Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Steve Drumm story is go!

Just a quick post to say that I have finally finished writing that detective show parody story with Steve and Sergeant Brice. But it clocked in at 11,600+ words, which I figured is a little long for a oneshot. So I decided to split it into three or four parts. I put the first one up today. Since the story is already finished, I may put up a new segment every day until they're all there.

It has been a blast writing it, although I had quite a time sorting everything out to make sense regarding the solution of the mystery. It was a thrill to finally get it to where I was satisfied. There are detective show cliches galore. Anything that looks like one is probably meant to be one. And having Steve react to feeling like he's in a 1940s detective story was very amusing indeed. Somehow I don't think he would have much patience for anything that seems off-the-wall.

Even though the focus is naturally on the mystery, I also show a lot of Steve and Brice interacting. I really relished depicting that, as I'm hoping to develop Brice over the course of my next Perry ventures. I still plan to write a story at some point with him and Della interacting, since there is clearly an untold story behind their little scene in The 12th Wildcat!

I also had quite a time deciding on a title. Part of me wanted to simply call it Drumm, since many detective shows use the main character's last name as the title. But then I decided I wanted something a little funnier. I ended up with The Case of the Throwback Thursday, which may cause some meme-haters to tie themselves in knots, but I chose it because it fits the idea of a retro plot, as well as falling back on the show's love of alliteration. I think it's innocently mischievous enough to be reminiscent of some of the silliest, most tongue-in-cheek episode titles, such as The Murderous Mermaid or The Twice-Told Twist. The actual meme is not mentioned anywhere in the story.

If anyone is interested in taking a look, it's here:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Birthday Tribute: Richard Anderson

And today is Richard Anderson’s 89th birthday! Awesome! I hope you have a wonderful day, Richard!

It’s a great year for Richard and Richard fans. The book is finally out! Richard has been going to book signings and conventions; he was at one just last weekend. Cozi TV still airs The Six Million Dollar Man and MeTV recently finished another run of season 9 of Perry.

I’m ecstatic to have finally finished The Malevolent Mugging, in which Richard’s character Steve Drumm plays a very large and important role. I’ve been wondering what Perry mystery to start next, as I have several ideas. The one that ended up taking precedence is one that stars Steve.

A couple weeks ago, I had an Ellery Queen disc out from Netflix. I adore the jazzy theme song, and hearing it again made me think of writing a film noir/detective parody with Steve Drumm as the main character. Since he is the most hardboiled of the main Perry policemen and often seems like he belongs in a 1940s-ish detective setting, he was the immediate choice.

So far the story is coming along quite well. It won’t be very long, but I might split it into three or four parts for posting, depending on its eventual length. I was hoping to have it ready today, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

I’ve been throwing in lots of noir/detective show clich├ęs, including a mysterious woman, a missing person, a valuable object everyone is seeking, a nightclub, a helpful singer, and Steve shaming the bad guys in a fight. It is a lot of fun! And it’s a nice chance to highlight the police and their investigations and depict them in a positive light. I hope it will be a nice tribute to Richard’s portrayal of Steve, as well as Lee Miller’s portrayal of Sergeant Brice.

Richard’s characters are so numerous and varied, from good guys to bad, and they inspire a lot of creativity among fans. Certainly there are many fan works with Richard’s arguably most famous character, Oscar Goldman. And I’ve seen many fans for other characters and for Richard in general. He is widely recognized and fondly remembered the world over, and he appears in so very many things that it probably isn’t an exaggeration to say that on any given day, people all over the world could be watching his performances in dozens of films and television series. Still more may be celebrating his characters in other ways.

I’m planning to make some pictorial tributes on Tumblr after I post this. If you check in at, there should be some fun new stuff in a short while.

Thank you, Richard, for another wonderful year of enjoying your presence and performances, and thank you for a wonderful memoir this year! Here’s to many more years!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Case of the Malevolent Mugging is back!

I am absolutely ecstatic over the fact that this time I have actually managed to revive The Malevolent Mugging story for real! I churned out several chapters over the past couple of weeks, including the climax. I have only to write the epilogue and then, glorious, glorious day, it will be done!

It started when I was idly thinking of some other possible Perry ideas. I was on a bit of a Misguided Missile kick and re-read my Spectral Stalker story, which I know is very strange and was pretty much totally a self-indulgent installment. There’s a mention in the epilogue that maybe there would have to be a hearing in order for Captain Caldwell to prove who he is. I doubt that would happen in actual fact, but I got the idea of writing a story taking place directly after The Spectral Stalker and following Caldwell trying to reintegrate into society. Perry would be around a lot, with or without a hearing, and a new mystery might emerge.

