Season Four begins on a serious note. Coroner Carter Pike narrowly survives a fire that destroys his home, but his character does not survive intact. People believe it was a suicide attempt, and this, much more than the UFOs or the whimsical flatulent cows of earlier seasons, begins his decline.
Jeff Melvoin took over for David E. Kelley in Season Four. This was back in the days when Kelley had energy, and he wrote or co-wrote nearly every episode the first three seasons.
Kelley\'s plots were always character-driven journeys. Everyone accepted each character, and everyone had quirks. It wasn\'t always a realistic world, but Kelley believed entertainment came from the character development manifesting over a 46-minute period.
Some of his finest episodes consisted of simple plots, like a discussion around the dinner table.
Melvoin approached Picket Fences as a more traditional television drama. He took Kelley\'s quirky characters and exposed their flaws to the world. But these characters weren\'t designed for that kind of exposure, and every single one of them took their turn in the harsh spotlight. Season Four was painful, and endless.
Carter winds up so degraded he has to move into Judge Bone\'s house as what can only be described as a demasculinated manservant.
Meanwhile, Jill begins her own personal destruction as stepdaughter Kimberly announces she no longer wants to follow the suddenly repulsive Wambaugh into the legal profession. She wants to become a doctor.