Sunday, April 26, 2015

Popular blog posts


So one of the steady readers here has informed me that MeTV will already be doing another week of Perry movies next week! Starting with May 4th (Star Wars day), there will be another mixture of early-era and later-era Perry movies after the nighttime showing of Perry.

That is really neat, although I wonder why they’re doing another week so soon after the large gap between the first and second weeks of Perry movies. It makes me wonder all the more if they’re not going to keep the Mystery Movie feature come summer and perhaps they’re hurrying to show all the Perry movies before then. It seems like with this upcoming week, combined with the past weeks and the times they showed Perry movies on Friday nights, they will have practically shown them all.

And for months I’ve been pondering on one of the curiosities about this blog. I think the post that has the largest number of comments that still continue to come in from time to time is the very first tribute post I made for Wesley Lau. I’m not sure why that particular Wesley post is so popular; perhaps it comes up higher than other Wesley posts if the posts appear in Google searches.

In any case, it certainly goes to show how loved Wesley is by much of the fanbase. I think that’s awesome, especially since he wasn’t one of the original cast members. Oftentimes the cast members who come in later aren’t so well-accepted by longtime fans.

A lot of the comments that come in are from people wanting to know more about Wesley. I really wish I could provide more information. Wesley seems to have been a very private person who rarely gave interviews. And naturally I want to respect his privacy, if that is what he wished and his family is keeping quiet for that reason. However, some of the comments coming in are even from extended family members or other people who knew him or knew someone who knew him. Some of them are looking for information too.

I think it’s important for family members to know about each other. Although I would love to know more information about Wesley for myself and for the other fans, I would love even more to help these extended family members learn more about him and give them a resource to go to where they can.

Two of my newest projects are a website and a blog, both connected, to celebrate many of the character actors I love. The blog is open and available at http://thepathofthestars.blogspot.com and will focus largely on character musings and episode reviews. The website will focus largely on interviews from the actors and from people who knew or worked with them. It isn’t open yet, but I am in the process of preparing it and it’s perhaps halfway ready to completion.

Most of the interviews, naturally, are dug up from old newspaper archives and linked to. It is very cool to find these gems and be able to read what the actors actually thought and felt back in the day. I imagine a lot of people won’t have ever seen these interviews, so I’m happy to bring them all together on the website via links. And then every now and then I run across a really awesome person who wants to further the information on one of the people and is willing to give an interview to me. I am really excited to open the website and share those interviews especially.

So I’m putting this out there in the hopes that someone connected with Wesley who has information to give will see it. Would any such people be willing to conduct an interview about Wesley for the website? Please note that my preference is email or private message interviews, because I have a lot of trouble with my phone and I’m afraid a telephone interview wouldn’t go over so well. I want to make sure that any interviews I do get are captured properly and not misheard or mis-transcribed on my part. Thank you in advance for any help you can give!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Happy Birthday, Barbara Hale!

Happy Birthday to a wonderful and special lady, our own Barbara Hale! And Happy Birthday to Della Street as well!

I wonder if MeTV really did plan things on purpose, airing The Reckless Romeo on the night before Barbara’s birthday. For those on Eastern and Pacific times, it aired completely on the 18th. For those on Mountain and Central times, it certainly ended on the 18th. Barbara is 93 today! So awesome. And since she’s one of the few surviving Perry cast members, and the only surviving member of the original Core Five, it’s a very significant day for all Perry fans.

I loved the little subplot in the film about Della’s birthday. Perry’s exchanges with Ken about it were so amusing. And then the gifting scene at the very end was lovely. What a sweet close to the film, with the pearls, a hug, and a kiss. It was very enjoyable to see how close Perry and Della had become through the years, even though I don’t accept the movies as absolute canon.

As for the main plot, well, we got another guy who couldn’t seem to keep his mind off of fooling around with women. And his lecherous behavior eventually got him killed. It’s hard to feel too sorry for him, especially after he ruined the lives of all the women mentioned when they were trying to get their lives set in order again. I particularly felt terrible for Nora, who had wanted to run for Congress and then felt she couldn’t with the book blackening her reputation.

