TV series most people never saw...
J.S. McIntyre | San Francisco, CA USA | 08/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I missed a few episodes myself due to conflicts, but those I saw rarely failed to provide thoughtful and entertaining television. The first episode I ever saw featured Skerrit, Baker, and the two actors playing his deputies settling in for a nice dinner that turned into a verbal donnybrook that lasted the entire hour. I was completely riveted through it all, and look forward to the day I get to see that episode, and all the others, seen and unseen.
Add to this a capable ensemble of actors featuring, amongst others the late Ray Ralston as the acerbic, sharp-tongued judge who more and more became the moral conscience of the series, and you have a serious keeper for your DVD library. "
Picket Fences - Quirky, Fun, and Normal
BlueReview | Michigan, USA | 11/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The reason that I liked Picket Fences is because even though it was quite quirky for its day, it took huge global issues and put them into a tiny little town quite effectively. Even though it focused on a family where the father was the sheriff and the mother was a doctor, it took these family issues and weaved them quite effectively into a small Wisconsin town that was screwed up, yet very normal based upon the hidden little secrets that every town and family has. It's funny, serious, and just good TV."
This show got me through law school
Anne Bobchick | San Bernardino, CA | 06/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, this show is probably one of the top 10 things that TV got right. It had quirky but charming characters. It had fun, interesting and even gripping plotlines. It grabbed your attention and even made you think.
While I was in law school my constitutional law professor regularly demanded his students watch this show, and darn if he wasn't right. Pretty much every hot button constitutional law issue made it's way into one of the plotlines sooner or later, and in a way that was just so much more fun than reading caselaw!
Hopefully they will release this soon. I never saw the whole series and I'm waiting with baited breath for years."