Matt Houston
Created by Lawrence Gordon

Cheese. That's the only word that comes to mind when I think of this early eighties TV eye from fromagemeister Aaron Spelling. When I'm not just thinking "dreck."

I know this show, like Magnum P.I. or Spenser: For Hire, has its loyal fans, but to me, this show was the epitome of everything that went wrong with the American TV private eye after the glory days of the seventies.

The plethora of gimmick casting, who's who guest stars, smirky pretty boy leads, trendy cars, carefully casually clothes, fawning scenery and females, the pretentious "very special" episodes, etc., etc. It's like the producers looked to The Rockford Files, and never realized that Lance White's character was supposed to be a joke.

Nonetheless, whether the producers got the joke or not, every week dashing LA-based millionaire private eye MATLOCK "MATT HOUSTON (Lee Horsely) would take on a new case, which invariably required him to question as many women in bikinis and other skimpy outfits as Central Casting could provide. Then, after a few lame one-liners, (barely) double-entendres, a car chase or two, and a few brushes with death, the bad guys would be brought to justice. Of course, being a sensitive eighties-type guy, Matt often needed the assistance of his fetching assistant and sometime-lawyer, C.J. Parsons (Pamela Hensley) and a string of attractive but mostly interchangeable secretaries (Maureen O'Connor, Paula Jones, Alex Donnelley, Leigh Walsh, etc.),

Because he never had to work, it always amazed me how much time Houston spent working cases. Of course, being a millionaire, he could go anywhere he wanted to work a case or follow a clue. Just in case there weren't enough scantily-clad babe suspects or witnesses in LA, you know... it drove his business manager Murray crazy, but it allowed the show's producers to show lots of stock footage of airplanes landing and taking off.

Not that the show was one-hundred per cent female cheesecake -- oh, no. Sometimes, Matt himself would prance around in his Speedo, just to show he wasn't your grandfather's private eye.

One other interesting tidbit: during the third season, Buddy Ebsen (who had recently wrapped up a long run as Barnaby Jones) appeared as Roy, Houston's ex-CIA uncle.

TELEVISION

  • MATT HOUSTON
    (1982-1985, ABC)
    2 two-hour episodes, 65 60-minute episodes
    Created by Lawrence Gordon
    Writers: Lawrence Gordon, E. Nick Alexander, Larry Alexander, Robert Bielak, Robert Brennan, Calvin Clements Jr., James L. Conway, William T. Conway, Robert C. Dennis, Robert Earll, Thomas G. Edwards, Larry Forrester, Michael Foster, Margie Gordon, Janis Hendler, Stephen Lord, Tim Maschler, Daniel Pyne, Brad Radnitz, Mike Robe, Scott Shepherd, Steven Thornley, Skip Webster, Steven Whitney, Ned Wynn
    Directors: Corey Allen, Hy Averback, Cliff Bole, Don Chaffey, James L. Conway, Jerome Courtland, William Crain, Peter Crane, Richard Lang, Kim Manners, Barbara Peters, Charlie Picerni, Mike Robe, Michael Vejar, Don Weis
    An Aaron Spelling Productions Inc.
    Starring Lee Horsley as MATT HOUSTON
    with Pamela Hensley as C.J. Parsons
    John (Aprea as Lt. Vince Novelli (1982-1983)
    Lincoln Kilpatrick as Lt. Michael Hoyt (1983-1985)
    and George Wyner as Murray Chase
    Also starring
    Paul Brinegar as La Mar Pettybone (1982-1983)
    Steve Doubet as Dr. Flynn (1984, 1985)
    Buddy Ebsen as Roy Houston (1984-1985)
    Dennis Fimple as Bo (1982-1983)
    Cis Rundle as Chris
    Penny Santon as Mama Rosa Novelli (1982-1983)
    (Marchk Schneider as Detective John (Marchlowe (1983-1985)
    Rockne Tarkington as 'Too Mean' Malone (1982-1984)
    Maureen O'Connor as Secretary (1982-1983)
    Paula Jones as Secretary (1982-1983)
    Alex Donnelley as Secretary (1982)
    Leigh Walsh as Secretary (1983)
    Guest stars: Maureen O'Connor, Paula Jones, Alex Donnelley, Leigh Walsh, Bradford Dillman, Herb Edelman, David Cassidy, Troy Donahue, Monte (Marchkham, Hugh O'Brian, Tina Louise, Britt Ekland, Carol Lawrence, Murray Hamilton, Heather Locklear, Stuart Whitman, Malcolm-Jamal Warner .
  • "Pilot" (September 26, 1982; two hours)

