Picket Fences (TV Series 1992–1996) Poster


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Awesome thought-provoking show
ctowner12 November 2004
With all the pap that's passing for entertainment these days, this show stands out all the more. Week after week this show tossed out thought provoking questions in all areas of our society - medical, criminal, religious, philosophical - any aspect of our society and lives was fair game. And it wrapped these questions around the lives of a hugely talented cast of fully realized characters. The show also had the courage to not play it safe. It routinely tackled "hot button" issues from abortion, to homosexuality, to belief in God, to constitutional protection of rights. Is there ANY show on TV now that comes close to this??

Ironically, I "discovered" this show while on vacation in the Midwest when I came across a full page advertisement by a religious organization, decrying it's blasphemy. The advertisement described some of the situations dealt with in the show - and I knew right away this was a show for me.

Entertaining, intelligent, funny, exciting, involving. If they ever get around to releasing the 5 seasons on DVD - jump on it!
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Picket Fences- Climb This Fence to Success ****
edwagreen24 July 2010
Outstanding television show where plenty was going on in that Wisconsin town.

What an assortment of characters. From Fyvush Finkel to the late Ray Walston, they totally etched unforgettable characters. Kathy Baker and Tom Skerritt were wonderful as the town marshal and his doctor wife. Their children, the precocious Adam Wylie and Holly Marie Combs, gave us plenty of room to think. Then there was Ginnie, the Switchboard Operator, played with relish by Poltergeist's the late Zelda Rubinstein.

Different situations were acted out each week with irony resulting at the end of each show. It gave one lots of cause to think rationally in a sometimes irrational world.
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Just lovely
talking_tree2 May 2003
When ever I open the television and Picket fences is coming, I get a satisfactioned smile on my face and I crawl into sofa to enjoy. Today I saw the very emotional episode "Frogman returns" and now I´m sure that this is one of the greatest American series ever showd onto the daylight. Like many others have said, it has something for everyone. Drama, jokes, family moments, moral questions, children, teens, funny moments, emotional moments... LIFE. And it hasn´t really aged at all. I highly recommend it to everyone.
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Each episode was a treasure
lgmark21 January 2005
Each episode pitted some sort of preconceived notion of what is "right" against what is the law, theocracy, or medical ethics. This was a show that would raise you to cheer and have you crying all withing one episode. Some episodes were emotionally crushing. I can see why it didn't last on TV very long. It wasn't that it didn't receive great acclaim, but that there are only so many wrenching episodes that one can write about before it's "washed up". David Kelly knew this and it's one reason that it was on late at night as well as why it only lasted for a few seasons. One of the truly great Television shows. The "Seinfeld" of Dramas. I wish it would come out in DVD.
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the best ever
angie-2719 March 1999
i think this was the best series ever to be on television. even after all these years off the air, i still love it. never before or since has a show made my think as much as this one always did. the writers tackled a lot of real and interesting issues, and usually made the viewer see it from both sides. it could be the funniest show on tv, or the most touching, or the most thought provoking. over the course of its run, it made me laugh, cry, get angry, smile, sympathize, and sometimes even hate. as for the cast, they were great. especially worthy of mention are tom skerrit, fyvish finkle, ray walston, lauren holly, holly-marie combs, don cheadle, marlee matlin, and kelly connel. but the best, in my opinion, was kathy baker. she was always so good, even though i didn't always like or agree with her character, jill brock. i don't know the actual episode titles, but a few of my favorite eps were: the dancing bandit; cupid; the green bay chopper; the murder trial when jimmy was the foreman; the cow babies; mayor kills carjacker and mayor explodes; man who can't recognize people kills his brother; howard buss dies (i cried); the shoe fetish (can you believe rachel harris stood up); parkinson's disease. another thing about the show, it always had great guest stars. anyway, i miss rome.
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David E. Kelley's masterpiece
Steed-219 November 2013
First of all, I must admit I'm not a big fan of David E. Kelley. Some of his famous TV shows are average in my opinion, just to enjoy one episode on a lazy Sunday afternoon and that's all. I would never buy them on DVD because all the TV shows I own on DVD must be above average, have to be something special. And Picket Fences was something really special!!!

