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.


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’s the only show they have online that they air on the network more than once a week.

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.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Maligned Mobster

And so we come to the last movie on MeTV’s first Perry movie week, The Maligned Mobster.

We’ve certainly got an interesting situation for the premise: a supposedly reformed mobster is accused of murdering his wife and his lawyer, a longtime friend of Perry’s, comes to him for help. The lawyer deals in business matters and isn’t a criminal lawyer. He hopes Perry will defend the guy.

Perry doesn’t like the idea at all, but Della and Ken remind him of things he’s said about everyone deserving the best possible defense. Eventually he wears down enough that he decides to at least talk to the man. After also talking to the guy’s embittered son, and apparently feeling somewhat saddened by the fractured family, Perry determines to take the case.

Despite Ken reminding Perry of things he’d said, Ken is very much against the case. Still, he says that he’s in it for the long haul, even though he can’t help his feelings. It’s kind of unique to have that sort of conflict in the movies. It adds a realistic touch and it reminds me of when Paul didn’t always agree with Perry but was there to help anyway.

Both the scene of Della and Ken talking to Perry, and a later scene where Ken has to miss a date and Perry says he and Della will take the girl to dinner, are very reminiscent of the series proper. Poor Paul’s social life certainly suffered because of cases. I don’t think Perry ever offered to take Paul’s girlfriends to dinner, though!

I really enjoyed all the scenes in Perry’s office. It looks like a much bigger place than his office on the series. Of course, it also includes an office for Ken as well, and that idea of Perry taking him on as a law firm partner is neat. Having Ken as a sort of protégé makes me think the movies are doing more successfully what the series failed to do when they tried to use David as a steady cast member.

Ken really functions better without Amy constantly around. He may have a little problem here or there, but nothing like what Paul Jr. had. He’s a very competent investigator and lawyer and can manage things just fine on his own. And I wouldn’t be surprised but what Amy’s presence is what made Ken firmly decide that he investigates alone.

I’m kind of curious to know what would happen if Paul Jr. and Ken ever met and had to investigate together. I bet it would be a disaster. Paul Jr. would flub big time and Ken would be frustrated and keep wanting to work alone. And there would probably be lots of arguing.

This movie brought in another policeman, who also seemed quite personable and friendly. That's always nice to see; it makes them feel a lot more real and enjoyable to watch than some of the police scenes in other installments I've seen.

The solution of this mystery is particularly twisty and confusing and I’m not sure I could possibly try to summarize any of it offhand (at least, not without re-watching those parts). I found it almost impossible when Mom wanted me to try to explain some specific parts that she dozed off in. But it was really put together quite well, and in true Perry fashion, even the smallest and most seemingly insignificant things ended up being very important in the overall picture.

One of the most unique things about this installment, aside from the fact of Perry defending a presumably reformed mobster, is that the fellow is still not squeaky clean by a long shot. He definitely plays around with women, something that badly upset his wife. (Although maybe she was more upset than she should have been, considering that she was apparently playing around herself.) Most defendants in the series proper were innocent of such accusations levied against them. (The defendant in The Singing Skirt was a rare exception.)

Even more troubling and eyebrow-raising, this mobster defendant is eventually revealed to have killed a drug dealer who was selling drugs to the man’s son. Drug dealers are among the most repulsive scum of the earth, but of course, murdering them is still not acceptable behavior. It’s never actually revealed whether Johnny the defendant outright murdered him or if they had a fight that resulted in the death, but the movie ends with the judge ordering the case to be looked into more deeply.

This movie features one of the most shocking and intense scenes throughout the movie series, when gunfire is suddenly levied at Perry and his team and Johnny as they stand outside Johnny’s house. When it stops, Perry is lying on the porch, obviously bleeding. Cue commercial break.

I certainly didn’t want Perry to be seriously hurt, but it seemed to me like kind of a cop-out when the movie came back. There was a brief scene of Perry being taken away in the ambulance while an overwhelmed Della and Ken talk to reporters, with Della saying Perry would be in court tomorrow, and suddenly it switches to court and Perry is indeed there, his arm in a sling. As much as I didn’t really want another instance of hospital scenery, I think Perry being shot is one time when there should have been a scene there, with Della and Ken hurrying in to the hospital to see Perry and him with just his arm hurt and seeming fine and wanting out. I mean, if you’re going to shoot one of the main characters, that’s a pretty big thing. It should be treated as such, not just immediately brushed aside for other plot elements.

