Picket Fences

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Comedy-Drama



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Picket Fences is a 60-minute drama created by David E. Kelley about the residents of the small town of Rome, Wisconsin where weird things happen including cows giving birth to human babies, transgender teachers, and a spate of people turning up dead in freezers.

The series ran from September 18, 1992 to June 26, 1996 on the CBS television network in the United States. There are 88 episodes over four seasons.

Picket Fences aired in South Africa on TV1, the forerunner to SABC1.


Sheriff James Brock is trying to maintain the small town of Rome, Wisconsin. His wife Jill is the doctor of the town and daughter Kimberley (from a previous marriage of Jimmy's) is a level-headed student growing up in Rome.

Jimmy and Jill have two other children, Matthew and Zach.

Trying his best to keep the town in order, Judge Henry Bone rules the court room and while he doesn't always stick to the law, he does what is best for the town.

Making Judge Bone's job harder is lawer Douglas Wambaugh, a friend of Judge Bone but an enemy in the court room. Wambaugh goes to extreme lengths to win his cases.

Also around in the town of Rome are D.A. John Littelon, a straight man for the antics of Wambaugh, the strange Medical Examinor Carter Pike and deputies Max and Kenny.


Picket Fences frequently deals with difficult subject matter, including abortion, homosexuality (and homosexual adoption), transsexuality, belief in God, medical ethics, polygamy, polyamory, adolescent sexuality, 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 coroner.

Religious issues were frequently discussed, and the characters of the town's Catholic priest and Anglican priest were frequently recurring roles.


One of the oddest aspects of the series is the revolving door of town mayors who never seemed to last very long. Holding one of the most risky positions in TV history, these are Rome’s mayors (and their portrayers), with their fates on the series:

Mayor Bill Pugen (Michael Keenen): spontaneous combustion after murder conviction

Mayor Rachel Harris (Leigh Taylor-Young): hounded from office for starring in an adult film

Acting Mayor Jill Brock (Kathy Baker): jailed, lost bid for re-election

Mayor Ed Lawson (Richard Masur): entombed in a freezer by his wife, then decapitated

Acting Mayor Howard Buss (Robert Cornthwaite): suffered from Alzheimer's Disease, fatally shot by his son

Acting Mayor Maxine Stewart (Lauren Holly): shot and wounded by a shock jock’s fan

Mayor Laurie "The Dancing Bandit" Bey (Marlee Matlin): mayor at series end, despite bank robbery convictions. She was offered the job as part of her 3000 hours community service sentencing.


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