|Created by||Reginald Rose|
|Starring|| E. G. Marshall |
|Theme music composer||Leonard Rosenman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||132 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Herbert Brodkin|
|Production locations||Filmways Studios, New York City |
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Production companies|| Plautus Productions |
CBS Television Network
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 16, 1961 –|
May 13, 1965
The Defenders is an American courtroom drama series that ran on CBS from 1961 to 1965. It was created by television writer Reginald Rose, and stars E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father-and-son defense attorneys. Original music for the series was scored by Frank Lewin and Leonard Rosenman. This series is not related to the 2010s CBS series of the same name.
Lawrence Preston (Marshall) and Kenneth Preston (Reed) are father-and-son defense attorneys who specialized in legally complex cases, with defendants such as neo-Nazis, conscientious objectors, demonstrators of the Civil Rights Movement, a schoolteacher fired for being an atheist, an author accused of pornography, and a physician charged in a mercy killing. 
Several actors appeared numerous times over the course of the series. John Boruff, J.D. Cannon, Lonnie Chapman and Ossie Davis each appeared in eight episodes; Walter Klavun appeared in seven episodes; Marc Connelly, Robert Gerringer, Murray Hamilton, Judson Laire, Kermit Murdock, Frank Overton, Lester Rawlins and Dolph Sweet each appeared six times; and Simon Oakland and William Shatner each appeared in five episodes.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||32||September 16, 1961||May 26, 1962|
|2||34||September 15, 1962||May 25, 1963|
|3||36||September 28, 1963||June 27, 1964|
|4||30||September 24, 1964||May 13, 1965|
The series was a slight reworking of Rose's 1957 two-part drama, The Defender, from the anthology series Studio One . In the original program, Ralph Bellamy played the father and William Shatner played his son. Shatner guest-starred in various roles in the later series, and the original drama later was incorporated into an episode of his series, Boston Legal .
According to creator Reginald Rose, "the law is the subject of our programs: not crime, not mystery, not the courtroom for its own sake. We were never interested in producing a 'who-done-it' which simply happened to be resolved each week in a flashy courtroom battle of wits."  And unlike Perry Mason , which also ran on CBS, victory was "far from certain on The Defenders—as were morality and justice." 
Topics featured in the series included abortion, capital punishment, "no-knock" searches, custody rights of adoptive parents, the insanity defense, the "poisoned fruit doctrine," immigration quotas, the Hollywood blacklist, jury nullification, and Cold War visa restrictions. 
Writers for the show included Rose in many early episodes, with later episodes by Albert "Al" Ruben and Ernest Kinoy – both Jewish Americans holding socially liberal views.  It was thought the move to “ratings graveyard” Thursday nights after a successful prime time reign on Saturday evenings, was conservative corporate devised to force the socially conscious program into cancellation, which it ultimately did.
A 1962 episode entitled "The Benefactor"—in which the father–son legal team defended an abortion care provider—was the most controversial; all of the series' three regular advertisers (Brown & Williamson, Lever Brothers, and Kimberly-Clark) refused to sponsor the episode, so it was only transmitted after a last-minute sponsor was found, [Speidel Watches], for a discounted advertising rate.   The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation banned this episode when it was first shown on April 28.  In 2008, this incident was used as the basis for a second season episode of the drama Mad Men , set in the 1960s. 
The December 7, 1963 episode, "Climate of Evil," was originally titled "The Gentle Assassin" but was changed two weeks earlier in the aftermath of the John F. Kennedy assassination. In addition, the January 4, 1964 episode, "Clare Cheval Died in Boston," was originally scheduled for the weekend of the assassination, and subsequently had reference to "President Kennedy" deleted from the episode.
Note: The most frequent time slot for the series is in bold text.
