After "The Judge," "Matlock"'s subsequent episodes were formulaic and dull by comparison. But that mediocre steak is snapped with this two-parter. It features a great guest cast, an engrossing story and (a rarity in this show) a strong rival for Ben in the courtroom.
The rival is William Conrad in the test run of his character from Jake and the Fatman. Though he looks horrible, almost in failing health, Conrad is just as sly and cagey as Matlock as the bombastic prosecutor. His unmistakable voice undiminished by age, Conrad shows he still had the chops, if not the look, of a terrific actor. His scenes in the courtroom, despite a tendency to waddle, are dynamite as he cuts Matlock's case to pieces. It's a shame Conrad did not return - he and Griffith play well off of each other and it would have been nice to see them in more cases.
Jose Ferrer (a "Columbo" killer) is the client, an ailing mob boss accused of murdering an associate. He's willing to help in his defense, as long as Matlock doesn't uncover some family secrets. Ferrer is another veteran actor who delivers a great performance here.
And, even though he falls victim to the "Charlene falls in love with the male guest star of the week" plague, Joe Penny is charming and ruthless as the boss's son. Later, of course, he would be Conrad's legman in their other series, but he plays a shady character very well.
Definitely one of the all-time best "Matlock" episodes.