I was kind of surprised that the reporter, Charlie (or Charley?), ended up being a good girl. She was so obnoxious, the typical frustrating type of reporter that you just can’t seem to get rid of, no matter how hard you try. Even the cliché stunt of getting Ken arrested so he can’t follow her. Ugh. I loved how Ken realized and got back at her for that. And then Perry at last reveals that he actually likes her and she finally ends up shaping up, with her and Ken seeming to have some romantic interest in each other by the end. Of course, I doubt she’s seen in any other film.

I was thinking that the most obvious solution to the mystery was that the killer had to be Roxanne’s helper, since she was the only other person who knew about the dress. I was glad they didn’t go that route and instead had the real killer see the dress from a window.

As for the identity of the killer, it seemed to come out of nowhere again, although perhaps some people guessed it was the fiancée since when a character seems completely unbothered by someone’s actions, the reality is that sometimes they’re not. The bull statue seemed to come out of nowhere too. I don’t recall it being featured during the murder scene, or mentioned at all until Perry noted it was broken. I don’t know how he even knew it was a bull when it was in pieces like that. It seems like there should have been some mention of it early on, when it was together, so that it would make more sense when Perry identified it as a bull when it was in pieces.

The movie had some fun scenes. I loved when Perry showed how it was preposterous to think that Roxanne could have worn all the perfume the witnesses knew the killer wore. Yikes, that would be terrible, to break into a rash that severe from just a small dab of the stuff.

I did rather raise an eyebrow at his stunt with all the women in red. It was clever and amusing, granted. But it was definitely something akin to what Perry might have done on the television series, and I was surprised the prosecutor and/or the judge didn’t protest the courtroom theatrics!

Lieutenant Brock has been interesting to watch in both this film and last night’s. He was kind of insufferably obnoxious in last night’s, but then he did have some more tolerable scenes later on, and he was pretty good in this one. It’s nice to see that he’s on pretty good terms with Perry. I guess that kind of continues the pattern that the television series eventually fell into when the police got more relaxed and friendly with Perry and company.

Considering a subplot of this movie involved Della’s birthday, however, it seemed like she didn’t really have very satisfactory screentime. I wish she would be a little more prominent in some of these films, especially since she’s one of the only original cast members who appears in them. It seemed like she had better screentime in some of the earlier installments.

But in any case, it was a nice movie and a nice wrap-up to another Perry week on MeTV. Hopefully I can get to The Shooting Star soon and hopefully I’ll be aware ahead of time when MeTV does another Perry movie week (if they continue this feature for much longer).

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Case of the Ruthless Reporter

Finally caught a title beforehand, as promised. And The Ruthless Reporter, what a fitting title it is. The murderer was such a horrible person. Two murders, completely without conscience or shame.

I’m not even totally clear on why the first guy was killed. He was an all-around creep, but was he really killed just so those pictures could be retrieved? The forced affair was already over, so it couldn’t have been that he was killed to stop that. And ugh, to think the poor defendant was deliberately framed because her job was wanted by the murderer! . . . In fact, maybe that was why the guy was murdered, just in order to frame the girl for it and free up the job. Oh gosh.

I wasn’t really quite satisfied with the cameraman also being charged with first degree murder, though. It sounded like he didn’t know either murder was going to happen. He thought that the fake meeting with the first guy was just to stall while the pictures were being retrieved. Then, after he found out the truth, he thought the explosives were just being set up to scare the second guy into silence. It seems to me that the most he should be charged with would be an accessory after the fact.

The plot was very intense and exciting, but I was rather let-down by the Los Angeles scenes. I was thrilled we were going to go back to the “real” Perry setting, but you could tell those scenes were just filmed in Denver too. And Ken chasing the fleeing suspect. . . . I was thinking, “Didn’t we just do this in last night’s movie? Déjà vu.” And was it Ken and not the suspect who actually shoved that poor guy to the ground?

At least the suspect survived that electrocution and fall. I was worried we were doing another cliché “suspect dies at the conclusion of long-winded chase scene”. It was very satisfying when he walked into court, hurt but alive, right after the real murderer told lies about him.

Another thing I wasn’t very happy about regarding this film was that you could definitely tell it was one of the later ventures. There was a lot more innuendo and swearing than in most of the earlier films. Of course, affairs and even naughty pictures are things that turned up in the original series too; I just feel that they were talked about more discreetly in the original series. I realize that even what this movie did is mild compared to things these days, but it’s still more than what I like to hear.