The Defenders won 13 Emmy Awards (including three in a row for Outstanding Drama Series) and received an additional seven nominations.
|1962||Awarded||Outstanding Continued Performance by a Lead Actor in a Series||E. G. Marshall|
|Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama||Franklin J. Schaffner|
|Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama|
|Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama||Reginald Rose|
|1963||Awarded||Outstanding Continued Performance by a Lead Actor in a Series||E. G. Marshall|
|Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama||Stuart Rosenberg||"The Madman"|
|Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama|
|Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama|| Robert Thom |
|Nominated||Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role|| Don Gordon |
(for playing "Joey Tassili")
|Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role|| Sylvia Sidney |
(for playing "Adela")
|Program of the Year||"The Madman"|
|1964||Awarded||Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama|
|Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role|| Jack Klugman |
(for playing "Joe Larch")
|Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama - |
|Nominated||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama||Paul Bogart||"Moment of Truth"|
|Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama||Stuart Rosenberg||"Blacklist"|
|The Program of the Year||"Blacklist"|
|1965||Awarded||Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment - Directors||Paul Bogart||"The 700 Year Old Gang"|
|Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment - Writers||David Karp||"The 700 Year Old Gang"|
|Nominated||Outstanding Program Achievements in Entertainment||Bob Markell|
The Museum of Broadcast Communications called it "perhaps the most socially conscious series the medium has ever seen", a show "singularly resonant with New Frontier liberalism". 
In 2002, The Defenders was ranked #31 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time,  and in 2013 TV Guide ranked it #8 in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time. 
As a top 30 series, The Defenders has an average rating of 23.2.
On July 12, 2016, Shout! Factory released the complete first season on DVD in Region 1.
A re-envisioned version of the series debuted on the Showtime network in 1997. Still called The Defenders, it featured E. G. Marshall in his original role as Lawrence Preston. However, the three Showtime films focused on Beau Bridges as Don Preston, a previously unmentioned second son of Lawrence, and Martha Plimpton as M.J., the daughter of Ken Preston, Robert Reed's character, who is said to have died (as had Reed in 1992). Don and M.J. worked as lawyers and carried on the family legacy. However, Marshall died after completion of the second episode ("Choice of Evils"). Production was halted and the remaining episode, "Taking the First", aired as a movie special in 1998.
The second season of Mad Men contains an episode named "The Benefactor" that featured a brief clip from The Defenders' episode of the same name.  In the Mad Men episode, the Sterling Cooper advertising agency is trying to secure sponsors for The Defenders' episode, which contains a plot involving abortion (originally telecast on April 28, 1962), after the regular sponsors pulled out because they claimed the episode (and subject matter) was too controversial. The episode also offers a fictional backstory for the episode; that it was written for the third season of the series but rejected by the network for the usage of abortion as a plotline. The following season, the writers produced a script that revolved around the theme of cannibalism but the episode was rejected by the director who was assigned to film the episode due to the content. The director's refusal led to the network being forced to film the abortion-centric script, which an executive assigned to find advertisers for the show proclaims was the plan all along.
The year 1968 in television involved some significant events. Below is a list of television-related events in 1968.
Harvey Herschel Korman was an American actor and comedian who performed in television and film productions. His big break was being a featured performer on CBS' The Danny Kaye Show, but he is best remembered for his performances on the sketch comedy series The Carol Burnett Show, for which he won four Emmy Awards, as well as his partnership with Tim Conway. Korman also appeared in several comedy films by Mel Brooks.
E. G. Marshall was an American actor, best known for his television roles as the lawyer Lawrence Preston on The Defenders in the 1960s and as neurosurgeon David Craig on The Bold Ones: The New Doctors in the 1970s. One of the first group selected for the new Actors Studio, by 1948 he had performed in major plays on Broadway.
Joan Ann Hackett was an American actress of film, stage, and television. She starred in the 1967 western Will Penny. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1981 film Only When I Laugh. She also starred as Christine Mannon in the 1978 PBS miniseries version of Mourning Becomes Electra.
Reginald Rose was an American film and television writer, most widely known for his work in the early years of television drama. He wrote about controversial social and political issues. His realistic approach was particularly influential in the anthology programs of the 1950s.
