Thursday, September 22, 2016

59 years of Perry on television!

It's hard to believe that we're looking at 59 years of broadcast history for our show this year. Next year, it celebrates its diamond anniversary. And for the very first episode filmed, it may already be the diamond year. I believe the first filming occurred in 1956.

The show is still perennially popular. What fuels this? Is it the acting? The stories? How has it stayed so beloved in spite of its formulaic nature and its predictability? Or is that part of what makes it so fondly remembered?

Over the summer, one of the things I've been doing is reconnecting some more with my childhood. This included finally getting back to the 1987 version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which I know I watched even though I remembered very, very little of it. It is probably one of the silliest, more formulaic shows in existence, and I find I adore it. Not so much for the formulaic nature, but because of its unbridled, unapologetic nonsense and fun, free spirit. And it got me thinking.

It isn't unusual for adults as well as children to enjoy cartoons. Looney Tunes, I believe, were originally aimed at a more grown-up audience. And they are both perennially popular and very formulaic. In the modern age, one of the most popular cartoons with both children and adults is Phineas and Ferb, which is also extremely formulaic and predictable. If you've seen one or two episodes, you know they always follow a particular pattern, no matter what screwball events happen along the way. Even when they did a ridiculous episode consisting of unintelligible "caveman talk" for most of the episode, it was easy to follow along because the viewer knew exactly what to expect from each character.

Could part of the appeal with a show like Perry Mason be that by its formulaic, predictable nature, it is almost like a cartoon for adults?

I realize that on some level it probably sounds like sacrilege to compare a drama about murder and courtroom trials to anything silly and animated. But in both a cartoon and Perry, we have definite formulas. Some people find comfort in knowing that there is a basic outline that will always play out: an innocent person has problems with someone who ends up dead, they're arrested, and Perry will come to their rescue.

Also like cartoons, Perry always features conflicts between the protagonists and the antagonists. We always expect the antagonists to be shown up as fools while the protagonists win. Some viewers, perhaps even a great percentage of them, enjoy laughing at Hamilton Burger and the police as the wrong person is arrested over and over again and they remain convinced it's the right person.

The great thing about Perry is that, unlike many cartoons, the characters are not just "one-note" characters. It would have been so easy to have made Hamilton a stereotypical sleazy prosecutor who deserves to get shown up every episode or the police buffoons with barely any functioning brain cells. Instead, Hamilton and the police are always depicted as very three-dimensional characters who honestly want justice done and are willing to listen when Perry brings hard evidence that they may have accused the wrong person. They only accuse the wrong person because they are victims of the formula. Because they are three-dimensional, it becomes difficult to believe that they are making mistakes every episode. They feel real, and real people would not constantly be stumbling like that. Everybody would be kicked out of their jobs if situations like Perry presents were really happening left and right. And so another cartoon element comes into play: we must suspend disbelief in order to enjoy what we're watching.

Of course, that is the case with most television series we watch, in one way or another. No one could be knocked unconscious as many times as Joe Mannix is and not suffer brain damage for it. But it wouldn't be any fun if Mannix had been completely given the realistic treatment. And Jim West could never fight off so many bad guys all the time and break all the furniture without seriously injuring himself. But what fun would The Wild Wild West be if the fights were about realism?

Cartoons have definitely had their influence on live-action television. Thankfully, live-action television doesn't have horrifying things happen like what goes on in Looney Tunes cartoons. But we see exaggerated fights, protagonists not suffering life-altering injuries, and the good guys winning out over the bad guys. We also see that antagonists are not always the bad guys and that sometimes they're the good guys too. Sometimes cartoons do show this, it's true, but it's sometimes in the background and not expressly stated. Some people may think the same for Perry, but it does generally strive to let the audience know that the police and the D.A.'s office are highly thought-of by Perry and that he does not see them as buffoonish antagonists. Classic television series like Perry combine some of the formulaic nature of cartoons with the realism of three-dimensional characters, and that is actually quite an impressive achievement. Here's to the next 59 years of our show!

And in a week and a half, my own anniversary will come around and I will no longer be a member of the "twenty-something" group. I'm not sure, however, that I want to change this blog's name. Somehow, the younger one is, the more interesting it seems to me when they love the classics, so "twenty-something" sounds like a more interesting hook for a Perry blog than "thirty-something." But for the sake of accuracy, I may change it anyway.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

New Plans

Gah, I feel terrible about the lack of updates last month. I think I'm going to have to stop doing birthday/tribute posts in general unless I actually have something new to say. It gets very overwhelming to have so many tribute posts to make while not knowing what I can even say that's unique or new. I really do want to keep this blog going, so I'm still hoping to find some new topics to touch on. I'm certain there are many unexplored roads I haven't traveled yet!

One thing I've wanted to post about is the news that a complete set of the Perry television movies is being released. The most exciting thing is the price. Amazon's price is fluctuating between $35 and $45, depending on the day, and for all 30 movies, that is pretty incredible. That's a better price than the half-season sets of the television series or the six-movie collections that were previously released! The movies are still not "canon" to me and never will be, but I do enjoy them and I am very excited for this affordable way to get all of them, hopefully uncut, in one gulp. I don't know if the ones MeTV has shown are edited, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are. Perhaps at some point I will buy this set.

I'm also starting a new Perry story. I've posted several times about my dissatisfaction with how Andy was written in season 8. He was so much more stressed, short-tempered, and intolerant of Perry and company's antics, sometimes understandably, sometimes when it didn't make as much sense. I have that idea I've touched on in my stories that Lieutenant Tragg was seriously hurt in the line of duty around the time he vanished from the series and Andy's greater stress came from trying to take over Tragg's duties in the squad as well as his own. It seems to fit with the characters and with what we see on-screen, and it helps soften the blow of Andy's bizarre behavior, at least for me.

I never actually planned to write a story all about Andy's feelings during the time of season 8, partially because I don't like writing stories where a character I like a lot behaves rather unlikably for most of it. But on Sunday I had a dream of watching a non-existent Perry episode taking place during that time, where the problem comes to a head and Andy absolutely snaps during a particularly stressful situation that pushes him over his limit. I often use dreams to get story ideas, and I knew this one should be a story. After tinkering with two different versions of it, I put up the first chapter today.

I don't plan that this will be a particularly long story, but we'll have to see how things go. It takes place between seasons 8 and 9 and will hopefully tie them together in a way that makes sense. In addition to dealing with Andy's canonical problems in season 8 and fleshing them out, it will also spotlight Sergeant Brice a lot, as he is the main stabilizing factor in Andy's life during that time. His different view on how to handle Perry will prove to be a source of increasing tension between them, however. And the story will show the arrival of Lieutenant Drumm, as I am very curious to know how he arrived on the scene. Season 9 opens with him already there and already friendly with Perry and company. There's a story in that too. And I'm looking forward to contrasting Steve's by-the-book attitude with his friendliness towards Perry and Paul and how Andy reacts to that balance.

