Friday, March 22, 2013

Art Episodes! (At Last.)

Well, that was one more epic fail to add to the list. I am so sorry. Once again I wasn’t feeling well. I think March is my bad luck month where health is concerned. (Maybe it’s those pesky Ides.)

One bad thing about watching the uncut of something and then seeing the cut version, if you don’t own the uncut: It gets very frustrating seeing exactly what the extent is of everything that’s suddenly missing!

Last night my local station had The Singing Skirt. Well, since it’s the only Perry episode with H.M. Wynant that I don’t own, I of course have been anxious for it to air so I could finally get a copy for myself. I knew things were missing, but I didn’t remember that any of his scenes were gone. All I recalled was not seeing that scene between Mr. and Mrs. Ennis, their only scene together.

But they also clipped this scene: 

And this scene: 

I’m especially annoyed by the former scene being missing, because from the way the characters converse, I get the feeling that they are at least on somewhat friendly terms. Although that’s a moot point, since Marcus later tried to incriminate the girl for the murder.

And I’m particularly confused by the latter scene being absent. I was sure I’d seen it before I watched it in the uncut! Maybe it’s a case of my local station having two copies and sometimes airing one and sometimes the other. It’s very strange, but I’ve seen it happen, with the Stand-In Sister as one recent example.

But I’ve definitely decided I’ll be buying the last half of season 3 now, possibly before any other Perry-related purchases. (Unless season 9 starts releasing in the meantime!) I want to have all those scenes at my beck and call! Plus, an uncut copy of The Prudent Prosecutor would be nice. (Albeit thankfully the cut version leaves in all the Perry and Hamilton awesomeness.)

I think I had something else in mind that I was going to say before getting to the main body of the entry, but now I’m not sure what it was! Aurgh.

The arts have always been a common theme on Perry. And, as we know, artists are very often portrayed as eccentric. A lot of the time, we get both elements in the same episode. Sometimes we don’t, and I think during those times, we get variations on the idea.

It seems like almost every season had one art-themed episode, but now I can’t think what season 1’s is, if any. But picking up on season 2, we have one of my most favorite episodes ever, The Purple Woman. It deals with art dealers, old paintings, and yes, an eccentric artist. This one is making forgeries and ends up being the murderer. He goes on a rant in court (one Perry coerces him into) about what an amazing artist he is and eventually gets around to confessing to the murder.

Season 3 has The Crying Cherub, the first of the non-Hamilton episodes. What really gets me is they did film at least some scenes with William Talman. I would love to know if that footage still exists somewhere! If it does, it should totally be released, maybe as a bonus feature on one of the season 9 sets.

The Crying Cherub deals with paintings and crooked art dealers again, with the intriguing idea of one painting being painted over another to hide it. The slightly eccentric person here is a woman buying the paintings and not making sure they’re genuine first.

I can’t recall if season 4 did an art episode either. I suppose the closest they came is The Torrid Tapestry, the titular object of which isn’t a painting but is certainly art.

Season 5 has The Posthumous Painter, wherein a crooked artist decides to fake his death so his paintings will go up in value. He also continues to paint in secret to make more to sell. This is one of the David episodes, and one of the ones where David has an idea to help advance the case, that of using the device to track heat in the paintings and determine when they were painted.

I’ve never really been bothered by David knowing about certain things to help the episodes along. I imagine that the other characters (or at least Perry and sometimes Paul) would know about at least some of those things as well, instead of David telling them things they don’t know, but giving the spotlight to David in those cases at least allows him something to do.

Season 5 also has The Absent Artist, featuring a man leading a double life: one as a stereotypical artist in an older apartment, and the other as a high-profile cartoon creator in Hollywood. The kook here is played by Victor Buono, so that immediately tells us that we’re in for a fun and amusing ride. He kind of behaves as a stereotypical artist himself, including insisting that he isn’t interested in money. But he’s really very interested in it!

Interesting sidenote: while all of Victor’s Perry characters are involved in shady dealings to some extent, this fellow is probably the most harmless. The worst that he does is to drive the dead body out to Hollywood to try to keep the double life a secret. Oh yeah, and I think he asks for $500. Compare that with two murderers and a guy running a car-theft ring.

Along the same lines as the season 4 episode, with something different than paintings, the season 6 art-themed episode is The Greek Goddess, about a sculptor and the model he falls in love with. The sculptor’s eccentricities seem to have mostly been present before the time of the episode. According to his journalist friend, his clothes always looked rumpled and wrinkled like they’d been slept in and worn for days, he didn’t like hats (I think), and he said soap was for dishes. (Um, ewww, if he really never used soap!) When he brings back the model and her “mother”, however, he seems to abandon a lot of those eccentricities, upsetting his friend.

Actually, I’d say his friend ends up the real kook in this episode. He’s so upset over the sculptor changing his ways and falling in love with Theba, the model, that he goes to massive lengths to break up the couple. He finally says that the gods chose John Kenyon to portray love in his works but to never get to experience it himself. Um, gee. What a great friend. And he’s got seemingly no qualms about letting Kenyon take the fall for the murder.

Season 7’s The Reluctant Model, also one of my favorite episodes ever, gets us back to paintings. There’s an eccentric beatnik painter, whose beatnik dialogue is an act if the gallery owner is to be believed, and a husband and wife quarreling over where a painting they both like gets to hang. And said husband is played by John Larkin, who played the sculptor in The Greek Goddess!

This is one of the book adaptions, but I imagine the book version is vastly different. And I imagine it doesn’t have any of the awesomeness of Perry and Hamilton investigating the case together. It’s also one of the few episodes to feature both Andy and Tragg, but they sadly don’t share any scenes (except when they sit silently in court).

It’s back to sculpting in season 8’s The Scandalous Sculptor. In this case, both the sculptor and his model are kind of kooky. Sue Ane Langdon plays one of her classic ditzy girls (who isn’t adverse to posing just in her birthday suit, shocking two elderly visitors to the house). But she’s both smarter and darker than she appears to be.

The sculptor is cheerful, bad with money, and a bit scandalous in his attitude and actions, yes. But he doesn’t mean any harm. And he’s really sweet and genuinely loves his wife. They’re one of my most favorite couples in the series. It’s always nice to see a marriage that’s really working out!

Season 9’s art-themed episode is the remake of The Moth-Eaten Mink, The Sausalito Sunrise. The kooky artist is not a main plot point, but he’s an amusing one. Della runs into him at an art exhibit and they study a bizarre sculpture that looks like feet sticking out of a tub of water (if I remember right). The artist proclaims that it’s obvious that it’s depicting a naked soul, to which Della answers that she’s never seen a naked soul.

Other art-related goings-on are some comments Perry makes about modern art and the fact that paintings are being stolen and smuggled. Without seeing the uncut version, I still don’t know the significance of the one particular painting mentioned in the episode title.

Of the art-themed episodes, The Reluctant Model is probably my favorite overall, but The Sausalito Sunrise is definitely #2. I find the character exploration of Steve very intense and intriguing. And I must admit, my favorite thing about my third choice, The Purple Woman, is the epilogue. But all three episodes have exciting plots in general, as well as character interactions that I adore.

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