Monday, January 4, 2016

Ben Matlock and Jessica Fletcher: World's Greatest Detectives

"Oh, you think the guy with the squeaky
clean record committed this double homicide?
I'll be right over to show all the ways you're wrong."
(via Back of the Cereal Box)
What I always liked about Matlock and Murder, She Wrote is the fact that you have these two senior citizens outperforming the cops when it comes to solving murders. Like, the detectives will arrest somebody for the murder and somehow completely overlook all of these clues that not only is that person innocent, but that this other person clearly did it. It's almost as if the cops in these shows just want to close the case as quickly as possible and nab the first guy they see. And what makes it hilarious is then you have someone like Jessica Fletcher would come along and with next to zero help or resources, would clear the accused AND set up an ambush to trick the real killer into confessing. She makes the detectives investigating the crime look like absolute morons. With Ben Matlock, it's equally as funny because he doesn't just tear the entire case against his client apart, but gets the real murderer on the stand and uses evidence he's collected by using like private investigator and his own time to prove their guilt.

Cops: "We arrested this guy because he got into an argument with the victim over a parking space and was seen in a one mile radius of the crime scene."
Matlock or Fletcher: "Okay, but this evidence I just found at the crime scene shows that he didn't he do it. Plus, my own investigation shows that this shifty-looking person had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the murder."
Murderer: [sweats]
Cops: "Bah, you're just an old person! We've got more than enough to convict the first guy."
Murderer: "Whew."
Matlock/Fletcher: "You really want to do it this way?" *sighs* "Fine."
Murderer: [Sweating intensifies]
Matlock/Fletcher: [proceeds to make the cops look like total idiots while solving the murder and getting a confession]
Cops: "Wow, we are just terrible at this."
Now of course, none of this was original to either show. Perry Mason was doing it probably before Andy Griffith was a sheriff and Miss Marple when Angela Lansbury was still in high school. The thing is, Mason wasn't an old man when he was practicing law back then and I don't think Miss Marple did as much traveling as Jessica Fletcher. The latter would go to New York City and single-handedly make the entire NYPD look like a bunch of klutzes.
His hunger for Ball Park Franks was matched only by
his hunger for justice.
(via The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio)

There are other characters like this too, such as Father Dowling. That dude was a frickin' priest who solved crimes, I think because he read a ton of mystery novels and that somehow made him a better detective than the police but Matlock and Murder, She Wrote two of the most famous examples on television. I can't imagine any of these people were popular with whatever police department had to deal with them. Then again, if I was a detective assigned to investigate a murder and Jessica Fletcher or somebody showed up, I would just hand the case to them to solve. It would just be faster, easier, and less embarrassing that way.

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