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Picket Fences 1 Season 1993

Season 1
4.7 out of 5 stars (144) IMDb 7.8/10

The daily goings-on in the small town of Rome, Wisconsin are definite proof that real life is often stranger than fiction.

Original air date:
May 6, 1993

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Season 1

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1. Pilot

The small town of Rome, Wisconsin gets more excitement than it can handle when a famous rock band hits town just after the Tin Man is murdered during a production of "The Wizard of Oz."

CC TV-NR September 18, 1992 1 hour, 27 minutes
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2. The Green Bay Chopper

Max does a little snooping on her own after the FBI is called in to investigate a brutal crime she believes was committed by a serial attacker.

CC TV-NR September 25, 1992 44 minutes
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3. Mr. Dreeb Comes to Town

Max is attracted to a dwarf that comes riding into town on a stolen elephant, while a popular high school teacher asks Jill to operate on him even though he may not survive.

CC TV-NR October 2, 1992 45 minutes
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4. The Autumn of Rome

The candidates in an upcoming mayoral election are using such outrageous smear campaigns that Sheriff Brock considers running for Mayor himself.

CC TV-NR October 16, 1992 46 minutes
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5. Frank, The Potato Man

While Sheriff Brock tries to figure out the identity of a mysterious serial bather, a farmer accuses his neighbor of getting his cows drunk on the runoff from an illegal still.

CC TV-NR October 23, 1992 45 minutes
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6. Remembering Rosemary

Sheriff Brock reopens a ten-year-old murder case after the victim's mute maid, who is now in a mental hospital, utters the word "murder."

CC TV-NR October 26, 1992 46 minutes
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7. The Contenders

Both Jill and Kenny have a fight on their hands when Jill decides to run for Mayor and Kenny agrees to fight a famous boxer wanted for tax evasion.

CC TV-NR October 30, 1992 46 minutes
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8. Sacred Hearts

When a Catholic nun is put on trial for practicing euthanasia it's a case that angers Jill and even causes Judge Bone to do a little soul searching of his own.

CC TV-NR November 6, 1992 46 minutes
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9. Thanksgiving

There doesn't seem much to be thankful for after Wambaugh finds his wife in bed with another man and Jill's father shows up for dinner with his new twenty-six year old girlfriend.

CC TV-NR November 13, 1992 46 minutes
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10. Snake Lady

While investigating the death of a woman who may have committed suicide, Max is attracted to the dead woman's husband - an attraction that almost proves fatal.

CC TV-NR December 4, 1992 44 minutes
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11. Pageantry

The townspeople are livid when they discover that a woman schoolteacher, who is also supposed to play Mary in the upcoming Christmas pageant, is really a man.

CC TV-NR December 11, 1992 46 minutes
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12. High Tidings

The day before Christmas is anything but jolly after Brock catches his young daughter having sex, and then an equally upset and unbalanced Santa Claus takes Max and Ginny hostage.

CC TV-NR December 18, 1992 46 minutes
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13. Frog man

Brock, Max and Kenny are on the trail of the Frog Man, a burglar who is striking the businesses in town and who always leaves live frogs behind at the scene of his crimes.

CC TV-NR January 8, 1993 45 minutes
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14. Bad Moons Rising

Wambaugh defends a woman who ran her husband over with a steamroller by saying that his client was psychologically unbalanced because she is going through menopause.

CC TV-NR January 15, 1993 45 minutes
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15. Nuclear Meltdowns

A sacrifice of a goat during a funeral service, two psychic connections and a seemingly forbidden pregnancy are all part of the daily routine in Rome.

CC TV-NR January 22, 1993 46 minutes
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16. The Body Politic

Max and Kenny discover a neighbor is secretly keeping his pregnant brain-dead wife on life-support in his house, while Brock is outraged to learn his dentist is HIV positive.

CC TV-NR February 5, 1993 46 minutes
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17. Be My Valentine

Max gets more than she bargained for when she goes undercover to help catch Cupid, a serial killer who murders women he meets through the classified ads.

CC TV-NR February 12, 1993 46 minutes
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18. Fetal Attraction

Jill finds herself in the middle of a right-to-life issue when she asks a fellow doctor to perform a controversial fetal tissue transplant operation on a patient with Parkinson's disease.

CC TV-NR April 1, 1993 46 minutes
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19. Sightings

The town coroner declares that a newly discovered body is that of a sheriff who disappeared thirty-eight years ago and who was likely killed by radiation from a UFO.

CC TV-NR April 8, 1993 44 minutes
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20. Rights of Passage

An Indian tribe declares war on Rome after the city lets a golf course expand onto a sacred Indian burial ground, and Matthew stands up to the school bully on his brother's behalf.

CC TV-NR April 15, 1993 46 minutes
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21. Sugar and Spice

While Kimberly is confused over a shared kiss with her friend Lisa, Max is furious when she learns that she didn't get the under-sheriff position simply because she's a woman.

CC TV-NR April 29, 1993 46 minutes
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22. Lullaby League

Jill's patient is upset that a pig's liver was used to save her life, and Max decides to adopt a baby after its mother, who's wanted by the FBI, gives birth then flees town.

CC TV-NR May 6, 1993 46 minutes
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Product Details

Genres Drama
Season year 1993
Network CBS
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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Customer Reviews

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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.
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9 Comments 202 of 211 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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).
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Comment 51 of 53 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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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.
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