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Barry Newman as Tony Petrocelli.
|Created by||Harold Buchman
Sidney J. Furie
|Directed by||Irving J. Moore|
|Composer(s)||Lalo Schifrin (pilot, 2.2)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||45|
|Executive producer(s)||Edward K. Milkis
Thomas L. Miller
|Running time||48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Miller-Milkis Productions
Paramount Network Television
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original run||September 11, 1974– March 31, 1976|
Tony Petrocelli was an Italian-American Harvard-educated lawyer who grew up in South Boston and gave up the big money and frenetic pace of major-metropolitan life to practice in a sleepy city in the American Southwest called San Remo (filmed in Tucson, Arizona). He and his wife Maggie lived in a house trailer in the country while waiting for their new home to be built (which it never was), and travelled around in a beat-up old pickup truck, which Tony always raced around in...going way over the speed limit, with the tires screeching. Petrocelli hired Pete Ritter, a local cowboy, as his investigator.
Petrocelli worked as a defense lawyer, and each episode followed a similar format, with the client apparently certain to be convicted of a crime of which they were innocent until a late emerging piece of evidence allowed the protagonist to suggest to the jury an alternative possibility. These alternatives were never established as absolute fact, and there was never any indication of a trial of the person onto whom Petrocelli turned the accusation, but the doubt raised was sufficient to secure the release of his client.
An interesting technique used in the TV series was showing the actual crime in flashbacks from the perspective of various people involved. The flashbacks, naturally, differed depending on whose recollections were being shown. In order to maximize the drama, the prosecution's version was always the first flashback shown (i.e. what supposedly happened), then the client's version was presented (what they remember happening), then, finally, after finishing his investigation, Petrocelli would present his version (generally meant to be what actually in fact occurred). This final flashback would always contain elements of the prosecution's and his client's versions, but with his new-found evidence it would show both the client's innocence and an explanation as to how and why the prosecution and client's versions differed. In other words, neither side was ever meant to be corrupt or lying, rather, without Petrocelli's new information, both previous versions appeared to be accurate from their respective points of view.
Newman created the role of Petrocelli in a 1970 movie, The Lawyer, which was loosely based on the Sam Sheppard murder case. Diana Muldaur co-starred as his wife Maggie in the 1970 feature film. In the NBC TV series, Susan Howard played the wife of Tony Petrocelli. Produced by Leonard Katzman, Howard was later cast as Donna Culver Krebbs in Katzman's prime-time soap opera Dallas.
|Barry Newman||Anthony J. Petrocelli|
|Susan Howard||Maggie Petrocelli|
|Albert Salmi||Pete Ritter|
|David Huddleston||Lt. John Ponce|