If anyone is interested in reading, it's at: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/12035088/1/

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Happy Birthday to Raymond Burr and Lee Miller!

So far it has been a very sad year for classic television fans. We've lost Patty Duke, Joe Santos, Alan Young, and our own Perry alumnus William Schallert. I dread to know who will be gone by the year's end. I'm still reeling from Alan Young's death in particular; I just learned of it today and he was so important to my childhood. And I'm really struggling with the browser tonight, for some unknown reason. I can barely do a thing with it. So I'm afraid this post is really short. (I'll do better next time. I promise!) But I couldn't let the day pass without some recognition!

Today we should turn our thoughts to happier things and celebrate the birthdays of Lee Miller and Raymond Burr, who were both such quintessential parts of Perry Mason. Raymond played our beloved lead as no one else could, and Lee was his stand-in of so many years. How many times did we see Lee from afar and not know it, I wonder? He was most likely more greatly involved with Perry than we even know.

Of course, Lee also played Sergeant Brice throughout many episodes, and while he usually interacted with the other police and suspects, he did occasionally interact with Perry as well. In episodes such as season 7's The Ugly Duckling, where they walk together and discuss the case, you can see how similar they are in body structure. It's easy to see how Lee was Raymond's stand-in for so long.

While he was Perry from a distance, however, only Raymond could be Perry in voice and personality. I find it both intriguing and ironic that I've been told Monte Markham put Raymond's portrayal down and insisted he could do so much better, yet when I've watched The New Perry Mason it is obvious that he is drawing from Raymond's portrayal and even downright copying it. Raymond's Perry is perfect. Even without meaning to, other people gravitate to it because he is Perry. No one else could bring the character to life as amazingly as he did.

Let's celebrate these classic birthdays by breaking out our favorite Perry episodes in which they both appear. I've been told that Lee Miller sadly died several years ago, unlike what IMDB reports. If this is true, I'm sure that in the afterlife, Raymond and Lee are still friends and perhaps even continue to act together. Here's to two wonderful people who made Perry Mason memorable!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Birthday Tribute: Barbara Hale

I would certainly be remiss not to post and wish the wonderful Barbara Hale a happy 94th birthday! It is so awesome and special that she is still with us. I hope she has a lovely day with her family and friends!

Where would Perry Mason be without Della Street? It is incomprehensible to picture such a thing. Perry himself acknowledged that his office completely falls apart when Della takes a vacation. Della is faithful secretary, confidante, and always the loyal friend to Perry. (And a lot of fans think or wish she would also be his significant other.)

Of course, not just any woman could play such a character. It has to be someone who perfectly complements the man playing Perry. I remember seeing a screentest with someone else playing Della and reciting dialogue from one of the books. To me she seemed too much of a femme fatale, tough and cool, and I don't know at all if the series would have worked with her or someone like her in the part.

Barbara Hale made the character so perfectly her own. Della is certainly no pushover, but she's not brassy or rude. She is, as noted by a guest character in The Borrowed Baby, a lady. Barbara so expertly balanced Della's intelligence and sharp wit with kindness and consideration. Sometimes Della may be a little too kind, showing sympathy to some characters who probably don't deserve it. But that's part of what makes her who she is.

Barbara mused on how Della wasn't like her, at least in the way of practical joking. Barbara enjoyed such things. While Della is not a practical joker, however, she is definitely a teaser. Teasing Paul seems to be one of her favorite pastimes. I am not a teaser and am usually not fond of Perry or Della ganging up on Paul, but I do recognize that for them, it's just one of the ways they show affection. Della cares about Paul very deeply, even visibly breaking down and crying when Paul is seriously ill in The Carefree Coronary.

Della is never afraid to speak her mind, either with teasing or seriousness depending on what it is. Sometimes she will hold her tongue if she feels it's not her place to speak, such as with one of Perry's clients, or if she's trying to be polite. She doesn't usually get visibly angry, but one memorable occasion where she does is in The Dead Ringer. Both she and Paul become furious when Perry's client seems to believe that Perry tried to bribe a witness. They just won't have it.

Della loves children and also animals and interacts very well with them. She seems to long to have children of her own, especially in The Borrowed Baby, and I still say it's too sad to think she never gets to. That's just one of many reasons why the movies will never be canon to me.

While Perry always wants to see justice done, sometimes he longs for a vacation or doesn't want to take on a case for other reasons. Della serves as his conscience during these times, encouraging him to just see the person in need of help and hear their story. Naturally, he always ends up helping.

Barbara is one of the vital puzzle pieces of the Perry Mason formula. Perhaps an episode or two can get by without her when she wants a little more family time, but it always swiftly gets lonely when she remains absent. Her strong and soothing presence is very much needed and wanted amid all the defendant and suspect havoc and courtroom pyrotechnics. She brings a softness to the series, the woman's touch, and as a woman with a career who knows what she wants in life, she is a worthy role-model for women and girls everywhere.

Barbara and Raymond are the most constant of the Perry family, especially considering the long string of movies, and when Raymond sadly passed away Barbara remained in the last four movies as the one last link with the original Perry characters. She is still one of our last links to the Perry cast, and certainly the last link of the original Core Five. Here's to still more years!

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Case of the Unknown Parentage

And so we arrive at March 11th, the anniversary of Erle Stanley Gardner's death in 1970. He gave us the wonderful characters who made up the original Core Five and wrote all the original novels first bringing them to life. He lost control over his characters for the 1930s films and the 1940s radio series and demanded better for the television series. Whether or not one agrees with every decision he made for the television series (and I don't always), I am thrilled for him that he finally had and kept control over his beloved series and characters for the best-loved media adaptation. Regardless of whether one wishes the show had tried some other paths every now and then, Mr. Gardner apparently knew what he was doing by making and keeping his rules; the formulaic nature of the series remained the same for nine popular seasons.

I wonder what he would have thought of the idea of The New Perry Mason, had he lived to see it. Much of the crew was still the same, and they tried to be faithful to the original series in both the scripts and the characters' behaviors, but some of the performances still fell very flat. (I find it both amusing and terrible that Monte Markham reportedly jeered at Raymond Burr's portrayal of Perry, yet clearly tried to imitate his speech pattern in the episodes!) I like to think Mr. Gardner would have complained about some of the casting, at least. But who knows. Maybe he would have liked it all. Or maybe he would have disliked it all.

In any case, I am, as always, very grateful to him for his imagination, his skill at weaving mysteries, and his intriguing characters. Because of Mr. Gardner's writings, we have the wonderful Perry Mason television series to watch and enjoy and the characters are still fondly remembered decades later. All thanks to whatever inspired Mr. Gardner to start writing The Velvet Claws. Thank you, Mr. Gardner.

