When I was in high school, I stumbled across Picket Fences. It became the first adult, contemporary television series to stoke my imagination in the same way that older shows like The Twilight Zone and The Fugitive had already been doing for some time.

Twenty years later, I got the chance to write about the career of David E. Kelley, the creator of Picket Fences, for The A.V. Club. Even though his career has sputtered during the past decade or so, I’m still a big fan of his best work, and I hope I’ve done justice to it.

Name: Cristine Rose.

Usually Plays: Formidable matriarchs, unflappable corporate execs, and other powerful women.

Relatively Insignificant Early Role That I Recall Fondly Due to My David E. Kelley Fetish: As the ex-wife of beleaguered lawman Jimmy Brock (Tom Skerritt) on Picket Fences, still the record-holder for the all-time greatest TV ensemble.

Her Magnum Opus: As the mother of two of the superpowered protagonists (Adrian Pasdar and Milo Ventimiglia) on Heroes.  I suspect that Angela Petrelli was initially an insignificant or short-term part, or else they would have cast a name actress in it.  But Rose, with her clenched jaw and enigmatic glare, turned Angela into one of the show’s most prominent villains, held her own against star-turn baddies Malcolm McDowell and Robert Forster, scored main-title billing, and survived till the very end of the show.  Bravo.

See, I Told You About Picket Fences: Q: “You’ve appeared in many great TV shows.  If you could pick any one to return to, which would it be, and why?”  A: “Angela Petrelli aside, the one that comes immediately to mind is Lydia Brock, on Picket Fences.  When I came out here [to Los Angeles], I had a lot of fun doing sitcoms.  I came out here from New York in 1986, and I did several sitcom pilots, and in the early nineties I really wanted to dso hour-long shows.  I love humor, and theatricality – humor and drama together are the perfect blend.  I think you get to a person’s heart through humor, and then you get into the heart and you wrench it.  It’s a very powerful way to make a point.  And Lydia Brock was one of those people . . . . Kathy Baker and I used to have great scenes together.  Beautifully written.  A beautifully defined character.”  (From a long video interview with Rose here.)

Fanboy Cred: Hey, she was even a Klingon, too!

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