The show was broadcasted in 1992 and run for 4 seasons. In my home country only the first 3 seasons were shown on TV so you can imagine my surprise when 20 years later I saw the new episodes. Unfortunately, Season 4 has nothing to do with the rest of the series....The absence of Mr Kelley just made the show flopped. Nothing is right in Season 4....characters behaving in a different way, stupid plots and dialogs, etc. So, my advice...enjoy Season 1-3 and forget Season 4. Season 3 had a perfect ending for the show so it's better to be remembered that way

I was lucky to watch the show again 20 years later....time enough to check if it has aged well. The answer is YES!!! The show still rocks. That strange combination of black humor, tenderness, provocation and moral dilemmas still Works perfectly. No wonder the show was a favorite one from critics and won several Emmys.
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excellent study of family life in a small town
blamar27 March 2001
Another David E Kelley gem that won several Emmys. A wonderful series about Rome Wisconsin. It follows the lives of the sheriff, his wife, the doctor, their 3 children and their circle of friends. It shows them dealing with the frustrations and joys of everyday life, dealing with the town "characters" including, an ambitious deputy sheriff..a young woman trying to make it in a traditionally male profession, a tough but not terribly bright deputy who had an affair with the female mayor, an Alzheimer affected gentleman who had good and bad moments as the mayor, a grandstanding Jewish lawyer who took cases that were colorful and controversial, a world weary judge, and an insecure coroner. This is a wonderful show that stands the test of time.
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we get Saved By the Bell seasons on DVD, and not Picket Fences?!?!?!
natedogg1032 October 2003
For the love of all things good in this world...RELEASE "PICKET FENCES" on DVD. It was the BEST show EVER in the history of television. All of you fans of "Picket Fences" out there in imdb world, write David E. Kelley, or CBS, or TNN--whoever owns the rights to the show--and DEMAND it be released. There is no justice in the world until this is done.
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Most interesting show in my opinion....!
jpyrrho16 December 2013
Picket Fences was a excellent TV show. It brings out polemical issues on a day-to-day life in that little town called Rome. It makes us think, and think a lot. Religion, sexuality, abortion, drugs, poverty and other aspects were carefully written in there. Sometimes I watch an episode, in 2013, and find it extremely polemical and I just imagine how would that cause back in 1992. Crimes are brought up just as much, and the characters have their stories and evolve beautifully. I just find it terrific.Unfortunately, only the first season has been released in DVD, I truly don't get why the other's haven't. The Brock family looks so real in there, which makes it even greater. It is definitely worth-watching and I wish it became more popular in this new generation (me included)! I made two of my friends watch it, and they do not regret it.
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great show!
storw123 June 2003
I enjoyed the show "picket fences", especially the first several years, up until the change from current events to concentrating on individual characters(and relationships). When the show focused on different opinions of what was going on in the world and having the same thing happen in Rome was great! I particularly enjoyed the "religious" controversy with jimmy his wife and kids when jimmy said at the very best he was an agnostic. The show was great up until that change and I feel that's what did it in. Still would buy it if it ever comes out on DVD, but only the first few seasons.
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A TV series in a class of it's own
torben-1612 April 2004
Television here in Denmark are currently making a re-run, bringing back fond memories. It is by far the best TV-series I can remember. The plot is filled with interesting twists and presenting a moral dilemma with views both pro- and con. It forced you to consider questions of many importans nature such as child abuse, biggatry, active death help, problems with your kids, ex-parents and what have you. I use to watch it with my 10 year son (who loved Wambauch by the way) and discussing the contect afterwards. Not many TV-series will provide such material. The episode with the sheriff's boy dreaming of Maxine in sexy underwear and a Gameboy - and the something "explodes" is a very fine example of a young man's first "wet dream" and a good starting point for a father/son conversation. - A league of it's own and not what you would expect from an american production.
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Not Always a Bed of Roses.
tfrizzell31 October 2003
Sometimes a very intense drama, but sometimes very light-hearted, "Picket Fences" stayed around on CBS from 1992-1996 and stayed under the radar on Friday nights and usually had just enough momentum to win the night. The show took place in a small Wisconsin town that was anything, but normal. Usually one family (led by sheriff Tom Skeritt and doctor Kathy Baker) took center-stage. The children (Holly Marie Combs, Justin Shenkarow and Adam Wylie) also became key elements as problems for under-aged people were explored on several occasions. The townspeople (county judge Ray Walston, lawyers Don Cheadle and Fyvush Finkel, deputies Lauren Holly and Costas Mandylor, secretary Zelda Rubinstein and mayor Marlee Matlin) would end up helping to create some of the strangest situations you could ever imagine. Up and down the whole way, I enjoyed the series for the most part due to its creativity and its black humor. Usually the episodes had something to say, but sometimes they would cover their messages in thick sugar. 4 stars out of 5.
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too preachy, hasn't aged well...
I used to enjoy this show when it first aired.

Watching it decades later I feel that it hasn't aged well. I also find it too preachy, the writers really shove their opinions down the viewers throats. A lot of the subject matters seem silly today, at least to me as a Scandinavian. (but judging by the comments here it seems that this show is still controversial to some people).

Some of the stuff still works, the small absurd things, but all the politics really date the show.