I have fallen very far behind in watching my Perry DVDs, even though I was trying to keep up with MeTV's nighttime schedule. I'm in season 6 and am picking and choosing my way through the season by mainly selecting episodes I rarely watch. I suddenly discovered something very odd. While every season of Perry has at least one episode where a child's parentage is questioned, kept secret, etc., season 6 has an explosion of such episodes!

To demonstrate my point, here is a list I've compiled of all such episodes I can pick out from a titles-only episode guide. If anyone else can think of more, feel free to remind me in the comments!

Season 1

The Baited Hook (Daughter's true parentage was the reason for the murder.)
The Empty Tin (The initial mystery revolves around trying to find a man's real daughter.)

Season 2

The Stuttering Bishop (The mystery involves a girl being told her parentage is not what she thought.)

Season 3

The Watery Witness (The initial mystery concerns a girl trying to find out if she is the daughter of movie star Lorna Thomas.)

Season 4

The Wandering Widow (A woman tries to keep her son from learning about his horrid real father.)
The Nine Dolls (Perry tries to find a young orphan's identity.)
The Duplicate Daughter (Twins separated at birth.)

Season 5

The Borrowed Baby (Perry tries to find the family of a baby left in his office.)

Season 6

The Unsuitable Uncle (A girl's true father's identity is kept secret from her.)
The Stand-In Sister (Confusion over which man's daughter survived a car crash.)
The Polka-Dot Pony (Two girls are discovered when searching for a woman's long-lost child.)
The Bluffing Blast (A young woman shows up claiming to be the daughter of a man who supposedly didn't have any children.)
The Skeleton's Closet (A woman tries to prevent the news of her children's real father leaking out.)

Season 7

The Nebulous Nephew (Confusion over whether a boy is really a long-lost nephew or a con artist.)
The Simple Simon (A large part of the mystery stems from the fact that the defendant has a son somewhere and believes him to be one person when he is in actuality another.)

Season 8

A Place Called Midnight (A girl is distressed over being an orphan with no known family name. Not a major plot point, but since it is there and it's a large part of the character's emotional makeup, I'll include it.)

Season 9

The Fugitive Fraulein (Trying to retrieve the correct granddaughter from behind the Iron Curtain. This one may be stretching it a bit, but there is an attempt to confuse the girl's identity.)

Wow. So why was that such a popular plotline in season 6? It's the only season to have more than three such episodes, unless there's others I've forgotten about.

One possibility would be that the same person wrote them and it's a plot device they like. Well, among the five season 6 episodes, two were written by Robert C. Dennis, two by Samuel Newman, and one by Robert Leslie Bellem. Every episode is thankfully extremely different in the plot details, which is why I assume this was allowed to happen and every script greenlit, but it's still rather curious to suddenly realize that so many episodes had the concept of unknown parentage in one season!

In the end, I suppose there's no real answer as to why. For some reason, the writers' inspiration just traveled on that path that year. Most of the season 6 episodes with that plot device are not among my favorites or semi-favorites, aside from The Polka-Dot Pony, but I've liked the others a lot better on this viewing.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

In Memoriam: William Hopper

And so we come to another March 6th, another anniversary of the date William Hopper tragically left us far too soon in 1970. Eerily enough, Erle Stanley Gardner died within the week of the same year and we lost two key figures in the shaping of Perry Mason.

William Hopper brought his immortal contributions to Perry when he showed up to do a screentest for Perry Mason himself. He definitely left an impression and ended up cast as our beloved Paul Drake. That was most certainly a wise choice. He brought so much heart and soul to our cast and the reunion movies feel so lonely without him.

I love when Paul gets a chance to be tough and show his stuff, since sometimes he's used as a comic relief character. One of my favorite scenes is in The Stand-In Sister, when he corners the escaped criminal by calmly and smoothly holding a gun on him at the top of the pier as he starts to climb up.

That season 6 episode also has the curious distinction of being the only one, I think, to actually have kind of a downer epilogue. Even if the courtroom scenes end rather grimly, the epilogue usually tries to cheer things up and end the episode on a happy note. In The Stand-In Sister, however, the epilogue has John Gregory talking to his criminal brother Stefan and wondering why he changed his mind and lied on the witness stand in Gregory's favor instead of telling all the things he threatened to that would make Gregory look horrible. Stefan growls that he has to be nice, since Gregory is holding all his money for him. Gregory, who had apparently hoped that there was some spark of brotherly affection as the reason, goes back over to Perry looking downcast and the episode ends. Um, ouch.

The only other episode I can think of that ends rather grim doesn't even fully count, as it's season 9's The Vanishing Victim and it only appears grim because the version usually shown on television cuts off the epilogue for some bizarre reason. In the televised version, it generally ends with Hamilton talking to the murderer and telling him that he has one more trip to take and this time he can't pass it off on someone else to take for him. The real ending is that silliness with Perry and Paul and the money Paul is charging for expenses that Perry decides to give to Steve for charity tickets without Paul's permission. I still wonder whether Paul is really charging unfairly and hence, Perry might be somewhat justified in his actions, or if Paul is being perfectly fair (aside from maybe nineteen cents, heh) and Perry is not being very nice to just give all of Paul's money away. I usually tend to lean more in Paul's favor, since Perry has unfairly taken money away from him in other episodes such as The Married Moonlighter, although I still wonder.

Paul has some interesting hobbies. Fishing seems to be a casual thing with him, judging by the fact that he fishes with Perry in season 5 yet doesn't seem to know a lot about where specific kinds of fish can be found in season 7. He seems to want to take up golfing, at least in season 9, as he wants those clubs in The Vanishing Victim and then the very next episode is The Golfer's Gambit and he's out practicing on the green. He's in excellent physical shape, as shown in The Carefree Coronary, and he likely works out and exercises to be in top form for the very physically demanding parts of his job.

Of course, Paul's favorite hobby, most likely, is dating. And admiring beautiful women. Several episodes have scenes with him getting distracted by women, and many more have him either on dates or talking about going on dates. Or, unfortunately, being pulled away from dates. But, always the loyal friend, he goes about doing whatever Perry wants done.

Paul is more skeptical than Perry. Many times he's certain that a client is guilty, or at least, is wary of their innocence. But he supports Perry anyway. And in The Angry Astronaut, when Paul brings the case to Perry, he says that he thinks the client is guilty but that he still deserves the best counsel. Paul can be a good judge of people at times, though, such as when he pegged Mark Chester as a weak-kneed slimeball in The Candy Queen.

All of the Perry characters are very human and three-dimensional. Paul is definitely not an exception. He can be funny. He can be serious. He makes good decisions and bad. And all in all, Perry Mason could never be the same without him. William Hopper is still very loved and missed.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

William Talman: Birthday Tribute

And so we arrive at another February 4th. This marks the 101st year since William Talman's birth. That is an impressive figure!

