Thursday, April 17, 2014

Birthday Tribute: Barbara Hale

Perry fans may want to check out tomorrow night’s Love Boat movie on MeTV. Raymond Burr is one of the main guest-stars! He delivers an amazing performance ranging from comedic to dramatic as a gruff, alcoholic theatre teacher. We even get to hear him sing! (He’s quite good, too.)

I happened to see it recently and by accident, as it was on the same disc as the wonderful Richard Anderson episode (which I’m hoping to record some Sunday if it hasn’t aired yet). It was definitely a surprise treat to see Raymond and well worth watching, even if you’re not a Love Boat fan. (Me, I kind of like the wonderful 1970s cheese and adorableness of the show, and how it deals with serious issues in a respectful way, even though at other times the mushiness makes me roll my eyes.)

And for once let’s do this early instead of late! Tomorrow is Barbara Hale’s 92nd birthday! Oh my goodness. It’s so wonderful to still have some of the original Perry cast members alive and well with us, especially as we’re losing more and more of the last remaining Golden Hollywood greats (R.I.P., Mickey Rooney).

This is a lovely fansite for Barbara: I had previously thought that Barbara either had some affiliation with it or that she was aware of it and came to look at the Guestbook comments. The website owner has a notice that says it’s an unofficial fanpage. That doesn’t mean Barbara isn’t aware of it and perhaps sometimes sees the Guestbook comments, however, so it might still be a nice thing to leave a birthday wish for her there. In any case, it’s a very nice place to visit, clearly a labor of love by a devoted fan.

Over the past year I have enjoyed seeing Barbara as Della on the main Perry Mason series as well as finally discovering her revival of the character in the television movies. I really love how the character grows through the years and how Della is depicted as so motherly in the movies. Della has always had that motherly, protective streak, as shown on the series whenever children are present or when she encounters someone else that she develops a certain fondness for (such as the defendant in The Sad Sicilian). And she serves as Perry’s conscience during those times when Perry is getting too swamped with work or too eager for a vacation to take a particular case. On the one hand, I feel sorry for Perry never getting to have a proper vacation. But when the people genuinely need help and Perry is likely the best one to give it, it is nice of Della to be thinking of their problems. Della doesn’t get much vacation/downtime, either. Many are the nights that she works far later than most other secretaries. Once she asks Perry if they will ever be able to leave earlier than midnight. (I think that’s the one with the amusing ending where they keep trying to hurry out the door before the clock stops chiming midnight and they keep having to run back because of forgetting to close the balcony doors or turn off the lights.)

Della is absent from only a handful of Perry episodes. While I often still enjoy them for their plots or favorite guest-stars (or for Hamilton being present, if they’re in-town episodes), Della’s presence is definitely missed. She’s an integral part of the cast, certainly made so by Barbara Hale’s amazing performance.

I still have to wonder why anyone thought a remake of Perry Mason would work so soon after the original stopped airing new episodes. Perhaps if they had waited longer people would have been more accepting, but only seven years later, the comparisons between the two series and their casts were inevitable. The show itself was very good, plot-wise, and I will forever praise Dane Clark and Harry Guardino, but some of the other casting choices bewilder me. Sharon Acker is a fine actress, but she just wasn’t a believable Della Street to me. Perhaps if I see more of those episodes I’ll change my mind, but of course I’ll always feel that Barbara Hale is the quintessential image of Della Street.

Happy Birthday, Barbara Hale! I hope it will be a lovely day spent with your family. The fans remember and love you and I also hope for still many more birthdays for you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

MeTV Preempts Perry Movie

I wasn’t absolutely positive of this until I saw that the schedule had for sure been changed tonight, but MeTV is preempting the Perry movie they already had planned for Friday night in order to marathon the show that won the poll (Star Trek). I’m so sorry to anyone who was looking forward to the movie. I was too. Hopefully they’ll reschedule it soon, but I’m not sure I’m that confident. It seems like a lot of times when stations change their minds, they don’t get around to airing what they preempted for a long time.

What MeTV should have done was to set aside a specific time in advance to marathon whatever show won, instead of waiting for the end of the poll and then getting rid of something that had already been planned and scheduled. I’m debating whether to write and complain to them about the schedule change. Not that it would do any good for this particular time, but possibly if a lot of people wrote it would let them know they need to plan things better in the future.

I was thinking about the number of times a character has traveled outside of the North American continent. It’s something that never happens too often; trips outside the continental United States to Mexico are a little more frequent, but actually leaving the continent behind is such a rare thing that I think it’s only occurred five times, most of those in the later seasons.