Perry being shot does play an important part in the case’s climax, however. First we learn that Johnny hired the guys to come fire on everyone to make the threat against him seem more real, since the D.A. wasn’t really buying the idea that someone killed the wife while thinking it was Johnny in the car. This appalls and angers Perry, as well it should, but since those characters were firing over everyone’s heads, it doesn’t seem that they were responsible for the shot that hit Perry.

The actual crime is a very convoluted conspiracy in which several of the characters were involved. But the final, heartbreaking nail is that the one who fired the shot at Perry and really was trying to kill him, is the lawyer who was Perry’s friend for thirty years. He had just wanted Perry to get Johnny off, not to dig into things so deeply that he would learn the truth. He felt that Perry had always been lucky rather than skilled, while he himself didn’t have any of that luck. When Perry started digging too deeply into things and was close to the truth, the guy figured he had to try to kill him. He said he didn’t want to, and he hadn’t wanted to arrange the death of Johnny’s wife (who also knew too much about his crooked acts) or the guy who killed the wife, but he did all of it anyway.

He was certainly a pathetic figure, not really deserving of sympathy. But a true friend can’t forget thirty years of friendship so easily, and the movie ends on a bittersweet note, with Perry sad about having to expose his friend as a criminal. It wasn’t exactly the ending I wanted and the movie didn’t leave me feeling too fulfilled because of it, but it was another touch of realism and I did like seeing how much Perry still cared about his friend in spite of everything. And it was nice to see Della there to try to help comfort him.

Overall, the movie was very good and I liked the uniqueness of it and its assorted realistic elements. There was a lot to like about it, and yet another was after the trial ends and the judge orders the drug dealer’s murder to be looked into. Johnny asks Perry if he’ll take care of that case too. Perry says that neither he nor the son can trust him. He will not take the case.

Johnny accepts that and leaves, while Perry talks to the son and asks for him to keep in touch. Despite the kid’s anger (which is likely at least somewhat justified), Perry likes him and wants to stay in contact with him. And the boy, sobered to realize how much his father cares about him despite whatever illegal acts he committed, goes and hugs Johnny. He may not be able to trust his father, but he can still love him.

It’s been fun watching all these Perry movies this week and actually managing to get the commentary in every following day. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do that. I have a couple of upcoming topics, but after a week of non-stop posting, I may wait several days before putting up one of those.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Musical Murder

The Musical Murder did not immediately endear itself to me when everybody started swearing every two seconds following Debbie Reynolds’ opening song. I sorely hoped the whole movie would not continue in that vein. Thankfully, it did ease up.

Musicals are not my favorite thing in the world (generally I dislike them, unless they have a strong plot; many have a slim plot written only to space time between songs), but the opening song was kind of fun. I kind of wished we could have seen a little more of the show with people rehearsing it off and on through the movie.

Unlike most of the Perry episodes dealing with theatrical productions, the characters here did not feel over-dramatic and silly, but real. That was admittedly a nice change, even though I know there are indeed many over-dramatic people in the theatre business and the Perry episodes are likely more accurate than I would like to believe.

It seems like these movies are coming up with all kinds of reasons to have Perry in the hospital. At first I thought the knee problem was a carryover from the previous movie, but it looks like it was a new problem. I’m starting to get a little bored with continually making excuses to put Perry in the hospital. (I wonder if Raymond Burr was having knee problems in real-life and they were trying to find new ways to keep sticking it into the storylines?) However, this movie actually made the trip highly relevant to the plot.

Following knee surgery, and an encounter with a highly irritating, patronizing nurse, Perry grudgingly takes some sedatives, whereupon he sees the defendant outside and across the street at the same time the murder is happening. Naturally Perry can’t make the assistant D.A. believe that he knows it was that man, but it makes for an interesting problem and ups the intensity, as this time around Perry knows without a shadow of a doubt that the defendant is innocent. He just can’t prove it (until the final court twists).

I was right about Amy appearing in more than one movie. She and Ken are pretty cute here and have a real “team” vibe. Ken was even standing up for her/making excuses for her to Perry even though he was distressed at her rustling up clients for him. I looked her up and found that she’s in one other movie. But then, as I thought, she was dropped.

