Andy Griffith preferred to develop his shows piece by piece
Andy Griffith took his projects step by step.
Quick, who would win in a fight: Ben Matlock or Andy Taylor? Luckily, we'll never have to witness such a vicious duel, considering that Andy Griffith made the two of them just too darn loveable. Even luckier, it turns out that the reason Ben Matlock is such a great character is because of the work Griffith did on The Andy Griffith Show.
Griffith spoke to The Associated Press and admitted that before he began working on Matlock, he didn't have a true understanding of the character. He said, "Before we came on the air I couldn't tell you what made us different or what made Ben Matlock different from Perry Mason." But for Griffith, the best time to learn was on set, and he found himself discovering the character as production continued. He reasoned, "You just don't know, but once you're on the air a show begins to take on a personality, and that's what happening now with Matlock."
Griffith compared his experience developing Matlock to his experience developing The Andy Griffith Show, as he used similar methods to slowly but surely build up the show to create one cohesive creative end result. Originally, the show began with just a man and his son. He said, "We started with just me and the aunt and the boy. Then Don Knotts said he'd like to be in it. That started something because the comedy went to him. Then we added Floyd and Otis and Gomer and Goober. All those characters enriched the show."
At the time of the interview, Matlock was introducing Kari Lizer as Cassie Phillips to the show. While Lizer didn't stay on the show for a relatively long time, she was undoubtedly one of the characters that provided the enrichment needed for Matlock to succeed, just as The Andy Griffith Show had. Of Lizer, Griffith said, "I knew from the first day that I worked with her — I'd never seen her before — that I was dealing with someone with talent. To be quite honest with you, I think she's quite exceptional."