Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Case of the Nine Dolls

I stretched my artistic wings this week to once again attempt passable artwork of live-action people. Previously I failed in an attempt to draw Della and Hamilton together, but this time I managed to draw Amory Fallon and Lieutenant Drumm not too badly. At least, I found it good enough to finish the sketch and post it.

Most of my notations are below the picture, but one I’ll make here is hands. They are one of the most frustrating things to draw in any picture, no matter the art style. And yet it seems like I’m always drawing them. Occasionally I will hide them, as some other people do, but most of the time I seem to be a glutton for punishment.

And I discovered that I’ve been spelling Chamberlin’s name wrong. I kind of like it better with the second “A”, but since that’s incorrect I’ll be changing his tag and trying to spell it right in future usages both here and in my stories.

I got hold of The Case of the Nine Dolls and finally watched it again at long last. I remember how intrigued I was by it in the past, especially when Perry went to Switzerland! Scenes outside of California are rare, and usually it’s Paul featured in them when it happens. The scene at the toyshop is what I remembered most vividly, although I mistakenly got it in my head that it showed Perry walking down the street.

The plot involves one of Perry’s youngest clients ever, little Peggy Smith, who wants him to find out who she really is and who keeps sending her these dolls from Switzerland. He was planning to go on a fishing trip in Scotland, but he rearranges his plans after being touched by her sweetness and her plight.

While trying to unravel the confusion and the cover-ups, Perry stumbles into what is no doubt the most chilling scene in the entire series. I feel it’s only rivaled by Button’s endangerment in The Missing Button, and even then, I think this one is somehow much more eerie.

After investigating the toyshop where the dolls are purchased and sent to Peggy, and meeting several vacationing Americans who seem oddly interested in the matter, Perry returns to his hotel room and finds that someone has left a broken doll and a note. The note reads, “This can happen to little girls, too.”

I remember always being stunned by that scene. Threats against children are particularly horrifying and sickening, and it seems especially unusual to see one in such an old series.

Alarmed, Perry of course cancels his original ideas to go on to Scotland from Switzerland. He returns home, securing a seat on the same flight as the strange people from the toy store. He chats it up with one of them, Linda. She is aloof and professes no knowledge of any of what’s been happening.

Meanwhile, Paul has been digging and has found a possible connection to Peggy in the Jeffers family. I was rather amused to see that name pop up; Richard Anderson’s character on The Wild Wild West is named Jeffers, and I’m writing a story about him.

The Perry character is a gruff and grouchy old man, a wealthy oil baron. And it so happens that Linda and the others Perry met are related to him. Linda tells him about talking to Perry on the flight home and he is not pleased. When Perry shows up at the house wanting to talk to him, Linda leaves the room. Perry tries to explain about Peggy possibly being Jeffers’ granddaughter, but Jeffers is certain Perry is trying to perpetrate some fraud and orders him out.

When told about the encounter, Peggy is disappointed but accepts it bravely and says he’s probably not a nice man anyway. Perry tries to reassure her that Jeffers is likely very nice. Linda comes in then and asks Perry to stay away from Jeffers. Peggy is brought out of the library in an attempt to soften her heart, but Linda is very oddly repulsed and orders Peggy to keep away from her. She flees the office, leaving everyone stunned. Peggy finally, quietly asks to go back to the boarding school where she’s been living.

Gah, that poor girl. It’s heartbreaking, the way her family treats her. The little girl playing her does an incredible job. Peggy is so sweet and kind and polite. It’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting her.

It doesn’t take long for Jeffers to have a change of heart. He invites Perry back to the house and asks him to bring Peggy. They have a sweet meeting and Jeffers accepts Peggy as his granddaughter.

Things quickly go wrong again, however. Jeffers is killed and Linda is blamed. It comes out that Jeffers was going to change his will and leave everything to Peggy. Everyone in the previous will now has reason to have wanted him dead, but it was Linda whose name Jeffers called out right before he died. And it was Linda, it seems, who was seen running upstairs immediately afterwards.

