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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>
I was in high school when this show was new, and I got interested only when it was already in its final of 2 seasons. I remember how they would dramatize several differing accounts of what had taken place, but I always thought the trial/hearing was too easily resolved when Tony P. gave his version. And it wasn't even in the 'final summation' stage. He just said something like, "I'm going to share with the court the only way this crime could have happened..." and the case would be dismissed. That's just too simplistic, and it's hard to believe any judge would let him do that-- and the prosecutor does not even object.
There were some running gags and sub themes that helped make the show interesting. Unlike Perry Mason, we see quite a bit of Petrocelli's after-hours. I don't even remember if it was explained why he lived where he did, so I assume he just wanted to be away from the big city, have land and build a house of his own; which he and Maggie did, though not apparently with much speed. If they had gotten more done on that house I wonder if that would have made any difference in the show's popularity. Maggie (Susan Howard) was his secretary/bookkeeper, as well as his wife, and she managed to get into jeopardy as much as Tony and Pete (his easy-going, less scrupulous cowboy investigator) did. And he liked root beer, was sensitive about his name being mispronounced as PETroSELLee instead of PETroCHELLee, correcting anybody who did that, or else deliberately mispronouncing THEIR name. And he often alluded to his Italian heritage and being brought up poor; which often compelled him to sympathize with poorer clients. The town where he kept his office was San Remo, another Italian reference. In one episode he told Maggie that his mother could prepare meatballs in 10 minutes, implying that she should be able to do that. Then she brought his lunch in a bag, he took it out and there was a can of meatballs and a note, "Here's your 10-minute meatballs." Not a belly-laugh, but amusing if you know the characters.
But Barry Newman and Susan Howard were very good actors. I wish the series had lasted 5 years, so it would have been syndicated in more markets and for longer. I would probably have every available episode on tape or disk it that had been the case.
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