Late last year on YouTube, numerous episodes of a classic television legal drama were posted, at long last. This one-hour program, on ABC for two seasons from 1967-1969, is still not available on DVD, though yours truly has been periodically checking on-line for years.
“JUDD for the DEFENSE (U.S. spelling)” starred Carl Betz, probably best known previously for co-starring in a long-running family comedy. His lead character loosely based on a famous U.S. attorney of the time, this show dealt in a sincere and intelligent way with a number of issues of social, racial, and cultural justice. Although his charming, yet direct, and crusading character had a winning style with the courts (ably assisted by appropriately named Canadian actor Stephen Young), endings were not always clearly victories, at times even left unresolved.
Combining an integrity of message with the tie-ins to issues of the day has given this program, in retrospect, a historical life within a life. That is, while reflecting the evolving status of many citizens of the sixties – from overcoming racial divides to conflicts with increasingly unbound youth to the perils of political correctness to the impassiveness of technology to the ethos of morality – the episodes when viewed now showcase a scrutiny of issues which, in hindsight, were core to the ripple of societal evolution propelled by the 1960s.
Any viewer interested in that period as reflected with progressive thoughtfulness should seek out this program on YouTube. Two of the more eclectic episodes to check out are: “The Sound of the Plastic Axe” (note the counter-culture atmosphere and bizarre opening) and “Epitaph on a Computer Card” (a timely man vs. machine theme). It should be noted that the quality of broadcasts is generally O.K. to poor, depending on the broadcast source, but it’s worth it the inconvenience. Note also the catchy theme music.
For what it’s worth, for its short duration the program’s quality was recognized. In 1969 the series was Emmy nominated for best drama, and Carl Betz won the Emmy award for lead actor in a drama series, the award coming unfortunately on the heels of the series being cancelled.