Sunday, July 8, 2012

Further pondering on Deputy D.A. Sampson

With my local station deeply involved in season 4, it gives me an interesting chance to review episodes I don’t normally watch if they’re not on television.

I was rather angry the last time they played these episodes, as their website had originally indicated they would be skipping them. And, just slipping back into the series and rediscovering my love of Hamilton, I did not want to see him vanish so soon. So when The Crying Cherub episode in season 3 started and I realized what they were doing, I was not pleased. I will freely admit I looked for faults in each and every assistant D.A., comparing them unfavorably to Hamilton and just wanting him back.

This time around, having expected the episodes, I’m much more relaxed. But that doesn’t mean I feel I was completely blind in my earlier analyses on the deputies. Most of them are still dull to me, or at least, lacking any unique personalities. With their dialogue having been written for Hamilton, but their actors of course being unable to deliver it the way William Talman could, court scenes with them never had that same spark.

Chamberlain and Sampson, as previously noted, seem to be the ones the writers lavished the most attention on. Not only do they show up multiple times, what they’re allowed to say and do in court is much greater than the other assistants’ screentime allotted. It’s a bit hard to put into words, but they not only are given more personality than the rest, they’re given more of Hamilton’s personality.

Chamberlain has more extensive interaction with the other characters and even Perry. In The Wintry Wife, as previously noted, he plays a very large part throughout the whole thing. (Oh, if only that had been Hamilton. Although I could do without him flinging another wild accusation at Perry during court, so perhaps I’m satisfied that it was someone else that time.

EDIT: Or wait a minute, was the accusation that time? I saw Chamberlain accuse Perry in The Waylaid Wolf, so either I mixed up two "W" episodes or else it happened in two different Chamberlain episodes. Which is, unfortunately, conceivable. Well, I'll know the answer soon.

I am so glad that episode marked about the last time that tactic was used until the series finale. And it really shouldn’t have been used again then, either, but I digress.)

Sampson is definitely stereotypical and blustery. His voice probably has a lot to do with his image. He speaks loudly and pompously a lot of the time, especially in his first two appearances. In The Envious Editor, not so much. Aside from an arrogant comment on thinking Perry should stipulate the defendant’s guilt in the murder (!), he mostly speaks in a normal tone of voice and doesn’t make any other cringe-worthy slip-ups that I can recall.

But I was remiss in saying he was never polite or kind. Much like Hamilton, he did indeed try to treat two witnesses better in particular. In The Loquacious Liar, he is quite compassionate towards the widow of the murder victim (played excellently by the talented radio, movie, and television actress Lurene Tuttle—who needs a spotlight post here for her and her many Perry characters). And in The Red Riding Boots, he actually tries to be gentle with the teenage witness. She does end up starting to cry from that examination, but that is not the point when she reaches the hysterical stage, as I was incorrectly remembering for some reason.

In general, I’m the sort of person who loves every character in a series. Or at least, I rarely hate anyone I don’t eventually warm up to. All characters have their places in the tale, heroes and villains alike. (I still find James Coburn’s character in The Envious Editor absolutely repulsive, however!)

Even before, I did carry a certain fondness and fascination for Sampson. I wouldn’t have analyzed him as being the most interesting of the assistants from season 4 if I hadn’t. Nor would I have arrived at the idea of him idolizing Hamilton.

I had already softened a great deal more towards him a few weeks ago, after noting some similarities between his courtroom style and that of Miles Edgeworth’s in the Phoenix Wright manga (Japanese comic) series. Off-hand, I can’t include the games in that statement too; it’s been so long since I’ve had much to do with those. But in any case, Miles is my favorite character from that franchise. I thought Miles was more like Sampson in the manga than in the games, but I could be wrong on that. Although in both the manga and the games, I do know that Miles had infinitely more development than Sampson was allowed.

I keep picturing Miles as being an assistant D.A. rather than an actual district attorney. Hence, with the American versions of Phoenix Wright taking place in Los Angeles, I got the image stuck in my head of Miles working in Hamilton’s office and him and Sampson sometimes meeting. (And probably clashing, oh dear. They’re too similar in arrogance and being headstrong to get along well, I would think.) Now I can’t unsee the idea, despite the fact that Phoenix Wright is supposed to take place several years into the future and uses a different court system, for video-gaming purposes. One of these days I expect I’ll be writing a short story on Sampson and Miles, just for my amusement. Poor Hamilton would probably have a headache with all the commotion.

(If I do write it, I would be most unlikely to incorporate either the new court system or the slightly futuristic date. It would be more like if the same characters had been born a few years earlier and were involved in present-day goings on, making them contemporary with my present-day Perry stories.)

I like Sampson even more now that I’ve had a chance to watch and ponder on his episodes again. H.M. Wynant did a wonderful job with the portrayal. Perhaps it was his idea to read the lines as he did, rather than the idea of the various directors’. I would be interested to know if that were so, considering how it made Sampson the most memorable of the assistant D.A. parade, and also how and why H.M. Wynant determined to tone the character down at various points.

I wish we could have seen Hamilton interact with him, at least once. But ah well, that is also a challenge for the fanfiction writers.

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