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Tony Petrocelli is an Italian-American Harvard-educated lawyer who gave up the big money and frenetic pace of major-metropolitan life to practice in a sleepy city in the American Southwest. He and wife Maggie live in a trailer in the country while waiting for their new house to be built, and travel around in a beat-up old pickup truck. For a quiet rural area, Petrocelli seems to have no trouble running into his share of murderers to defend. Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
Of all the imported US cops and lawyers series shown on British TV in the early 70's, including Kojak, Columbo, Rockford, Cannon, McMillan and Wife, Banacek, Harry O and McCloud (I can't remember anymore!), this is the one I liked best. Barry Newman stars as the eponymous title character, apparently reprising an earlier film role, a smart-suited, sharp-witted Italian-extraction lawyer building his own home out in the country along with his ever-supportive wife (Susan Howard), who becomes the go-to guy for a seemingly never- ending array of almost-beyond-doubt guilty defendants who he then proceeds to unerringly got off in the last reel thanks to his Sherlock Holmes-like deduction skills. In this he was assisted by his loyal, if somewhat slow assistant, Cowboy Pete.
The shows took on the whodunit format of Columbo, invariably presenting an open and shut case against the plaintiff only for Petrocelli to turn things around with his own reconstruction of the actual events, usually after he's put himself and / or his wife and / or big Pete in harm's way first to get at the truth. That's the good thing about a whodunit, it keeps you guessing and watching to the very end.
Formulaic it may have been, but Newman played the title role with some flair and some flint garnering good support from Howard who was far from the shrinking wife in the background. I remember in particular Newman's habit of saying "No further questions" after he'd roasted a hostile witness on the stand, plus did he ever finish building that house of theirs out in the back of beyond?
Anyway, for me this is another of those vintage shows from my youth that I loved at the time and which I'm pleased to say, dodgy fashion aside, holds up well to watching again today.
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