Sunday, May 27, 2012

Male secretaries: always the bad guys?!

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

It has been my increasing suspicion that male secretaries really get a bad rap on Perry. After seeing it confirmed for the third time, I decided it was time to make an official write-up.

Frankly, I am bewildered by the trend. Every time we’ve seen a male secretary, it seems that he’s a crook in some way, whether or not he’s the murderer. What’s the deal? Were they so rare in those days, perhaps even often misunderstood in a career position usually filled by women, that it seemed an intriguing thing to make them the bad guys? It doesn’t seem to have been confined solely to Perry, either; I saw another one in the Lady Beryl episode of the Ronald Howard version of Sherlock Holmes.

Of course, there were crooked women secretaries on Perry too, but at least with them we also saw many who were good. At this point I can only think of one good male secretary, and we never actually saw him! (For that matter, we don’t even know for sure if he’s a secretary, although it seemed to be strongly implied.)

Our first introduction to a male secretary was William Schallert’s character in episode 5, The Sulky Girl. Though not the murderer, he was aware of the murder and was an accessory. He called out the window, pretending to be the dead man in order to give the illusion that he was still alive, and allowed an innocent person to be tried for the murder.

Next there was a male secretary in season 2’s The Spanish Cross. Also an accessory, he stole the titular object and was aware of who murdered his boss, but said nothing. And he even said that he liked the boy who ended up accused of both the theft and the murder. Cheap wretch; he certainly had a brilliant way of showing it!

And just the other night I saw Charles Aidman play a male secretary in The Gallant Grafter. He was the actual murderer. He was also carrying on with the wife of his boss. That poor man, he had to deal with the double blows of both his wife and his friend and secretary betraying him! And when he was accused of murder, it was due to a frame those two set up.

All three male secretaries seemed like very likable people at first. I was disappointed in all of them, though perhaps particularly William Schallert’s character. Quiet and unassuming, he seemed a meek soul, not someone who would be involved in criminal activities. Of course, that’s often a type to watch out for in mysteries.

I’m unsure if there are any other male secretaries actually seen on the series. Can anyone here think of any? Were there ever any who were good guys? I suppose I could count the General’s trusty aide in The Positive Negative, but I didn’t think he was ever actually referred to as a secretary (although he likely handled many similar duties).

With so many rotten apples, it’s all the more reason why Hamilton’s supposed secretary Leon should have been shown. There should have been at least one decent male secretary to represent the profession.

Albeit, to get technical, we know so little about Leon that it’s possible he’s no good either. But it’s much nicer to think that he’s an honest person, for more reasons than one. Hamilton is put down so much in the series that he certainly doesn’t need another blow in the form of a dishonest secretary. And I really like the idea that Leon is as important and loyal to Hamilton as Della is to Perry, where work-related matters are concerned.

As a parting, I have always loved to make “fan art” for my favorite series as well as fanfiction. It’s difficult for me to illustrate any live-action show, but I’ve really wanted to try. Hence, several weeks ago I tackled the idea and fought to draw a decent Hamilton and my image of Leon. I had to re-draw Hamilton several times before it looked halfway good. Leon was much easier, but he didn’t come out exactly as I’d wanted. Further details on the link, for anyone interested:

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