Offhand, the first time I can recall it happening and being shown is when Perry goes off to Europe in season 4’s The Nine Dolls. Then I don’t recall it happening for anyone until Paul ventures to South America looking for a doctor in season 7’s The Deadly Verdict.

(The Floating Stones contains some scenes in Hong Kong, but if I remember right, it’s only with the guest-starring cast and none of the main characters are over there.)

Neither of those trips involves staying overseas for the duration of the episode. But with season 8 came something new: episodes that either took place entirely away from North America or else mostly took place overseas.

The first instance was in A Place Called Midnight. Perry was said to be in Europe in the prior episode, Mike Connors’ The Bullied Bowler; A Place Called Midnight features Perry still over there and having another, unplanned adventure before coming home. He’s still there by the episode’s end, going to talk with the Inspector about another puzzling case.

About halfway through the season, Perry and Paul decide to visit Hawaii. The Feather Cloak takes place entirely on the Hawaiian Islands. Too bad Hawaii 5-O hadn’t started by then and the shows could have crossed over! It would have been interesting to see how Steve McGarrett and Perry would react to each other.

In season 9, The Fugitive Fraulein has a few Los Angeles scenes, but the majority of the action is all in Berlin. It’s perhaps the most topical episode the show ever did, with an intense plot revolving around trying to free a couple’s granddaughter from the Communists’ grasp. The courtroom scene, where Perry fights in vain against the Communist court system, is very different from anything else the show did. How he gets around that, frees the defendant, catches the true murderer, and saves the granddaughter make for one of the most intriguing adventures ever.

I’m wondering if The Substitute Face from season 1 would count as an episode that’s partially away from North America, since some of it involves the cruise Perry and Della take. By that logic, there are a couple of other episodes involving ship scenes (The Malicious Mariner and The Wrongful Writ), but as I recall, the main characters aren’t on those ships while the ships are in the middle of the ocean.

Either way, that’s still very few episodes that take place away from North America. If the show had continued, I wonder if there would have been several other overseas adventures? And why was it that overseas adventures became more prominent only later on? Was it that they wanted to try something new, after so many seasons of episodes taking place solely in the continental United States?

They could have also explored other areas of the North American continent. I wonder what an episode entirely set in Mexico would have been like. Or Canada; I don't think they went there at all.

The fact that the majority of the episodes are centered in North America, and generally parts of California, is interesting. I can't help thinking of a common theme for detective shows is that the detective is a globe-trotter. Many series feature adventures in many states and countries.

Then again, what with how workaholic Perry is, it probably makes the most sense for most episodes to take place in North America. He rarely gets to travel. And when he does, most of the time something seems to go wrong and he ends up involved in another case.

On the other hand, though, a lot of out-of-town episodes are out-of-town episodes because Perry has a friend or two in other towns who are calling for his help. If the series had wanted to expand to more overseas adventures, some of those could have involved other friends of Perry's. No matter how busy Perry is in Los Angeles, he always tries to make time for people who need his help, wherever they are.

I also wonder how the books stack up in this regard. Were there any books taking place overseas? It would be interesting to find out.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Various Perry thoughts

Well, alas, Perry lost to The Twilight Zone. I really figured that would happen, but it was still sad to see it happen. The finals are The Twilight Zone versus Star Trek, so I’ve thrown my support to The Twilight Zone. A very strange and eerie show, but a very intelligent show that has a lot of good morals in their episodes. Star Trek is likewise, but since I’m more familiar with the movies and The Next Generation series, I voted for the show I know better.

The past week was a bit oddball, as I missed most of Monday night’s episode and there were two out-of-town episodes. I felt like I was suffering from Hamilton withdrawal! So I watched Saturday’s episode on my local station. They’ve been running seasons 1 and 2 for some time on Saturdays, and I haven’t devoted much time to watching the Saturday night sessions for some time, since I’ve seen those episodes more than some others. But I greatly enjoyed seeing the characters this Saturday, so I may get back into the habit of watching then as well as on weekday nights.

It was interesting watching the out-of-town episodes, however. I always like catching A Place Called Midnight, since it’s so unique. Not only is Perry in Europe for the duration of the case, there are no court scenes. The mystery is resolved out of court. And I always get a kick out of Werner Klemperer playing the police lieutenant and working with Perry to solve the case. I think I saw that episode uncut just once, and I would like to do so again.