The best thing about this film, for me, was seeing Jerry Orbach again. And once again, he wasn’t the bad guy! Yay!

I also liked the defendant quite a bit this time. I just wish we could have seen her cat!

Actually, I quite liked most of the guest-starring characters. I was always kind of iffy on Cassie, though, and with the movie’s final revelations, I can see why.

Poor Ken, being so nuts about her. It was certainly amusing when Della said she’d written down the last twelve times he said he was in love, though. Heh! And poor guy, in the epilogue he wants to hurry and snap off the television and not hear the news story about the arrest.

Overall, it’s not an installment I’d readily watch again any time soon, except to see Jerry. As a general rule, I prefer the older movies over the newer ones. (And I prefer the television series over any, but the movies are still fun to check out.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Wednesday Night Perry Movie


Well, unfortunately, I also don’t know the title of last night’s movie. The problem is that I’ve been watching my season 8 DVDs to see the uncut versions and we haven’t been getting them started exactly on time, so they end slightly after the movie has begun.

But I do know that I liked this movie a lot better than Tuesday’s. It was so intriguing and intense, with both Della and Ken branded as suspects and the bartender going missing and being such a vital piece of the puzzle. Plus, I always find mystery writer settings to be very fun for mystery shows.

As usual, I found Ken much more competent than Paul Jr. The downside about Ken is that he can be kind of a jerk sometimes, both in his insistence of working alone (to the point of it seeming stubborn idiocy in some cases) and in scenes such as the chase through the kitchen in this film. Oh, those poor innocent bystanders. Food being destroyed is one of my pet peeves; I can’t watch that without cringing. That said, I did get a giggle of Ken actually crawling over one of the guys on the floor. Good grief!

It was fun to see Della having a more active part in the investigation by questioning some people. I’m wondering where she disappeared to at the last, though. I didn’t see her at all during the final courtroom stretch.

The victim was, as usual, a complete crumb, ripping off everyone he came in contact with. The naiveté of his last “collaborator” was absolutely groan-worthy. And how ironic and how fitting, that he couldn’t write something on his own for more than a couple of chapters, even his own autobiography.

The suspects were an interesting crew. The Southern belle alternately amused and irritated me. The defendant was alright, although I was fairly indifferent to her for the most part. I suppose the one I liked the best was Garcia/Garfield. He reminded me a little of a couple of character actors I like from the 1960s.

The solution to the mystery was rather shocking. I hadn’t expected the missing bartender to play such a key role in things as to actually be an accessory who ended up not being able to go through with it despite his hatred, but who then stood by and watched while Rita went through with it. He definitely shouldn’t get off scot-free, but I wonder exactly what he would be charged with. I liked that Perry said he and Ken would represent him in his trial.

Rita being a former robber who escaped capture was a motive for murder that came out of nowhere. That’s typical of Perry cases, although I like when there’s clues along the way to point to the killer and the motive. Apparently thinking the victim knew her identity wasn’t her only reason for killing him, though, according to her.

One thing I found interesting was that one of Perry’s cases had become the basis for the controversial book that also ended up being so key to the plot. It’s an interesting footnote on how famous Perry’s cases are within the verse itself. I wonder if, within the verse, there are others of Perry’s cases that were made into books. I wonder if any case could be turned into a book or if certain ones would be off-limits, like if the defendant or witnesses did not give their permission to be featured in the book. Or maybe since it would be a true-crime book, there wouldn’t be much they could say about featured, just like in the newspapers. Although if they felt they were being portrayed wrongly, they could still sue.

Overall, I found this a very enjoyable and intense installment and a favorite among the movies. And hopefully I’ll get the name of tonight’s movie ahead of time, just in case I miss the beginning of the film again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Case of ... what was I watching, anyway?


So I probably won’t have a chance to see The Shooting Star until next week. As for last night’s movie, which I missed the first few minutes of (and hence, the title) . . .

