Sunday, January 27, 2013

Background People, Places, and Things

One thing that fascinates me is when a series takes the time to examine background locales, people, or things that repeatedly crop up. There’s a book series written by a local author that does this. Each book in the series has the main characters (who are angels) trying to help a different character who was featured in the first book, no matter how minor the character’s role was. That is awesome. Everyone gets the spotlight eventually.

Perry has also done this every now and then. I think the earliest occurrence was in the season 1 episode The Gilded Lily. That is the infamous one where all the suspects are blonde. And the defendant is Stewart Brent, the owner of the building where Perry and Paul have their offices!

I was very surprised when I watched that episode anew in 2011 and discovered that fact. I had never expected that we would meet the guy owning the building, or even that the Brent whom the building was named after was necessarily in the area or even alive. It was a lot of fun to meet him.

Along those same lines, there’s actually quite a few episodes that deal with other people who have offices in the Brent building. I’ll have to start making a list of them as I run across them again; right now, for some reason, the only one I can call to mind is the one with Steve Ihnat near the end of season 8. (The Duplicate Case, as I just remembered.) And also, I think another season 1 episode, The Terrified Typist, involves at least one other office in the building.

From the beginning of the series, the newspaper all the characters are reading is the Los Angeles Chronicle. Many episodes feature the paper’s front-page headlines, describing the murders and the people arrested for them. Most likely the most memorable shot of a paper is in The Caretaker’s Cat, where the paper is displayed and then burns up, just like the man’s house. Wow, that’s an intense and unique shot.

The season 5 opener, The Jealous Journalist, finally gives us some insight into the paper and the people responsible for it. The main plot concerns the disappearances and deaths of Adam York and his brother, and how the paper’s future depends on the will, the shares allotted to those in the will, and the interests and integrity of said people.

Of course, I’d say the biggest background thing to later get spotlighted is Clay’s Restaurant and Grill. Mentioned a couple of times in season 1, the place is never actually identified amid all the eateries the characters frequent. But in season 9 it becomes a very real location, with a very real Clay. The place is seen at least once in most all in-town episodes of season 9, and Clay is present for almost all of those appearances.

Regrettably, some people never did quite make it out of the background. Gertie and Sergeant Brice, two faithful characters practically from the beginning, always remain out of the spotlight. They have some good scenes in some episodes, but they are never a major focus.

I have heard that Gertie is more prominent in at least some of the books. And I don’t know if Sergeant Brice is ever in the books at all. I think the main sergeant in the books is someone else, and I don’t know if he’s similar in any way to Brice.

It would have been a lot of fun to see an episode based around Sergeant Brice. We could have learned more about this quiet, loyal member of the L.A.P.D., and maybe seen more interaction between him and one or two of the Lieutenants.

While Brice is my favorite of the two, and I would probably in all honesty be more interested in an episode about him, I would enjoy learning more about Gertie, too. She seems a bit scatter-brained, but I think her appearances definitely show a hint of an intelligent woman—particularly when she has to fill in for Della in season 7. She also likes to fangirl over things, I’m guessing, judging from that stack of fan magazines she keeps at her desk. She would be fun to write about.

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