I do think it would have gotten difficult to keep her and Ken’s conflicts going throughout the movies without it starting to feel overdone and stale, but since they seemed to be getting along better than I’d thought they would, I wonder how her disappearance is explained in the context of the scripts. My guess is it’s probably not addressed at all, another Perry character vanishing without a trace.

She and Ken have quite a bit of the screentime, with Ken having problems getting the security guard who may know something to talk to him. He tries going undercover at the gym where the guy goes and manages to get some interesting information from his checkbook (by pulling a Paul Jr. stunt and getting the janitor to open the locker by saying it’s his). I don’t recall if Ken often pulls stunts like that or not. I was thinking that in the later movies, he adopts his own methods, separate from Paul Jr.’s.

Amy, meanwhile, goes undercover at a dress shop with the guy’s girlfriend, much to Ken’s dismay. They strike up a friendship and the girlfriend seems to still like Amy even after it’s revealed who she really is. The security guard is eventually cornered by Ken and the police when he tries to skip town and gets shot after he tries to shoot all of them. The girlfriend is heartbroken and distraught and Amy is trying to comfort her in the hospital. The girlfriend seems to accept this and wants Amy there.

Amy really is a sweet, compassionate person. I liked having that bit with her trying to comfort the guy’s girlfriend.

Ken seemed happy to do some investigative work for Perry, despite being a lawyer himself. Maybe it was a nice break from the bizarre cases he was getting courtesy of Amy. I seem to recall, however, that in later movies he wasn’t so happy with investigating. Here, he hoped that Perry would make him co-counsel for the case, and there was a lovely little bit where Perry finally does, right in court, after previously refusing.

Brock appears again and has been promoted to Lieutenant. He also, amazingly enough, actually seems personable here and not just a cardboard cutout “Grrr, they’re guilty!” character. I wonder if that continues.

I was surprised by the revelation of the killer’s identity, as well as his motive. I was a little disappointed by the identity too, I guess; I was expecting it would be someone else and this seemed kind of a cheap cop-out. But on the other hand, he certainly was the one who seemed the least suspect.

I’m glad it wasn’t Jerry Orbach. I’ve liked him for years and it was a real treat to see him here. And it was cute that at the end, it looked like maybe he was going to get in with Debbie Reynolds’ character after all.

I didn’t like this one quite as much as some of the others I’ve seen, but it was still a fun Perry movie.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Lethal Lesson

So in The Lethal Lesson, we finally meet Ken for the first time. And like the much-hated David Gideon, Ken is a law student accused of murder. I was a bit surprised by this, as I hadn’t realized Perry met Ken by defending him, but I like it. I wonder if they intended at this point to make Ken a steady character or if that was only something they decided a little later?

I’ve always liked Ken better than Paul Jr., and even in this first entry, he seems to be overall more competent than Paul Jr. He’s certainly bewildered by all of a sudden having two girls interested in him, but that would be pretty overwhelming for anyone and he seems to handle things quite well.

I’m generally the type who prefers quieter, sensible characters, so I gravitated more to Kimberly. Throughout the first part of the movie, I was never quite sure if Amy really cared about Ken. I agreed with Perry about how she was sending him mixed signals and thought she was being very annoying to proclaim herself his fiancée. I think it was only about the time she went to that bar and was determined to even go undercover working there for a few hours that I realized she really did care. The tale she was telling the bartender certainly indicated that, as well as the fact that she would stoop to making food in a bar when she was rich enough to buy the place out several times over and then some. Once I realized she really did care, I found her quirkiness more amusing than I had.

Late in the movie, I had to question things again when Perry expressed doubt over Ken and Amy being a cute couple. Suddenly I wondered if it would turn out that either Amy or Kimberly was the guilty party. I imagined up ideas of Amy killing the guy with the thought that then Ken would have to rely on her to get him out of the mess. She seemed off-the-wall enough that it seemed possible.

I was kind of glad that did not end up being the case in the end. I was surprised by the revelation of two people being involved in the killing, but not by the identity of one of the two.

I’m left wondering what happened with Amy after the movie, though. I don’t remember her being in any of the other entries . . . I don’t think. Yet I have this vague memory that maybe she was in one more? When Ken’s reason for breaking things off with her was that he didn’t like her planning his life, I wonder how things could really work out between them long-term. One of Ken’s defining characteristics in all movies is that he likes to work alone, sometimes to the point of it being exasperating. And there was no indication that Amy realized Ken would prefer to plan his own life (as most people would), so it seems like that would likely still be a stumbling block between them.