Man, the murder victim was definitely among the top sleaze of Perry villains. I couldn’t feel too sorry for the guy, if any, when he was dead. Even less so when the truth finally came out. He just drew his gun and fired on the General’s friend without even letting him speak! No wonder the killer reacted fiercely to disarm him and ended up killing by accident. It certainly wasn’t good of him not to speak up when an innocent person was then arrested, but I wonder what would happen to him since it was an accident and there most definitely was provocation. I’m also not entirely sure he had all of his marbles, judging by some of what he said in his confession and moreso, how he said it.

Overall, the mystery was mostly unremarkable and not a standout to me. Paul Jr., as usual, bumbled his way through things and managed to get beat up, punched, and attacked by a car. It was interesting to see him interact with the defendant, though, and the scene where he exclaims about his mother enjoying the tabloid rag was amusing. But it would definitely hint again that Paul Sr. is probably dead, even though they’re so careful not to say. If Paul Sr. were alive, it would seem Paul Jr. might have mentioned him too and not wanted him to see or hear about the trumped-up picture and article.

It was slightly amusing when Della noted that Perry likes getting on Paul Jr.'s case and he agreed. He liked doing that with the boy's father as well, although that was never outright noted in the series as it is here. I still think that sometimes he takes it too far with both of them.

Della’s secret admirer subplot was sweet. When there didn’t seem to be any candidates around that were introduced for the movie, I figured it was Perry doing all those things. And after just watching part of that recent interview with Barbara Hale where she mentions how much she loves roses, the gift of the roses in the film takes on even more significance. I’m sure the shippers are delighted by that element of the film, and especially the ending scene.

It is quite delightful. How nice to see Perry so thoughtful, especially after everything he asks of Della throughout the movies and more especially the series. Sometimes it seems like he takes Della for granted, just as he does Paul, but then there’s a nice epilogue where he thinks on his own of taking Della for lunch or dinner after a big case. This is sort of an extended version of that.

And although the victim was a true slimeball, I imagine shippers also delighted in him telling them he had gathered plenty of evidence that they were having a romantic relationship.

Those are the most standout scenes to me. And of course, it was enjoyable as always to see Michael Reston prosecuting.

I look forward to seeing what tonight’s movie will be like. But I look more forward to watching my uncut copy of A Place Called Midnight. I finally have the season 8 and the latter half of season 9 DVD sets, and I’ve been watching the season 8 ones as the episodes progress on MeTV, in order to finally again see (or see for the first time, in some cases) the uncut versions. So far, most episodes have only been missing a little bit, save The Bullied Bowler and The Grinning Gorilla, the latter of which I watched when I first got the set instead of waiting for its arrival on MeTV. There are many scenes missing from those episodes on television, so I’ll need to do posts on them soon. And, I suspect, there is also a great deal missing from A Place Called Midnight. It’s always looked like a very chopped-up episode to me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Well, that was an epic fail.

I thought I was doing pretty well at keeping up with MeTV's mystery movie schedule, but apparently I didn't see this week. It's another week of Perry movies!

I am so sorry I didn't realize this sooner. Those on the Pacific coast, if any are still up and possibly glancing at this blog, can still see/record tonight's movie, The Shooting Star, in its entirety. Hopefully the majority of those interested in the movies already knew of this week's events via other sources. I am unable to watch the movie myself, as Cozi is airing an episode of The Lawyers with Joseph Campanella during part of the time the movie is on, and that takes precedence. Hopefully, all of us who have been unable to see the film tonight can catch it on DVD (or on YouTube, if the movies are still up there).

I am rather curious about this movie in particular, since it's one with David Ogden Stiers as the prosecutor and Joe Penny is one of the guest-stars. He seems to keep popping up in my life lately; he's in the film Lifepod (the 1981 film, not the 1993 one), and he's one of the stars of Riptide, which I'm just starting to get into thanks to a wonderful guest-spot by Christopher Cary.

It's rather neat that MeTV is airing a week of Perry movies this week, as the week will end, I believe, with Barbara Hale's birthday. What a nice tribute, intentional or not.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A moral dilemma


Friday night MeTV showed The Illicit Illusion. It still isn’t one of my favorite episodes, but it’s certainly unique, in any case.

Of course, the biggest issue with that episode is concerning the question Were Hamilton and Andy justified in what they did? I’ve struggled with that since the first time I saw the episode. At least it couldn’t technically be branded entrapment, but was it right to turn the woman’s husband loose while knowing that the supposed suicide of his partner was murder and hoping that the husband and wife would try (or seem to try) to make a break for it?

