Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Case of the Blissful Bachelors: Romance in the Series

She turned back, lightly tapping the brim of his white fedora with the edges of the envelopes. “I can’t see your eyes with that hat’s shadow falling over them,” she complained. “You always did have very nice eyes.” With that and a last smile she turned away, sashaying very deliberately up the hill.
---from The Macabre Mansion, chapter one

One of the most surprising, and dare I say amusing, factors of the series is that none of the main characters appear to be in a romantic relationship with anyone. In a world so seemingly obsessed with romance, this seems quite a unique thing. Of course, Perry and Della have their lovely scenes together, and it’s clear that they care about each other deeply, but even for them it’s never canonically established that they’re in a relationship.

Personally, I feel it’s better that way. It changes shows so much whenever long-time characters pair off, and usually for the worse. Perry and Della’s interaction is quite perfect as it is. Let the shipper fans imagine things going further if they wish, but don’t inflict it on everyone by making it canon.

Hamilton Burger and Lieutenant Tragg only rarely appear to have any inclination towards romance. In season 1’s The Baited Hook, Tragg shows interest in asking a woman on a date. This is a bit of a surprise. If any of the main cast were to be already married, I would most suspect him. But the scene in The Baited Hook convinces me that he is single, at least by the time of the series. It is of course possible that Tragg was married prior to the series and his wife either died or they were divorced.

To my knowledge, the only time Hamilton is ever seen on any semblance of a date is in season 9’s The Golfer’s Gambit. At the country club, he is shown dancing with a woman. They later observe part of the fight between Hamilton’s acquaintance Chick and another man. But it is most unclear whether Hamilton actually brought the woman to the club for a date or if they just met there by accident and did not know each other. I kind of think they were on a real date, however. This entire scene is silent on their parts; we don’t even know what the woman sounds like. And Hamilton never speaks of romance throughout the series, that I’m aware of.

There is at least one woman who is regularly in Hamilton’s life. But Mignon Germaine, from my favorite episode The Fatal Fetish, appears to be a close friend and nothing else. In Hamilton's words, they “have been good friends for a long time.” I never picked up on any hint that there was or had been a romance between them; neither seemed interested in such a thing.

We don’t even really know who Hamilton’s secretary is, to determine what his relationship might be with that person. There is an older Miss Miller in an early episode, but she might be a stenographer. In The Fatal Fetish there is an unseen girl whom Hamilton speaks with over his intercom, but she might be a receptionist. In many episodes Hamilton speaks with someone named Leon. This person seems the most likely candidate to be his secretary. He could be an assistant, but whenever Hamilton is in court a different person is with him. Hence, I don’t think he relies on any one assistant more than another. It’s more likely that Leon is a secretary.

In any case, I would really prefer that Hamilton not have any romantic relations with anyone who works for him. That would just be paralleling Perry and Della too much. One suspected office romance is enough for the series.

Paul is the ladies’ man. Even a show like Perry Mason felt it needed one, and it does add spice and amusing comments to many episodes. Paul often shows interest in various women passing through the cases. Occasionally he is depicted on dates, which usually seem to get interrupted by assignments from Perry. He certainly doesn’t have a steady girl, but I wouldn’t think it of him. He doesn’t seem ready to settle down, although when Perry described a girl he was looking for Paul quipped, “I’ve been looking for one like that for years.” Perhaps, if Paul found that right one, he would indeed settle down.

(I will refrain from even venturing into the territory of the television movies, where it not only is obvious that Paul settled down, but that he died. Too, too depressing. Those movies are not out-and-out canon as far as I’m concerned, but instead just one possibility of the future. I prefer to picture the characters on the original television series, largely unchanged, still having their adventures now as they had then.)

While Paul appears to actively be looking, the other main men seem to be quite content to stay bachelors. When Della makes remarks that sound as though she may want things to get more serious between herself and Perry, Perry worms his way out of it. Once he comments that Della is asking a leading question!

Andy’s feelings on staying single versus getting married are uncertain, although he oogles a pretty girl along with Paul in The Golden Oranges. And for Lieutenant Drumm, I doubt the subject was ever broached.

Of course, it was common for the characters in early crime shows to be devoted to their work and for that to be their life. However, even shows such as Dragnet had characters who were married, and they would sometimes talk about it even if the wives were never seen. Perry doesn’t even feature that. And that says to me that either these guys really like the single life . . . or Erle Stanley Gardner just didn’t want them bogged down with anything else. And either or both could very well be true.

