5 ways the 'Matlock' pilot is different from the series
The first time we met Matlock, there were a few differences.
It was eighteen years after The Andy Griffith Show had ended. Seventeen years since his appearances on Mayberry R.F.D. In that time, Andy Griffith had had three shows that only lasted a season — Headmaster in 1970, The New Andy Griffith Show in 1971, and Salvage 1 in 1979.
He certainly wasn't hurting for work with a slate of TV movies and a fun variety of guest-starring parts on popular shows, but Andy had a hard time recapturing the long-running magic that was The Andy Griffith Show.
Until "Diary of a Perfect Murder", the two-hour pilot of Matlock premiered in 1986. Matlock would go on to air another 193 episodes and become another one of Andy's famous roles on the level of Sheriff Taylor.
But the show we saw in the pilot wasn't quite the same as the show we became familiar with. Here are five ways the pilot was different from the main series.
1. Matlock's mother
In "Diary of a Perfect Murder," it is mentioned that Ben Matlock's mother is still alive. In later episodes in the series, it is said that his mother died. Maybe she just died between the time of the pilot and those episodes? Not exactly, because apparently she died while Matlock was young. So this is left behind as a continuity error.
2. The daughter switch
This is one of the more obvious ones. In "Diary of a Perfect Murder," his daughter is played by Lori Lethin, who was known affectionately as a scream queen for her appearances in '80s horror movies, including Return to Horror High with Maureen McCormick. In the series, she would be replaced by Linda Purl from Happy Days.
3. The spacious courtroom
In the pilot, the courtroom Matlock works in is larger and different. In the series itself, the familiar room is smaller. Maybe he got downgraded?
4. The theme song
Well...sort of. It's the same melody, technically, but in "Diary of a Perfect Murder," Dick DeBenedictus's theme was slower and a little more serious. By the time the actual series rolled out, it had been brought up in tempo to the more upbeat, jazzy theme we still know.
5. The opening credits
To go along with the more serious theme song, the opening credits in the pilot were accompanied by still photographs with color blocks. In the series proper, it would switch to footage from the show during the credits.