Thursday, September 6, 2012

Regular police in out-of-court and out-of-town episodes


The usual formula of a Perry episode calls for both the police and the district attorney (or someone representing his office) to be present. The police make their investigation and give it to the D.A.’s office, which prosecutes.

If the case never makes it to court, it’s rare for the D.A.’s office to appear at all. Sometimes the police will, while investigating. Also unusual is if the case is being tried out-of-town but the local police put in an appearance.

Perry has done some episodes of both types, but they aren’t very common. After seeing one of them this week, I started pondering on how many out-of-court or out-of-town episodes feature the regular police. There’s a couple where the D.A.’s office even gets involved, too.

As early as the first season, the rare out-of-court idea was in place. Episode 6, The Silent Partner, was the first of that kind ever aired for the series. Tragg actually has an extensive role, appearing when Perry calls him late at night about the girl being poisoned by candy. Tragg and his loaf of Wonder Bread go see. Tragg is very involved with the remainder of the episode, at first grouchy from being disturbed when he was going home, but quickly becoming a vital part of the case.

Hamilton puts in a very brief appearance, after Perry’s client collapses. Hamilton wants to talk to her as soon as she is well enough. Perry is concerned that Hamilton won’t wait that long and threatens him with being charged with murder if he goes too soon and she dies from the stress. Hamilton flings an accusation right back at Perry, saying that Perry deliberately told his client to fire her gun again after using it in the murder. (Actually, it went off by accident, shattering a window.) The reporters are hanging around and gobble it up. (Hmm, the reporters are also a rare sight and should probably get their own post sometime.)

This is first season stuff, Hamilton and Perry at odds with each other worse than usual. I have mixed feelings about the scene; Perry has pulled some terrible law-bending (and occasionally breaking!) stunts, some of which Hamilton is aware of. Considering Perry’s antics in The Restless Redhead and The Mystified Miner, it isn’t hard to see why Hamilton suspects him of other, similar disasters (providing Hamilton learned about those or some that were similar). It’s still tiring when the accusations fly when Perry has settled down, though. But that not being the case here, and everyone still sticking closer to their book roots, the scene is on the other hand interesting to me, even exciting and fascinating, to some level. Compare it to episodes from later seasons and just see the changes in their regular interaction! Such wonderful character development.

That was Hamilton’s only screentime in The Silent Partner. Tragg was an important figure throughout, as the case was puzzled over and wound to its eventual, twisty conclusion.

The next out-of-court episode is #14, The Baited Hook. Hamilton is absent in this one. Tragg is once again prominent, but Perry does not seem to want to work with him this time around. One scene features him and Della even climbing out onto a ledge (!) to avoid Tragg finding that they’ve been poking around where they probably ought not to have been. The epilogue features Perry and Della discussing Tragg rather negatively.

Tragg has some very interesting scenes, particularly with the woman who is eventually uncovered as the murderer. She thinks highly of him, telling Perry Tragg was kind to her daughter while her daughter was being held for the murder. She wants Tragg to be the one to arrest her. Perry then calls Tragg in and she requests that he escort her downstairs by letting her take his arm. Tragg is very gentlemanly and agrees.

I had previously reported that Tragg showed interest in dating this woman, but unless such a scene exists in the uncut version of the episode (which I have not seen), or unless the person who reported it to me was just interpreting things differently than I, I cannot find any trace of such interest on Tragg’s part. I don’t think there was any romantic interest in the scene where he escorts her out after arresting her. And I didn’t think Tragg acted romantically interested when he discussed her with Perry earlier on. Ah well.

These types of episodes being highly uncommon, I’m not sure we see another for several seasons. The one I saw this week was a season 5 out-of-town episode, The Absent Artist, and since the victim was leading a double life but they thought he was killed in Hollywood, I’m not sure why it is an out-of-town one. I thought they only learned he was killed elsewhere during the court case.

Andy has a brief scene in this one, talking with Perry in his office and taking the out-of-town girlfriend of the victim to identify the body in the morgue. He does not appear for the hearing, unless a scene with him being questioned was cut.