I myself have no intention of straying from the show’s formula on that point. Perry and Della will continue their very close and deep friendship in my stories, and the readers are free to imagine that they’re romantically involved if they wish. Paul will continue to be a ladies’ man and will probably occasionally crush on various girls. Tragg is unmarried, but while I kind of think he probably was married at one time I don’t believe I’ll venture into an explanation of what happened. (Of course, that could change as time goes on. I do have a vague idea that I might expound on if I write a Christmas story.) And Hamilton will not be romantically attached to anyone. He may occasionally take a girl out, as he likely did in The Golfer’s Gambit, but I will likely not depict it, as I prefer to keep the focus on the mystery and the friendships.

The quote I chose to place at the beginning of this entry is in reference to my own character Vivalene, who appears at some point in stories for every one of my major fandoms. Here she is making her Perry Mason debut. As always, she is a criminal. In the story, Hamilton hopes to get her arrested and convicted. She flirts with him, despite the fact that he prosecuted her three years before. He means nothing to her, and since he knows that as well as what she is, he is unmoved by her attempt to soften him.


  1. "Those movies are not out-and-out canon as far as I’m concerned, but instead just one possibility of the future."
    That's a very interesting approach. I should try that, big Della fan that I am. :o) Eight years apart from Perry, now that's depressing, too. :o/ On the other hand: I adore the TV movies, the fact that Perry returns for Della and then there is handsome Paul Junior. Lots of romance in those movies for me, too. Even sealed with an overdue (on camera, real) kiss (and not only those darling smacks on the cheek). So many lovely hints for Della/Perry fans like me - like in the books or in the radio plays. But like you said, subtle enough "to guard their privacy". ;o) Like I always say, those two know how to keep their secret when the cameras are rolling in the courtroom. ;o)

    "When Della makes remarks that sound as though she may want things to get more serious between herself and Perry, Perry worms his way out of it."
    Or he flirts his way around a verbal answer and asks her out to dinner instead, in that way only he has. :o) Love that episode when she's so frustrated with him for ignoring her "what about us" question, only to sweet-talk her into a delicious French dinner with him. His treat ofc. *LoL* What else! How often has he treated her for dinner, lunch or *coughs* breakfast?! *g* I'd sure love to have a "friend"-employer like Perry Mason. ;o)

    "Once he comments that Della is asking a leading question!"
    Jeez, how I love that line and his smirk. So much subtext. At least for me. *sighs*

    Paul and his women - I've always loved him dearly. How he treats both, Della and Perry, and drops his tongue-in-cheek remarks (verbally or with a telling look).
    Burger, yes, I've always pictures him married tbh. Tragg, too. Or divorced, absolutely, but definitely experienced with women. ;o) and I've always adored him for his crush on Della, too. But then I just heart every character who likes Della. I'm easy like that. ;o)

  2. (Hey, glad to see you again!)

    Yes, the character interaction between Perry and Della is probably the main wonderful thing about the TV movies! But I can't figure out how they ended up apart for eight years. That doesn't seem in-character to me!

    LOL. I don't recall which episode that is offhand, but I remember seeing it within the last couple of months. Ah, Perry. That was sweet when he finally got around to mentioning the dinner. And I giggled so much over the "leading question" scene.

    Paul is adorable. It's so hard to picture the TV movies without him!

    (Say, since they said he was dead due to William Hopper's death, do you know if they also said that Hamilton and Tragg were dead? That would be triply depressing.)

    I think The Golfer's Gambit probably makes it clear that Hamilton is, at least, not married at the present time. We see his bedroom when the phone rings at 12:27 A.M. Even if they wouldn't have been allowed to show a wife with him in the same bed, it seems that if she had been there at all, in another bed, she would have woke up at the phone and asked what was going on. In any case, I kind of figure that if a wife is never mentioned for a character, he's likely not married. But that's not to say he couldn't have been in the past.

    I love Tragg's interaction with Della. Too cute!

  3. "But I can't figure out how they ended up apart for eight years. That doesn't seem in-character to me!"
    Yes, that's the number one question, isn't it?! The movies raise a lot of questions like that tbh.
    1) How often did Della drive up to San Francisco to see Perry? It's not that they didn't keep in touch...
    2) Where did Paul Junior actually come from?! *LoLoL* And how come his hair is curly like Della's?! ;o) *hmm*
    Taking all thirty movies into account, I could ask many more questions. ;o) Esp about the implied affairs and relationships we suddenly hear about from Perry's and Della's past.

