The Defenders is an American courtroom drama series that ran on
CBS from 1961–1965. It starred E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father-and-son defense attorneys who specialized
in legally complex cases, with defendants such as neo-Nazis, conscientious objectors, civil rights demonstrators, a
schoolteacher fired for being an atheist, an author accused of pornography, and a physician charged in a mercy
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
Topics featured in the series included 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.
A 1962 episode entitled "The Benefactor"—in which the father-son
legal team defended an abortionist—was the most controversial; all of the series' three regular advertisers refused
to sponsor the episode, necessitating a last-minute replacement.
The Defenders won 13 Emmy Awards during hits run on