Perry also ended up with a very interesting and sad dilemma, as the father of the murder victim was an old friend and became very angry and hurt when Perry decided Ken was innocent and he would defend him after all, after previously thinking he wouldn’t because of their friendship. The father even hired Ken’s roommate to lie about him and make him look more guilty, which was disgusting on both their parts. It was heartbreaking for the father to lose his beloved son, and naturally he was thoroughly convinced Ken was guilty or he wouldn’t have done it otherwise, but it was still a terrible thing to do. And I’m repulsed by the roommate agreeing. One of my favorite scenes in the movie was where Perry tore down his story.

I wonder what happened to Ken and his roommate after the movie. I can’t imagine either of them would want to continue being roommates. I wonder if the creep even felt sorry at all for what he did.

It was a little cruel for Perry to make the father believe he had proof of the man’s payment to the roommate to try to blackmail him into testifying. But on the other hand, I had to agree with Perry when the guy snarled, “What a trick to play on a friend!” and Perry repeated “Friend?” The man certainly hadn’t been acting like a friend. And while that doesn’t make it right for Perry to pull a trick in return, he probably felt a lot more like it had to be done when he saw the lengths the father was willing to go to in order to convict Ken.

I wonder what happened to them after the movie as well. I thought there might be some kind of reconciliation scene. The most there was, was seeing the father’s expression as the real killers were exposed. He clearly seemed to be thinking that he had been wrong about Ken and he had done wrong because of it. I wish they had shown a scene of him and Perry talking afterwards.

It didn’t seem like Della was in this movie very much. But she had an amusing scene when she first came in, talking about the lovely cruise she had been on and saying how bored she was after four days. After so many years of Perry keeping her on her toes all the time with cases, apparently he’d turned her into almost as much of a workaholic as he himself. She couldn’t relax for very long without being bored by it.

I really loved the gorgeous sapphire blue suit she was wearing in that scene. I wish she would have worn that more in the film!

There were a few shippery comments, as is usual for many of these films, including a cute exchange at the end where Della asked Perry if she should drive around the block three times (as Amy did while waiting for Ken, hoping he would come) and Perry smiled and said, “Like always, I’ll catch you on the first time around.”

I found it interesting that both the prosecutor and the judge were women in this entry. That was cool, and I liked this prosecutor a lot more than the female prosecutor in the very first movie. The one in the first movie seemed more interested in getting conviction above all else, even facepalming when the real killer is exposed and Perry asks for a dismissal of charges against his client. But she does congratulate him on the case, so it’s possible she was facepalming because of chagrin over prosecuting the wrong person. But anyway, I liked this other prosecutor better.

There was no mention of Paul Jr. in this entry. I wonder if this was the first one without him or if there was one other that explained why he wasn’t there. I think I’ll assume, however, that Paul Jr. just plain wanted to stay in L.A. and didn’t move to Denver with Perry and Della. I’m still not even sure that they moved there, since all the films I’ve seen where they are there seem to involve them either coming for a case or coming on vacation and getting into a case. As I recall, a lot of the later movies have them traveling all over, so it doesn’t seem like they really put down roots in Denver. Albeit this movie has Perry teaching a law seminar, so I guess they must have bunked down in Denver for at least a little while.

I really like the idea of Perry teaching the class, too. It totally makes sense for him to pass on his legal knowledge in that way, training a new generation of lawyers. And it reminds me of how he is occasionally shown giving lectures or seminars in the series proper, such as in a late season 8 episode.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable movie too. I could have done without the scene of what I assume was a topless dancer on a table when the good guys have to corner a gang in a club, but that was thankfully about the worst thing in it. The other scene that could have been eyebrow-raising, the scene where Kimberly comes over when Amy is in Ken’s shower, was handled quite tastefully well in the end.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Murdered Madam

I was understandably a little leery of an installment called The Murdered Madam. Knowing the way Dean Hargrove and Fred Silverman approached Diagnosis Murder, inserting suggestive things whenever they felt like it, I could easily imagine them doing the same thing with Perry.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Unless MeTV cut something, there really weren’t any suggestive or racy scenes at all. It was handled very tastefully, only really mentioning the victim’s past through newspaper articles. I was concerned that Paul Jr. might have to go talking to some of the girls who worked for her and they would be in compromising positions and such. I remember one movie where he went to talk to someone and a model was posing for him naked.