I don’t know if I will write such a story, but when I was thinking of it, I thought of how I’ve felt like I can’t start any more big Perry mysteries until The Malevolent Mugging is finished. And I went to look it over for the umpteenth time to see if I could determine how to do that.

I realized that the real problem holding it up was that my original outline called for the bad guys to torture Amory Fallon for several more weeks. And the rest of the mystery was really just about ready to be wrapped up, so I didn’t see how I would extend it for so many more chapters. Cue the stalling, with only a small update here and there.

I determined that the bad guys would not have to torment Amory for as long of a time as I’d thought. After everything he’s already been through, I could probably still obtain the desired result for the climax if they decided to pull the cruelest thing much sooner than the original outline called for.

I changed some of my plans for the climax, too, giving Amory a much more active role as opposed to the idea from a very short piece I did called October, where he spent the climax in the hospital. I wasn’t comfortable with that and wanted him involved, and I’m very pleased with the end result.

One thing to keep in mind for any future mysteries is the Jodie character I introduced. She has nothing to do with the current mystery, but I brought her in because of her connection with Vivalene and Flo, who were major players in some of the other stories. She will play some part in perhaps the next mystery in the series.

I may also use Daniel Conway some more. My original outline would have involved him more than he has been, but I think it might be just as well to move some of my ideas for him into his own mystery.

Maybe this year I can even write that Halloween masquerade story. We’ll have to see. With this story finally wrapping up, I definitely feel freer to venture into other Perry story waters. I’m excited to see where the ride takes me.

If anyone is still interested after all this time in where The Malevolent Mugging has been going, it’s still here: I plan to post the epilogue very soon, perhaps tomorrow or Tuesday. And then Tuesday night, MeTV will air Daniel Conway’s episode. What timing!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Killer Kiss and more MeTV news!

So, The Killer Kiss. I missed some of the beginning of it while I was taking care of some things, but maybe I’ll catch up with that on the taped copy. I saw pretty much everything after the murder happened.

It was interesting that the defendant was a ward of Perry’s. It was fun seeing their interaction and getting a snippet more information about Perry’s backstory in the movie verse, even though I don’t consider it canon.

Della was pretty much adorable, finally getting some more decent screentime and being a soap opera buff. (And I was highly amused by Perry’s tale of a judge he knew also being a soap opera fan.) I’ve never been into soaps, but I could relate to Della’s excitement about the cast and being there to see an episode filmed.

As with most Perry-related show-biz things, many of the guest characters are a bit over the top and the plot pokes fun at Hollywood tropes, such as how they explain the dead guy’s character being played by someone new.

Lieutenant Brock was slightly obnoxious, but I like how friendly he’s gotten with Perry in these later movies. It’s some nice character development. And totally an improvement over there not being a steady police character in the earlier films.

I was slightly amused by the girl of the movie this time, and by Ken ending up locked in the men’s bathroom and her rushing right in to help him without thinking of or caring about the awkwardness and general impropriety of it. Sometimes exceptions must be made in drastic situations, after all!

And their experience in that small-town was horrible! Crooked lawmen are one thing that tends to irritate me, and that sheriff was the mother-lode of horrid. It was so, so satisfying when Ken and the girl managed to orchestrate a break-out and locked the sheriff in the cell. I also loved when Perry showed up to help them just as the jam got worse again. And the deputy being a good guy was definitely a nice touch. It’s always enjoyable to see that even in a corrupt place, you can find good people.

It was interesting viewing it all along as the last proper Perry movie, which actually included Perry. As a send-off, it wasn’t bad, especially since they didn’t know at the time it would be the last. The plot was intense and related strongly to the main characters in the form of the defendant’s connection with Perry, there was some good action with Ken, and the ending was rather adorable. I loved Perry grabbing Della and Chris and posing for a picture. It was slightly bittersweet, knowing it was the final shot, but it was a lovely last moment.

I wasn’t expecting the memorial screen for Raymond Burr, but in retrospect it makes sense to have had it, since the movie didn’t air until after his death. It was sobering and sad, and Mom hadn’t realized it was the last one he’d filmed, so it was a bit startling for her.

I’ll probably keep my taped copy of it, too, unless I end up desperate for a tape for some reason. I had a hard time finding one tonight for The Lady in the Lake, but I finally turned up something suitable without erasing The Killer Kiss.