    Paul Senior's death is never really mentioned btw. But there is a photo on Junior's desk at his father's old premises. And Paul Junior's mother is mentioned in a later movie when Paul ends up in the gossip columns which is a nice reference to Barbara Hale and her son. The scene always cracks me up. :o)

    Hamilton Burger is really only mentioned in that scene with the over-eager woman DA who underestimates Perry's skills and enthusiasm to get Della acquitted. There's no hint to what he's doing now, if he's retired somewhere for example(which I choose to believe). Same goes for Tragg. No info, but as far as I remember the show didn't give any either back in season 9 when Ray Collins had already passed away. :o/

    I do remember however that Tragg was given a daughter in at least of of the radio plays! So he must've been married at least. If that counts as a clue. ;o) If only I could remember her name... Hang on, I'll check. Nora, that's it! :o) Nora Tragg.

    All in all, I always miss the old crew when I watch the movies although my favorites are making me very happy. And Della and Perry are traveling so much in the movies, who knows, they may also be paying Tragg and Burger a regular visit. And Gertie and Paul Junior, too, after he disappeared without an explanation in movie ten. I'm convinced he got married and then gave Della & Perry the grandchildren they never had. ;o) I guess I just like to turn the poignant into happiness. For all of them *shrugs* :o)

    I just saw "TCOT Blonde Bonanza" again today (those first two minutes with Della always make me squeal). Paul is so adorable in this episode, and Burger is the cherry on top of my whipped cream. His courtroom appearance is so funny when he is getting his hopes up to nail Perry for tampering with evidence. :o) He's such a darling and I really wish we had gotten more personal scenes with him and our favorite lawyer, Della and Paul. *sighs*

    Did anyone ever remark on the crush Tragg has on Della btw? Did Paul? Right now I cannot seem to remember (just like that episode I mentioned to you, the title also escaped me. *LoL*).

    Always happy to read your entries btw - not always in time and one after the other, but hey, I'm getting there. :o)

  4. Really? From what I read, I thought it was said outright that Paul Senior was dead and then Perry and Della went looking for Paul Junior.

    Indeed, Tragg disappeared without a trace. But I kind of prefer that, as one can choose to think that he's simply very busy and we're just meeting some of the other police lieutenants that Perry and company have probably associated with for years.

    That being said, I have had a vague oneshot story idea that would have Tragg dead (probably killed in a shootout) and how the other characters would react to it. But I don't know if I'd ever write it, as for one thing it would be so sad, and for another, maybe it would be seen as insensitive since Ray Collins really did die during the run of the show.

    Yes, Tragg was married in the radio plays, but that's definitely a canon all its own. It's an interesting take, though!

    It would be squeeful if Perry and Della were paying visits to Hamilton and Tragg!

    I like turning bittersweet/poignant into happiness too, when possible. ;)

    I don't think I'm familiar with Blonde Bonanza offhand, although I might remember it if I saw it. Poor Hamilton. I really felt sorry for him in The Shapely Shadow. I imagine I'd feel the same in this episode!

    Seasons 2 and 6 were particularly filled with amazing scenes between Perry and Hamilton. Although all seasons had at least some, I think those two had the most. But still there is very little in the way of Hamilton interacting with Della or Paul. Something I like to try to rectify in my stories.

    Say, do you know if Hamilton showed visible regret about prosecuting Della in The Weary Watchdog? I wondered if he would, particularly since he did about Paul.

    (Sometimes Perry really does make my eyebrows shoot up. I love that he's willing to put himself on the line for his clients, yet at the same time I can't believe some of his "legal tightrope walking"! Such as the other night when I saw The Mystified Miner and he had his client's car pushed away by a bunch of kids so it would be impossible to get fingerprints. I can't blame Hamilton for getting upset when he knows Perry does things like that.)

    Nope, I don't think anyone mentioned that. And I've seen most of the episodes with Tragg now. I love Andy and Drumm, but ahh, it's sad when Tragg isn't there.

  5. No, it's just a given that they get Paul Junior - so you can assume that Paul Senior passed away because Bill Hopper had, but he could also have retired to Hawai'i and abandoned Perry after he had left Della behind in L.A. ;o)
    I just checked Perry Mason Returns again. :o) I didn't want to give you any false info. No literal mention of Paul Senior's adobe.

    Yes, I share your sentiments - I also prefer to believe that Tragg kept buzzing and was still around but simply didn't cross Perry's path when the cameras accompanied Mason and his gang. :o)
    I like your story idea a lot btw and don't find it insensitive, esp not if you plan to show what kind of an impact his unfortunate death would have on his friends. I'm curious to hear about it if you should ever write this one. :o)

    The radio plays are slightly different from the books, the show and the movies, granted. But I always like to combine it all in my head because I simply adore all versions of those darling characters, including Drumm.

