The Defenders (1961)

CBS (ended 1965)
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  • Episode Guide
  • S 5 : Ep 3

    The Defenders: Taking the First

    Aired 10/25/98

  • S 5 : Ep 2

    The Defenders: Choice of Evils

    Aired 1/18/98

  • S 5 : Ep 1

    The Defenders: Payback

    Aired 10/12/97

  • S 4 : Ep 30

    Only a Child

    Aired 5/13/65

  • S 4 : Ep 29

    The Bum's Rush

    Aired 5/6/65

  • Cast & Crew
  • E.G. Marshall

    Lawrence Preston

  • Robert Reed

    Kenneth Preston

  • Joan Hackett

    Joan Miller

  • Polly Rowles

    Helen Donaldson

  • William Shatner

    Asst DA Earl Rhodes

  • show Description
  • Ken Preston (Robert Reed), a young, idealistic lawyer not too long out of law school, joins his father Lawrence Preston (E.G. Marshall) in the family law firm in New York. In this acclaimed, award-winning series, the pair tackle challenging legal cases, often involving issues often considered controversial in the early 1960s (abortion, euthanasia, "un-American" activities, movie censorship); the plots often have less to do with resolving a mystery than with debating an issue. The series began in 1961, and was inspired by a two-part TV play which series creator Reginald Rose wrote a few years earlier - The Defender (title in the singular), where William Shatner played Ken Preston and his father (originally called "Walter") was played by Ralph Bellamy.moreless

  • Top Contributor
  • orswel

    User Score: 2840

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  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (1)

    • D.A. Larkin: Well, Larry - it looks like this was one of those cases nobody won.
      Lawrence Preston: I wouldn't say that, Frank. I wouldn't say that at all.

    Notes (6)

    • Guest starring Arthur Hill and me, Nicholas Hammond as his son.

    • The show's regular sponsors refused to advertise during this episode because of its controversial subject matter.

    • The script for this episode was published in Electronic Drama: television plays of the sixties, eds. Richard Averson and David Manning White. Boston: Beacon Press, 1972 (92–135).

    • 1964 Emmy Winner: This episode garnered Ernest Kinoy an emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama, Original.

    • Jack Klugman received an Emmy for his guest role as Joe Larch in this episode.

    • Apart from a few commercials, this episode was the only television directing work of the great Scots-American film director Alexander Mackendrick. His work in the cinema includes such classics as "The Man In The White Suit", "The Ladykillers" and "Sweet Smell Of Success". He claimed that he took the job after being fired from two movies for being "too slow" - he wanted to prove he could work fast.

    Show More Notes

    Trivia (19)

    • This was the pilot episode for the series and was photographed by Hollywood veteran Lee Garmes, famous for his work on such classic movies as Shanghai Express, Duel In The Sun and Detective Story. Although Garmes hardly ever worked in television, his work methods resulted in the pilot coming in a full day ahead of schedule.

    • Although The Defenders was a New York-based series filmed on location in the city and at studios there, this episode seems to have been filmed at M-G-M studios in Hollywood, and to employ studio contractees in several key capacities.

    • The first of Simon Oakland's appearances on this show as the ruthless D.A., Gardella.

    • The character of the arrogant Commissioner Conn seems clearly based on the real-life Commissioner Robert Moses, a most controversial figure in New York's history.

    • This episode may have been partly inspired by the real-life trial - in England, in the mid-1950s - of Dr. John Bodkin Adams, who was accused of having poisoned some elderly, and very rich, patients, whose beneficiary he was, in each case. (He was acquitted).

    • Perhaps the most controversial of all the episodes of The Defenders, this segment is referenced in an episode of Mad Men screened almost fifty years later.

    • Robert Thom's original script for this two-part episode was extensively rewritten by series creator Reginald Rose, something Thom objected to. As a result, Part One is credited to a fictitious "Robert Pendlebury", and Part Two to a fictitious "Ed Tashley". Thom contributed no further scripts to this series.

    • Robert Thom's script for this two-part episode was extensively rewritten by series creator Reginald Rose, something to which Thom objected strongly. As a result, Part One was credited to the fictitious "Robert Pendlebury" and Part Two to the equally fictitious "Ed Tashley". Thom contributed no further scripts to this series.

    Show More Trivia
  • Fan Reviews (3)
  • One of the all-time greats

    By slatteryfan1, Apr 24, 2011

  • Not exactly a bad way to past time. Although I have had more enjoyable moments.

    By preslay, Jul 01, 2006

  • This is the best legal drama ever, and that's saying something.

    By JimmyCrane, Apr 06, 2008