It’s been nice watching those two movies I never got around to seeing, and re-watching The Lady in the Lake and The Heartbroken Bride was quite fun. I have to admit, I still honestly find it hard to believe that they really weren’t trying to say that Perry was the father of his friend Laura’s child. They certainly seemed to be laying on the implications heavily. But it’s nice that, according to a reader here, they apparently didn’t mean anything by it and Perry and Laura were meant to have a close friendship instead. It’s always nice to show that guys and girls can have really deep friendships without romance entering into the picture.

Oh! And I see that, according to Sitcoms Online, there have already been changes made to MeTV’s Fall schedule. It looks like now they will not be removing the morning Perry episode! It looks like it’s moving to an hour earlier instead. Also, now they’re saying the Mystery Movie will continue to air directly after the nighttime Perry and not later. We’ll see how this plays out in the coming weeks, but I won’t be surprised if that is how it will go. MeTV knows viewers love their Perry fix twice a day!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Glass Coffin

So, thanks to MeTV, I finally got around to seeing The Glass Coffin. I was very glad that one of the readers was right and there weren’t any onscreen tricks that were grotesque illusions of cutting people up, although the thing they’re doing with the boxes at the very beginning was probably meant to be one of those.

Overall, it was definitely one of the installments I’ve liked the best. In some ways it felt very much like one of the episodes, especially when Perry moved that the trial take place right at the theatre.

We have a defendant who is definitely flawed, having fooled around with the murder victim at one time (albeit only when he was drunk). I was worried for a while that maybe his wife would turn out to be the murderer, especially when Perry emphasized to her that she had to be in court the next day. I was very glad that she was not the guilty one and that she and David were going to be able to work things out.

I kind of suspected the female side of the guilty pair, although I don’t think I ever suspected the other. And I definitely didn’t suspect the reason. I thought she might just be a jealous star kicked to the curb. I was pleased that there was a more substantial reason than that, although of course it still wasn’t justified even though the woman was indeed horrid.

I really liked how Perry pieced together how the crime was actually committed. I had wondered if the girl might have been killed before the fall, but I definitely didn’t dream up all of the details Perry presented!

I loved the opening statements of both the prosecutor and Perry. And the trick Perry did with the glass. Heh! That was definitely an amusing way to prove his point, and I can certainly imagine Hamilton exclaiming about courtroom tricks if Perry had done it in the series.

Ken had his usual “I work alone” attitude, which is always kind of irritating, and he was a bit of a jerk near the beginning to mislead the female detective as he did. But of course, they ended up working together eventually anyway, and it was interesting how the writers tried to bring out the strengths and weaknesses of both of them. The girl may have been good at finding things, but Ken was very “fly by the seat of his pants” resourceful during tight moments. I really liked that the chase scene, instead of being the usual scene of Ken chasing the suspect, was the bad guys chasing him. That was a good way to mix it up. And it was nice that things didn’t get overtly romantic between him and the girl at any point. I really like seeing guys and girls interact in other types of ways, instead of always ending up falling into romantic attraction (especially when the girls are rarely ever seen again).

I was thinking while watching how the movies stretch things out by trying to inject a bit of humor here and there, like when Ken is accosted by the bad guys while only in his shorts and later, when he tries to sober up the drunk. I remember the episode The Candy Queen in particular, and how Paul mentioned he was going to try to get Mark Chester awake and talking by the time Perry got up there. I wonder if, had they shown the scene of Paul working on him, if it would have gone something like the scene in the movie. It was also highly amusing in the movie when, at the end of the wild escape in the truck, the drunk exclaims that he’s sober.

There isn’t much interaction between Perry and Della to speak of here, although poor Della having to call 258 optometrists! I love the little exchange where she matter-of-factly informs him that there are 258 and not 257. I could definitely picture that happening in the series. In fact, I think it did a couple of times, with Paul instead of Della.

I liked the brief subplot of the children’s charity. Perry posing with the kids near the beginning was adorable. And the ending of the film, with David and Sara going to adopt two of them, was very sweet. It was a very nice way for the movie to end.

I’ll probably just keep the copy I recorded many months ago, instead of recording over it as planned. It was good enough that I think I’d like to hang on to it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Perry Movies and Fall News

MeTV is running Perry movies this week. This time, they are all ones that MeTV has shown before, so I guess that answers the question as to whether they will replay things. However, if anyone missed them on the first round, perhaps now there will be a chance to catch them again.

Last night was The Fatal Fashion. I have a review of it around somewhere here. I recorded it the first time it was on and have kept it, since Scott Baio is the prosecutor in it.