The other out-of-town episode, The Reckless Rockhound, I don’t recall ever seeing before. I wasn’t fully sure what to make of the Reba character. She could be so cold and hard, even with some people who were her friends. But then she would occasionally open up and show this other side of her personality and she was quite likable. I also found it interesting to see the actor who played the nutcase Dan Morgan in The Misguided Missile playing a good guy here. I found it sweet how much he cared about Reba and how he knew her secret about the diamonds already being spent, but covered the loans himself. And I was actually fairly surprised by the murderer. I was afraid it was going to be him, but then it was his young assistant instead. I hadn’t suspected him at all.

Something very bizarre I’ve noticed is how stations seem to have more than one print of certain episodes, with each print different and both prints getting airtime. Recently I mentioned MeTV airing a differently cut print of The Ugly Duckling. I’ve also seen my local station air two cuts of The Stand-In Sister. Now I’ve seen MeTV air another print of The Missing Button!

This time the report is positive, as one of the things I was most upset about was their prior cut of that episode, which eliminated almost all of the scene where Perry and Paul find Button on the boat and see that she’s safe. Instead it went right to Perry bidding Button farewell, which really looked preposterous since the last thing shown was that she had apparently been kidnapped. But the print that MeTV just aired restored the rest of that scene. I can’t tell whether they have two separate prints that they air or if people wrote in upset about the cut scene and MeTV got the other print then.

I wonder why stations have two different prints anyway. If they had one, wouldn’t they always air that one? How do they end up airing the other one? Is it an accident or on purpose?

Generally, when I see two different prints of an episode, it’s at two different airing times. The uncut Stand-In Sister aired on Saturday night on my local station, with the cut version airing on a weekday. The print of The Ugly Duckling with William Boyett’s scene aired in the morning on MeTV, as did the print of The Missing Button with most of the boat scene eliminated. The other prints of those episodes aired at night. I don’t know if the different airing times have anything to do with the truth of why the different prints exist, but it’s interesting to note, at least.

Also, of particular note is that I am very happy to learn that what I wondered about in the Perry movie The Heartbroken Bride isn’t true. It wasn’t intended to have any double-meaning remarks about the daughter, according to a recent commenter. From emails to director Christian Nyby II and one of the scriptwriters, Perry was meant to be exactly what the script said, a dear friend of the family and a surrogate uncle, not the girl’s real father. The crew said that they wouldn’t have had Perry do anything scurrilous. Very happy to hear that. Thank you, commenter!

Speaking of Perry movies, another will air this coming Friday. Looking forward to seeing what’s happening in that one. While the movies are not the series, and never could be with only two original cast members, I find them a lot more enjoyable and fun to watch than I ever thought they would be. I think they basically do an excellent job adapting the Perry format to the (relative) present day.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Will Perry Mason become MeTV's Most Memorable Program?

So for the past week and a half, MeTV has been running a poll for MeTV viewers to pick their favorite shows. The winner will get a marathon on MeTV.

Perry is still in the running on this, the fourth round! I’m very excited and happy to see the turnout of Perry fans voting. But I’m a little nervous now, because Perry has gone up against The Twilight Zone in the Quarter Finals today. I’m guessing it’s going to be pretty hard to beat that show. But let’s keep voting for Perry and just maybe our show will be elected MeTV’s Most Memorable Program!

Ironside was also in the running, up till now. It lost to, of all things, Batman! Sacrilege! I was hoping Ironside and Perry might end up facing off in the final round. That would have been epic.

For any MeTV viewers who haven’t yet voted, the poll is here:

(Please don’t vote if you don’t have MeTV. Since the poll is to pick a show to air a marathon of, it’s only fair that the voters are MeTV viewers.)

Season 7 wrapped up last week. It suddenly occurred to me that while every season has had episodes about teens and young adults, it seems like season 7 has them in greater abundance. Or maybe it just seems that way because four of its seven young adult episodes air one right after another! The Careless Kidnapper, The Drifting Dropout, The Tandem Target, and The Ugly Duckling all heavily involve characters in their late teens or early twenties. (The other season 7 young adult episodes are The Festive Felon, The Devious Delinquent, and The Bountiful Beauty.)

I enjoy The Careless Kidnapper, The Tandem Target, and The Ugly Duckling the most out of those. The Festive Felon is quite good too, especially uncut. I did like The Devious Delinquent and The Bountiful Beauty better on this round than I have in the past. And The Drifting Dropout was quite interesting. This was my first viewing of it. And it sounds like there was a lot cut out of it, so I need to watch the uncut version soon.

