Season 4 Episode 1

The Hunting Party

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Sep 19, 1989 on ABC
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Episode Summary

The Hunting Party

Spencer Hamilton came to Manteo, North Carolina, as soon as he could to locate the man who killed his brother, Frank, in a supposed duck-hunting accident. When Ryan Bartell (the shooter) is found dead, Matlock heads to North Carolina to defend Hamilton, and finds an unlikely ally in local deputy Conrad McMasters.


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  • Matlock returns a favor for an old general and goes to Manteo, NC to defend Spencer Hamilton, charged with murdering the man who "accidentally" killed Spencer's brother on a hunting trip. What Matlock finds threatens everyone's future, including his own.moreless

    One of the best of the series, this episode has quality writing and acting. The story is engaging as Matlock is hired to defend Spencer Hamilton, whose brother Frank was killed while on a hunting trip with three other men. When the man who shot Frank, Ryan Bartell, is later killed himself, Spencer is charged as the obvious suspect. Fortunately, this episode doesn't suffer from the problems of some later episodes. The script is crisp, and the twists that surface are believable. The clues uncovered by Matlock are significant, as he uncovers a trail of cash and illegal activity. Especially intriquing is the role of a local lawyer portrayed by Fred Dalton Thompson, the future U.S. senator and head D.A. on the Law & Order. Thompson is clearly still honing his acting chops in this appearance, but he does the best he can with what he's given. Clarence Gilyard, Jr. makes his first appearance as Conrad McMasters, and it's interesting for those of us who didn't watch the series in its original run to see how Conrad and Matlock first teamed up. Overall, one of the best episodes of the series, made all the better because it was shot on location in Manteo, NC.moreless
R.G. Armstrong

R.G. Armstrong

Sheriff Dalton Parkes

Guest Star

Casey Biggs

Casey Biggs

Ernie D'Amato

Guest Star

Terri Hanauer

Terri Hanauer

District Attorney

Guest Star

Richard Newton

Richard Newton

Judge Richard Cooksey

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Manteo has a town police force, so any crimes would be investigated and charged by those officers. The sheriff's department would not normally be involved in criminal matters that occur within the city limits of Manteo but would instead focus on matters in Dare County instead.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (5)

    • Additional Credits:
      Richard Johnson (Telecommunications Consultant)
      Echo Film Services (Sound Effects Editorial) (Season 4)
      Do Re Mi (Music Editorial) (Season 4)
      Special Thanks to:
      The Mayor, The Sheriff, The Clerk of Courts, The Board of Commissioners and all the wonderful people of Manteo, North Carolina for the assistance and participating in the filming

    • Although credited, Julie Sommars (A.D.A. Julie March) did not appear in this episode.

    • Andy Griffith has a home in Manteo, NC, where this episode was shot. Griffith starred at one time as Sir Walter Raleigh in The Lost Colony, the outdoor drama that is staged each summer in Manteo.

    • Several members of the Basnight family make guest appearances in this two-part episode. The Basnight family owns several businesses in Dare County, where Manteo is the county seat, and Marc Basnight is a long-serving state senator from Manteo, where Andy Griffith has a home.

    • This episode aired as a two-hour telemovie.