I think back on how and when I was first enchanted by William and his portrayal of Hamilton Burger. The first time I ever saw Perry, I was fascinated to see such an old series still airing in reruns. I was also intrigued to see that in general, the prosecuting attorney was always the same one. I loved continuity then as I do now.

And I loved Hamilton. I thought he made an excellent foil for Perry in court and I found him attractive to boot. As the show became a favorite in the house, I watched and discovered the intriguing friendship between Perry and Hamilton. Even in season 1, the first indications of it were there and I was riveted. That became my top reason for watching.

Thanks to Simon Oakland, I rediscovered my love of watching the series on what will be five years ago this year. Hamilton was every bit as wonderful as I had remembered, and as I re-watched old favorites and found new ones too, I ended up finding him even more amazing than before.

Of course the scripts had a lot to do with that, but no less important was William Talman's portrayal. Whenever I read a script, it usually feels flat all by itself. It's when you add the human element, the freshness that the actor brings in voice and tone and expressions and gestures, that everything comes alive. And did Hamilton ever come alive! With William Talman at the helm, the character leaped out of the pages of the script and became three-dimensional and real.

From Hamilton's first appearance in court in The Reluctant Redhead to his final apology in The Final Fadeout, there are over 200 episodes with Hamilton scenes. That's impressive by any show's standards! We can watch his battles with Perry in court, see their friendship grow out of court, and enjoy all the other great scenes that make up William Talman's screentime.

For me, taking William Talman out of the equation is unthinkable. His absence was the main reason why I was uninterested in the television movies until MeTV put them on right in front of me. Even then, after I wasn't that impressed with Perry Mason Returns, it took me a while to be interested in seeing any of the others. I do feel that they should be watched at least once; it is certainly a precious gift to see Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale together again. But they are not the entire series, only two key elements of it. Hamilton is another. And for me, canon Perry Mason is still the television series and only that, since there we have all key elements and the full amazing lineup of actors who brought them to life.

What a special and marvelous privilege we have had all these years to be able to enjoy this series and William's incredible contributions. It's even more wonderful when you realize that a lot of old British television shows were destroyed when they wanted to make room for other shows. Thank goodness that wasn't the case in America! Aside from many live anthology shows, it's fairly easy to obtain most American television series. And as technology changes and the shows are preserved with the times, we're sure to be able to enjoy William Talman's legacy on many formats for decades to come.

Happy 101st Birthday, William. You are, as always, remembered and loved.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

William Hopper: Birthday Tribute

I need to come up with some more topics so I don't only update this blog on anniversaries. But regardless, we have the very special occasion of William Hopper's 101st birthday to celebrate!

I've been trying to think of something new I can say about our Paul Drake. As the long-suffering detective for Perry Mason, Paul often gets roped into doing all kinds of bizarre and sometimes slightly illegal things to further the cases and uncover the guilty parties. He goes undercover as a television repairman at least twice in order to search dwellings for important evidence. Other times he passes himself off as an insurance salesman or other random occupations.

Even though I don't accept the television movies as canon, I do find it interesting to muse on the contrasts between Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. Paul Jr. seems to be more of a detective cliche, falling back on lies and masquerades at every turn. Paul Sr. never likes doing anything off-the-wall or law-bending or breaking. Always worried about his license, Paul Sr. is determined to stay on the straight and narrow as much as possible . . . which isn't always as much as he would like when working for Perry Mason!

Sometimes Paul has to collect bizarre items, such as his long list of sugar, hay, horseshoes and other acquisitions as part of The Bashful Burro case or the flies in The Bogus Books. As only William Hopper can do, Paul reacts to some of these outlandish requests with appropriate shock and disbelief. "A couple of dozen flies?!" is a classic line with a priceless expression to match.

Perhaps the weirdest and most appalling things Perry asks Paul to do are the blatantly illegal ones. In one of the last episodes of the series, The Scarlet Scandal, Perry actually wants Paul to saw off part of a hollow pole in the park and bring it to court for a visual aid! When Paul expresses concern about going to jail for damaging county property, Perry simply says he'll have to take that chance. But for once Paul puts his foot down; he hands Perry the saw and says, "We'll have to take that chance." (I do have to wonder why the local law enforcement or the judge doesn't get on Perry's case for that little act of vandalism!)

Paul is a good and loyal friend, the most faithful Perry and Della could have. Although they generally tease and banter, The Carefree Coronary allows Perry and Della to really show how much Paul means to them and that they're definitely aware of how much Paul has done for them through the years. It's a rare look into their special friendship from a more serious point-of-view, one that I think was a long time overdue.

Paul loves the ladies, but always seems to have trouble dating them. Cases dominate his life and always seem to get in the way when he wants to have a social life. We don't ever seem to see the ladies getting frustrated about this, but it would certainly be understandable if they ever do. Paul definitely finds it discouraging. But always a trooper, he knows that work comes first and accepts that.

Paul also has the misfortune of being the only one in the main cast to get knocked out during the show's run, and not just once, but off and on throughout. Season 3's Paul Drake's Dilemma and season 7's The Ugly Duckling are just two of those painful moments. With Paul's dangerous occupation, it's understandable that it would happen sometimes, especially in classic television. Paul can be grateful he wasn't knocked out over fifty times, like fellow detective Joe Mannix!

Travel doesn't happen a whole lot on Perry, at least travel out of the state of California. Most of the time when it does, Paul is the one doing it. He's been to Mexico multiple times and New Orleans a couple of times. He's also visited Boston, Washington D.C., Florida, and other assorted locations. One of his most important and intense trips is to South America in The Deadly Verdict, a trip that directly brings about the solution of the case. It's doubtful whether he ever gets to take vacations; all of those trips were for work. On one occasion he comments that the idea of a vacation must just be him dreaming. Poor Paul.

As with all classic television shows, there were little inconsistencies. In season 5's The Travelling Treasure, Paul is going fishing with Perry and seems to know what he's doing. In season 7's The Frightened Fisherman, Paul acknowledges that he is not a fisherman and doesn't know what Perry is driving at when it comes to the fishing aspects of the case. But it's a minor quibble and the most important things about Paul always stayed the same, thanks in no small part to William Hopper's wonderful acting.

It's hard to imagine Perry without William Hopper's strong presence. I can't even begin to picture the series without him. He is an enduring and glowing part of the series' appeal.

There are those on Facebook who feel likewise. William Hopper has a special corner of the web via Facebook and The William DeWolf Hopper Jr. Fan Page. If you're a William Hopper and Paul Drake fan, this is a lovely place to go to celebrate with other fans.