I was glad that in The Careless Kidnapper, David’s friend Michael wasn’t the one killed falling off the boat. It was really an awful stunt the two of them pulled, trying to get David’s father upset and worried about him, but I don’t think Michael deserved to die over it. In some episodes he probably would have been the one to die, so that was an intriguing twist that the body ended up being someone else.

I definitely wonder at how David’s father was so forgiving when he learned what had sparked the kidnapping idea that he told David he deserved an explanation about the violent argument he overheard instead of needing to give an explanation about his and Michael’s actions. It would definitely be mortifying to bring your friends over to your house and find your parents in the middle of a row, but that’s not any justification for arranging a mock kidnapping!

I do find kind of annoying, too, when David’s father is so adamant against David’s mother saying anything to Perry about what really happened at the docks. On the one hand, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t want her to possibly end up in jail because of the kid falling and (they think) dying. On the other, good grief, it was an accident! Of course, I suppose that after the actual body is discovered and it’s the guy who was blackmailing David’s father, then he continues to be adamant against his wife saying anything because he’s trying so desperately to keep the story from getting out, particularly the list of all the patients he was trying to help in secret.

I like that there really wasn’t anything romantic going on between him and Mary Manning, one of his patients. Sometimes all the affairs on the series get tiresome. He honestly was just trying to protect the privacy of her and all the others because of their medical problems.

I also like that the epilogue of that episode shows the kids over at David’s house having a nice party with David’s parents as chaperones. And I’m sure Perry/Della fans love that Perry and Della watch through the balcony doors for a moment before Perry suggests to Della that they go nightclubbing instead of joining the kids. It’s definitely a sweet scene.

One thing about The Tandem Target, I’ve never been quite sure what to think of the murder victim’s stepdaughter Irma. The first time I saw the episode, I actually thought for a long time that she was probably the murderer, due to the note thing. And while she definitely has plenty of reason to be upset with her stepfather, somehow she always seems to come off acting like a child. Even if the man hadn’t had an ulterior and terrible motive in keeping her rightful money from her, if I was he I’d probably be pretty hesitant to turn all that money over to her.

One thing that never fails to amuse me is how Philip Ober plays both him and his brother Adrian. It’s all very deliberately tongue-in-cheek; it’s never mentioned by the characters how much they look alike, but it doesn’t take much to see it. I love the first, close-up shots of them both. Each turns to face the camera in the same manner and there’s a certain pause of surprise for the audience to react.

I’ve never been quite sure what to think of Adrian bringing another Napoleon statue to the widow at the end and her laughing about it, although it definitely amuses me when Perry refers to the statue as another party at the table and says he had better depart, since three’s a crowd and he’s not sure what four is. But I guess to me it seemed to be making too much light of the dead. Sumner Hodge certainly wasn’t a very nice man, but he must have done some things right, to have set the company in order when he first came along. And I’m guessing he really cared about his wife and stepdaughter, at least at first.

Also, MeTV aired a different print of The Ugly Duckling. Either that or they further chopped up the one they had, because I’m positive they used to air a copy that kept William Boyett’s police officer scene intact. He and another man come to see about the broken window at the beginning and are offered toys for their children. That scene was completely absent last week.

I find it curious that in both The Tandem Target and The Ugly Duckling, the murderer ends up being someone high up in the company. I’ve ended up mixing up the climaxes of both episodes due to that, sometimes thinking that The Tandem Target is the one where Perry holds that annoyingly noisy toy and insists on keeping it on until the guy confesses. But that’s in The Ugly Duckling. And that part definitely gets on my nerves, not so much because the noise is aggravating as it is because the noise is so loud I have to strain to hear the people talking!

I always kind of wonder what’s going to happen to the artist at the end of the episode. They’re worried he might go to jail, but we don’t know what actually happens. I kind of hope that he got a suspended sentence since it was his first offense, and since he was trying to do right by the girl by covering for her when it looked bad for her. It’s certainly a better motivation than wanting money or trying to cover for oneself.

I was thinking of actually trying to make a list of each season’s young adult episodes, but I was only scrolling through the list of season 1 episodes when I realized the prospect would probably be quite overwhelming. There’s also the question of where I would draw the line, since there’s episodes with characters in that age bracket who aren’t the main focus of the episodes. There’s the question of exactly what ages I’m defining as “young adult”, since by that I mean early twenties, but it could have a broader meaning. (Actually, I think it may be a synonym for teens; there really doesn’t seem to be a good, short term for people in their twenties!) And there’s episodes where, while the characters are young, it doesn’t seem so much that their age has any particular part in the story. I accidentally left The Festive Felon and The Bountiful Beauty off my initial count because I just wasn’t thinking. There might be others that would qualify, too.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Two Lauras?!