The rest of the week will be, in order:

The Glass Coffin
The Heartbroken Bride
The Killer Kiss
The Lady in the Lake

I find it pleasing that they will show the two movies I recorded long ago to watch, but still have not got around to. Also, I did miss the first ten minutes of The Glass Coffin, so now when I see it tonight, it will be the whole thing. And I am very excited to get the chance to record The Lady in the Lake. It was probably my favorite of the movies for the surprise twist near the end and I regretted not having recorded it for keeps at the time I was originally watching it.

Also, MeTV has made their first announcement about their Fall schedule. I was very surprised; I was just thinking about it and wondering what it would be and figuring there would not be any news for a while yet. The full schedule is not currently available on their site, so I only have the most preliminary information, as reported by the Sitcoms Online blog.

The schedule will affect Perry. The morning showing is being booted again, this time for Matlock. Hmm, that seems a little recent for MeTV. I would think it would have been more likely to have found a home on Cozi TV. But I suppose MeTV wanted it because of Andy Griffith starring.

The Mystery Movie will remain on the schedule, but be pushed way down until 1 A.M./2 A.M., depending on your time zone. The Twilight Zone will be back, this time after the late-night showing of Perry.

So far, the only news I'm really pleased about is that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will now air twice a week. I am not, however, too pleased that it will move to 1 A.M. on the weekends. A lot of people will find it difficult to watch it then. It seems like a really ridiculous move to put it on that late when the movie is coming out and there will probably be a new influx of interest for the series.

I also like that Wagon Train will be back, as I wasn't finished recording episodes I wanted. I hope that they won't only show seasons 1 through most of 4 and 7 like before, however. There are some episodes from season 5 that I wanted, including one with Wesley Lau. I also want the Simon Oakland episode from season 6. And they stopped their season 4 episodes before they reached the one I'd been looking forward to with H.M. Wynant.

It kind of looks like The Mod Squad, Mission: Impossible, and The Saint will be leaving the schedule, but at this point I can't say. They might just be shifting to other times.

Their comedy block is going to be the same every night, with Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Hogan's Heroes. I liked when they aired something different every night.

It will be interesting to see the full Fall schedule when MeTV releases it. Overall, I'm not terribly impressed at this point and I wonder why they haven't been adding many shows this year. I worry a bit wondering if they're in financial trouble.

At least the late-night airing of Perry is staying, but I'm annoyed by the departure of the morning episode, since that's when a lot of people watch. Oh well, though, as we've seen from past experience, the morning episode never seems to be gone for long. People like it there and in the past, MeTV has listened to that.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Uncut Vanishing Victim vs. The Fugitive Nurse

First, a quick note: Rose and I have started a new Simon Oakland project, a Tumblr. We have weekly photo sets and post other Simon-related things during the week. I put up a Frantic Flyer photo set on Saturday. We're hoping the project will eventually reach the attention of all classic film and television fans on Tumblr, in addition to all fans of specifically Simon. If anyone wants to have a look, the link is:

The other day I finally did something I’ve been meaning to do for months: watch the uncut version of The Vanishing Victim. It’s taken so long for me to get to it since it’s one of my least-liked episodes. It remains so after the uncut viewing.

I watch it so seldom I’m actually not sure which scenes are new to me, besides the infamous epilogue. I ranted a lot about the cut version in another post, so I don’t think I’ll go into all of that examination here. I’ll just say that my previous opinions on the episode as a whole still stand. It’s a very messy, confused conglomeration, and the constantly changing idea of who’s actually dead around here makes it very wearisome by the time they finally get around to letting us know that the real dead guy is an extremely minor character we only barely saw.

And I’ll make a couple of comparisons with the episode it claims to be patterned after: The Fugitive Nurse. That season 1 episode is one of my most favorites, both of season 1 in general and the series as a whole. Hamilton and Tragg really have a lot of chances to shine in it.

Hamilton and Steve get a lot of screentime in The Vanishing Victim, but aside from Hamilton’s final comment to the murderer (which was just awesome) and Steve’s adorable appearance in the epilogue, they don’t really have much chance to shine. They’re by and large depicted as the antagonists, behaving ridiculously and unfairly, calling the hearing before there’s enough evidence and then, after the judge throws the case out, planning to re-arrest the defendant on a trumped-up charge while they try to gather new evidence to prove the murder. They honestly don’t often tend to pull stunts like that, so Perry’s comment about Hamilton being predictable with the re-arrest plan is still irritating to me.