  • Season One)..Buy the DVD
  • "Pilot" (September 26, 1982; two hours)
  • "Stop The Presses" (October 3, 1982)
  • "Deadly Fashion" (October 17, 1982)
  • "Killing Isn't Everything" (October 24, 1982)
  • "Who Would Kill Ramona?" (October 31, 1982)
  • "Recipe For Murder" (November 7, 1982)
  • "Shark Bait" (November 21, 1982)
  • "The Kidnapping" (November 28, 1982)
  • "Joey's Here" (December 5, 1982)
  • "The Good Doctor" (December 12, 1982)
  • "The Rock and The Hard Place" (January 2, 1983)
  • "The Purrfect Crime" (January 9, 1983)
  • "The Yacht Club Murders" (January 16, 1983)
  • "Whose Party Is This Anyway?" (January 23, 1983)
  • "Get Houston" (February 20, 1983)
  • "The Visitors" (February 27, 1983)
  • "Here's Another Fine Mess" (March 6, 1983)
  • "The Beverly Hills Social Club" (March 13, 1983)
  • "The Showgirl Murders" (March 20, 1983)
  • "Fear For Tomorrow" (April 3, 1983)
  • "A Deadly Parlay" (April 10, 1983)
  • "A Novel Way To Die" (April 17, 1983)
  • "The Hunted" (April 24, 1983)
    .
  • Season Two
  • "Heritage" (September 9, 1983; two-hour episode)
  • "The Woman In White" (September 16, 1983)
  • "Love You To Death" (September 23, 1983)
  • "The Centerfold Murders" (September 30, 1983)
  • "Needle In A Haystack" (October 7, 1983)
  • "Marilyn" (October 14, 1983)
  • "The Ghost of Carter Gault" (October 28, 1983)
  • "China Doll" (November 4, 1983)
  • "Butterfly" (November 18, 1983)
  • "The Crying Clown" (November 25, 1983)
  • "The Outsider" (December 2, 1983)
  • "Target: Miss World" (December 23, 1983)
  • "The Monster" (January 6, 1984)
  • "Waltz of Death" (January 13, 1984)
  • "Houston Is Dead" (January 20, 1984)
  • "Criss-Cross" (January 27, 1984)
  • "The Bikini Murders" (February 3, 1984)
  • "Death Match" (February 24, 1984)
  • "Blood Ties" (March 2, 1984)
  • "The Secret Admirer" (March 9, 1984)
  • "Cash and Carry" (March 23, 1984)
  • "On The Run" (March 30, 1984)
    .
  • Season Three
  • "Wanted Man" (September 21, 1984)
  • "Vanished" (September 28, 1984)
  • "Eyewitness" (October 12, 1984)
  • "Apostle of Death" (October 19, 1984)
  • "Caged" (October 26, 1984)
  • "Return to Nam" (November 2, 1984)
  • "Escape from Nam" (November 9, 1984)
  • "High Fashion Murders" (November 16, 1984)
  • "Death Stalk" (November 23, 1984)
  • "Blood Money" (November 30, 1984)
  • "Deadly Games" (December 7, 1984)
  • "Stolen" (December 21, 1984)
  • "The Nightmare Man" (January 4, 1985)
  • "Breakpoint" (January 11, 1985)
  • "Death Trap" (January 18, 1985)
  • "The Honeymoon Murders" (January 25, 1985)
  • "Beach Club Murders" (February 1, 1985)
  • "New Orleans Nightmare" (February 8, 1985)
  • "Company Secrets" (February 15, 1985)
  • "Killing Time" (February 22, 1985)
  • "Death Watch" (March, 1985)
  • "Final Vows" (March 29, 1985)

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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