Mom has seen the episode with me several times and has said nothing. This time, however, she was very vocal and exclaimed, “Talk about tricks!”

I still don’t know what to make of it. The episode itself appears to cast an ill light on their actions, albeit nothing is actually said as to whether it’s right or wrong after the point when Andy says that they never suggested flight and Hamilton admits he knew about the murder at the time of release. Part of me says that they were justified since they didn’t actually suggest the idea of flight and were just watching to see how it would play out. The other part says that what they did relies too much on circumstantial evidence and could easily get an innocent person arrested (which is exactly what happened).

But one thing I certainly say is that while it may not have been right, I do not think for one moment that it comes close to comparing with some of the stunts Perry had pulled, as Mom seemed to feel it did.

Take what happened just the other day, for instance. Perry lures a witness in The Garrulous Go-Between by sending her a message that leads her to believe the man she loves is dying. Paul even lies down and gets under the covers to pretend to be the guy when she arrives. That is all very cruel. At least Perry acknowledges that he’s sorry for doing it, but that seriously appalled me. I’d forgotten he did that. It appalls me every time I see the episode.

And then of course there’s the mess in The Mystified Miner, where Perry deliberately sets up a scenario to obliterate his client’s fingerprints from her car because he knows her prints on it would help to build a case against her.

Actually, while that may be perfectly in line with what the book Perry would do, it seems out-of-character for television Perry. In general, television Perry insists on giving the police guns, pictures, and other evidence when he knows they’re needed, even if having those items will help them build stronger cases against the clients. To deliberately ruin evidence is not like him.

Of course, every now and then he does highly eyebrow-raising things, such as his destruction of the book in season 1’s The Screaming Woman. And The Mystified Miner was also from a season that was more book-influenced than some. But it still seemed a shocking thing to do, especially since by season 5 he wasn’t often engaging in such book-influenced behavior.

I’ve never been fully sure of what to think of his antics of “testing the witnesses’ memories”, either. He’ll use that as his excuse when he renders a witness unreliable after tricking them, but as one of the judges said, there’s a fine line between testing memories and throwing dust in the prosecution’s case. I rather liked that they let the judge say that, instead of just completely letting Perry get away with it without acknowledging that while he may be technically within his rights, it’s still a trick.

I’ve often thought that I would not want to be a defense attorney, since that would require me to take cases and do things and make arguments to get people off who probably really shouldn’t get off. With Perry, of course, almost all the defendants are innocent, but in real-life it’s more likely to be the opposite. And either way, it’s not always easy for me to root for the defense attorneys when they’re pulling shenanigans I don’t agree with.

Naturally it isn’t right for the prosecution to pull tricks either. I don’t agree with that or with the conditions of many of the plea bargains that unfortunately exist and that prosecutors feel forced to propose. But there are degrees, and as I said, I don’t think Hamilton and Andy’s actions could ever be lumped in the same category with some of Perry’s most appalling stunts.

I’m still a little surprised that incident happened in one of Samuel Newman’s scripts, actually, since he usually tries to cast the prosecution in a better light. Even though it wasn’t technically entrapment, I’m sure it didn’t help the ill feelings that many viewers probably already had for the prosecution.

I wonder how the incident would have been portrayed had it happened in a series that focused more on the prosecution or the police. Would it have been depicted as justified? Or would it have been presented as not justified and everyone involved would be in trouble for doing it? I believe I’ve seen some series where similar incidents were portrayed as justified, or at least, that the characters involved did not suffer a penalty for doing it since it turned out that they were right in their suspicions. On the other hand, the private eye series Mannix also portrayed such antics in a highly derogatory light.

Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between. Or perhaps there are no real answers, as it may be a matter for each person’s individual moral code.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Careless Kitten: Book vs. Episode


March 11th is the anniversary of Erle Stanley Gardner’s death. I always find it both sad and eerie that he and William Hopper died only a few days apart.

He left us such a lasting legacy with his Perry books and everything that resulted from them. I wonder what he thought of the television-only episodes when they began to emerge on the series? I suppose he must have been okay with them, at least enough to approve them, since he insisted on that right throughout the entire series run.

