1 9 6 1 – 1 9 6 5 (USA)
132 x 50 minute episodes
This CBS crime drama series featured the cases of Lawrence and Kenneth Preston, a father and son team of attorneys, whose prestigious New York law firm – Preston & Preston – was a beehive of legal activity.
The father, Lawrence (E G Marshall) was a seasoned and sober trial lawyer with 20 years experience. His son Kenneth (Robert Reed), was a recent law school graduate and up and coming defence attorney who was more inclined to take a humanistic, rather than legalistic, approach to the law.
The firm’s secretary, Helen Donaldson (Polly Rowles) and Kenneth’s girlfriend, social worker Joan Miller (Joan Hackett), represented women’s points of view.
In the early 1960s, most television dramas avoided any hint of controversy, but The Defenders took on such unconventional topics as mercy killing, abortion, US travel restrictions, and the blacklisting of people suspected of having Communist affiliations.
The show grew out of a Studio One production in 1957 called (naturally enough) The Defender, starring Ralph Bellamy and William Shatner as the father and son attorneys defending murder suspect Steve McQueen.
E. G. Marshall