Happy 101st Birthday, William. You will always be a large part of what makes Perry Mason special.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Birthday Post: Ray Collins

I couldn't let December 10th pass by without acknowledging Ray Collins' birthday. It was on this day in 1889 when this amazing person and actor came into the world. He was inspired at an early age to want to become an actor and showed that he definitely had the talent for it. He was only rarely out of work once he began his long career, working on the stage and in radio as well as in movies and on television. He was widely respected and well-liked.

I was looking over his Wikipedia page before coming here, and I read something I have never heard before. Apparently, the reason his name was kept in the credits after he could no longer return to the show was because Gail Patrick Jackson knew he watched the show each week and she didn't want to discourage him by removing his name from the credits. That is awesome and very moving. It doesn't quite explain why his name was left there for the rest of season 8, even after his death, but I suspect my original idea, that it was out of respect and sadness. They probably couldn't stand to take his name away when the grief was too fresh. And they wanted to continue to acknowledge the great impact he had on the show. In any case, I'm sure he continued to be there in spirit.

As season 4 marches on, I continue to enjoy Ray's wonderful work as Lieutenant Tragg. He portrayed the character so brilliantly, with a mixture of grouchiness, sarcasm, intelligence, and caring, and he made it work each and every time. Lieutenant Tragg is larger-than-life, but at the same time he feels three-dimensional and real. He isn't just a cardboard cut-out character that gets trounced by Perry all the time.

Sadly, the writing was already on the wall that something wasn't right. While Sergeant Brice is absent for most of the early season 4 episodes, he returns the same time Hamilton does, in The Fickle Fortune. In both that and the next episode, The Waylaid Wolf, Brice takes part much more than he generally did before. He and Tragg are both present in the first of those episodes, but Brice still handles a lot of the needed conversations and both of them are questioned in court. Brice even sits in the gallery for the rest of the court scenes, something he doesn't often do. The next episode has him carrying it alone, including the court scenes. This happens several more times in season 4.

Although I love Sergeant Brice and delight to see him gain more screentime, I'm saddened by the reason why it happened. We've entered the point in the show where Tragg is being gradually, quietly phased out, and it's never quite the same afterwards.

There are still occasions where Tragg has a lot of screentime, however. The next episode, The Wintry Wife, features him in a lot of the investigation scenes along with Victor Chamberlin, in what is probably his highlight episode. This isn't the time to discuss Chamberlin (maybe next time), but I will mention that they made a fun team and it was enjoyable seeing Chamberlin get out in the field for a while . . . even though I of course would have liked it even more if it had been Hamilton with Tragg. (Or Sampson. Sampson in the field would have been epic.)

My dad complained while watching The Married Moonlighter several months ago that Tragg is often quite rude. I'll admit that that particular episode probably isn't his best moment; the scene where the husband is arrested and the wife is so upset and crying is quite haunting. At the same time, though, I could relate to Tragg looking to the wife but saying nothing. Sometimes it's so difficult to know what to say in such situations. What there is to say can seem so trite. Perhaps Tragg just didn't know how to say anything that might help, so he felt it was better to say nothing at all. In other episodes he usually does try to say something to the one left behind; maybe his experience in this episode made him decide that finding something to say was better than silence.

Dad was no doubt also referring to Tragg's many sarcastic cracks throughout the series. On that matter, I have to say that I love his snark and always look forward to what sort of comment he'll make next. Out of everyone in the main cast, Tragg is most likely the funniest. The way he says things, like responding to Adam West being Captain Obvious in The Bogus Books, is classic. "Oh, why thank you. I might never have figured that out!" Even Perry seemed to find that one amusing.

Tragg counters that irony with genuine concern and caring for people. One of my favorite serious Tragg scenes is in The Loquacious Liar, when he comes into the boat company's meeting room and tries to soberly and kindly tell the victim's wife that her husband is dead. He also expresses concern for Perry in the same episode, telling him he hopes Perry's old war injury isn't anything serious. His friendship with Andy is also something special. Despite being short, the scene in The Hateful Hero where Tragg comes to tell Andy of Otto Norden's death is quite poignant and powerful. Tragg is completely serious and sad, knowing how bad Andy will feel. His voice even cracks slightly as he tells him to get his hat and come. This is likely unintentional as part of the script and was an error in delivery, possibly due to Ray's sadly waning health, but it really works and makes the scene feel so much more real than if the delivery had been entirely polished.

Tragg is such a fun and multi-faceted character. There is always something new to discover about Ray's perfect portrayal of this gruff veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department. Happy Birthday to the wonderful actor and human being who brought him to life as no one else ever could! You will always be remembered and loved.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sergeant Brice and Slim Marcus and so very many guns

And so another Halloween season has come and gone. I wanted to write a story as a follow-up to 2012's The Case of the Man-Eating House and have Della, Andy, and Sergeant Brice puzzling over the strange locket Brice brought back and why the little girl stays in the house. That didn't happen, but perhaps I will still write it. After all, creepy house stories aren't just for Halloween. Although, I would doubt whether anyone still remembers the original tale three years later! Usually, if a fanfiction sequel isn't started immediately, it doesn't do so well with its audience.

I've been thinking about Dan Tobin lately. It was his birthdate near the end of October (the 19th). I haven't seen him in anything new, nor have I learned anything more about him, but his performance as Clay is always remembered fondly by me. Clay is certainly a unique and colorful character and, just like all the cast, perfectly captured by his actor. I can't imagine anyone else in the part.

I bought all of season 3 of
Perry on DVD several months back and we were watching the uncut versions of the episodes on the nights when MeTV aired them. But we ended up getting a little behind during the Halloween season, so we just got around to see The Mythical Monkeys and The Singing Skirt over the past couple of nights.

The Mythical Monkeys, of course, is the episode from which Pete Kelton hails. I've used him in a couple of stories, but he is most prominent in the one I just finished, The Nefarious Necklace. Being played by William Boyett, he is my favorite of Paul's operatives.

The Singing Skirt is H.M. Wynant's second turn on the series, as gambler and killer Slim Marcus. I still rather like my fleshing out of the calamity on the night of the murder, featuring Vivian Ennis as the one to actually pick up the gun and she and Slim then fight for it. There is vague mention in the epilogue that there was a fight, so my idea doesn't go against canon. That still wouldn't let him off the hook, however, especially with all the nasty things he did to implicate Betty. But I do feature Slim as a minor character in some of my stories for other shows, ironically.

My story goes that he went to prison mainly on charges of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice, since the killing was not deliberate and he was simply trying to protect himself by getting the gun away from Vivian. But then instead of going to the police with what happened, he did all that junk to frame an innocent party, which resulted in most of the charges against him. After his release, he runs a casino of his own and employs a couple of characters from other shows I like to write about. I don't think I've ever actually featured him in a Perry story. He is a dark character due to his past, but he is trying to get past it and live upright now.

