Classic Flix will release the first season of Public Defender on DVD on April 23rd. The half-hour drama starring Reed Hadley debuted on CBS in March 1954. It remained on the air until June 1955.
Here’s the official press release:
For the first time on home video come all 26 episodes of the first season of Public Defender starring Reed Hadley as Bart Matthews: a tireless and dedicated public servant, who earnestly defends the rights of the indigent.
A late season replacement for Philip Morris Playhouse, Public Defender premiered in March 1954, a time when the concept of a taxpayer funded defense attorney was largely associated with capital cases. But with everyday stories based on real-life events, tackling every kind of thorny dilemma from juvenile delinquency to vehicular homicide, the series not only shed new light on this little known public office, but its attention to realistic detail made the show a key player in the history of television crime drama.
Produced by Hal Roach, Jr., Public Defender gave Reed Hadley the second of two small screen successes (the other being the similar-in-tone Racket Squad) and also provided a great showcase for directors like Budd Boetticher and Erle C. Kenton.
This 3-disc collection marks the first official home video release of this popular anthology series, with all 26 first season episodes culled from original Hal Roach Studio masters.
Guest stars from the golden age of both film and TV pack each episode, with Hugh Beaumont, Marie Windsor, James Gleason, Steve Brodie, Lyle Talbot, Adele Jergens, Jimmy Lydon, Mary Beth Hughes, John Qualen, Darryl Hickman, Harry Carey, Jr., Harold Peary, Alan Reed, Noel Neill, Glenn Langan and Barbara Whiting, among many more, making an appearance.
An unknown number of Public Defender episodes have fallen into the public domain. Alpha Video has released multiple four-episode volumes on DVD over the years. Multiple episodes are also available at the Internet Archive and YouTube. But the quality of these public domain releases isn’t very good. The upcoming 3-disc set from Classic Flix will feature new transfers. Check out this clip to see how nice the episodes look:
Classic Flix has also released It’s About Time and Blondie (1957) on DVD.