February 11, 2009

Matlock From Across the Pond

Steve Greenfield and Guy Osborn, University of Westminster School of Law, and Peter Robson, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, School of Law, have published "Matlock - America's Greatest Lawyer - Case Closed: A Transatlantic Perspective," in Lawyers in Your Living Room (Michael Asimow, ed.; ABA Press, 2009). Here is the abstract.

Matlock for people in Britain is an almost entirely unknown series, and the eponymous hero is remembered very vaguely as a slimmer, rather more handsome successor to private eye Frank Cannon. We are interested in writing about Matlock from a British perspective because he seems to us to exemplify American cultural hegemony, curiously, at both its strongest and weakest. We are aware that Matlock contains many cultural references that will pass over the heads of the British audience, but that will have been appreciated by an American audience. We hope that our restricted understanding of the nuances in this portrayal of the Southern American lawyer will not limit our remarks too much. Indeed, L.A. Law has been on British TV screens for the past 20 years almost continuously and the characters and situations have been appreciated and understood on this side of the Atlantic. Despite our suggestion that Ben Matlock is, for British audiences, largely forgotten or misremembered, we in Britain may be about to take him to our hearts at the end of the first decade of the 21st century in a way undreamt of when he first came to the small screen. Perhaps he even has the potential to overtake L.A. Law in the public imagination. To explain why this might happen, a little bit of the context on screen lawyers needs to be provided.

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