    The Blonde Bonanza episode is from season eight and has a fun opening with Della and Paul interacting. One of those typical brother-sister scenes between those two characters, I just love how they tease each other. And Burger, yes, I also pity him a lot but also heart that, after all, he's all for justice and not for persecuting the wrong guys.
    I love how frustrated Hamilton can get with Perry, and for good reason, like you said. I mean, even Dela is frustrated with Perry over his stunts at times, esp when she ends up on the witness stand and then has to squirm her way through her own testimony. *g* Bless.

    I am not 100% sure if Hamilton showed any regret in the Weary Watchdog. I'll have to check (and gladly so). :o)

  6. Ahh, I see! So it's more misinformation from The Perry Mason TV Show Book, then. It has so much interesting information, but so many inaccuracies too, unfortunately.

    Thank you! Maybe I will give it a try, when I have an opening. Currently I'm hoping to get as many chapter as possible of my current multi-chapter done by Halloween, since it's a spooky one. ;)

    Very interesting! I'm not sure I could combine them all, since the characterizations seem to differ quite a bit between some versions. But to a lesser degree I do enjoy picking and choosing things from different canons, for both Perry as well as other fandoms.

    Paul and Della's interaction is too adorable.

    Oh yes, I just adore how what Hamilton wants most is justice. The ending of The Purple Woman, where he congratulates Perry and Perry quotes that article Hamilton wrote about there being no winning or losing in court, is one of my most favorite scenes ever.

    What has kind of exasperated me is when the writers have Hamilton, Tragg, and others be suspicious of Perry even when he hasn't done anything, since he greatly toned down his antics in later episodes. But I'm resolving that in my mind by determining that since they know he did do some outrageous things, and occasionally still does, they never know when he'll do it again.

    Poor Della. That would be such a terrible position to be put in.

    Yay! Thank you.

  7. Good morning and hello again. I'm sorry for the massive delay. Job interview and then a nasty flu, but now I'm back on my feet and ready to finally give you your answer about Hamilton Burger's remorse towards Della for issuing a warrant for her arrest.
    Well, thy don't mention anything but he and Della exchange a long look. And Della's never one to hold a grudge, so I suppose it's his way of saying sorry and her way to accept his apology.
    I've always loved The Weary Watchdog for obvious reasons but also longed to hear more from Perry about Della's situation. I esp love the scene when Paul "walks in on them" to interrupt their silence. Great stuff. I just wish they could've had Tragg in this ep to actually threaten Della with an arrest. But I have a friend who's promised to take care of that fantasy of mine eventually. :o) *hee*

    I really had fun re-watching this ep, thanks so much! Although I seriously need to order season 6 on DVD right away. The copy I have is such a bad recording off TV, it will be a whole different experience to watch it all cleared up and with all minutes included. :o)

    About Burger's and Tragg's suspicions towards Perry, yes, I know what you mean. But I also get them. I mean, they can never really be sure when he will pull another stunt, esp not after Della pulled one of her own and Paul's also in on the game all too often. :o)

    The article scene you mentioned is so excellent, I agree! I love it dearly.

    And yes, the different worlds of Perry Mason (TV, books, radio) sometimes seem to clash but for Della it all seems to add up somehow. At least for me. *shrugs* I mean, I still have to watch the original movies from the 1930s and don't expect much of anything, but the mere notion of having Della not pose but be Mrs Mason excites me too much. :o) I'm not all too fond of a remake though tbh, but that's how it goes. :o/ I may end up neglecting one PM reality after all. ;o) *g*

  8. Ah, I see! I hope you get the job. And ugh, the flu, what an evil thing it is.

    I shall look forward to their long look! And oh, so you haven't seen the episode uncut either? Hmmm, then who knows what might be in that version!

    LOL, Paul walking in on them. How coincidental; I had him do that in a scene of one of my fics.

    Yeah, other than bad writing, the only explanation I have for Burger's and Tragg's suspicions is the idea that they never know when Perry might do something again. It's certainly realistic; I'm still suspicious of some people in real life doing certain things even though they haven't for some time.

    That's interesting, that you feel Della is basically the same in all those worlds! I haven't seen the movies either. I do imagine that one particular one is a Perry/Della shipper's dream! ;)

    I'm very lukewarm on the news about the upcoming movie. But to be honest, the thing that worries me the most is that Hamilton will be closer to his book incarnation and we'll get a whole new influx of fans who will think that's all he is and he'll be even less appreciated than he is now! I have a terrible time as it is finding people who like him.