Even though The Velvet Claws was the first Perry story written, it took them six seasons to adapt it to the screen. Perry’s encounters with a bewildering and frustrating femme fatale, which eventually lead to her accusing him of murdering her husband because she’s trying to protect the one she thinks really did it, makes for an intense plot. With Perry trapped in a dilemma, this episode never makes it to court. Andy appears in a few scenes after the murder, congenial to Perry as he investigates.

The Fifty Millionth Frenchman, in season 7, features Andy very briefly, even though the court is out of town. The defendant and the victim both live in town, it seems, and Andy has a bottle of pills that pertain to the case, found at the site of the plane crash in Van Nuys. Judging from some plot elements, it sounds like yet another reworking of some Fugitive Nurse elements! That makes the fourth time someone crashed in an airplane like this, the third time when a thermos was involved. The only thing missing is the wrong person’s body being identified first.

Having just learned of Andy’s presence, I went and looked at his part out of curiosity and for this post. I will examine the episode in full later. I’ve been curious about it for a while because of David McCallum. Meanwhile, Andy has a very nice, very friendly scene with Perry, and is very kind with the victim’s widow.

Season 8 brings us the only other out-of-court episode I can think of where both the regular police and the local D.A.’s office are involved. The Careless Kitten, which I’ve long been perplexed over due to Andy’s uptight behavior, features him and Sergeant Brice as well as Hamilton. True, Hamilton only comes very late into the venture, but his appearance is one of my most favorites. Can anyone possibly picture first season Hamilton coming to Perry’s office, sincerely concerned for him and wanting him to stay out of trouble? I could picture first season Hamilton making a fa├žade of being friendly, as he does for the lunch in episode #8, The Crimson Kiss—but not being genuine, as he clearly is in The Careless Kitten.

I’ve been pondering over whether to include The Runaway Racer. They don’t go into a formal courtroom, it’s true, but there is a gathering, some type of inquest if I remember right. It’s very informal, though, not like the inquest scenes in The Carefree Coronary. Still, I am inclined to not include it as part of this specific list.

And I was just about to list The Misguided Model, but I realized that’s off in yet another category, since they do get to local court (albeit briefly) and Deputy D.A. Bill Vincent is present. That category would be called “Episodes in which the local police appear and the local D.A.’s office is involved, including in court, but not specifically Hamilton.” That category would include the great majority of season 4 as a whole, so I opted not to cover that territory. Both Tragg and Steve have been part of those types of episodes, while I don’t think Andy ever has. But Andy gets that other category, “Out-of-town court with regular police appearing”, which I don’t think Tragg or Steve ever has.

On a rather unrelated subject, I was watching The Hateful Hero on MeTV this morning and then laid down for a short nap. I plunged myself right into a strange, strange Perry-related dream, in which I seemed to have become friends with a harmless group of guys acting out what seemed to be an equally harmless trading card game. Later, it changed and it seemed that I had infiltrated them and that they were dangerous. I fled from there, and there seemed to be some confrontation going on between other members and later, the police. I hung out with Lieutenant Tragg, waiting for the outcome (until the dream decided to take the easy way out and have Ray Collins and I and others just watching an episode of Perry that we’d made, without showing the ending). After the plot switch, Ray and I had a nice little visit.

I woke up wishing I could have really met Ray. He, as well as his character Tragg, was very charming and very kind and gracious in the dream. I imagine Ray as really being that way, from all I’ve learned of him.

A very odd dream overall, but very nice. I wonder if I could get a fan story out of that material involving Tragg’s niece Lucy, whom I invented. It might be tricky. Usually I am not fond of it when people create their own characters to be related to established characters. It often doesn’t seem to fit or the new character seems to dominate everything. I try to avoid inventing such characters whenever possible. But Lucy somehow felt right, and I do try to keep her largely in the background. I always want the main focus to be on the canon characters.

And a closing note. The weekend posts will come on schedule, but the next two weekday posts will both be on Wednesdays.

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