But the only girl he needed to talk to was never shown in any states of undress, although it was mentioned that she was a call girl. And as usual, he had some very unimpressive scenes as he ends up maced by her and has his wallet taken by her.

I could scarcely believe it when he finally caught up to her and actually thought she would stay put while he ran out ahead to try in vain to catch up to someone who was trying to kill her. She wasn’t willing to hold still for him before; there wasn’t a reason to think she would then. Something he quickly learned.

At last he finally had a decent scene when he found her again and managed to get out of there with her despite an angry ex-boyfriend. It kind of seems like that’s a standard formula for the movies: Paul Jr. (or Ken) does some really stupid things while investigating, then finally does something right late in the film to move the case along. Even though Paul Sr. had some bad luck sometimes, he came across as a lot more competent than his son often seems to.

I forgot to mention anything about Sergeant Brock in the movie yesterday. He actually seemed to have a pretty good-sized role in it. (And hasn’t he been in more than one film? The name seems familiar.) However, both he in that film and the sergeant in this one come across as very businesslike and cold. They don’t seem to have any of the charm of the series’ policemen. Even when Andy is being businesslike and holding people at arms’ length, he shows instances of being compassionate and human.

Reston had a very nice scene where he expressed concern for Perry trying to stand on a knee that had just been operated on, and offered his own assistant if Perry needed help presenting exhibits. It was a neat way to show the prosecutor’s humanity and reminded me of kind gestures Hamilton makes on the series.

One of the most interesting aspects of this installment is the backstory on Della. According to her (and Reston), she grew up in the same neighborhood as Tony, the defendant, and she had a younger brother who was Tony’s age. She often baby-sitted both of them. And Tony’s uncle apparently proposed to her and they were even engaged. It’s not explained what broke that up, but she felt the need to tell Perry that it was a very long time ago, when she was very young. That was cute, and I imagine the shippers like it.

The very last scene is also very nice for the shippers, with Paul Jr. saying he’s going to have dinner with a beautiful lady and Perry saying that he is too. It’s just him and Della. Della smiles and leans into him.

It was a little bittersweet of a line for me, though, since for viewers coming from the series proper, it really was just Perry and Della; they were the only original cast members left. But it was lovely to see them still there.

Tony was an interesting character, too. It was heartbreaking to see him come home and find his wife dead, and then to not be able to accept the news that she was once a notorious madam. And boy, was he impulsive to preposterous extents, even bursting into a business meeting to demand of one of the suspects “Who killed her?!” and then punching him when he doesn’t receive an answer.

I liked that at the end of the film, Della told him that his wife was arranging that complex blackmail scheme because she wanted the money for him. Despite whatever wrong things she had done in the past, and whatever crooked things she had done right before her death, she really loved Tony. I thought it was nicer to have it that way instead of being that she really didn’t care about him. Plus, with my consternation over so many insincere couples on the series, I loved seeing one that really loved each other.

All in all, I was quite impressed by how they handled the potentially suggestive subject matter and was very pleased to not see any of the standard naughty scenes those producers are known for. Not all of the movies fared as well in that respect.

Paul Jr.’s ridiculous flubs made me roll my eyes, but he redeemed himself in the end, I suppose. I wouldn’t want him to be a complete Paul Sr. clone, but I think they could have made the character sufficiently different without having him make so many mistakes.

And even though I do not consider the movies to be absolute canon, just a possibility, it is interesting to see what they’re doing with Della’s backstory. I look forward to any future revelations they may have to that effect.

As a parting and unrelated note, I finally finished a short humor story I’ve been working on for the past several weeks. It mostly deals with Hamilton and some of his deputies as they have a bizarre day in the office. I’m overall quite pleased with how it turned out; it was definitely amusing to write. And I’m left wishing again that the show really had delved more into Hamilton’s interaction with his deputies.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Case of the Notorious Nun

So I’ve decided to offer commentary on the Perry movies. I may not do it for all of them, especially since some days I may not be able to post, but we’ll see how it goes. Maybe it will help make up for some of the silence around here as I’ve been desperately seeking topics.

The Notorious Nun was quite a good installment. Apparently it was one of the very early ones, as they’re still flying to Denver from L.A., William Katt is there, and it’s the first appearance of David Ogden Stiers’ Michael Reston.