  9. Thanks. I'll go in for a follow-up interview on Wednes, so we shall see. :o) Still catching up on my mails and stuff in the meantime... *urgh* I was so bored out of my wits at some point last week but couldn't do anything, and now?! *snorts* Gotta love the humor of it all.

    Which fic is that if I may ask?! :o) You have me curious here. I also still have your most recent endeavor on my list, the one you've mentioned to me before. I suppose I can find 'em all on!

    Yes, it's all too easy for non so regular writers to fall back onto the old tricks, isn't it?! Even back in the days. Good versus evil, righteous lawyer versus DA. *sighs* But we know it's just an act, don't we?! ;o) Makes me cherish those mutual respect episodes all the more.
    And yes, *RoFL*, the marriage detail is def a shipper's dream come true although (as far as I know) the rest of the characters and plot is supposed to be pretty screwed up. Paul didn't even keep his real name... *urgh*

    I have the same worries about the announced remake tbh. And the casting doesn't excite me all that much. I have a feeling I will cringe at the idea of a modern Della Street. :o( I don't mean to be difficult about it, but like you said, there's so much about these characters and my gut feeling tells me they won't tackle them "right". Burger and Tragg are also so complex, it would be a shame to see them depicted "wrong", merely trying to convict people for example without their genuine sense of justice. And I know they said they're trying to adapt the early novels from the 30s (which should at least give me something to look forward to pecking-wise *g*), but they failed miserably by remaking The Women a couple of years back and I'm also having ulsters about The Thin Man remake because these films all are such beautiful examples of their time, it's just hard to catapult them into the next century and hope for the plot to work. It rarely does because IMO the sense of humor is usually off and hysterical, the casting too contemporary and "star-studded" and the writing not refined enough to meet the fine line of respecting the original and making it fresh. *shrugs* If they had cast George Clooney in the lead I would've shut up (which would still leave me with the impossible casting call for Della unless they wish to talk Barbara Hale herself back on set *yay* ;o) Now that I'd like.) - but maybe I'm just being too critical, I don't know... ;o)

  10. PS: I'll let you know if there are any more interesting scenes for you in The Weary Watchdog once I get my DVDs. :o) I sincerely hope for another scene with Della ofc, but also with Burger. Something in court maybe, a mention, whatever. That'd be fun!

  11. LOL. There's either too little to do or too much, it seems!

    The Case of the Memento Mori Murderer. :) Yes, all stories I've written so far are on! You might be especially fond of Memento; Perry is abducted by a nutcase and there's a lot of Della and everyone worrying about him and Perry worrying about them when the nutcase starts threatening to hurt them.

    Ahh yes, those mutual respect episodes are amazing. And even random little comments in other episodes. I adore the part in that season 1 episode (The Rolling Bones?) where Perry is adamant that Hamilton would never bug his office. Paul, by contrast, wasn't so sure.

    Not only did Paul not keep his right name, they gave him a pretty stupid one. **headdesk.** Poor Paul.

    From what I heard, they were going to work from an original plot, not an adaption of a book, and the time period was going to be when the books were first written, the 1930s. Unless you've heard something else since then....

    (I actually have moved the time period for my stories to the present day, but the only real indication of that is that they use modern technology. Everything else is the same as the TV show, right down to those lovely fedoras.)

    Say, are you in one of the Perry Yahoo Groups? I seem to remember someone talking about George Clooney in one of them.

    Thank you! I'll be seeing the edited version on Saturday, but I have no idea when I'll be able to get the season 6 DVDs.

  12. Oh sweet, I'll check it out. Thanks so much! Lots of Della sure sounds tempting and everybody worrying about Perry, too. :o) *rubs chin* Okay, that may sound a little odd though... *g*

    OMG, I adore that bug episode! :o) :o) I think it's hilarious how Paul mistrusts our fave DA and then there's that scene when they test if the bug is really there and Della always cracks me up with her complete fail at being not obvious. *hugs her* So funny. Also the conclusion. A genius episode. Season one seriously had some of the best!

    And *LmAo* I know, poor Paul got a really stupid name, so stupid I didn't dare to post it here. ;o) It always makes me cringe.

