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The concept of "Harrigan And Son" was certainly workable; "The
Defenders" got four years out of the same basic idea of father-and-son
lawyers working together, with the son learning the realities of the
profession he never learned in law school. But ABC made a giant
mistake, scheduling this show on Fridays at 8 PM (Eastern), between two
animated shows, "Matty's Funday Funnies" and "The Flintstones". Now I
know ABC was aiming "The Flintstones" at adults but they had to know
kids would be watching, too. "Harrigan And Son" had absolutely no kid
appeal; it might have been better to schedule "The Flintstones" at 8
and "Harrigan" at 8:30, or put "Harrigan" on another night at a later
time, 9 or 9:30.
Star Pat O'Brien swore off series television when he learned what "Harrigan"'s replacement was going to be: "The Hathaways," about a couple raising three chimpanzees (the Marquis Chimps, with "To Tell The Truth"'s Peggy Cass as one of the human owners).
Still, this would be a show worth catching again; it was certainly believable, and it would be worth it to see a Hollywood legend (O'Brien) in his only series. By the way, Roger Perry (Harrigan Jr.) was married to Jo Anne Worley for many years, and they've appeared on game shows such as "Tattletales".
My mother was an attorney, and when I was growing up we always watched
"Harrigan and Son" and "The Defenders", two of the better-written TV
shows of the 1960s.
It was the first time I heard the phrase "Non Compos Mentis", (which was an episode title) and prompted a talk with my mother that I still remember 45 years later.
Helen Kleeb, who played Miss Claridge was later a regular on "The Waltons".
At the end of the show, the regulars would sit around a table in a bar and sing the old Irish tune about Harrigan; "H, A, double-R, I, G-A-N spells Harrigan"
This show was very realistic, and I'm surprised it did not last longer.
My favorite episode was one in which Harrigan, Sr. taught a very
important lesson to Harrigan, Jr. Junior was conducting his case very
professionally, following the technical aspects of the law, and losing
Harrigan, Sr., stepped in, and he proceeded to play to the prejudices of the jury. The defendant was a relative of some family, the plaintiff was from a certain place, etc. And he turned the case around, and won.
Junior complained bitterly, afterward, that if that's what was needed to successfully practice law, then he wanted no part of it. Senior reminded him that you cannot change human nature, and the practice of law was not a matter of dead words in books, but rather the living reactions of real human beings.
I would not be surprised if Johnny Cochran saw this episode, and learned from it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
IT APPEARS THAT the year of 1960 was very important in the area of law.
In addition to the Presidential race that would pit two trained
attorneys (Kennedy and Nixon)against each other, the lawyer as genre
was more than just 'fair' game for TV series. The American Broadcasting
Company alone,launched two such half hours. The first was THE LAW AND
MR. JONES; which starred James Whitmore. The second is today's honoree;
that being HARRIGAN & SON; which starred Pat O'Brien and Roger Perry.
THE PREMISE OF this show was simple and very basic. Pat was James Harrigan, Sr. and Roger was James, Junior. Son joins his father's Law Practice and the fun begins. It was the age old generation thing that provided a good deal of the energy and situational comedy of the episodes.
YET, THIS WAS not a sitcom per se; but rather a sort of Dramatic Comedy. "Comedy", in this case is meant in the classic, Shakespearean sense; that being any story in which the protagonist is successful in his quest for whatever.
THE THIRD REGULAR player in the shows all too brief run was Georgine Darcy; who portrayed their young, single-braided and very attractive blonde secretary, Gypsy. The show opening featured her freely gyrating her lovely hips while walking down the hall of her bosses' office building. While this display of feminine pulchritude and charm was done, it was accompanied by an instrumental rendition of that George M. Cohan song, "Harrigan."
ONE PARTICULAR EPISODE that springs to mind was titled "100 POOF" and it guest starred one of Pat's old drinkin' buddies from the days at Warner Brothers, Frank McHugh. Frank's character was accused of DUI and the Harrigans were his counselors at law.
WE RECALL THAT the Harrigans won the case by introducing evidence that their defendant had an abnormally constructed digestive tract. The intestines then held up any carbohydrates; which were then transformed into alcohol. They proved it in court by having Frank eat some saltine crackers. Previously sober as a judge, he was soon stewed and singing Irish Drinking Songs, while still on the witness stand.
THIS LAST INCIDENT gives credence to our theory of what it was that drew us to tune in to this HARRIGAN show. It was the marketing of personalities such as Mr. Pat O'Brien's and Mr. Frank McHugh's as an attraction. These images were carefully crafted by big studio publicity men and their old films could be seen regularly on local TV stations.*
ANOTHER ELEMENT THAT was employed and exploited to good use was that previously mentioned George M. Cohan H-A-R-R-I-G-A-N song. For not only did accompany Christine Darcy's lovely entrance, but It was also featured at closing. The only difference her was no Gypsy and both Father and Son sang it while Junior played the piano.
GEE, AREN'T THEY just like all the lawyers that you know?
NOTE * We believe that Allen Jenkins, another Drinkin' Buddy from the old days at Warner Brothers, also appeared in at least one installment.
Pat O'Brien (Ragtime) was an attorney at law, Jim Harrigan. He and his son Roger Perries (Gidget Gets Married) were partners in the law firm. The place they worked wherever it was, was a very cold place. They would always wear trench coats and hang their coats as soon as they come in. The partners always won their cases. The Harrigans were really good friends. I watched the series black and white and dubbed. I think that they might have influenced in the choice of my profession.
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