Now this is interesting.

In season 6’s The Hateful Hero, with the mysterious robberies playing such an important role in the plot, a policeman from the robbery detail is brought in. This character, Detective Sergeant Steve Toland, interacts with Andy and has quite a good deal of screentime.

He isn’t mentioned or seen in other episodes, and I thought he was just a oneshot character. But all of a sudden, in season 7’s The Woeful Widower, there he is again! Detective Sergeant Steve Toland, being introduced to Perry after Elizabeth’s jewelry gets copped! Apparently they didn’t ever meet on the previous case? (I was thinking they had.)

It’s such a random little thing, much the same as Deputy D.A. Alvin’s sudden and brief reappearance in The Weary Watchdog after two season 4 episodes. It’s a fun nod to continuity and it’s nice to see them remember the character and the actor and bring them back for another few minutes of screentime.

It’s exciting when characters recur. But it’s rather odd when more than one character has the same name! I had thought that I had seen the Laura character fans of the movies talk about when I saw The Heartbroken Bride. Now, after coming from The Lost Love on Friday, it seems Perry had two old flames named Laura!

Good grief, writers. Way to not pay attention. There’s so many names; why did Laura get picked more than once for that type of character?

Now I’m no longer sure which Laura it is that the fanfiction writers usually talk about. With The Heartbroken Bride Laura, there’s those double-meaning statements that could indicate Perry is actually the father of her daughter. Her husband is very friendly towards Perry and the family regards him as an honorary uncle to the daughter. With The Lost Love Laura, she and Perry and Della have known each other for 30 years and there’s still obviously deep feelings between Laura and Perry, whether or not they are, as Perry says, friendship feelings now. Laura’s husband Glenn is still suspicious and jealous of Perry.

I really love how devoted Glenn is to Laura. Even after Perry uncovers the shocking truth that it was Laura who went to see the blackmailer and she was there when he suffered an accidental death, and she kept quiet even after her husband was arrested, Glenn still loves her and is apparently still ready to forgive her. At least she’s remorseful and says that she was sure Glenn wouldn’t be convicted with Perry as his lawyer, but I’m still not quite sure what to make of the character.

It would be different if she had admitted the truth to Glenn and he insisted on taking the blame anyway and believed that Perry would get him off, hopefully without exposing Laura’s presence at the scene. But when she apparently kept it a complete secret from even Glenn, I just don’t know what to think. It’s very human that she longed for her Senatorial appointment so much, and I did love her remorse and how she acknowledged her terrible mistakes in betraying her loved ones right from the witness stand, but what she did was still disappointing, particularly where Glenn was concerned.

It was fun seeing David Ogden Stiers as the prosecutor. I love the little exchanges he and Perry have outside of court. The writers were clearly trying to set them up to have a relationship similar to what Perry has with Hamilton, friendly outside of court despite being rivals during court. The character is good and compassionate and wants justice, as Hamilton does.

For once we finally had a police character play a more important role in one of the movies! And it’s a policewoman! That’s a change. I enjoyed seeing the sergeant, and her interaction with Paul Jr. was amusing. His chagrin after bashing the police department and then discovering that she’s a sergeant instead of a secretary was priceless.

Paul Jr.’s role in things really reminded me of some of Jesse’s antics on Diagnosis Murder, especially repeatedly getting arrested and looking for an old flame, continually thinking he sees her. And he had at least one idiotic moment, when he believed that guy about the murder victim’s files being in the closet. He really walked right into that one. At least he redeemed himself by not believing that guy’s next string of lies later.

You know, it’s really a cliché in detective stories for a suspect to flee from the good guys and then get run down and killed by a car in the road. It’s happened in more than one Perry movie and happens again here, although switched up a bit. We get quite a graphic depiction of the guy flying all over the car before crashing to the pavement. And oddly enough after such a painful hit, this one actually doesn’t die. I don’t think we ever learn his eventual fate; he seems to still be unconscious when things wrap up.

It must drive fans of the Perry/Della pairing nuts when Della is talking to Laura and Laura actually asks her about her relationship with Perry. Della just starts to try to explain when Perry shows up and inadvertently brings a halt to the conversation. I’m still not big on actively pairing them off and I was a little disappointed myself to not hear what Della would have said. But of course, they felt they had to do that to tease and acknowledge the fans while not making a romantic relationship between Perry and Della out-and-out canon.