    No, I'm on your page about the PM remake. But I'm also reluctant to learn more tbh. *LoLoL* What if they give Paul one of those silly names again?! ;o)

    Oh, now wouldn't that have been fun?! Perry and crew with cell phones?! I remember I already squealed my head off when Paul got into his car to use his car phone in one of the eps in s3 or 4. Way to go, darls. I mean, in the 50s/60s Perry and Della also had a modern office for their time, right?! :o) :o)

    And nope, I'm not in one of the yahoo groups but it sounds as if I should be! :o) Maybe I could find someone to start a casting agency with me. ;o)

    No prob, really. I can't wait to get a better quality (for obvious reasons *sighs*). So keep your fingers crossed for that job. If that's a def yes first thing I'll do is press that order button for more of PM love and a neat pencil skirt. *wide grin*

  13. LOL. Ah, us hurt/comfort lovers are an odd bunch. ;)

    **snerk.** Yes, The Rolling Bones is so much fun! The plots were really intriguing in season 1, and I love how there was more of an emphasis on the five main characters instead of more focus on the guest stars. On the downside, there was a lot more of Hamilton randomly accusing Perry, albeit in season 1 he had the most reason to suspect something was amiss. Perry's actions in the first episode particularly made my jaw drop! And season 1 laid the groundwork for their amazing friendship in spite of all that. Pretty awesome.

    Ahhh. Well, I wrote that when there was no news about a real remake. Actually, I haven't made a post about it since the actual announcement happened. I meant to, though. Thanks for the inadvertent reminder!

    And LOL. We'll have to hope that at least they'll be more intelligent about Paul's name!

    Oh yeah! That car phone was cool! And yes, I always thought Perry and Della has a nice modern set-up. I'm sure they'd be all for embracing modern technology if they lived in the present!

    Haha! Well, if you do decide to join, I hope you have fun! Perry_Mason is the most active one, and then there's Della-Perry, specifically for Della love (and by extension, much shippery love). I have a terrible time getting conversation started in the Della group, but people are apparently attentive; I think more people came to read my blog from there than from anywhere else, according to the statistics page!

    Good luck indeed!

    Oh, is there any other location where I could reach you sometimes? I really love chatting about Perry with you! You're one of the only people I've found who really shares my love of all the characters. Sometimes I might like to run some possible fanfiction ideas past you.

  14. "Yes, the character interaction between Perry and Della is probably the main wonderful thing about the TV movies! But I can't figure out how they ended up apart for eight years. That doesn't seem in-character to me!"

    You are both looking for fictional "logic" in a world where that is not/was not prized. Ratings are prized by networks and by actors for both lead to money. Ratings are driven by great time slots, great writing/ plots, great personalities or any combination of these. Often when one fails, the other two can save the day. I suppose even one of them can save the day.

    After a successful career as top executive at CBS, ABC, and NBC, Fred Silverman gave way at NBC to his underling, boy wonder, Brandon Tartikoff. Both Silverman and Tartikoff worked to raise the fortunes of NBC since ratings had been in the toilet for years.

    Tartikoff discovered, as the story goes, what Silverman already knew, that Hollywood was no longer producing actors and hadn't been for some time. They were producing young, pretty faces, people who hadn't the slightest knowledge about acting nor the slightest interest in learning about it. (Of course, these people were of a generation that tended toward drug use and the attendant problems of that proclivity so that professionalism was not an interest of theirs either.)

    What trained actors there were preferred working an occasional role in a film for good money rather than toiling in the time-consuming, life-disrupting drudgery of series television.

  15. continuing-

    Silverman left NBC, leaving the problems to Tartikoff, but the men worked closely together, with Silverman forming his own production company. If you take a look at the shows he produced, you'll find his answer to the problem: go out and get old pros to fill the time slots. He brought back Burr in "Perry Mason," gave Angela Langsbury a new beginning in "Murder, She Wrote," Andy Griffith in "Matlock," found Archie Bunker, Carroll O'Connor, a new a vehicle of his own in "In the Heat of the Night," landed William Conrad and put him in "Jake and the Fat Man," got Ritchie Cunningham's father, Tom Bosley a starring role in "The Father Dowling Mysteries," cast Dick Van Dyke in "Diagnosis: Murder." In short, he corraled all veteran actors who could be counted on to show up on time and to know what camera to look at.

    The down side: all appealed to an older demographic not particularly favored by advertisers. The up side: while older, the audiences were likely to be loyal, if for no other reason than familiarity with these tried and true faces. Another upside--there was a nostalgia craze at the time. (In fact, one can argue fairly successfully that Silverman may have created the nostalgia craze rather than simply responded to it.)

    Burr was having no success bringing in the big dough that he was used to in years past, and we know he loved to spend money, big money, on his many projects and indulgences. When Silverman pitched the idea to him of bringing back Perry in a movie, he was more than ready, had been for some time.

