Thirty years ago today, Picket Fences became a Friday night CBS staple. After many years of shepherding L.A. Law following Stephen Bochco’s departure, the show marked the first series created from whole cloth by David E. Kelley. In just four short years, it won two consecutive awards for Best Drama Series and ten awards for acting, including three for supporting player Ray Walston and three lead actress statuettes for Kathy Baker.
While there had already been and continue to be tried-and-true medical dramas, law show, police procedurals, and family series, Picket Fences is the only one that melded all of those genres into one continuing series, and did so with wry humor and the occasional tilt into the supernatural. And among many brilliant episodes, “Frank the Potato Man” is one for the ages.
I’d go back to the fictional Rome, Wisconsin as often as I could.