The very ending scene of the movie is sweet, where Perry comes out of the building after speaking with Laura and he solemnly tells Della, “Let’s go home.” They depart with their arms around each other.

One thing that puzzled me: I thought the movies were not only filmed in Denver, but that Denver was supposed to be Perry and Della’s new home. Yet in this movie, which takes place in Denver, there are repeated references to home being elsewhere for both them and the prosecutor. Are they still living in Los Angeles after all? Most of the movies I’ve seen other than the first one have them traveling, so where “home” is hasn’t been explained that I’ve heard.

Ah well. Regardless, this was quite an enjoyable movie, in spite of the Diagnosis Murder-type antics that don’t quite fit the Perry mold. I especially enjoyed seeing Gene Barry as Glenn. I was worried he might be the victim, so it was a relief when he was the defendant.

And tomorrow is Terrance Clay’s favorite day, St. Patrick’s Day! Curiously enough, I’ve been running into Dan Tobin all over the place lately, especially on Maverick. I have the first two seasons on DVD and also watch episodes on Cozi TV. And I keep somehow choosing episodes with Dan! If he’s not staring in horror as a camel peers through his hotel window, he’s challenging James Garner to a duel and then wounding Roger Moore when they have a duel. And if not that, he’s conning Roger Moore to switch a fake necklace for a real one, when in reality poor Roger is unknowingly switching a real one for a fake!

Ah, good times. I wonder if he’s going to pop up in any more episodes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The blog lives!

Oh dear. It’s terrible how long I’ve let it stretch without a post. If I’m not feeling ill, I’m lacking a topic or I’ve got so many other things I’m trying to do that the post slips away. But I ended up missing at least a couple of times when I fully intended to post.

I certainly intended to post on the 6th, for instance—the anniversary of William Hopper’s death. And then today is the anniversary of Erle Stanley Gardner’s death. Both men, curiously and sadly enough, died the same year, 1970, days apart from each other.

They are two people so very key to Perry as we know it now. Naturally nothing would exist if Gardner hadn’t got his ideas for the books and started to write. And if anyone else had played Paul, the dynamics of the series would have been so very different indeed.

I usually like to recommend episodes or other work to watch on the memorial posts. It isn’t always easy thinking of good episode recommendations after a couple such posts! But last night I was watching a DVD copy of an episode I’d missed on MeTV last week and was thinking it would make a great recommendation.

I don’t recall really thinking about it before, but The Nervous Neighbor is really good as a Paul episode as well as a Hamilton episode (the latter of which I usually think of it as). It has some of Hamilton’s best scenes and some of Paul’s most extended screentime. The episode opens in Paul’s office, a very unusual thing, and Paul continues to be extremely prominent throughout the story as he takes Charles Fuller around town and investigates the strange case. Even after Mrs. Bradley’s hearing, when she would have likely also interacted with Perry a great deal, it’s Paul she calls in a panic when son Charles runs off to confront criminal Henry Clement. Normally it’s Perry the person calls, and then Perry either runs out himself or calls Paul to go (or they both go).

Usually episodes also feature scenes of Perry investigating, so it’s very interesting and different to see so much focus on Paul. There’s even that adorable sub-plot where we can see Paul seems to be hanging around the Golden Age Club quite a bit as he sleuths and is getting to know the people, especially Frances—whom he promises a dance with and fulfills that at the end.

It’s known that Raymond Burr was tiring of the role as the show went on and the writers deliberately tried to focus some of the later episodes more on other characters. Seasons 8 and 9 are definitely said to have that focus, and it’s apparent in several of them. The Nervous Neighbor is season 7, and I’m wondering if the focus on Paul was deliberate because of Raymond’s feelings too. But either way, it’s a wonderful episode choice to watch in remembrance of William Hopper.

The episode is just about perfect to me in every way. My only confusion is that once again there’s a title that I don’t fully understand. Who is “The Nervous Neighbor”? There’s certainly a lot of people running around in this episode who are nervous. Which one is considered the “neighbor”? And neighbor of whom? But in any case, it’s a minor quibble.

Generally I recommend reading the books in remembrance of Mr. Gardner. And while that is a logical idea, perhaps other things fans would like to do would be to watch a particular favorite adaptation of a book or to view The Final Fade-Out and see Mr. Gardner onscreen as the second judge.

