Picket Fences Season One -- DVD Review
It won Emmys for the best dramatic series, best dramatic actor and best dramatic actress. Right out of the box. In season one.
Nearly 15 years ago.
So how does the first season of the controversial Picket Fences stand up to time, in its new DVD collection? After watching the pilot episode, seeing all those shoulder pads, hearing the heavy-handed background music during some of the scenes and watching "tough" police interrogations in the form of raised voices, my initial thought was, "Picket Fences didn't age well."
Then I watched more episodes. And changed my mind.
In Picket Fences' first season, which spanned 1992-1993, it addressed myriad issues that remain contemporary including: Euthanasia, polygamy, a physician with AIDS, transsexuality, separation of church and state, nativity scenes on public property, condoms in high schools, sex discrimination, fetal tissue transplants and teenage girls sharing a kiss while they try to discern their sexual preferences. Storylines included one about a mercy killing nun, a 74-year-old dating a 26-year-old, a Christmas pageant being canceled via court order, small-town hysteria over a transsexual teacher (who was slated to play Mary in the aforementioned Christmas pageant) and a mysterious severed hand winding up at an elementary school show and tell.
And before I knew it, aside from the fashions, Lauren Holly's old hairdo and references to the Clinton administration, the 15 years that have elapsed since the premiere of David E. Kelley's quirky series was a non-issue. It was easy to see why Kathy Baker (who played Jill Brock, the town doctor) and Tom Skerritt (who played Jimmy Brock, the town sheriff) won Emmys for their performances as the moral-yet-flawed centers of the fictional town of Rome, Wisconsin.
However it was disappointing that the only extra in the six-disc set is a short featurette that includes interviews with most of the show's major players including Baker, Skerritt, Kelley, Holly, Holly Marie Combs (pre-Charmed) and Fyvush Finkel who played the kooky defense attorney, Douglas Wambaugh. Though I thought the interviews were too brief, I found it interesting to learn who had to be lobbied hard to join the Picket Fences cast and who wasn't initially considered a good fit for the show.
The DVD collection goes on sale today.