Perhaps interesting as a time document, but to a modern viewer a lot of the show feels awkward.
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Picket Fences
Coxer9925 March 1999
An entertaining drama that had its good years and its mediocre. All in all, it was mediocre show. The show worked because it didn't glorify the law like shows like "Law & Order," where people spouted off references to old classics as a matter of policy. Here, you have characters like Finkel's Wambaugh, who you're not even sure knows any old cases. Finkel stole countless episodes, as did Chapelle, who since the shows' end, has found better material and bigger roles. Wonderful! Skerritt didn't work for me. I couldn't take him seriously in the role of the Chief of Rome, Iowa. An actor like Robert Urich would have been better. Baker, however, was magic in every episode. She delivered her lines with passion and a sort of romantic sentimentality that is rare on many television dramas. The biggest joy in the show's run was seeing what crusty old judge Ray Walston was going to do next. Walston sunk his teeth into the role of Judge Henry Bone and he bit a chunk out of every episode. Her won much deserved Emmys and kept his long career going.
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Loved It
dellis65106 November 2004
I loved the show Picket Fences.

I hope it comes out on DVD soon.

I know many other people who would like to see that happen too.

It's a wholesome show with family values.

It also adds little drama to make it exciting.

You can always count on there being a little humor to liven it up.

Tom Skerritt and Kathy Bates made a great couple.

Holly Marie Combs as Kimberly Brock was outspoken.

She has always used great facial expressions.

All the actors worked well together!!!
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"Blue States" view of USA or "IT TAKES A CHEESE HEAD VILLAGE"
redryan641 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This a good looking production. It is high quality in its writing, acting and production values. We just wonder why was there always some sort of conflict is this fictional, Wisconsin town?(even the title of"PICKET FENCES" suggests, 'that which divides us') They were forever divided into opposing camps, doing battle in the arena of public opinion.

They were endlessly bickering over some of the most divisive issues of our time. It would make one almost believe that there was some hidden political agenda at play here. Every episode seems to follow worst case scenarios, playing on fears and misconceptions that the public at large cling to so stubbornly.A few examples follow.

In one episode, there is a marijuana scare at the local high school. After some debating over the plus and minus of a police search, the cops show up at the school,in great numbers, all carrying large, heavy-duty bolt cutters. Then, while the faculty and student body stand by watching, the police proceed to cut open locks, in order to search locker by locker. Eventually, some contraband herbal material is recovered.


The procedure of having such warrant-less searches of student lockers has been upheld by courts throughout the land. The one principle that is consistent in all judicial decisions is, the school buildings and lockers are property of the local Board of Education, not the individual student. As such, no student would have any "expectation of privacy", the legal term used by the Supreme Court to describe such matters.

Furthermore,there would be no need to cut any locks off to open same. Representatives from the faculty and the police departments would be present and the students would be instructed to open their lockers of their own volition.

In another episode, lovable,the local attorney (played by Fyvush Finkel) performs a seemingly masterful cross examination of a witness in some case involving the issue of abortion on demand. In it he trivializes the issue of life in the prenatal stages in a most jovial manner. He then reduces the 'choice' of whether or not to abort to the level of having a new hair do or changing ones brand of nail polish.

In another episode, two brothers, who just both happen to be Coroners or Medical Examiners, perform an autopsy on their own mother. During the examination they discover samples of semen on her body. They then submit sample of same to the national DNA Data Bank, and are able to ascertain just who was their mother's jocker.


There is no such Data Bank*. If any such comparison checks could be done, there would have to already be an existing sample in the system. If not, what would be used to check and compare sample to? In the same manner, fingerprints belonging to a suspect of a crime cannot be of any use, unless previously taken specimens of identified prints have already been on file This is not to say that Mr. Tom Skerret, the man of the perpetually thoughtful countenance, and company don't do an excellent job of acting,for they do. It's just that this mythical Wisconsin town are always being subjected "cutting edge" problems, and all of the view point is from that of the New American World Socialist Party (formrly known as the Democrats).

NOTE:* This is not meant to say that there won't be advances in the gathering and preservation of Forensic Evidence. It's just that a directory or registry of DNA/Semon samples having the magnitude described, is at best, very highly unlikely,ever.
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I miss it so much.
drew-1211 March 2002
This was one of the best TV series ever conceived.

My video'd copies are getting very worn out!

Thanks to David Kelley and all the cast, especially Fyvush Finkel and the late,great Ray Walston.
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Not-so-deep critical analysis
scepticjesus22 April 2003
The only comments on "Picket Fences" I have seen so far have only praised the series. Am I the only one to see the exaggerated symbolism that occurs in each episode?

