Matt Houston: Season 2, Episode 7

The Ghost of Carter Gault (28 Oct. 1983)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama
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Episode complete credited cast:
Lee Horsley ...
Fran Bennett ...
David S. Cass Sr. ...
Jacobs (as Dave Cass)
Le Tari ...
William E. Noone ...
Carter Gault
Natalie Gregory ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Patti Been ...
Connie Gault
Robert Gibson ...
Father Joe
Joe Handy ...
Polli Magaro ...


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Crime | Drama





Release Date:

28 October 1983 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Still A Dumb Show But Less Dumb Here
8 August 2011 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Journalist Carter Gault, a friend of Houston's who has been gathering information on murderous mob boss Peron (JD Cannon) for years is critically injured in a bomb blast just before he is set to go public with his expose.

Houston looks to dig around in Gault's apartment to find the stash of evidence on Peron but gets there just in time to see it set ablaze by Peron's henchmen. He is unable to retrieve any incriminating information on Peron but saves a young policeman's life.

Gault, hospitalized and still in critical condition is scheduled to be operated on by a dedicated young doctor (Robin Dearden) who is also a single mother. Her daughter is abducted by Peron's henchmen and she is told to make sure Gault dies on the operating table or he will kill her child.

Spoiler Alert! Gault dies but Houston is convinced that Peron will still kill the child and, having interrogated Peron's main thug (Luke Askew) goes to Peron's boat to rescue the little girl. Having rescued the child in a melodramatic climax and returned her to her mother, Houston is then greeted by C.J. who presents him with a package that contains duplicate evidence on Peron that Gault had mailed to a confidant the day before he died.

Lieutenant Hoyt (Lincoln Kilpatrick) a cranky, no-nonsense, by-the-book cop who, when first introduced at the beginning of the show's second season, thought the idea of a rich boy private detective was as absurd as TV critics did is won over by Houston after he rescues the young cop from a fire. He and Hoyt develop a better working relationship from this point onward though they aren't blood brothers the way Houston was with Novelli.

Hoyt tells Houston that he is hiring him as a special consultant (dollar-a-year type deal) to help on cases and thus becomes his police liaison. For the first time in the series (Almost halfway through its run) Houston is more than some rich guy playing detective. From this point on if he has a good relationship with the police it is more believable because we have seen part of what he has done to earn it and because some police departments do hire special consultants.

It is still a little much when we have a scene in this episode where Houston shakes down an informant because that is not something even TV private investigators do, it is what TV cops do. In that brief nonsensical sequence we are reminded of the continual identity crisis the show has.

We get another reminder of the identity crisis when we see Houston with a bottle of Dom Perignon interacting with a nude showgirl in his jacuzzi at the beginning then, later in the episode, asking a dedicated young doctor/single mom out on a date which will involve seeing her daughter perform at a school play before taking her out for a Happy Meal.

We start out with a scene straight out of Penthouse Letters and we end up with this Disney movie old fashioned courtship stuff. The contrast could indicate a catharsis essential to the character arc but it usually isn't believable as backstory in a single 50 minute teleplay.

The first encounter is to make the eyes of male viewers pop. The second is a subtle hint to single moms in the audience that they might have a shot with alpha male/rich guy Houston to float their boats. By the way, Houston still has that everpresent sexual tension with C.J. on the backburner too.

Again, cheap, shortsighted attempts to please everyone which seem incongruous to a coherent narrative. It is a trademark of the show and I wonder if it was deliberate.

The direction was shifted away from surreal adventure fantasy in favour of making the show a normal TV detective mystery and as a result the production team had backpedaled away from the part-time business tycoon part of the character in the second season opener ignoring the ironic tone of many episodes in the first season.

As the second season progressed intensely darker themes like the childhood abduction depicted here would be recurring. The disturbing nature of some of such subject matter would prove off-putting for those attracted to the whimsy of earlier episodes.

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