    No one really had any idea the movies would be made on semi-regular basis at that point. It all depended on the ratings of that first movie. Let's face it, people wanted to see what Perry and Della looked like after all those years, although Burr had been more recently seen in "Ironside," yet even that series had been off the air for a decade. I think Silverman knew that the reunion movie would get great ratings if for no other reason than people saying, "Hey, let's see what they look like." To insure its success, the advertising blitz was heavy, with Burr promoting it on NBC shows like "Today," and interviews with him in periodicals, with lots ads on tv, and with Tartikoff giving it a prime time slot, 9-11 on a Sunday night. It was a rating's hit.

  16. continuing-

    Oh, yeah, I'm supposed to be talking about the 8 year "separation" of Della and Perry. Sorry about that. Back OT. Well, Silverman turned over the writing chores to a guy whose team kind of mass produced things, Dean Hargrove. He'd had a lot of tv hits, churned out plots like Ford turned out cars. There were several problems for the writing team, none of which I personally feel they handled well, but in an industry in which ratings are all that matters, I am sure the entire Silverman/Hargrove/NBC team feels they handled things extraordinarily well.

    The problems were that Perry, at 450-500 pounds now (no, seriously, I am not being sarcastic), no longer looked like he could be a dashing defense attorney nor did he look as if he could have been one for quite some time. He Make him sedentary, yeah, a judge. (Personally, I think that was a slap in the face to Gardner. I don't think he ever would have allowed Perry to become a judge. It went against the character's instincts.)

    What other kind of hook could the team come up with to get people to tune into this show with senior citizens in the two leads? Ah, place the usual Perry Mason damsel in distress, but this time make the damsel Perry's own Della.

    Why "separate" him from Della? First, consider that neither Hargrove nor his writing team (nor Silverman) had any personal connection to the old series. They felt no emotional connection to the characters, to the LA setting, to anything, really. They didn't care that audience members who saw Perry and Della as more than Platonic friends, would ask, "Why the hell have they gone their separate ways? If Perry took a judgeship, why didn't Della go to SF with him?"

    What they were mindful of is that any reunion movie bringing back old favorites that hadn't been seen for some time would have to have a hook. What simpler, easier-to-come-up-with hook was there than Perry coming to the aid of Della? Yes, I know, she could have been his secretary in SF and been accused of murder, but then all Perry would have had to do was resign rather than also having to pick up stakes and return to LA. Somehow they thought that required more the Lancelot to the rescue thing.

  17. continuing-

    They still did a really bad job of explaining things, didn't they? However, it all makes sense when you realize that they didn't feel they had to. The re-make was going to fall or succeed on the basis of whether or not people tuned in to see Burr and Hale again. The team of writers had no idea that they needed to set up fictional facts that could be the basis of 7 or 8 more years of semi-regular Mason movies. And, even if they had, I doubt they cared. The original series, both of necessity and choice, had left the relationship between Della and Perry up to the imagination of the viewer; that had been successful. Why worry about it now?

    They all got what they wanted. The network got a rating's hit, for a while, until the movies became old hat, the writing bad, the characters looking bored, just as they had in the last few years of the original. STill, it filled a time slot. I saw Fred Silverman years ago on tv. Someone mentioned Burr and Mason and Silverman said the movies would probably have continued forever if Burr had live.

    Burr got his huge money for a couple of weeks of work for each movie, using it to pay off bills and incur new ones for his many projects, not even having to learn lines, reading off the prompter as he had been doing since the mid sixties, staying in Denver where he had lots of friends and was involved in civic pursuits to keep him busy as was his wont; Hale got to keep busy and see friends a few times a year; Hargrove's assembly line just kept going; Silverman kept making money along with Viacom.

  18. dontinuing--

    While I am on the subject of none of these movies making much sense: Burr sometimes blamed others for the poor quality of Mason episodes in the first series and then the deteriorating quality of Mason movies. He complained of the bad Hargrove scripts after he had completed many Mason movies, yet it was because of Burr's insistance that the strange phenomenon of Perry and Della working and living in Denver (if that's what they were doing--can't ever tell if they are "living" there, actually) occurred at all.

    The first movie was filmed in Toronto. The second, in Vancouver. That might have been at Burr's suggestion or insistence since those Canadian towns had been vying for Hollywood business and since Canada offered income tax breaks to people who had been born in Canada. (Burr). I don't know that, though, although he did get small parts in two American movies made in Canada and claimed he did them for the tax benefits. I know that several production companies had been using those two cities. particularly Toronto, in their theatrical productions during decade, lured there by lower production costs.