Also, the defendant in The Vanishing Victim honestly seems like a block of ice. I’m all for aloof characters, but I like to get to know them a little even if they remain a mystery to the other characters. I couldn’t figure that woman out at all. Usually we get to know the defendants enough so that we can dredge up some sympathy for them, but it didn’t really seem like we got to know this one at all. Perry mused on trying to discover whether she’s a grieving widow or a murderer, and she didn’t seem to be either one. Her husband didn’t seem like a nice guy, but when Lisa Gaye’s character commented on how miserable she had made life for her husband, there was no refuting of that statement. I have to wonder exactly what their marriage really was like.

Compare that with the defendant in The Fugitive Nurse. She realizes she’s being selfish to not let her husband have a divorce if he wants it so badly and thinks the nurse will make him happier. She wants to do the right thing. She opens up to Perry and the audience gets to know her and that she’s a good person who handled some things wrong. Maybe the bad marriage was partially her fault, and she’ll own up to that.

The restaurant owner who was so key in The Fugitive Nurse doesn’t play much of a role here. In this version, the friend isn’t dead and his wife didn’t try to kill him. Their marriage is on the rocks, and she’s serving him divorce papers, but she’s not the cold-hearted penny-pincher Jeanette Nolan expertly played in The Fugitive Nurse. This character has class, running a very swanky restaurant instead of just a cheap burger joint. Her only scene has her sitting down with Paul to discuss her husband.

And then the epilogue. I was always annoyed by what I’d heard of Perry supposedly paying Paul and then taking the check away from him. I was also annoyed when I watched the epilogue alone and didn’t see the whole episode.

This time, having watched the whole episode and seen the epilogue again, I’m not sure what to make of it. My opinion hinges on the key question: did Paul really have some expenses totaling $175.19, or was he totally trying to rip Perry off just so he’d have the money for his golf clubs?

I honestly can’t believe Paul would try to cheat Perry like that. Maybe he’d add a random 19 cents, but I can’t believe the $175 wasn’t a real expense.

If Paul really did try to cheat Perry with the whole amount, then Perry taking the money away from him and giving it to Steve is perfectly fine in my book. But if, as I originally thought, Paul had an actual expense and Perry was just refusing to pay up, then the epilogue still annoys me. I suppose the interpretation is up to each viewer to determine.

Overall, The Vanishing Victim never will be a favorite episode of mine. The war between Perry and Hamilton would work better in season 1 than season 9, but the confusion over the dead man’s identity would be exasperating and bewildering in any season. Pretty much the only things I like are still Perry’s speech to Lisa Gaye’s character, Hamilton’s final comment to the murderer, and Steve being adorable in the epilogue.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

In Memoriam: Ray Collins

And so we come to another July 11th, the anniversary of Ray Collins’ death. The problem of figuring out new things to say remains, but my respect and admiration of this highly talented and warmhearted man persists as well.

Every time we finish another run of Perry and switch to the early episodes, what I look forward to the most is seeing Tragg again. All the other characters seen at the beginning are still there at the end, albeit more mature and wise than they were to start with, but Tragg is very sadly absent. It’s always a joy to see him in the early episodes and hear those hilarious, snarky comments once again.

The first three-ish seasons have that special bond between the Core Five that was never duplicated in later seasons, even when they were together again after the real-life scandal that split the group up. By mid-season 4, when William Talman was finally restored to his rightful place in the cast, Ray Collins’ health was already deteriorating. The search for what to do began in season 4, not 5, as I have noted in another post.

Perhaps in some way, the real-life sorrows that plagued the actors had carried over to the characters at that point. There’s a certain innocence in those early seasons, as though the characters and the actors all think that everything is well and although there are problems to get through, they will all come out just fine in the end. That innocence was shattered for the actors when William Talman was suspended, and only grew worse when Ray’s health began to fail. Naturally, even after the actors and characters were all reunited, they could not fully be the same people they had been in the beginning. While Hamilton had not been suspended in the scripts, and Tragg was still healthy as far as we knew, the actors’ problems and sorrows were new, subtle elements to the characters. The innocence of the early seasons was gone; sometimes things didn’t turn out alright, or when they did, there were still scars left behind.

Tragg, of course, continued to be awesome right up through his final episode, season 7’s The Capering Camera. Always snarky even while he respects Perry, some of Tragg’s most amusing comments were among his last. I think of the scene in The Reluctant Model when Perry receives the call from “a client who no longer wants to be a client.” Tragg’s dry response is, “My heart bleeds for you.” Heh! And his final episode includes the classic scene where Andy comes to him for advice and Tragg suggests that Andy consider Perry his prime suspect and follow him around for a while, if he’s so uncertain that the apparent suicide is really suicide.