Amusingly enough, I went though my posts tagged with The Singing Skirt and saw that I had not originally planned to flesh anything out regarding Slim Marcus's actions. I wonder what made me change my mind.

While I was watching the episode, I came up with some interesting thoughts.

First, I've noticed that even though Sergeant Brice is the main sergeant now, he still isn't always the one around. Tragg still goes to crime scenes with other sergeants or even uniformed officers sometimes. There was a sergeant in The Singing Skirt whom I've never seen before, to my recollection. I was thinking how rather sad it was that it wasn't Brice.

Now I'm starting to think that Brice doesn't become the only sergeant around until season 4, when Hamilton was absent and then later when they tried to give Brice more of the burden of the police character. My memory is that neither Andy nor Steve ever worked with any sergeant except Brice, unlike Tragg. I've always written that Tragg and Brice are especially close, and I imagine they are, but it is interesting to note that Brice was apparently never exclusively Tragg's partner (at least, not until season 4, perhaps).

Actually, that lends credence to the idea in my stories that Brice still works with the other Lieutenants even though he is now Steve's partner. Perhaps during times when Steve is working at the station or off-duty, Brice still partners with Tragg or Andy.

One interesting thing about The Singing Skirt is that it definitely shows Perry's human frailties, instead of trying to make it look like he's never wrong. His screw-up with the guns and his over-confidence really make a mess for both himself and the defendant. There aren't many episodes where Perry seriously flubs as badly as he does here. Even in season 7's The Woeful Widower, where Perry suspects the wrong person for most of the episode, he doesn't actually cause a calamity.

I've always been rather appalled by Perry's fiddling around with those guns, but this time around it occurs to me that he really could have gotten his other client in trouble by using his gun to substitute for the one in Betty's hat box. Note that when the client is on the stand, he says that Perry didn't think he should even be carrying a gun while his civil suit was going on. That was six months ago, yet the gun is still in Perry's possession. I question whether the suit was resolved, since I would think the client would have taken it back once everything was settled. But regardless, what if he had been implicated in a crime because his gun was used? Of course, what actually happened was that Perry got himself implicated, but it seems to me the other could have happened just as easily.

I like that Perry is so determined to help Betty when she's being bullied by the gamblers, but somehow it just doesn't sit well with me that he took another client's gun to try to help her. That client trusted Perry too and it seems Perry really let him down. If I was that guy, I think I'd be looking for a new lawyer.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Quick post


Gah, no posts for a month. I am so sorry; it’s been nuts around here. This year I even remembered the anniversary date the show premiered and just wasn’t able to find the time to get a post up. But I haven’t neglected Perry-related works, as I’ve been working on The Nefarious Necklace story at http://www.fanfiction.net/s/11485312/. By now I almost have it done. I plan that one more full chapter and an epilogue can wrap it up.

I’m really happy I was finally able to tell that story, after agreeing to write it for my steady reader Harry2 three years ago. Although I imagine it’s very different from the story he was envisioning!

I brought in some elements from a couple of Livejournal-only blurbs I was experimenting with years ago, mainly the mechanic David Solomon and his true identity. I debated for some time whether to go that route or not, but I really wanted to tell a story with a ­Decadent Dean ­flavor and I didn’t think I could tell a story with those characters without ending up dipping into those plot elements.

That whole storyline is an experiment and a “What if . . . ?” Personally, I still feel Tobin Wade is probably the biggest slimeball in the series, due to having really been a friend at one time and then letting his greed get the better of him. But since he was a true friend at one time, I just couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever regret what he did. The story examines the possibility of what might happen if he not only regretted it, but was given a chance to try to make reparations.

Then the other night I was watching The Bartered Bikini and saw something curious. Sergeant Brice is absent and instead a Sergeant Macready is helping Tragg. Very oddly, Macready comes over to Perry and greets him familiarly, even asking if he remembers meeting before. Perry definitely does and is very congenial.

Well, Perry may remember, but I definitely did not! I looked up the character and so far have not found any other occasion where he was present in the series. At least if he was, an actor other than Herbert Patterson must have played him for his other appearance(s).

It is certainly a curious thing, a character apparently set up as a recurring character who actually did not recur. The other times characters have greeted Perry like that, they have been around in other episodes, such as Sergeant Landro and the sheriff of the county where Mr. Hale is the prosecutor.

I wonder what they were planning to do with the character and why he didn’t recur. And even stranger, why his appearance references an earlier appearance that doesn’t seem to have happened. Anyone know? Perhaps there was an earlier appearance of Macready played by another actor that I don’t remember. Although I am pretty sure I would remember that name; I have been paying attention to all the sergeants who wander in this time around.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Birthday Tribute: Karl Held


Well, it’s another September the 19th, which means it’s time for the most controversial post of the year: the birthday tribute to Karl Held!

I believe it was last year when someone finally explained to me the other main reason why Karl’s David Gideon character is so disliked. As I recall, it’s because the character has a tendency to sometimes act like he knows it all and/or tries to explain things that don’t need explaining? The person mentioned some occasions where he explains some things to Della and she has an expression like, “You don’t have to lecture me, David.”

I’ll agree that David does have those moments. And admittedly, I know some people in real-life who are like that. They are quite annoying. But on the other hand, I’m honestly a bit amused by them, because in general, they really aren’t trying to do anything wrong. They’re just sharing their enthusiasm and maybe letting it get a little out of hand. They don’t even really stop to think that maybe they don’t need to say this or that. So even that reason doesn’t make me dislike the character.

However, this much I will say: the commenter also noted that David does not act like that in The Grumbling Grandfather, in spite of his idolization of Perry. I do think it’s rather a pity that they changed the characterization in season 5, instead of sticking a little more with what the character was to begin with. Perhaps he wouldn’t be nearly universally disliked if they had taken a more season 4-influenced path and kept the character more as he was in his first appearance.

But regardless, it certainly wasn’t Karl Held’s fault that the characterization was altered. He just worked with the material he was given. Apparently those moments were actually in the script. I suppose perhaps delivering the lines differently could have made some level of difference, but maybe it was the director’s choice and not Karl’s to deliver the lines the way he did. There just isn’t enough information on that period of Perry to really judge what happened.

I wonder if anyone has ever even interviewed Karl about his time on Perry? It would be interesting to get the story from his point-of-view.

I still haven’t quite found a place for David in my Perry stories. I used him in The Case of the Spiteful Spirit two years ago and that is the only appearance he’s made in my official timeline. The Lux Aeterna stories on Livejournal remain nebulous as to whether they’re part of the official timeline. So as far as the official timeline goes, I have never explained where David disappeared to. Since I say that other characters who have disappeared onscreen are still around, however, perhaps David is just busy with law school and is still in Los Angeles, instead of leaving it as I said in Lux Aeterna.

