Picket Fences

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents




Picket Fences is a 60-minute American television drama about the residents of Rome, Wisconsin, created and produced by David E. Kelley. The show  ran from September 18, 1992, to June 26, 1996, on CBS. It sometimes struggled to maintain a stable prime-time audience and had fluctuating ratings, due in part to its Friday night time slot. In its first season on the air it placed 80th in the prime-time Nielsen ratings and in its second season it moved to 66th. The show's exteriors were shot in the L.A. suburb of Monrovia, California, with many of the townspeople appearing in the background of episodes.

The series follows the lives of the residents of the small town of Rome, Wisconsin, where weird things happen, including cows giving birth to human babies and a spate of people turning up dead in freezers. Struggling to maintain order in the community is Sheriff Jimmy Brock (Tom Skerritt). Sheriff Brock is married to the town doctor, Jill (Kathy Baker), his second wife. They attempt to raise their three children, Kimberly (Holly Marie Combs) (from Jimmy's first marriage), Matthew (Justin Shenkarow) and Zachary (Adam Wylie). Lauren Holly and Costas Mandylor played impulsive and immature sheriff's deputies Max and Kenny. Bombastic lawyer Douglas Wambaugh (Fyvush Finkel) usually irritated Judge Henry Bone (Ray Walston). Wambaugh refused to hear any confessions of guilt from his clients as he feared that it would only stand in the way of adequately defending them in court and Bone's rulings seemed to be directed more by his own moral compass than by point of law. After several prosecutors came and went, Don Cheadle joined the cast as John Littleton. Kelly Connell played medical examiner Carter Pike (who was regularly begging to be deputized) and Zelda Rubenstein portrayed police dispatcher Ginny Weedon. Other actors who were in the cast included Marlee Matlin, Richard Masur, and Dabbs Greer.

The show dealt with unusual topics for prime-time television such as abortion, homophobia and LGBT adoption, transsexuality, racism, belief in God, medical ethics, polygamy, polyamory, adolescent sexuality (including nocturnal emission), date rape, cryonics, the Holocaust, shoe fetishism, masturbation, spontaneous human combustion, and constitutional rights. Illustrative of the subject matter is that the regular cast included a judge, two lawyers, and a medical examiner. Religious issues were frequently discussed, and the characters of the town's Roman Catholic and Episcopal priests were frequently recurring roles.

Who talked about this show

David Jacobs

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David Jacobs on creating the show Bodies of Evidence and time slot differences with Picket Fences

David E. Kelley

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David E. Kelley on the germ of the idea for Picket Fences
David E. Kelley on creating Picket Fences
David E. Kelley on the tone of Picket Fences
David E. Kelley on some of the quirky elements of Picket Fences
David E. Kelley on casting Kathy Baker and Tom Skerritt on Picket Fences
David E. Kelley on his producing style on Picket Fences
David E. Kelley on his favorite storylines and episodes of Picket Fences
David E. Kelley on Picket Fences' Emmy wins
David E. Kelley on the legacy of Picket Fences

Nancy Malone

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Nancy Malone on directing an episode of Picket Fences with Tom Skerritt

Della Reese

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Della Reese on guest-starring on Picket Fences

Richard Schiff

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Richard Schiff on appearing on Picket Fences

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