Yet even in these scenes, there’s still a definite sense that things are changing. Tragg seems somewhat worn-down in The Reluctant Model; in past seasons, he might have been perkier and cheerier, with some nice comment for Della in specific or some note of goodwill for both of them, despite his annoyance with whatever Perry might be holding back this time. And in The Capering Camera, during that scene where he advises Andy, he’s sitting down at his desk. It also definitely looks like the reins are being turned over to Andy, since he is the one in charge of the case and Tragg is not involved (although he becomes involved later).

Still, they wanted to show that Tragg is still a very active and important member of the police force. He’s very busy at his desk, with plenty to do, and in the majority of his other scenes in the episode, he’s standing up. He gets out in the field and does some investigating and picking up of suspects later on, and the final time we see him, he’s again standing, in the courtroom.

That’s a good memory to take with us of Tragg’s last episode. I still like to picture him carrying on through the remainder of the series, even though we don’t see him onscreen. Ray Collins brought to life such a wonderful, colorful character for us to enjoy and celebrate again and again, and I will continue to do just that.
Thank you, Ray, for all the happy memories and each episode that features Lieutenant Arthur Tragg. Ray played many amazing characters in films, but Tragg will always be the most iconic of all of his characters.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Birthday Tribute: Wesley Lau

So today is the great Wesley Lau’s birthday. I watched The Hateful Hero to celebrate, at least for openers, and I’ve been pondering on what sort of original topic I could bring to the post today. I went over all the entries tagged with his name, and to my surprise, I don’t even see any mention of his Virginian characters. He guest-starred on the show three times, twice playing very unusual law enforcement agents.

Wesley’s law enforcement characters are very often similar to Andy, at least on the surface. They are generally very smooth and businesslike in demeanor, but each one is unique in his own way, such as the visionary Captain Gottleib on The Magician.

On The Virginian, Wesley’s first law enforcement character is Sheriff Ben Morris in the season 5 episode Vengeance Trail. He comes across as a not entirely upright fellow, who sanctions and even participates in actions such as burning the surrounding grasslands to force people driving cattle to pass through his town and pay a toll for doing so. Apparently the town is in dire straits and badly needs the toll money.

I don’t remember too much about the episode beyond that, except that for some reason, he and his cohorts were not going to be reported for their actions and were going to keep their jobs. I do seem to recall that towards the end, he either did something upright or else refused to let his comrades take things what he deemed too far. When all is said and done, Morris is honestly trying to do what he feels is best for his town, even if in actuality it isn’t the best thing for either the town or his integrity. But he seems, in some way, to redeem himself by the end. It’s an interesting look at poor Old West towns and what they sometimes resorted to in order to survive.

I remember his character from the season 6 episode The Gentle Tamers far better. He starts out as a mysterious ranch hand who has recently joined the Shiloh crew, just in time to witness a very experimental procedure: three convicts are going to be tried out as ranch hands on the new probation program. If it works out, it could mean important long-term effects for prisoners everywhere.

Wesley’s character, Hoyt, doesn’t seem to like the convicts very much. He’s often mysterious and quiet, and when he does speak, it’s usually in an unfriendly tone of voice, such as seemingly mocking when he accidentally upsets a horse one of them is working with.

Throughout a good portion of the episode, his intentions are not clear. He shadows the convicts when they go into town and eventually ends up in trouble with one of them over a card game back at Shiloh Ranch.

Finally he reveals the full truth about himself: he’s a law enforcement agent undercover to see how the probation idea is coming along. He is deeply against the concept of probation in general, and in a bitterly hurt speech, he reveals why. He used to work at a prison and he saw all kinds of people come through. He never saw anyone that he felt might be worthy of a second chance, except one. But when he tried to give that one the chance, he was betrayed in return. Removing his shirt, he displays the horrific scars of a brutal attack.

Despite how very personal any probation-related case is to him because of that, he is still overall a fair and decent human being. During the climax, the cattle spook and stampede and the convicts have to help round them up. The nastiest one, who had planned to steal the cattle and run, is trampled and killed when he finally tries to do the right thing. The other two, also rounding up the cattle and trying to protect the people, make it through alive. Neither of them had wanted to participate in the other’s unseemly plan. At the end of the episode, Hoyt leaves to report to his superiors. Impressed by the men’s actions, he promises he’ll make a fair report.