I don’t have a lot to say on the plot itself. I really liked Margaret; she was cute, spunky, and extremely determined. And not afraid to do whatever had to be done. One of my favorite bits was when Paul Jr. was going through the trash and Margaret wanders off. A few minutes later she comes back ready to help him do garbage battle.

The way the crooks got her caught in the frame was sickening and cruel and very much like many Perry antagonists in the series proper. I was a little underwhelmed by the revelation of what was actually going on. Of course, embezzlement is nothing to sneeze at, but I suppose when the crooks involved religious people I was expecting something a little darker and deeper.

I still don’t care a great deal for Paul Jr. I see something of his father in how he complains about being taken away from associations with lovely ladies, but overall he seems more like a stereotypical private eye than his father does, especially with always pretending to be other people and unorthodox things like running out with a confidential file, and he just doesn’t do it for me. The best thing about him is that he’s played by Barbara Hale’s son, and you can see the familial love between them in every scene they’re in.

I did like the friendship between Paul Jr. and Margaret in this installment. That was sweet.

One thing that keeps puzzling me is, what exactly happened to the character when he stopped being in the movies? Did they say he preferred living in L.A. and would not be moving to Denver? Did they say nothing and simply drop him without explanation? And in reality, what was the reason for the departure? Did they feel the character was not working? Did William Katt want out? Anyone know?

I was a little surprised that the film didn’t show us Margaret’s decision on whether she felt she could take her final vows or not. Maybe they preferred to leave it up to the imagination or maybe they felt it would upset the flow of the film. Or maybe they honestly forgot about wrapping up that angle. I know sometimes I get caught up in the main plot of a story and I forget to address subplots.

I liked Michael Reston, as I generally do, although I didn’t like his insistence on Margaret’s only answering Yes or No to his questions. I know that’s typical for handling hostile witnesses, but since Margaret absolutely wanted to testify and therefore wasn’t hostile, it seemed to me that she should have been allowed to say everything she was trying to.

The main thing I was thinking about this film overall? Man, did Perry look good. Seriously, Raymond Burr had clearly lost weight at that point; he looked thinner than Perry did in the last Perry seasons and thinnier than Ironside ever did throughout eight seasons. It was very impressive.

I was a little dismayed at the plot idea of having Perry collapse, as it’s sad to think of him getting so old he’s having that happen, but I was in and out for a few minutes there at the beginning and I gathered that he really didn’t collapse and it was a ruse to get him into the hospital to start looking into the case? I loved the little bit of Della rushing in so worried and then finds that Perry is fine.

Overall, it proved a very worthy member of the Perry family and I look forward to the next one tonight.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quick Post

A little reminder that MeTV's week of Perry movies kicks off tonight following the nighttime Perry! Set your VCRs or DVRs! (Or stay up and watch, if you are so inclined!)

And another Perry-related reminder: you can still pre-order Richard Anderson's book, which releases next month! It seems to only be available to purchase from the publisher, and pre-ordering will allow free shipping, which is an awesome thing.

Richard's book will be a treasure for every classic movie and television lover, as well as Richard fans in specific. And he's bound to talk about Perry somewhat, something I am eagerly looking forward to!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

William Talman: Belated Birthday Tribute and Movie News

I really wanted to get a post up on Wednesday. I really did. And I thought and thought and thought . . . and couldn’t seem to come up with a very original way to say Happy 100th Birthday to the awesome William Talman. I still can’t, after all the posts I’ve already made for him and Hamilton, but I wanted to acknowledge his milestone birthday before we get any farther removed from February 4th!

A local station is going to show the movie The City That Never Sleeps this coming weekend. I’ve been debating whether to give it a try. I know William plays the bad guy in it, but it’s still a movie I haven’t seen him in yet. And he’s so amazing at whatever he does that I know it will be an incredible performance.

MeTV is currently showing the four season 6 episodes with guest lawyers. I’ve been enjoying re-watching them again; two of them are among my all-time favorite episodes ever (The Libelous Locket and The Two-Faced-Turn-A-Bout). Hamilton has a lot of great scenes in all the episodes, and the one coming up tomorrow is the one where he and Della have that intriguing “hostile witness” exchange.