While looking over the previous birthday posts, I saw I had an idea for David to maybe appear now and then, bringing Perry interesting problems that could sometimes turn into new cases. Perhaps I will use that idea for the next mystery story, if I continue the series after The Nefarious Necklace. I just hope that if I do decide to use David as a main guest-star in a story, that fact alone wouldn’t make a lot of readers decide not to bother reading!

It would have been neat, as I’ve said before, if there had been more canon scenes of Perry mentoring David in the ways of the law. Perhaps it could have been more like Perry’s relationship with Ken in the movies. Of course, I imagine that even if David’s characterization had been handled better, viewers wouldn’t have liked if the series had followed him to the end of his law school studies and had Perry take him on as another lawyer in the firm, as he did with Ken. That definitely would have changed the scope of the series a bit, probably unfavorably. I doubt I would go that route in my stories, but I would like to do some of the mentoring scenes. I will also likely try to characterization David a little more like in The Grumbling Grandfather.

I was a little worried that some readers might mistakenly think that the mechanic character in Necklace is supposed to be David and that he failed law school, but since there are many guest-star characters on Perry named David, I figured I would let it slide. The character is called David for a reason, so I didn’t want to try to find a different name that would work just as well. However, I did realize, much to my chagrin, that I accidentally started a pattern once I gave the character a surname. Both Davids have first and last names of Biblical characters: David Gideon and David Solomon! Oh well, it works.

As before, I feel that David Gideon is a character who had a lot of untapped potential. I’m glad that Karl brought him to life and gave it a good try for those nine episodes. I hope he has a very happy birthday!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

In Memoriam: Raymond Burr


So The Romantic Rogue is the first episode in which Lee Miller is officially called Sergeant Brice within the series! I like that Lieutenant Tragg introduces him to Harry West; it’s as though he’s introducing Brice to the audience, as well.

It seems like Brice wasn’t usually introduced in the episodes. I’m trying to recall other times when whichever Lieutenant present introduced him to someone in the guest cast. I believe each Lieutenant introduced him at least once, but I hope there were more occasions than just three!

Last week I was curiously looking up Lee Miller’s credits and I discovered something that I knew I would want to save to talk about today. There was only one occasion listed where he was credited as appearing as himself, in a documentary about Raymond Burr called The Defense Rests. I went to YouTube hoping I’d find it, and I did!

I’m probably a latecomer and everyone else knows about and/or has watched this tribute, but just in case there are those who are not aware: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT0HiHEWOHY This is the link to Part 1; it was broken up into six segments. I believe each one should either automatically follow the previous one or appear in the sidebar.

Some people may find it a little hard to get through in this day and age, as Bill Cosby is one of the co-hosts, and there are certainly reasons to not find it appealing to watch Bill Cosby these days. But I watched the whole thing and greatly enjoyed and was moved by it.

It came out very soon after Raymond Burr’s sad death on September 12th, 1993. They didn’t spend a lot of time discussing either Perry or Ironside, but they did manage to discuss both series as well as an overview of Raymond’s movie career. All of it was very interesting, but what I enjoyed the most were the parts about Raymond’s life and his personality. Barbara Hale was the other host and she delivered very touching information about Raymond. Also exciting was getting to see people in Raymond’s family.

Lee Miller talks at several different points throughout the production, giving little snippets of adventures he and Raymond had while filming things. The part about the Godzilla movie was particularly intriguing. I had no idea Raymond had appeared in one of those! Lee expressed sadness over Raymond’s passing and said how much he would miss him.

There were definitely things I would have liked to have learned that weren’t mentioned, such as how Raymond and Lee met in the first place (and how Sergeant Brice was cast; I’d like to know if Raymond had anything to do with that!), but overall I really loved the documentary and found it a very touching and poignant tribute while the wounds were still fresh from Raymond’s death. On this, the anniversary of that sad day, I find it fitting to share the documentary and encourage fans to have a look. Even if you’ve seen it before, it’s good to see again and reflect on. It’s an excellent and powerful glimpse into the life of the man we see as Perry Mason and Robert T. Ironside.

It’s hard to believe that Raymond Burr passed away 22 years ago today. It was very sad to lose him, especially so soon after they finished the movie The Killer Kiss. The information told about that experience in the documentary was something I hadn’t heard before. It was very moving how determined Raymond was to film that movie in spite of his illness because the proceeds had already been promised to charities. And it was very bittersweet and sad that Barbara Hale had a premonition that it would be the last movie.

However, as sad as it was to lose this wonderful actor and compassionate man, it can definitely be said that he lived a rich, full life and left valuable legacies behind. How many people were helped by Raymond throughout his life? Perhaps even posthumously by the charity money from the final Perry movie? It is staggering to think of the possible numbers. Raymond did so much good in his life through his charity work, as well as by bringing people joy with his famous and beloved roles on television and in the movies.

It was said in the documentary how much Raymond loved to act. I’m sure he’s continuing that love in the afterlife. Here’s to you, Raymond. Keep on shining. I know that won’t be hard for you to do.

I hope to have another chapter of The Nefarious Necklace up later today in further honor of Raymond Burr. With Della as the central figure, naturally Perry plays quite a big role in this installment. By now I have four chapters posted; the story is moving along very well.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The first Sergeant Brice, and a new story


As the readers know, I adore Lee Miller’s Sergeant Brice. He is quiet, loyal, dedicated, and friendly. In episodes such as The Grumbling Grandfather and The Borrowed Baby he testifies in court and gets some pretty decent screentime. In later seasons, he sometimes talks with Perry about cases and has a mysterious teasing exchange with Della, certainly indicating that there’s at least one untold story there.

They were using Lee Miller all the way in season 1, playing unnamed policemen who usually worked with the L.A.P.D. Once or twice he played other law enforcement officers, such as a Highway Patrolman in The Rolling Bones. Even then, he appeared with Tragg. Back in season 1, I don’t recall they ever used the same person more than once to accompany Tragg, until they started using Lee Miller.

By season 2, they continued to use Lee in many episodes, but his character still didn’t have a name and only rarely, if ever, said a word. Meanwhile, someone came up with the name Sergeant Brice and it was applied to another police character. He appears in two episodes, to my knowledge—once in an episode that Lee is also in (The Glittering Goldfish)! That gave me a start the last time I watched it, to see the “real” Brice around yet have someone else get credited as the character!

MeTV showed the first of the two episodes the other day (The Fancy Figures) and I studied the character as played by Chuck Webster. Instead of younger, quiet, and closer to Raymond’s build, the first Sergeant Brice is older, slimmer, and quite talkative. While I suppose the idea is that both actors are really playing the same character, I have an urge to make this first Brice a completely different character, since he is different in every way except in his loyalty to the police department, and when I hear “Sergeant Brice”, it’s impossible for me to picture anyone other than Lee Miller. Perhaps the first Brice is a relative? Chuck Webster was only eleven years older than Lee Miller, and even though some actors sadly do look much older than their age, this character didn’t look old enough to be the other Brice’s father. So maybe an older brother, cousin, or an uncle instead.

