A TV show whose DVD release I have been anticipating for years is finally coming out on Tuesday, June 19th... Picket Fences. My copy should arrive this week and I can't wait to catch up with the citizens of the fictional Rome, Wisconsin. When this show originally aired on CBS from 1992-96, I couldn't be bothered with it for a couple of reasons:
1. I had heard about some of the strange plotlines and assumed that it was just being quirky for the sake of being quirky.
2. I held a grudge against creator David E. Kelley because I felt that he helped to ruin one of my favorite shows... L.A. Law.
However, one of my friends (Cheri) watched it in reruns on FX in the late 90s and constantly raved about it. Unfortunately, I didn't have FX at the time (damn you Comcast Flint) so I couldn't watch it. When TNN aired reruns in the early part of this decade, I decided to give it a shot and was instantly hooked.
Picket Fences is one of those shows that could be hilarious, thought provoking, and heartwarming all in one episode! It dealt with such topics as transsexuality, school busing, belief in God, and cryonics. At one of my former jobs, I used to bring in tapes so that me and some of my co-workers could watch episodes in the breakroom. I remember that the combination of a heart-tugging scene and that soft piano theme music would get one of my co-workers every time.
A girl brought a severed hand in a jar for Show and Tell
A serial bather who snuck into people's homes and left rings in their bathtubs
The mayor who died of spontaneous combustion
A cow gave birth to a human baby
Yes, you non-watchers are probably saying what the hell (or something stronger). However, the writers for Picket Fences did an excellent job of making the craziest plot twists plausible.
In addition to the top notch regulars (Tom Skerritt, Kathy Baker, Fyvush Finkel, Ray Walston, Don Cheadle, etc.), over the years Picket Fences also featured guest appearances by James Earl Jones, Marlee Matlin, Jack Black, Terrence Howard, Della Reese, and a "blink and you would miss it" cameo by Michelle Pfeiffer (Mrs. David E. Kelley) just to name a few.
When David E. Kelley handed over the reins after the end of the 3rd season, many fans thought that it caused Picket Fences to slip a bit in quality for its fourth and final season. However, I think that it was still better than most shows. I can hear that soft piano music playing right now...