Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Case of the Empty Tin

Being a Monkees fan since 1999, the death of Davy Jones yesterday has hit me hard. So hard that I haven’t much heart right now to even work on my weekday post, nor the chapter of The Spectral Stalker. I’m not even sure what to make the topic of the post be on. I had several ideas, so I guess I’ll just keep typing and see what comes out.

Out of all the early Perry episodes, currently offers most of season 1 and one season 2 episode for online viewing in the U.S. And by “most” of season 1, I mean everything except episode 25, The Case of the Empty Tin.

Why is this one ignored? It’s a wonderful episode! In fact, it’s one of my very favorites of season 1.

The plot is one of the “missing heiress” variety, something that turned up several times throughout the run of the series. But it’s very unique in how it revolves around two objects that the correct girl is supposed to be able to present for identification: a book and a photograph. The proof of whether she’s brought the right ones is supposed to be locked in a safe, but following the episode’s murder the safe is found to contain only the titular item. But is the tin truly empty, or does it conceal a secret or two? Is it in itself a vital clue?

Perry's client for the episode is one of the heiress-hopefuls. She shows up with all the information she can, but is rejected. She remembers a book and a photograph that she was previously sent, however, and sends for them. In the middle of all the commotion, there is a mysterious murder and she is accused.

I am not sure if I have ever seen this episode in its entirety, due to its absence at But I may have seen it at when it offered episodes did not. Perry’s trip to San Francisco to talk with his client’s employer sounds very familiar to me, as I read over the scene here: The courtroom banter revolving around Hamilton’s “pretender” comment, however, I do not recognize.

There is another contender for the Hocksley fortune in addition to Perry’s client Doris—a girl named Miriam. She is involved with Alan Neil, the lawyer of the deceased Hocksley’s business partner Elston Carr (who is murdered within the episode). Neil is overseeing the search for the missing heiress. They end up married.

One of the most shocking twists of the episode happens very late in, when Perry receives a late-night call concerning their fate. The Carr secretary, Rebecca, calls in hysterics saying that Miriam shot Alan and then herself. But there is more to the call than what it seems. And the solution to that mystery solves everything and uncovers the true killer.

The confrontation/confession scene is one of the most intriguing and unique throughout the entire series’ run. It happens outside of court and Lieutenant Tragg and Hamilton are both present, rarities for season 1 in particular. The murderess breaks down in the living room, confessing to not one, but two murders. She appeals to Hamilton as she speaks, finally collapsing to her knees as she clutches his tweed overcoat and sobs against him. Tragg comes over and helps her up, then proceeds to lead her away.

I wish we could have seen Hamilton’s expression as he was grabbed. If his stunned and occupied visage when he gets up is any indication, however, he is rather shaken by the encounter. The scene ends as Perry offers to buy Hamilton a drink, to which Hamilton consents. It is the second time in the series that I know of where they are going to share some form of refreshment under fully friendly conditions. The epilogue of The Sun-Bather’s Diary is the first.

I suppose the murderess pleads with Hamilton as she does because he is the district attorney, but it’s still a very interesting and sad bit. It’s the only time I know of when that has happened; Mr. Burger is rarely addressed during the confrontation scenes at all (even the out of court ones), and when he is, the murderer is usually furious at him. I’m trying to remember if he had any prior interaction with the murderess in The Empty Tin earlier in the episode. I don’t think he did, at least not in the edited version I recently saw again. He must have interviewed her off-screen at some point, though, so he wouldn’t be a complete stranger to her.

I need to make a post on Tuesday, so I’m unsure how I’ll work my weekend post this time.


  1. I just watched the episode today on DVD. I had to rerun the scene to be sure, but when Mr. Burger gently pushes Rebecca away into Traggs arms, you can see him briefly pressing her hand. Seems when faced with emotions our favorite district attorney knows how to be compassionate!

    1. Oooh. Thanks for the quick catch! I'll have to watch for that. Yes, Hamilton has been shown to be very compassionate many times with the people involved in the cases. He looks so shaken after Tragg takes her away, too.