Also curiously noted is that while the first episode has him and Tragg both calling him “Brice”, the second episode only lists him as such in the credits. Within the episode itself, Hamilton addresses him as “Officer.” I wonder which episode was filmed first? If Goldfish was, then we could say that perhaps they only thought of the name after it was filmed, so they quickly inserted it in the credits and then addressed him by that name within the other episode. If the other episode was filmed first, then I have to wonder if they were already considering making Lee Miller the Brice character by the time they did Goldfish later, so they didn’t want Chuck’s Brice addressed onscreen by that name again.

I may address these mysteries in a future story, or maybe even in the one I’ve started now. I finished putting up the Steve Drumm detective parody and decided it was high time I start writing the story idea that one of my steady readers, Harry2, brought to me three years ago when I was writing The Malevolent Mugging. It heavily involves Della and a mishap with a supernatural necklace. I was interested, but felt I needed to finish Mugging before I started it, and of course, that didn’t get finished until about a month or so ago. So finally it is time to tell Harry’s story.

Since I have been wanting to explore Brice and Della’s apparent friendship for some time, a story starring Della would be a good place to start. I am tentatively planning that Brice will play a large part in it, especially as the mystery deepens and it becomes clear that not all is well with Della.

Also, as per my love of bringing back characters from the episodes I enjoy most, this one features Gene Torg and Pearl Chute from The Bogus Books. They were part of the original outline from three years ago, being the first to encounter the necklace and then desperately wanting to get rid of it. Gene may end up falsely accused of a crime and need Perry’s help; I’m still unsure if I will do that angle.

I have also had ideas of writing a story about the Stuarts from The Decadent Dean and I decided that this would be that mystery. Perry is trying to solve a new series of weird events at Aaron Stuart’s new Manzana Valley Prep School while Della begins to act strangely. The mysteries will connect. And I’m also planning that this will finally be the mystery with scenes at a masquerade ball. The ball will be held at the school.

Does anyone know if Manzana Valley/County is a real place or something the show made up? I’ve been trying to look it up without success because I wanted to figure out how close it is to Los Angeles. Tentatively I’m assuming that within the show, it’s the next county over in some direction, since Tobin Wade seemed to be living at his cabin in Topanga Canyon (which is, I think, part of the Los Angeles area?) and probably wouldn’t want to be driving a long distance to work each day.

I’m a little nervous to do another supernatural mystery for my first big Perry story since The Malevolent Mugging, but I really wanted this one to be next, so I hope it will be enjoyed. I have the first chapter up and am in the process of writing the second. If anyone is interested in following this new adventure, it’s at: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/11485312/

Sunday, August 30, 2015

In Memoriam: William Talman and Wesley Lau


So today is the anniversary of both William Talman and Wesley Lau’s deaths, albeit in different years. I never like to combine their tribute posts, but I’m afraid that this year I will have to. It has been extremely, unpleasantly hectic the last couple of weeks and with it already evening in my time zone, I just don’t think I’ll have the chance to write two posts today.

I have to admit that I’m running into that same dilemma of not knowing what to say for either one of them that I haven’t already said before. And yet I still want to try; I can’t just go past this day without doing something in their honor.

I started looking through posts from past years to see how I handled it. On one of William’s, I noticed that I mentioned a Wild Wild West fanfiction story I was writing about William’s episode, The Night of the Man-Eating House. His character dies in the main part of the episode, but since it was a dream of Artemus Gordon’s, in reality he was still alive. But the episode ended with them really finding the house from the dream, so there’s the chance that the same events would play out. I decided to write my story having things turn out differently in reality than in the dream. When I talked of it in that first post, I was stalled and could not think how to continue or finish the story. This year, I finally succeeded in doing so, and I am quite pleased with the results. If anyone would like to read that story, which is definitely a tribute to William Talman and his awesomely played character, it’s here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7813673/1/The-Night-of-the-Dream-Come-True

The community of William Talman fans on Facebook was hoping that MeTV would finally put up part 2 of that interview they did with Tim Talman a year and a half ago. I and others tried to convince them to do so. It would seem they have not. Had they done so, that would have been a very timely and exciting thing to bring to the readers here on this sobering day.

It is such a strange coincidence to have lost two of our Perry cast members on this day, albeit in different years. I am grateful it wasn’t the same year, as Wesley brought so much to people between 1968 and 1984. I am sorrowed, as always, that William Talman died so young, in 1968. I wonder sometimes what things he might have appeared in and what he could have shared with his family had he been able to keep living. But I also always think of his heroic act of speaking out on the dangers of smoking and wonder how many lives he changed with those powerful, first anti-smoking messages. I have come across people who have talked of how those messages changed their lives and how they decided to stop smoking because of them. It’s a beautiful legacy to leave. Although it doesn’t change the sadness of him leaving us so soon, it surely is a great comfort to know that he made such an important difference.

I greatly enjoyed writing for Hamilton, Andy, and Amory Fallon in The Malevolent Mugging, which I have finally finished at last. They and Mr. Sampson were definitely the stars of the tale and I loved devoting it to them. Of course, the actors’ amazing performances are by and large why I adore writing for their characters. All of them were brought to life in the series so expertly.

Wesley was so wonderful as Amory Fallon in The Impatient Partner, even capturing the attention of the executive producer and directly leading to him being cast as Andy for four seasons. It’s so interesting how one little decision, positive or negative, can affect things for years to come. What if someone else had been chosen as Amory? What if they had decided to use Med Flory or someone else as the Lieutenant? What if we had never come to know Lieutenant Anderson?

Wesley was an amazing character actor and very widely appreciated for his skills, which was why he appeared on so many shows. But Lieutenant Anderson was his only role as a steady cast member and that is undoubtedly the role for which he is most remembered. I am very glad that he was the one chosen for the part and that we got to know his great character from seasons 5 through 8. Of course, had someone else been picked instead, we wouldn’t have known any different, but it certainly wouldn’t have been the same as it was with Wesley there.

I’m always delighted to receive comments from people who fondly remember Wesley as Andy. It pleases me that he was so well-received by many viewers, since often it is difficult for a replacement cast member to be accepted by long-time viewers who remember and love the original cast member. I myself took a little bit of time to warm up to him (and Steve) when I started watching again, but it didn’t take long and I loved them.

I always take August 30th to remember the passing of these two great actors and human beings, but I think of them in general every day. There are many lessons we can take from them about acting and playing good characters, but there are also important lessons from their personal lives. They were both devoted to family and friends and stood by them no matter what. They were also both very courageous and believed in saying and doing what had to be done. Those are great examples to take into our lives.