Route 66 is an American adventure crime drama television series that premiered on CBS on October 7, 1960, and ran until March 20, 1964, for a total of 116 episodes. The series was created by Herbert B. Leonard and Stirling Silliphant, who were also responsible for the ABC drama Naked City, from which Route 66 was an indirect spin-off. Both series employed a format with elements of both traditional drama and anthology drama, but the difference was where the shows were set: Naked City was set in New York City, while Route 66 had its setting change from week to week, with each episode being shot on location.
Philip Abbott was an American character actor. He appeared in several films and numerous television series, including a lead role as Arthur Ward in the crime series The F.B.I. Abbott was also the founder of Theatre West in Los Angeles.
Carl Lawrence Betz was an American stage, film, and television actor. He appeared in a variety of television series, including the CBS soap opera Love of Life; he is best remembered for playing Donna Reed's television husband, Dr. Alex Stone, from 1958 to 1966 in the ABC sitcom The Donna Reed Show. Then between 1967 and 1969, Betz played defense attorney Clinton Judd in ABC's courtroom drama Judd, for the Defense, winning an Emmy Award in 1969 for his work on that series.
East Side/West Side is an American drama series starring George C. Scott, Elizabeth Wilson, Cicely Tyson, and later on, Linden Chiles. The series aired for one season (1963–64) and was shown Monday nights on CBS.
Lawrence Dobkin was an American television director, character actor and screenwriter whose career spanned seven decades.
Naked City is a police procedural series from Screen Gems which was broadcast from 1958 to 1959 and from 1960 to 1963 on the ABC television network. It was inspired by the 1948 motion picture The Naked City and mimics its dramatic "semi-documentary" format. As in the film, each episode concluded with a narrator intoning the iconic line: "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them."
Andrew Duggan was an American character actor. His work includes 185 screen credits between 1949 and 1987 for roles in both film and television, as well a number more on stage.
Robert Reed was an American actor. He played Kenneth Preston on the legal drama The Defenders from 1961 to 1965 alongside E. G. Marshall, and is best known for his role as the father Mike Brady, opposite Florence Henderson's role as Carol Brady, on the ABC sitcom The Brady Bunch, which aired from 1969 to 1974. He later reprised his role of Mike Brady on several of the reunion programs. In 1976, he earned two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his guest-starring role in a two-part episode of Medical Center and for his work on the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man. The following year, Reed earned a third Emmy nomination for his role in the miniseries Roots.
Studio One is an American anthology drama television series that was adapted from a radio series. It was created in 1947 by Canadian director Fletcher Markle, who came to CBS from the CBC. It premiered on November 7, 1948 and ended on September 29, 1958, with a total of 467 episodes over the course of 10 seasons.
Perry Mason is an American legal drama series originally broadcast on CBS television from September 21, 1957, to May 22, 1966. The title character, portrayed by Raymond Burr, is a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who originally appeared in detective fiction by Erle Stanley Gardner. Many episodes are based on stories written by Gardner.
Charles Leonard Aidman was an American actor of stage, film, and television.
Addison Whittaker Richards, Jr. was an American actor of film and television. Richards appeared in more than three hundred films between 1933 and his death.
Patricia Rose Breslin was an American actress and philanthropist. She had a prominent career in television, which included recurring roles as Amanda Miller on The People's Choice (1955–58), and as Laura Harrington Brooks on Peyton Place (1964–65). She also appeared in Go, Man, Go! (1954), and the William Castle horror films Homicidal (1961) and I Saw What You Did (1965).
"The Defender" was an American television play broadcast live in two parts on February 25, 1957, and March 4, 1957, as part of the CBS television series, Studio One. A courtroom drama, it was written by Reginald Rose and directed by Robert Mulligan. The cast included Ralph Bellamy and William Shatner as a father-son defense team, Steve McQueen as the defendant, and Martin Balsam as the prosecutor.