Thursday, July 19, 2012

Various musings on Robert Karnes and H.M. Wynant

I’ve been taking my time getting today’s post done, as I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I should be writing about! I have quite a few topics floating around in my mind, but some of them are being held up by various glitches and frustrations that are preventing me from learning a bit more about them first. (Such as, concerning the inability to execute one topic, what is wrong with Yahoo Groups the last couple of days?! I’m having a horrid time loading the site. Right now it refuses to cooperate. Yesterday it was extremely sluggish.)

With my interest sparking a bit more where both Sampson and Chamberlain are concerned, I’ve been peering at their actors’ profiles and looking for other things to watch them in. And then I’ve been running across them by accident, as well; both are quite prolific character actors. I found it hilarious when, a few hours after watching The Wintry Wife, I was watching Sea Hunt and suddenly realized, “Oh my gosh! That’s Chamberlain!”

Robert Karnes, I find, is quite easy to spot from that distinctive piece of lighter-colored hair standing out against his mostly dark hair. I’ve stumbled across him on more than one episode of Sea Hunt, and judging from his resume, he’s been in several old movies and guest-starred on several old television shows that I’ve been familiar with for years. He’s even been on The Andy Griffith Show.

It’s been the same story with H.M. Wynant. (And he’s also one of the few Perry actors playing a recurring character who is still alive today. And active. Awesome.) I knew someone seemed familiar in The Wild Wild West episode The Night of the Simian Terror. But until I saw the cast list it just didn’t click.

That’s usually the case when I’ve run across him in other Perry episodes. I recognize him, but can’t place where until I see the name. I’ll probably start finding it easier to spot him in the future, now that I’m actively looking.

He has quite an impressive roster of Perry episodes, I see. Like William Boyett, he appeared in every season except season 2. He was in all the other seasons once, save for season 4, of course, where he was around three times. His characters seem to vary in their involvement with the cases, and in whether they’re good or bad, if I remember right. I can’t recall if he was ever the murderer or the victim. (I don’t think so.)

Robert Karnes was only in one other episode of Perry besides the four in season 4. In season 1, he appeared in The Hesitant Hostess as a character called Detective Purvis, and I . . . can’t recall anything about him off-hand.

I do know Robert often played law enforcement types, even appearing as a co-star in the series The Lawless Years, which sounds like it might be a more historically accurate version of some of the events depicted in The Untouchables (more or less). It follows some police in New York during the Roaring Twenties. And they actually had the real, main NYPD detective depicted in the show as a technical consultant! I think I need to try that series.

I still have one Perry episode with Chamberlain to see. My local station skipped The Nine Dolls again, despite actually listing it on their schedule this time! Ridiculous! I was looking forward to seeing it again after all these years. I’ve sent for the disc from Netflix; I should have it next week unless I rearrange my queue again. There’s so many things I’m gathering up to see that my queue sees quite a bit of shifting around.

One oddball thing I’ve noticed about Sampson: his name is never spoken. You only know who the heck he is by looking at the cast list. He’s always called “Mr. Prosecutor.” Exactly why is this? I hope the explanation isn’t something silly, like the network being worried over the character having a Biblical name. I would kind of doubt that, judging by the various references to the Biblical Sampson on The Wild Wild West, which ran on the same network. (But if that was the problem, why didn’t they change the Perry character’s name to begin with?) I think Sampson is the only one of Hamilton’s assistants whose name has never been mentioned in the spoken dialogue at all.

I’ve been tinkering with having both Sampson and Chamberlain, very occasionally, in my stories ever since my first Perry mystery. Recently I wrote a random blurb on Livejournal that has them both and features a bit of interaction with Hamilton. I’m thinking they will most likely appear with greater prominence in a future mystery, perhaps the very next one, as I’m wrapping up The Denying Detective at long last.

It really was the writing challenges I took on for May and June that seriously slowed this story down; that’s obvious from how fast I’ve been putting out the chapters this month. I think the only thing left now is the epilogue, and making sure all the last loose ends are tied together. Then I’ll be starting on the next one, which I think I’ve been calling The Malevolent Mugging. While Andy and his double Amory Fallon will dominate the main plot, I may run a cocurrent subplot with Hamilton, Sampson, and Chamberlain.

Sampson and Chamberlain may have a scene or two to themselves to interact in; I’m kind of fascinated to see how they might communicate with each other. Chamberlain certainly seems to be more of a veteran prosecutor, while Sampson is a young and impulsive fellow. Save for that tired gag of Perry being wildly accused in The Waylaid Wolf, Chamberlain comes across as a mature and skilled person. And even the wild accusation is handled with dignity, really.

The Livejournal blurb I wrote, while featuring them both, didn’t really allow for any interaction between them. Sampson is badly hurt while protecting Hamilton from a sudden and shocking attack. Chamberlain tends to him while Hamilton tries to catch the assailant, but the focus is on Hamilton’s point-of-view, and when he gets back, his interaction with Sampson. I might write an experimental follow-up showing things from Chamberlain’s point-of-view and allowing for him to interact with Sampson.

One thing I quickly realized: If those deputies are going to appear in stories with any prominence, their first names will need to be in there. Chamberlain’s we already know from The Wintry Wife: Victor. But Sampson’s remains unknown. And I’ve been discovering that you can’t combine just any name with a name as cool as Sampson. It’s very difficult to find anything that fits. The only one I’ve matched up so far as a possibility is Gregory, which seems to carry enough power to sound good but doesn’t cancel out when combined with Sampson. And yet I’m not sure it fits the character well enough. Thoughts?

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