    However, it was indeed at Burr's insistence, after the success of the first two movies, a point at which he now had leverage, that they film in Denver. So, while he criticized the writing team, he never seemed to understand (or perhaps he did but didn't care) that much of the appeal of the early series was its locale of LA. I simply do not see ESG ever placing Perry Mason in Denver, CO. At least the first two movies were SUPPOSED to take place in LA.

    Then again, I suppose it's because Burr had come to believe he was the reason for the success of the movies, that is, he as Perry and Hale as Della. When the ratings began to fall (and they did), while he griped about bad scripts, seems he never acknowledged that he himself had something to do with the lack of continuity with the first series. Maybe, unlike most fans, he never understood that Los Angeles itself is a crucial "character" in Erle Stanley Garnder's novels. Series' directors in those first few years of the series, seemed to understand that the city was a major player.

    My major point is this. I don't think the actors, the writers, the production company, the network, give a darn about the quality or continuity of something like a tv series. They surely had no respect for what ESG had created. After all, it wasn't THEIR creation. I once read an interview in which Burr is quoted as saying that he wished Gardner were alive to see what they had done with the movies, how they had time to develop that which they never had time to develop in the series. I though, "Man, are you really as clueless as all that, to think that ESG would have LIKED these movies or are you just bs-ing again to fill up an interview?"

    In the end, they DO care about how many people watch and what ratings are produced. If those are good enough, they all make money. They never care about the characters or the product as the fans do. They figure if you are watching, you must like it.

  19. You are certainly right and make valid points. I'm impressed by your knowledge of how the movies came to be. I never indicated that any of what you said isn't the case; I merely said it didn't make sense the way they had done it, which you also agree with by your own admission. I always figured that everyone involved was probably most interested in money and ratings, because it seems that just about everyone always is. But I still rebel against anything I deem not in-character.

    I'm happy that the movies were made, to give the old actors some work and to revive the characters. But I still don't see myself ever acknowledging them as "canon". The TV series is a perfect canon all its own without the movies included.

  20. "I never indicated that any of what you said isn't the case; I merely said it didn't make sense the way they had done it, which you also agree with by your own admission."

    I didn't mean to suggest you did. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. It's simply that so many fans of the Mason movies can't understand why it is that thse movies didn't come up with a different reunion plot, especially as concerns the relationship between Perry and Della.

    It may say something good about those who do wonder about that-that they themselves care enough about their jobs and the product they produce that they assume those in other pursuits care as much about what they produce, an assumption that's obviously not always accurate.

    Or, it may say something naive about those who do wonder-that they don't understand the difficulty of envisioning a product, pitching it, assembling a team to produce it and bring it to fruition, especially when it risks huge sums of money.

    I suspect both are the case.

    I know the movies left me deeply disappointed. I didn't like that an iconic product had been replaced with something that seemed not to respect why it was the original had reached the status it had. That things had to be different was quite acceptable. That no attention to the way in which they were different seemed to concern those involved seemed careless.

  21. Well, it's true that on the one hand I do wonder why they couldn't have done something different, but at the same time I understand why they did it the way they did. It makes an exasperating kind of sense.

    I suspect both, as well.

    I still need to get the strength to try some of the movies. I just don't have much heart to do so, for the reasons you've just summed up. They seem so generic. And I'm not happy that most of the original cast is absent, but of course no one could do anything about that, since Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale were the only ones still alive. And Richard Anderson; I heard that he was in one of the movies, but he played a villain instead of Lieutenant Drumm. I wish he had played Drumm; it would have been nice to have someone else back from the series.

  22. "I still need to get the strength to try some of the movies."

    You'll forgive me for knowing nothing about what, I have discovered, is called "fan fiction."

    Good luck with your writing.

  23. I'm not quite sure what relevance that has to our discussion here, on the movies, but yes, of course. :) I realize many people aren't aware of fanfiction (which is basically non-profit stories about the characters written by the fans). And thank you!

  24. "I'm not quite sure what relevance that has to our discussion here, on the movies..."

    I thought you meant when you said, "I still need to get the strength to try some of the movies" that you meant strength to write about them . (In perusing your site, I read some posts under the subheading "fanfiction.")

    And, you're welcome.

  25. Oh! I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. No, I literally meant "try" as in "watch them." I haven't ever seen any of them. I've been aware of them for years, and know a few details about some of them, but until earlier this year I didn't have access to them whether or not I wanted to see them. Now I have the access, but not the desire. I feel I need to give them a fair chance, but I've been dragging my feet about them.

    In any case, I don't anticipate ever desiring to write stories about the movies.