Wesley had such an amazing talent throughout his life. He brought characters such as Andy, Sheriff Morris, and Hoyt to life beautifully and made them seem three-dimensional and real. Hoyt, with his gruff exterior, saddening backstory, and honestly good soul, reminds me of a lot of Simon Oakland’s characters. While very different from Andy in a lot of ways, Hoyt’s core fairness and goodness is the same.

Wesley was often asked to play law enforcement characters throughout his career, no doubt because they knew he could deliver. Always excellent, Wesley added a great deal to any show he was cast in, whether that was as a law enforcement agent, military, a common citizen, or a villain. I’m happy to use this day to remember him, although of course, I remember him on every day.

Happy Birthday, Wesley. You are still fondly remembered and loved.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Recurring Characters: Mr. Snell

So. I wasn’t expecting to discover another recurring character. Mr. Snell, Robert Colbert’s district attorney character in The Grinning Gorilla, also appears in The Hasty Honeymooner.

Of course, the end result of that is that Snell really doesn’t come off looking too competent, since he’s the one Perry lobs many legitimate complaints about prejudicial conduct about. And it’s hard to really think of the man otherwise, since this is our only glimpse of him in a courtroom setting. At least poor Hamilton, whose courtroom conduct is very badly written and almost a mirror of Mr. Snell’s in the following episode, The 12th Wildcat, has many opportunities to show that he is competent and that the writing in The 12th Wildcat is really a fluke.

When I previously remembered Mr. Snell only from The Grinning Gorilla, I liked him alright. He seemed competent enough, as did the police. I never really understood Perry screaming “Entrapment!”, since all they did was wait to see if their suspect would come retrieve the check she had previously hidden in the squad car. They didn’t induce her to commit a crime she was otherwise unlikely to commit, which is the definition of entrapment. I suppose it’s a bit of a gray area, but it seemed perfectly fine to me. But in any case, Mr. Snell mentioned having a word with the police about the incident.

It seems like Robert Colbert had a bit of an unlucky streak with his recurring characters. He was also the one unfortunately chosen by Warner Brothers to basically replace the Bret Maverick character after Roger Moore quit the series, citing low-quality scripts for his Beau Maverick character. (While Beau is actually my favorite Maverick, I do have to agree with Roger that the scripts were rather below par, for the most part.) Robert ended up playing a character called Brent Maverick, a third brother to Bret and Bart. In his dress, speech pattern, and mannerisms, as well as his similar name, he was clearly meant to be another Bret. He was aware of this, too, giving the famous quote that he would rather have to cross-dress than do what Warner Brothers wanted of him. The character went over about as well as expected, disappearing after two episodes.

I wonder if they were planning to use Mr. Snell for more than two episodes? I suppose it’s possible that if they had, they would have used the character more favorably, as they did in The Grinning Gorilla. It’s hard to say, since their track record with writing for the prosecutors was up and down. And in season 9, which often wanted to go back to being season 1, there were several very bad “down” ventures.

I would say that it’s interesting in any case to use a recurring character in two different seasons, and only two seasons (unlike more frequent visitors D.A. Hale and Sergeant Landro), but I’ve heard that seasons 8 and 9 were filmed as though they were one big season, a thought which the production numbers back up. Also, it isn’t the first time Perry brings back characters seemingly at random in different seasons. Deputy D.A. Alvin appeared twice in season 4, then disappeared until he very randomly showed up again in season 6. Likewise, Detective Toland of Robbery made appearances in two separate seasons, albeit unlike Alvin, those were consecutive (6 and 7, I believe). It’s kind of neat to see the cast and crew remember these characters sometime after their original appearances.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Double Birthday Post!

I wanted to post this on one of the in-between days so it would seem more evenly balanced, but it didn’t work out that way. Ah, work. So, Happy Birthday to Raymond Burr and Lee Miller!

I still find it fascinating and intriguing that they were born the same year, only three days apart: Lee on the 18th, Raymond on the 21st. They had such a lasting connection through the years, with Lee serving as Raymond’s stand-in for both Perry and Ironside and appearing on-screen in both series as well as in the first Perry movie. They must have had a very special friendship. That’s an angle I wish we knew more about.

Apparently they must have met even before Perry, since Lee appeared in Raymond’s film Please Murder Me. I wonder if that was their first meeting or if they knew each other before that as well?

I watched The Candy Queen several weeks ago and somehow mistakenly got it in my head that Sergeant Brice was the one who snapped at the apartment manager about getting towels. I was surprised to think of it being him, as he’s such a quiet sort. Watching the episode again tonight, I saw that it wasn’t him, but the uniformed officer bending over Wanda. That made more sense.

