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The Defenders
Format Legal drama
Created by Reginald Rose
Starring E. G. Marshall
Robert Reed
Joan Hackett
Polly Rowles
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 132
Production
Executive producer(s) Herbert Brodkin
Location(s) New York City[1]
Running time 60 min.
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format Black-and-white
Original run September 16, 1961 – May 13, 1965

The Defenders is an Emmy-winning American courtroom drama series which ran on CBS from 19611965. It starred E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father-and-son defense attorneys who specialized in legally complex cases, with defendants such as neo-Nazis, conscientious objectors, civil rights demonstrators, a schoolteacher fired for being an atheist, an author accused of pornography, and a physician charged in a mercy killing.[1] It was created by television writer Reginald Rose.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications called it "perhaps the most socially-conscious series the medium has ever seen", a show "singularly resonant with New Frontier liberalism."[1]

Contents

Cast

  • E. G. Marshall as Lawrence Preston
  • Robert Reed as Kenneth Preston
  • Polly Rowles as Helen Donaldson (1961-1962)
  • Joan Hackett as Joan Miller (1961-1962)

Subject matter

According to creator Reginald Rose, "the law is the subject of our programs: not crime, not mystery, not the courtroom for its own sake. We were never interested in producing a 'who-done-it' which simply happened to be resolved each week in a flashy courtroom battle of wits."[1] And unlike Perry Mason, which also ran on CBS, victory was "far from certain on The Defenders—as were morality and justice."[1]

Topics featured in the series included capital punishment, "no-knock" searches, custody rights of adoptive parents, the insanity defense, the "poisoned fruit doctrine", immigration quotas, the Hollywood blacklist, and Cold War visa restrictions.[1]

A 1962 episode entitled "The Benefactor"—in which the father-son legal team defended an abortionist—was the most controversial; all of the series' three regular advertisers refused to sponsor the episode, necessitating a last-minute replacement.[1]

Emmy Awards

The Defenders won 13 Emmy Awards (including three in a row for Outstanding Drama Series) and received an additional seven nominations.

Year Result Category Who Episode
1962 Awarded Outstanding Continued Performance by a Lead Actor in a Series E. G. Marshall
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama Franklin J. Schaffner
Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama
Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama Reginald Rose
1963 Awarded Outstanding Continued Performance by a Lead Actor in a Series E. G. Marshall
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama Stuart Rosenberg "The Madman"
Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama
Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama Robert Thom
Reginald Rose
"The Madman"
Nominated Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Don Gordon
(for playing "Joey Tassili")
"The Madman"
Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Sylvia Sidney
(for playing "Adela")
"The Madman"
Program of the Year "The Madman"
1964 Awarded Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama
Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Jack Klugman
(for playing "Joe Larch")
"Blacklist"
Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama - Original Ernest Kinoy "Blacklist"
Nominated Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama Paul Bogart "Moment of Truth"
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama Stuart Rosenberg "Blacklist"
The Program of the Year "Blacklist"
1965 Awarded Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment - Directors Paul Bogart "The 700 Year Old Gang"
Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment - Writers David Karp "The 700 Year Old Gang"
Nominated Outstanding Program Achievements in Entertainment Bob Markell

Related works

The series was a slight reworking of Rose's 1957 two-part drama, The Defender, from the anthology series Studio One. In the original program, Ralph Bellamy played the father and William Shatner played his son. [2] Shatner guest-starred as a prosecutor in the later series, and the original drama later was incorporated into an episode of his series, Boston Legal. Original music for the series was scored by Frank Lewin and Leonard Rosenman.

A re-envisioned version of the series debuted on the Showtime network in 1997.[3] Still called The Defenders, it focused on Beau Bridges and Martha Plimpton as the grandchildren of E.G. Marshall's character. They worked as lawyers and carried on the family legacy. However, Marshall died after completion of the second episode ("Choice Of Evils").[4] Production was halted and the remaining episode, "Taking the First", aired as a movie special in 1998.[5]

A second season episode of Mad Men also featured an episode named "The Benefactor"— which featured a brief clip from The Defenders episode of the same name.[6] In the Mad Men episode, the Sterling Cooper advertising agency is trying to secure sponsors for The Defenders episode, which contains a plot involving abortion.

References

External links

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