At the jail before the hearing, Linda finally reveals to Perry why she can’t stand being around Peggy. It seems that Peggy is the daughter of Linda’s best friend and Linda’s fiancĂ©, who ran off together and eloped. Every time Linda sees Peggy, she’s reminded of their betrayal. She hates herself for her feelings, and knows it isn’t Peggy’s fault, but she just can’t bear to so much as look at Peggy.

Chamberlin is the prosecutor for the case. As is usual with him, he handles it with dignity, grace, and maturity. While mostly serious, he does show a bit of a sense of humor, smiling in amusement when one of the witnesses says her husband told her they need a brandy because “it isn’t every day you lose nine million dollars.”

I wonder if this episode was filmed before Chamberlin’s other episodes. It’s harder to see that lighter piece of hair, which I had assumed was a piece that was turning gray. (Although in grayscale it’s hard to tell what the colors are supposed to be.)

The episode is very intense and unique and Peggy is adorable. But seriously, what a crew! I can’t help wondering what on earth happens to her after the episode’s end. It seems she’ll be able to live in the Jeffers mansion, or at least, that’s the implication. But who will be living there with her?

There’s the husband and wife who knew about Peggy’s existence before but were willing to cut her off completely so they could have the money (even though they were fairly well off already). That seems to have been the case with the husband and wife servants, too. And the wife (played by the wonderful Jeanette Nolen, here with a Scottish accent) is the murderer.

And then there’s Linda, who still seems unable to tolerate being around Peggy. At the episode’s end she’s determined to move out of the house. She’s finally won over enough by Peggy’s purity and innocence to bend down and embrace her, which is certainly a vast improvement. But was she won over enough to decide to stay with her? That’s left up to the imagination. The episode ends with the embrace.

When I was younger, I thought the embrace meant definitely that she was going to stay. Seeing it now, I’m just not sure. It’s really ambiguous.

I have to say, I really wish Jeffers hadn’t been killed. It was heartbreaking. He was so happy to finally realize he had a granddaughter, and he was the only one who really wanted Peggy, and then he was murdered. He definitely goes on the short list of good people who were killed off on the series.

Perry and Della both have some adorable interaction with Peggy. Near the beginning of the episode, Della assures Peggy that she’ll come see her at the boarding school. And throughout the episode, it’s Della who brings Peggy to Perry’s office and other locations. I like to think that Della kept up her friendship with Peggy following the episode’s end. I’m sure she would have.

Overall, I still love the episode. But I’m stalled from accepting it into my top tier of favorites due to wondering about Peggy’s fate post-episode and wishing Jeffers hadn’t been the murder victim.


  1. Just watched this fascinating episode, but missed who sent Peggy the dolls twice a year. Can you enlighten me? Love Perry and your blog .

    1. Ooops, I ended up watching my local station's episode last night. I'm planning to re-watch The Nine Dolls on my DVDs very soon, though. :) Meanwhile, I ... can't seem to remember who set up the thing with the dolls. Have you tried Storrer's Perry site?

      Thanks for commenting! I'm glad you're reading. I missed yesterday's post due to more story-writing for my October Writing challenge, but I hope to get back on track over the weekend.

    2. Thanks for the tip! I'll try that. I watch on TV and the ads are so bad I often wonder if they cut parts of the program to squeeze in another ad! If you could post whodunit after you watch your DVD, I would really appreciate it. Meanwhile, I'll keep searching. Thanks! Cornflower

    3. Good luck!

      Oh yes, I'm afraid that any episode on TV is cut up because of those dang commercials. Cuts can run from 3 or 4 minutes to, in the worst cases, about 6 or 7.

  2. Who was the murderer? What happened to Peggy?

    1. Read the post again. ;) Both questions are answered to the best of my knowledge with what the episode gave us. Well, the murderer is absolutely revealed, but Peggy's fate is confusing.