Of course, had it been Brice, he would have just been worried about Wanda’s condition, as the other officer was. But I think out of all the main police characters, Brice is the only one who actually never so much as snapped or lost his temper. He’s always easy-going and observant, the quiet one in the background.

Naturally, now I’ve talked myself into the idea of a story where Brice is pushed to losing his temper. That would be a very frightening and heartbreaking thing, as it would take something extremely serious to make Brice snap, perhaps one of the other policemen being hurt right in front of him by a heartless criminal. Everything would be alright in the end, but what a ride to get there.

I haven’t forgotten my idea of wanting to do a story to show more Brice and Della interaction, either. And I think it would be fun to also have more Brice and Perry interaction. I love the scenes they have together, which are more plentiful in the later seasons. Brice is open with information where he can be and would probably say more if not for his superiors’ objections.

It’s interesting, too, to see them standing next to each other. You can definitely see the similarities in build and how easy it must have been for Lee to serve as Raymond’s stand-in. I wonder what scenes he was in instead of Raymond? I suppose that information is down somewhere or some fan has spent time observing things closely enough to tell when it’s Lee.

I also wonder what prompted them to decide to let the police lieutenants have a steady partner instead of continually having different ones. It’s certainly more logical for there to be a steady one. And I wonder how Lee got chosen? Perhaps because he was already on the payroll and they didn’t feel they could hire someone else at that point, and then his portrayal was so great that they left it at that, even if they could have hired someone else later.

It’s always nice to see Sergeant Brice accompany the lieutenant, whichever one it is. Even as they change, Brice is always there, a bit of lasting familiarity.

And of course, Perry is the perfect leading man for the series. Another great decision by Erle Stanley Gardner was to cast Raymond as Perry, especially after Raymond had actually auditioned for Hamilton’s part! It’s almost impossible for me to imagine the roles reversed, but I would really love to see footage from those auditions. I wish they had included those screen tests on the anniversary set.

I’ve delivered a great deal of praise for Raymond’s portrayal of Perry in past posts, so it’s a bit difficult to think of something new. But the series certainly would have been something much different without Raymond at the helm. I wonder if it even would have been anywhere as successful. There are many brilliant actors who could have attempted to carry the show, but Raymond was just so ideal as Perry. And not only that, but he helped to make the set such a happy place, including everyone and considering them part of the Perry family. Not every actor would have done that.

One of the things Richard mentions in his book is a failed pilot for a series that he and Raymond would have both appeared in. It’s a pity the pilot didn’t get picked up, although on the other hand, I believe he said it was right around the time that CBS was putting together the Perry series. If the pilot had been picked up, I wonder where that would have left Perry? Interesting, how things turn out.

So here’s to Raymond and Lee, and to their special friendship. They both made the series so memorable in their own, unique ways.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Richard Anderson's book!

For the past afternoon, I have done something I have wanted to do ever since the rumors started circling a couple of years ago.

I have delightedly devoured Richard’s book.

It’s a fascinating treasure trove of anecdotes from throughout Richard’s amazing life, covering early experiences, the golden days of Hollywood, and of course, the television series that Richard has become so famous for. As near as I can tell, it’s transcribed directly from the interviews with Alan Doshna. I can hear Richard’s voice in my mind, narrating every page like it’s a cozy fireside visit with friends. He’s every bit the warm, friendly, and charming person I’ve pictured him to be.

While I wish the book was longer and that the sections on especially Perry were more detailed, it’s a wonderful read that every classic movie and television buff should pick up. And there are some great little anecdotes about working on Perry. He has nothing but lovely things to say about everyone.

I don’t want to detail any of the contents of the book, as I want everyone to go out and get one for themselves, but there are a couple of little tidbits I want to point out. (Get the book to read the details.)

- Erle Stanley Gardner liked Richard’s portrayal of Steve Drumm. While I don’t agree with many of Mr. Gardner’s decisions, this is certainly one I’m thrilled about.

- Richard indicated that perhaps he would have liked to play Steve in the reunion movie. He was very pleased with the part he got, but it definitely sounded like it wasn’t his decision to not play Steve in it.

It’s really a treasure to have something available from one of the only surviving members of the steady Perry cast, not to mention, someone who experienced so much of Hollywood during the classic days. It’s really intriguing and exciting to hear about all the people he met and the ones he struck up friendships with. To top it off, there are many beautiful pictures from Richard’s personal collection! I love seeing shots of Richard through the years in some of his assorted and very unique roles.

The book is available here: as well as on Amazon. I wonder if Richard will be doing any book-signings or promotions? I wish he’d come to my area!