A general plot structure for an episode of "Picket Fences" could be the following:

1. A moral dilemma introduced 2. A conflict between citizens having opposite views on the issue 3. The judge decides the dilemma, everyone is happy

I can see that a structure of this provokes thoughts and encourages to consider the issues on one's own. But they could have varied the structure. This way the series is too predictable.
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A personal favorite series
Parsifal-510 March 1999
Simply one of the best continuing series that has ever been on television. Never before or since did I impatiently anticipate each episode of a TV show like I did this one. It was a wonderful balance of courtroom drama, medical show, crime drama, political show, religious/moral drama and family show while being creatively comedic much of the time. I feel privileged to have met such unforgettable citizens of the small town of Rome, WI as Attorney Douglas "I'm a Character" Wambaugh, Judge Henry "Get out!" Bone, Sheriff Jimmy Brock and his wife, Dr. Jill Brock. Perhaps the most touching character to me was the coroner, Carter Pike (brilliantly portrayed by Kelly Connell), who, although a seemingly minor part, personified what the series was about: a sense of wonder and often confusion about the absurdity of everyday life. Producer David E. Kelley is now better known for shows like Ally McBeal and The Practice, but in my opinion, this first effort is still his best work. I will never understand why it didn't receive the popularity it deserved at the time.
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One of the best TV-series ever
theqmage3 December 1998
This series has been one of the very few TV series to touch me so deep. As the many awards show, the actors are great and the storyline is usually very well thought about. This is what media should be like - both entertaining and critical.
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I loved this show
Kenny-363 October 2005
Unfortunately due to my hours I wasn't able to watch it when it was originally aired, but I would hear my family mention it in passing about what they watched. Then in the latter 90's I was flipping around to try to find something to watch in the early afternoon after I got off work and came upon a program where the courthouse of a small town was under siege from American Indians I believe and from that day I was hooked. I loved this program, yes some parts of it were weird to crazy, but it was very enjoyable. Yes they went through quite a few mayors, and as much as they died off I wouldn't want to be a mayor there, but I would love to move to a town like that.
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The Bad and the Good
mathmaniac7 August 2017
Everything that has been written in reviews here about 'Picket Fences' is likely true: the bad and the good.

It's like looking at a quilt - you will be struck by the brilliance of the colors and if that is not there, you may be impressed by the orderly patterns. There is so much skill on display that once you feel the effort behind the product, you WILL sit up and pay attention.

I'm watching the first season after not having seen 'Picket Fences' in years. A hand pickled in a jar? An elephant performing tricks for youngsters on the front lawn? Sprinkle among all the clever plots and characters so many small touches that spike your appetite to see more - and there's the reason the series succeeded.

I almost forgot how very sexy the sheriff is. Tom Skerritt and Kathy Baker might pass you unnoticed on the street but in front of the camera, they just blend together with an aura of sexual attraction. Lauren Holly and Costas Mandylor, on the other hand, are strikingly attractive and yet their chemistry is a question mark. Will they or won't they? It will take more episodes to see that!

The plots are clever. The town is a fantasy, a Wisconsin mirage chock-full of unconventional types who look for all the world like the most conventional.

There is a mother who keeps her young child chastised and quiet by placing a small shoe in her mouth. Not likely to see such things in a television series today - what an imaginative and entertaining show, out of all we know today with political correctness, and yet stuffed with progressive lessons and values...
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Great show---DVD is a must
dustin-skilbred28 February 2005
I must say I was amazed, when I began to look for the DVD series of Picket Fences, to find that there was none. This show was amazing, and most likely the best drama I have ever seen on television (with the possible exception of the current Nip/Tuck). It launched Don Cheadle's career, and was full of amazing characters and plot lines. Heck, as a promising young attorney, I will even say that this show was a huge boost in the development of my eagerness for the profession, even at a young age. Ray Walston's part as the small-town judge is a model of fairness and candor that many of us can follow in any walk of life. Whoever does currently own the rights and/or has a voice in this, if you're listening, do yourself a favor and release the series on DVD. You WILL make money. A small sample of the comments in this site should give you some insight as such.
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Get Picket Fences released on DVD! Go to tvshowsondvd.com!
djcwaters3 February 2005
Visit tvshowsondvd.com and vote for Picket Fences to be released on DVD. I just discovered this site, and it's awesome. You vote, and they let the studios know that there are THOUSANDS of people interested in buying a particular show on DVD. I've read in the comments that there's a planned release for 2005--I hope so, but it can't hurt to vote anyway, and the web site has hundreds of other shows that you're sure to want to see released.

I remember watching Picket Fences when it was on, and it seemed to be the prototype for all the David E. Kelley shows I fell in love with later: Ally McBeal, Boston Public, The Practice. In its zaniness and its drama, Picket Fences has no peer.
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Sublime Television
J Elliot Burns25 May 2002
It is beyond all doubt, beyond all question, beyond all possibility, that `Picket Fences,' could be anything less than one of the absolute top ten greatest productions ever transmitted through the media of television.

`Picket Fences,' consisted of two distinct characteristics. A superior cast of actors, and a superior staff of writers. Combined, these two components created a production that dwelled in the highest end of television.
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