Kathy Bates Is Coming To TV To Reboot A Classic Series, And I’m Already Sold

The world of weekly crime-fighting is looking a bit more familiar when it comes to classic TV characters and premises in recent years. HBO successfully rebooted Perry Mason, with Season 2 premiering soon in the 2023 TV premiere schedule. Peacock has a spiritual successor to Columbo with the critically-acclaimed Poker Face, and now Kathy Bates is about to help CBS reboot a courtroom classic. Cue that beautiful theme music, folks, as Matlock is coming back to TV, and I’m already sold on its potential.

CBS will be gender-swapping Andy Griffith's Ben Matlock into Madeline Matlock for a new pilot, according to TVLine, with Kathy Bates herself starring. While the project currently only has a pilot order, the premise sounds already ready for a return to primetime. Now in her 70s, Madeline (played by Bates in her post-American Horror Story return to TV) is returning to the work force to expose corruption at a prestigious law firm, with a combination of surprising skills. 

While I’m not a diehard who’s seen every episode, my limited experience with Matlock tells me that this is pretty much in line with what the world got back when it was Andy Griffith’s gig. Through 193 episodes from 1986 - 1995 and a network switch from NBC to ABC, there was no shortage of justice in the world of Ben Matlock. 

It’s certainly not an entirely new genre for Kathy Bates either, as she had her own legal drama on NBC for two seasons from 2011-2012, courtesy of the NBC show Harry’s Law. While this new project doesn’t sound like it’ll have anything as wild as having a client dressed as Wonder Woman, it does feel a bit different from creator Dean Hargrove’s original concept. While the original Matlock would be focused on proving reasonable doubt for individual clients, the synopsis suggests that Madeline’s big focus will be on institutional corruption. 

The early details for the new Matlock are already worth getting excited about, even with a series order (if one comes at all) presumably still a ways off. Kathy Bates is returning to series TV for the first time since 2018’s American Horror Story: Apocalypse. While it may be a while before the possibility of seeing her as Madeline, the Matlock reboot will hopefully channel Ben Matlock’s hunger for justice and mischievous ability to run logical circles around opposing counsel from the original.

All that’s missing now is whether or not composer Dick DeBenedictis’ iconic theme music will be back. As you can hear below, that’s another essential that needs to be revived:

I’m sorry, but you don’t mess with perfection like that! Matlock may only have a pilot ordered at the moment, but that music is such a part of the show’s DNA that it needs to be there from the ground up. While we’ll have to wait to see what happens as this project progresses, I’m already sold on watching whatever (hopefully) becomes available.

In the meantime, it might be a good idea to revisit reruns of Matlock, as they’re currently streaming through Pluto TV. Or, if you’re looking for the best Kathy Bates movies and TV shows, you can hunt those titles down with our handy guide. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.