While it is exasperating that he never saw fit to approve such interesting ideas as scripts where Hamilton won (hopefully only if the client was guilty; it would be too depressing otherwise, unless Perry could overturn it as in The Deadly Verdict), as a fellow writer I do have to respect his insistence on having things the way he wanted. He already knew what it was like to lose control of his characters more than once, with both the 1930s movies and the radio series. Naturally he would want to take steps to ensure that it would not happen again.

I am intrigued that apparently he was alright with Perry and Hamilton becoming friends, as they steadily did throughout the series’ run. I wonder whether he downright supported that idea or if he just loosened up and decided to allow it while being more or less indifferent to it overall. I remember Barbara Hale saying that he didn’t want Della sitting on Perry’s desk, exclaiming that a proper secretary would never do that. But it happens multiple times throughout the series. I wonder what caused him to allow it after all.

Last night after I watched MeTV’s fun episode (it’s always a treat to watch David McCallum’s guest-spot!), I had the urge to get out my recorded copy of The Careless Kitten, which is one of the few later episodes based on one of the original books. I wanted to see the adorable kitty as well as to review one particular guest-star’s role. It was the sole appearance of British character actor Hedley Mattingly on the series, and I’m coming to be rather fond of him from watching him play opposite my beloved Christopher Cary more than once.

I wonder how much of the episode works with the book’s plot. I’ll have to bring up the book version on that Indian site Fedora found with all of the books available in English PDF files.

One thing I’m sure the book version won’t have is the great scene where Hamilton comes to Perry’s office and outright says he’s coming as a friend, worried because Perry is poking into the case all over the place and Andy is getting bent out of shape over it. Hamilton pleads with Perry to leave things alone, and Perry says he’ll consider it. Of course, however, he keeps on.

One difference I know of for a certainty is that the cat’s breed is different. In the books, the cats are always Persians, while on television they’re always Siamese. Somehow a Siamese seems a more suitable breed for such a mischievous little rascal, but maybe that’s just heavy influence from the hilarious Disney movie That Darn Cat!

Now I’m giving the book version a brief run-through via the summary on Storrer’s site, as I was just too curious now that I started thinking about it. It looks like for the most part, the characters keep their names in both versions. That’s certainly unusual. The kitten’s name is changed (Monkey on television instead of Amber Eyes) and Helen’s boyfriend’s first name in the book is Jerry. There’s a character called George, whose role I am unsure of. I believe he was omitted from the episode.

The most striking difference, character-wise, seems to be that the butler is not an Englishman, but an Oriental. I always thought Cosmo was a very odd choice of name for the butler on television. Now that I see the butler’s name was Komo in the book, perhaps it makes a bit more sense. They picked something rather similar.

And oh my, the plot sounded like it was fairly well lifted from the book, until chapter 11. When someone shoots at Helen’s boyfriend in the book, he’s hurt far more seriously.

Another thing the same in both is Thomas’s ill feelings towards the butler. In the book, he keeps trying to insist that the butler poisoned the cat and Matilda, which is really disgusting since he knows the truth. In the episode, we’re left with either believing that the butler really is a creepy sadist as Thomas says or believing that Thomas is prejudiced. Considering everything that Thomas is doing, I find it rather difficult to believe him about anything. The butler shows no indications of being a sadist; the kitten rather seems to like him, snuggling against him and even purring. (Yes, I’m sure I heard purrs!) Of course, that could simply be that the cat liked the actor rather than the character. But considering that Thomas even refers to him with a racial slur (“Limey”), I would have to say that he is just being unfair and has no real knowledge that the butler is a nasty sort. Perhaps, as in the book, he’s also trying to cast blame where he knows it doesn’t belong.

I rather liked the butler, honestly. He seemed perfectly nice to me. And he was the one played by the great character actor Hedley Mattingly, who was very capable of playing nasty characters as well as nice ones. If the butler was truly unpleasant, Hedley would have given some indication of it. He was a little short with Perry on the phone, true, but Matilda had just been taken to the hospital and he was shaken up about it. It was a touch of realism that he reacted on the phone the way he did.

A difference between the two versions is that once again, Della takes care of the kitty for a while, just like she does in the book version of The Caretaker’s Cat. The kitten gets into mischief and is discovered by Della and Tragg. Tragg then takes them both to headquarters.