One of these days I’m going to give that episode another viewing; while it never will be a favorite, the in-jokes are amusing and Richard Anderson has some very nice scenes. And it’s nice to know that so many of the bit parts and extras are people on the crew. In that respect, it’s a nice send-off to the series, as is the epilogue scene.

Farewell again to William Hopper and Erle Stanley Gardner, two people still very often thought of and missed.

I have several topics waiting in the wings; tentatively I’d considered combining this post with at least one of them, but I think it would be more proper to give them separate posts. Hopefully I can get back on-track with posting. I know I keep saying that, but it is an intention!

And a bit of Perry news: MeTV will show The Lost Love movie this Friday! Happy watching to the interested!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

MeTV Interviews Tim Talman!

Second post for today, but this couldn't wait for another post. And I thought it deserved a post to itself instead of being edited into the below post.

I have been aware that MeTV recently interviewed Tim Talman, William's son. I have been eagerly waiting to find out what they would do with this interview. Well, they've started putting it up!

Apparently more will follow!

This is awesome. I'm always thrilled to see William Talman getting the recognition he deserves, and MeTV being interested in interviewing his son is very exciting.

The Case of the Deadly Verdict?

I feel like I’m going out of my mind.

I can’t believe that I would watch an incredible episode like The Deadly Verdict and not rave about it somewhere. I’m sure I did exactly that. I remember details such as my discussing the scene where Perry wanders through the mansion thinking about the trial.

But where did I say this? I can’t find any trace of it here or at Livejournal. I somewhat doubt I would have made such a post at a social meeting place such as the Yahoo Group. That only leaves a private conversation, and I was sure it was public.

Does anyone remember my making a post about this episode? I could have tagged it in a way that now it’s hard to find (although it seems like I should still be able to find it by going through the titles of the posts).

The reason I was thinking about it was because I saw it recently on MeTV and I wanted to make a post about some of my new thoughts, but then I couldn’t find any trace of a previous post to see what my first thoughts were, in order not to repeat myself.

It definitely stands as a shining example of what the show could have been had it been able to stray from its formulaic roots more often. Oh, of course Perry still triumphs in the end, and surely we would want him to since the client is innocent, but there’s a level of urgency and intensity to get there that isn’t usually present.

It’s the only time we actually see one of Perry’s clients get convicted of murder. From the very first scene, as the jury comes in and delivers their deadly verdict, it’s obvious that this episode is going to be quite different from the standard fare. Instead of meeting the characters and getting to know them before everything goes down, we jump right in at this critical point of the story. And everywhere Perry turns to buy time for his client, doors are slammed in his face. Sentencing is pronounced. The date is set for the execution. All attempts at appeals, even before the state Supreme Court, fail.

The scene where Perry goes to the partially closed-down mansion and wanders amid the sheet-covered furniture is very poignant and powerful. Thoughts come to his mind, echoing through the dark and lonely room. He remembers Hamilton questioning Doctor Hoxie and Lieutenants Tragg and Anderson on the witness stand. As key points in the scene of the crime are discussed, such as the glass by the nightstand and the broken balcony railing, Perry goes to them and examines them. There’s something particularly chilling about the shattered balcony railing, especially with the voiceover of Hamilton talking about the defendant lifting her drugged aunt’s body and shoving her against the railing until it broke and she fell to her death.

Even though we know Perry’s client must be innocent, it certainly looks bad for her for a while, especially since she lied about her whereabouts the night of the murder and even paid a bartender to lie about the time she went in for a drink. And it does admittedly get exasperating when she continues to insist she won’t tell, even in the face of her execution date being set.

I’m never quite sure what I think of the defendant. On the one hand, it’s very noble of her not to want to ruin her sister’s marriage, when she’s so certain that what she saw was proof of an affair. On the other hand, it isn’t worth dying over! And if there really was something going on, the sister should know about it.

What Janice should have done was to go to her brother-in-law and confront him about what she saw, instead of just insisting on believing the worst. Of course, I suppose she was arrested before she could have had a chance to do that, and once she was arrested she wouldn’t want to send for him to talk to him about it, in case everything would come out that way.

She acts so bitter about being convicted when she’s innocent. That’s certainly understandable and natural. But she acts like she isn’t aware that she helped bring about that verdict by her actions. Maybe telling the truth wouldn’t have helped her case in the end, since her brother-in-law didn’t see her out the window when she saw him that night. Lying and bribing definitely didn’t help, though. And in the face of that, her bitterness always rubs me the wrong way a bit.