I’m always impressed by how he conducts himself in the Bette Davis episode, Constant Doyle. Back in the 1960s, it would have been so easy to have had people giving a female lawyer a really hard time. But Hamilton is so perfectly professional and gracious and never looks down on Constant because she’s a woman (or because of any reason, really). Even when he’s absolutely bewildered by her trenchcoat display, he sounds baffled when he objects instead of argumentative.

I still don’t agree with Perry’s comment that Hamilton called him ten times exclaiming that he wants Perry to get well so he’ll have someone easy to face off against. I think Perry was probably joking. Hamilton may have called once, and said something like that jokingly, but I can’t feature him doing it ten times. Nor do I think Constant was harder to beat than Perry. But it was a fun case and it was awesome to see a female lawyer appear (for the only time in the series proper).

I never fail to get the giggles in The Libelous Locket when Professor Lindley pins Andy down on his joke about the Martian nine feet tall. Hamilton does a brilliant facepalm right then and his expression is classic. He’s sure that’s not going to help the prosecution’s case one bit, despite Andy’s exclamation that he was only kidding.

Any time Hamilton is in a scene, it can never be dull. He always has some perfect expression or comment to make. Even when he isn’t the focus of a scene and is only present in the background, such as while watching Perry conduct an examination of a witness, he’s very involved in what’s going on. I always like watching to see what William Talman does at those moments. Sometimes he observes Perry. Sometimes he writes or makes notes on a piece of paper. It always looks very natural and logical. The fact that he always knows how to handle those moments when he’s on camera, yet isn’t the focus, is one more sign of what an impressive actor he was.

How wonderful to think that the world has had knowledge of William Talman’s existence for 100 years. What a treasure! Happy birthday to a great actor and noble man!

And some news on the movie front: Next week, starting with the 16th, MeTV will finally have a week of showing Perry movies for their nightly Mystery Movie thing at 12:30 A.M. (or 11:30 P.M., for Mountain and Central timezones), right after the nighttime Perry. It’s no problem for night owls like me, but those going to bed at more decent hours had best have VCRs or DVRs ready. The lineup will be as follows:

The Notorious Nun
The Murdered Madam
The Lethal Lesson
The Musical Murder
The Maligned Mobster

None are movies that MeTV has previously shown, so it’s doubly important to grab the chance if you’re interested. I will definitely be watching, although as always, I will be missing those of the cast who are sadly absent. I wish they could have at least recruited Richard to come onboard and play Lieutenant Drumm again (maybe as a Captain by then or something). I know it would be the wrong locale if everyone relocated to Denver within the storyline, but still, it would have been such fun. And it would have given the police character more of a role again. One thing that surprises me about the movies is that the police characters rarely have a decent-sized part or are even well-rounded characters at all. That was a big part of the Perry series proper. I wonder why they felt it was not important enough to transfer to the movies as well?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Birthday post for William Hopper and news

I wanted to make sure to get in one more post in January. As an anonymous reader hastened to inform me, I neglected to put up a post for William Hopper’s birthday on Monday. This year, it wasn’t for lack of remembering, but lack of physical capability to make the post. I was feeling miserable all that day. Then Tuesday was rather busy, as has been the rest of the week, but I decided I must make sure to get William H. acknowledged before the month is out.

This is a real milestone birthday for our William H.; he would have been 100 this year! (William Talman and Simon Oakland celebrate the same milestone this year as well.) It’s really quite incredible to think that it’s been that many years. I wish I really had a decent tribute to give, but I haven’t seen any more of his movies yet, nor have I gleaned new insight into Paul-centric episodes or scenes since the last time I posted on that matter.

The best I can do is mention my geeky excitement when I was watching The Stars and Stripes Forever, the biopic for John Philip Sousa, and they mentioned the actor DeWolf Hopper was going to star in a musical play Sousa was writing the music for. I figured that must be William H.’s father, considering his full name is William DeWolf Hopper, Jr., and looking him up, I find that is true. So it was fun to find a little Perry-related connection in that film.

Also, looking up things further, it says that William H. first appeared in one of his father’s silent movies, Sunshine Dad, as a baby. That’s pretty adorable.

William H. had a very illustrious career in the motion picture business during the late 1930s and off and on through parts of the 1940s and 1950s, before he became Paul Drake on Perry Mason in 1957. And it wasn’t just B-grade movies, either; he has quite the impressive resumé—even though many of his early roles were bit parts. Among other well-known films, he appeared in Stagecoach, The Maltese Falcon, Knute Rockne, and Yankee Doodle Dandy! I knew about his later role in Rebel Without a Cause, but I was unaware of these earlier roles. I am excited. It’s been years since I’ve seen The Maltese Falcon; it looks like it’s time I saw it again. And on the B-movie circuit, he was in two of the Bonita Granville Nancy Drew movies. While I did not care for her version of the character, I would definitely be interested in seeing those films to see William H.