And ah yes, Hamilton is definitely not friendly with Perry in the book. We also get to court, unlike in the episode. Della is the defendant. Apparently they’re in court not for Leech’s murder, but for Della having the kitten and Hamilton thinking she was hiding the missing and wanted Franklin Shore!

Thomas is killed via hit-and-run in the book. He and Matilda Shore being partners in their evil plan, and Matilda having killed Franklin, are the same. But those facts never come to light; Perry just tells it to Della in private.

I really don’t care for how in the books, it seems like a lot of times the solution is only revealed in private, instead of having the real culprits uncovered and punished. Sometimes the culprits are Perry’s clients and he’s perfectly okay with getting them off even if he knows they’re guilty. In this case, where neither crook was his client, I wonder why he chose to keep it all secret.

I suppose some book fans prefer Perry’s behavior in the books to his insistence on exposing the real killers and the clients always being innocent in the television series. I do think it would have been interesting for the clients to be guilty sometimes, but not for Perry to absolutely not care if they are. Naturally there are plenty of lawyers in real-life who wouldn’t care, so it’s a realistic touch, but it seems an odd trait for a lawyer to have when Gardner was writing the books to try to show lawyers in a better light.

I guess he must have been okay with those formulaic changes to the television series. Either that or he was simply informed that the censors would not allow it to be otherwise. It would be interesting to know which. What actually prompted such changes from the books? Was it the censors? Was it that they thought the character would be more likable and heroic that way? Something else?

I also wonder what prompted Perry and Hamilton to become friends. It was such a natural progression through the seasons, in that respect keeping something fluid amid all the formula. But they could have chosen to keep things in a more season 1 light. So why the change? As much as I love these and other changes, I’m still curious to know the reasons for them, since they make the series so different from the books.

Whichever one prefers, the series or the books, the series would of course not exist without the books. I will always be grateful to Erle Stanley Gardner for creating the original Core Five and their first adventures. Every time we watch the series, we’re ultimately celebrating Gardner’s genius.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

In Memoriam: William Hopper


I find it amusing that right after I called out MeTV for not airing their supposedly most popular show more than once a week, they make an announcement that they’re going to do just that. Naturally it’s a coincidence; I doubt anyone from MeTV even knows this blog exists. (And of course, even if they did, I highly doubt it would make one bit of difference.) I’m sure their reason is because of Leonard Nimoy’s death. Still, the timing of my post and their announcement amuses me.

The 6th sadly marks the death of William Hopper, who died much too soon in 1970. It’s saddening how many Perry cast members either met early deaths or otherwise died while the show was ongoing. Both Williams and Wesley died far too young. And it’s always sad that Ray Collins passed away in the middle of the show’s run, even though he was getting on in years. Some guest-stars, such as Theodore Marcuse and Simon Oakland, also died much too young.

I always love discovering more Paul-centric episodes. I finally had a chance to see the uncut Angry Astronaut, which wasn’t as cut as I expected it would be. In either state, it’s quite a good Paul vehicle, starting out by showing Paul being hired by the titular character to find some missing things. Perry doesn’t appear until after the murder, when Paul goes to him to see if he will represent the man. Even though Paul believes he’s nuts and really did commit the murder, he wants to see him have proper representation. (Also, in that case, the astronaut already knew of Perry and specifically asked Paul to ask Perry about representation. Paul always tries to follow through with an owed favor.)

It’s always interesting to me that Paul is the skeptic among Perry’s group. It definitely adds a little more spice, as opposed to everyone just fully believing that the client is innocent because Perry believes that. And it’s moving that in spite of the many times when Paul thinks the client is guilty, he’s still willing as always to help Perry try to dig up proof that the truth is otherwise.

It would have been an intense character study if there had ever been a case where Paul had such strong feelings as to a client’s guilt that he felt he could not help Perry on the case. Either that, or perhaps a situation where Perry wanted Paul to do something on the investigation that Paul absolutely felt he could not do. Although it never happened on the show, it’s always very clear that Paul has his limits and doesn’t want to put his license in jeopardy. I still don’t think Perry has the right to ask him to do things that could indeed disrupt his career. But of course, Paul could refuse if he felt he simply couldn’t do it.

