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TV REVIEW : The Inside Joke on 'Matlock' Is at the Audience's Expense

December 01, 1987|DON SHIRLEY

Tonight's "Matlock" (Channels 4, 36 and 39 at 8 p.m.) is a big inside joke. Too bad it isn't very funny.

Matlock goes to the defense of a Hollywood producer who's accused of murdering a network programming chief.

The setting provides an opportunity for Fred Silverman, the former network mogul turned producer (whose company turns out "Matlock"), to resort to one of his former specialties: promoting one series by importing stars from more successful series for cameos.

Hence we see Betty White, Corbin Bernsen, Jason Bateman, Rhea Perlman, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Alf deliver one-liners about the deceased. Warner even has a line about the danger of doing promotional spots for the network.

And Andy Griffith, as Matlock, gets to play the innocent while he says things like "I'm not in the television business--I'm a lawyer."

Hardy har har.

In the most daring twist of the plot, Matlock exposes a payoff scheme between a producer and a network executive. Quick, call Geraldo Rivera.

Is anyone really entertained by this sort of thing? The clientele at Morton's or Jimmy's, maybe.

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