I still find it interesting that William H. originally auditioned for the role of Perry Mason himself when they started putting the show together. I really enjoyed his screen test when I saw it on the 50th Anniversary DVD set, but he just didn’t give off a Perry vibe to me. I guess the producers agreed, since they determined he would be the perfect Paul Drake instead. That was definitely a bit of casting genius!

While I’ll admit that I didn’t think Albert Stratton in The New Perry Mason did a poor job as Paul, it will always be William Hopper’s Paul who is the iconic version of the character. He’s ideal! Smooth, intelligent, always with an eye for a beautiful lady and bewilderment over some of Perry’s desires (“A couple of dozen flies?!”), William H.’s Paul delivers many classic lines and hilarious expressions. And of course, he often brings in the evidence Perry needs to cinch a case just in time.

I love whenever the show devotes a bit more time to showing Paul operating, instead of just having Paul tell Perry things about the investigation after the fact. Every now and then the show would allow some spotlighting of Paul’s work, something that became more prominent later on as Raymond Burr grew tired of always carrying the majority of the show. Mid-series episodes such as The Barefaced Witness, The Impatient Partner, and The Glamorous Ghost are excellent Paul investigation vehicles. Later ventures such as The Bullied Bowler, The Feather Cloak, and The Carefree Coronary also involve Paul as a particularly key figure.

When out-of-town investigating needs doing, Perry often sends Paul instead of going himself. Sometimes Paul’s adventures are off-screen; other times, we see him in assorted locales such as New Orleans, Boston, and Mexico. It would make a good post just to focus on Paul’s travels sometime. I’ll have to start collecting information for such a post.

Paul is such a ladies’ man that another good post subject would be all the times he’s mentioned having dates, shows interest in particular ladies, or is actually shown on dates. Then again, that could take volumes. Paul has an interesting social life, when given the chance to have it.

Paul always adds so much spice to the show. I always enjoy seeing more of his investigations and would have liked to have seen more. There could never be too many private-eye series! Lately I’ve been enjoying a lot of Darren McGavin’s private-eye vehicle Mike Hammer, and it occurs to me how much fun it would have been had there been a series focusing more on Paul’s investigations than on the legal elements. But I love Perry Mason for what it is, and I love Paul for being a part of what it is. There is certainly a big, lonely gap in the reunion movies where Paul should be. No actor could quite fill it.

Happy belated birthday to a wonderful actor and a wonderful man, William Hopper! 100 years of being aware of his existence in the world is a milestone indeed.

And now for a bit of news. I probably shouldn’t have this in the same post, but I’d like to get it out here before any more time goes by. I still wish that there was a Perry video or computer game with all the latest graphics. It would be so fun to see the cast rendered in 3D, possibly even controllable for levels. Imagine playing out investigation levels as Paul! Going to court as Perry and Hamilton! Playing mini puzzle games with Della or Tragg, Andy, and Steve sorting through information! There are so many possibilities.

The old DOS text-based computer game remains the one time Perry ventured into such media. There may be some nice pictures of Paul in that; I’m unsure, as I’ve only seen the first 16 minutes of game play. All I recall is some nice renditions of Hamilton and Tragg. However, for anyone who understands how to work a text-based DOS game, it is now possible to find out the answers to this and any other questions revolving around said game! The Internet Archive has been adding old DOS games to be legally played online for free, and the 1985 Perry game The Mandarin Murder is among them! My friend Crystal Rose (who runs the Simon Oakland blog with me) discovered it here:

I’m looking forward to giving it a try, although I don’t know how handy I’ll be at playing a text-based game.

Also, I do have what appears to be news on the Perry movie front. There is a promo running for MeTV’s current Mystery Movie feature on weeknights, and Perry as he appears in the 1980s and 1990s movies is part of that promo. It looks like at some point, MeTV will indeed air some of the Perry movies as part of their line-up. They seem to rotate each week, so we should get a whole week of Perry movies sometime soon. That should be interesting: a late-night Perry episode followed by a Perry movie.