Julie Adams’ performance is incredible, however, no matter what I think of everything the character says and does. She delivers amazing, heartfelt performances in every one of her Perry episodes, but I think this one and her previous appearance in The Lover’s Leap are my favorites.

I’m also not sure what I think of Janice’s wheelchair-bound sister, Paulette. It bugs me when she immediately jumps to the conclusion that Janice was having an affair with Paulette’s husband, instead of simply having witnessed what she thought was proof of one. Seems like thinking the worst of people runs in their family. Or perhaps in Paulette’s case, it was a bit of bitterness coming out for Janice having driven recklessly and getting her into that wheelchair.

I do love that Paulette immediately says her husband should have come forth and admitted to the affair, as it’s Janice’s life against Paulette’s pride. And I also love that for once, there really wasn’t an affair. The poor husband was just trying to comfort his hysterical nurse, who was threatening to commit suicide due to being pregnant out of wedlock and the young, immature father refusing to marry her.

Right after those revelations, the husband admits he didn’t see Janice and neither did the nurse. But the husband is willing to commit perjury and say he saw her, if it would save her life. Perry, however, says that he can’t do that.

The entire family of suspects is an interesting lot. There’s a socialite horrified at the idea of being related to a convicted murderer, an actress who thinks it’s exciting and will give her career a boost, and an obnoxious . . . whatever Chris is. Chris’s father is off in South America and sends a telegram about the medicine for the aunt not being what he prescribed for her, prompting Perry to send Paul off looking for him.

Paul’s trek is another unique element. We see a handful of his adventures outside of the L.A. area, but I think this is the only time where he has to go so completely out in the boondocks. We see him traveling up a river with a guide, being pestered by mosquitoes, and eventually reaching the medical outpost. “Dr. Livingston, I presume?” Unfortunately, this doctor is dead. He knew he was dying before he went on this last trip and wanted to be buried among the people he had spent so much of his time helping.

But it’s that one clue that he sent in the telegram that eventually leads to the resolution of the crime. One of the major things that led to Janice’s conviction was the hateful housekeeper seeing a woman run out of the house. She determined it was Janice, at least partially because her hateful feelings were clouding her judgment. I always find it interesting that she doesn’t protest in helping Perry find another solution to the murder. She acted so gleeful when she knew Janice’s execution date was set. But she goes along with Perry’s idea and finally exposes the true murderer as Chris, who had dressed up like a woman to try to frame Janice.

The climatic scene is so eerie, with the housekeeper walking through the darkened house and using the stairlift to get to the second floor. There’s some strange sounds, but all seems peaceful until we see someone in a raincoat and high heels going up the stairlift and preparing to strangle the housekeeper. Suddenly Perry, Paul, and Andy appear and prevent it.

Janice had become accustomed to the idea that there was no way to save her from the gas chamber. In the epilogue, she’s set free and is joyous over it being ten A.M., the time the executions generally happen, and having air to breathe instead of poisonous gas.

The episode was heavily promoted as being the time Perry would lose a case. There’s a hilarious promotional picture where Perry and Hamilton are standing together and Hamilton is reading a newspaper with the headline proclaiming that Hamilton won a case.

I’m glad they used a different newspaper in the actual episode, although they still try to insert a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor by captioning a picture of Hamilton “Victorious Prosecutor.” Hamilton, thankfully, looks serious and grim and not overjoyed.

Hamilton doesn’t have a lot of screentime in this episode, which I regret, but his scenes are very good. He handles everything with the soberness and maturity it deserves.

It’s also one of Tragg’s final episodes, and I’m glad that of all the episodes that could have been among those, this milestone episode is included. He has less screentime than Hamilton, but it’s wonderful to see and hear him again, even though it is bittersweet to see him sitting down during all of his time onscreen.

Perry is always noted for overworking himself on cases, but in this episode we see it most powerfully. He even falls asleep in the office, desperately looking through a book, and is found in a disheveled state by Della and Paul the next morning.

Naturally they wouldn’t have wanted to switch up the formula too often with episodes like this, where the client is convicted and the plot involves trying to save them, but I do wish they had found other ways to distance themselves from the formula sometimes. This one is definitely in a class by itself.

I often list the episodes that stray from the standard formula as being among my most favorites. This one and The Hateful Hero are two of my favorite examples of that, while The Betrayed Bride is a much more bizarre and, I feel, unflattering attempt at a different type of episode. But that’s another story.

I may be able to return to two posts a week soon; I have another topic I’m anxious to explore.