The two have a great friendship, enjoying fishing breaks the few times a caseload eases enough to allow for it. And in spite of when Perry asks things that often don’t seem fair, Paul goes through with it anyway because of their friendship and his belief in Perry. Paul is quite invaluable to Perry; his investigations often bring in the final piece of evidence needed. Paul is likely aware of this, and perhaps that is one reason why he continues to lend his assistance on cases, even when he doesn’t believe in a client’s innocence or doesn’t like something Perry wants him to do.

I still love the intensity in The Carefree Coronary, when Perry finally acknowledges Paul’s value both as a friend and as part of the team. When it feels like Perry often takes Paul for granted, it’s nice to have him really announce that he is aware of Paul’s importance. Although, admittedly, it would have been nice if it hadn’t taken such a huge scare for Perry to say it. Still, it’s Perry’s way to not usually say such things aloud.

It’s very sad that we lost William Hopper so unfairly soon. But it’s awesome that he left us such a legacy of wonderful roles, especially Paul Drake. He will always be remembered for that.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A new round of MeTV Madness?


So today MeTV sent me an email about their upcoming “MeTV Madness” in a couple of weeks. Just like last year, they’ll have people vote on their favorite MeTV shows over a period of six rounds.

I kind of rolled my eyes that they decided to do that again. If the real purpose of the contest is to try and figure out what shows to keep and what shows to put on hiatus or get rid of altogether, it seems that it doesn’t fairly represent the entirety of the MeTV viewing population. Many viewers likely don’t bother with the Internet at all, and many that do likely don’t bother with the contest.

I wasn’t even sure whether last year’s votes were accurate. While it’s believable that Star Trek and The Twilight Zone are among the channel’s most popular shows, I doubt that they are the most popular above all others.

Why?

Because if they really were, why would they remove The Twilight Zone from the schedule for six months or more (unless they were having a problem keeping hold of the distribution rights)? And why would they continue to only air Star Trek once a week? (Perhaps because it only ran for three seasons, but they’ve aired more than one series every weekday that only ran for four.)

It seems to me that in actuality, MeTV’s most popular shows may very well be Daniel Boone, The Rifleman, and our own Perry Mason.

Again, why?

Perry is the only hour-long show that MeTV airs twice a day. When they tried to remove one of the showings for The Love Boat, it apparently was an epic fail. Perry was back before long.

The same thing happened with Daniel Boone. That time, the duration it was booted in favor of The Love Boat was even shorter than it had been with Perry. Even though Daniel Boone still aired on Saturdays, people apparently still really wanted it on weekdays too and balked at having The Love Boat stuck in its place.

The Rifleman airs six days a week on MeTV. When they wanted to put another show in its previous weekday slot, they moved The Rifleman up by three hours and sent The Big Valley packing to Saturdays only. Apparently people are okay with that; they want their Rifleman. And in addition to the six days, they also air The Rifleman online, rotating episodes each week. It, and Wanted: Dead or Alive, are the only shows they have online that they air on the network more than once a week. Wanted does not have the charm of The Rifleman, however, and it is not hard to believe that The Rifleman is the more popular of the two.

Of course, one could argue that perhaps if shows other than The Love Boat had been stuck in Perry’s and Daniel’s timeslots, the viewers might be okay with that. Maybe they just don’t like The Love Boat. But it would seem to me that it’s a combination of both that and the fact that they especially love Perry and Daniel.

It would be interesting if MeTV ran a most popular/most favorite show contest and it really was all-encompassing, taking in every viewer everywhere. I wonder how the results would end up then?

Also, speaking of Star Trek, I must take this moment to acknowledge the sad passing of Leonard Nimoy. A Perry alumnus, he played the bad guy in season 6’s The Shoplifter’s Shoe. MeTV aired it again on Friday night in honor of him. I had missed the airing when they showed it chronologically, so I was happy to tune in on Friday. I had been looking forward to The Decadent Dean, but I half-expected they would alter the aired episode that night, so I really wasn’t surprised when they did.

I am very sad that he’s gone, but I’m happy he led such a rich, full life and left such a legacy for his fans. And I’m glad that he is, in some way, part of the Perry family.