Thursday, April 18, 2013

Which Perry is more interesting?

Everyone, I’m very sorry to have to do this, but from now on, all anonymous commenters will have to go through a Captcha in order to comment. (At least, I think it’s only anonymous commenters who will have to use it; after what happened while setting it up, I’m not quite sure.) I absolutely abhor those things and never like the idea of making other people use them, so I’ve held off on implementing one all this time. But in the last few weeks I’ve been getting and deleting an outrageous amount of spam comments nearly every day, and I just can’t take it anymore. Genuine anonymous commenters will always be welcome; I think over half of the real comments are from anonymous parties.

I’ve been thinking. For anyone who has read a lot of the early books and enjoys writing fanfiction stories (or has perhaps thought of writing one), I have a suggestion. It would be really interesting to have early book Perry meet up with television show Perry (through some distortion in the space-time continuum, most likely) and converse. They would surely have some intriguing and differing views to bring to the table. It would be such a fun character study and contrast.

From what I’ve gathered, Perry in the early books is a lot more shyster-ish, whereas later on he starts to resemble the television Perry more. There’s even that fairly famous quote from early book Perry where he says he doesn’t care if his client is innocent or guilty; that’s not up to him to prove.

That’s certainly a far different attitude than television Perry takes! His preference in the television series seems to be people who are innocent or whom he believes are innocent. This is strongly implied off and on in the actual scripts, mostly from things he or Della say. I think the only times he’ll take on a guilty client knowing they’re guilty is if he feels there are extenuating circumstances. Usually it’s if they’ve killed in self-defense, such as in The Prankish Professor. But there seem to be other exceptions too. The Baited Hook comes to mind, where the woman killed the man in order to try to protect her daughter from learning the truth about her parentage.

I’ve often wished there would have been a few more guilty clients in the series. The Terrified Typist is such a fascinating departure from the usual, where Perry is hired to defend a man and in the end, it’s discovered that the man really is the guilty party. I think that’s the only time in the series where that particular sort of twist happens.

Of course it would be sad for Perry, to invest all that time and effort into the case and uncover such a truth, but it would add a touch more realism to have it happen at least now and then. And anyway, poor Hamilton and the other district attorneys are always investing a lot of time and effort and having their cases bounced out.

I find it interesting to note that The Terrified Typist is also about the only episode where that observation is made in the script about Hamilton’s efforts. And it’s even more interesting that it’s Paul who makes that observation. He really seems to feel genuinely sorry for Hamilton, which isn’t something I’d normally expect from him.

The Terrified Typist also allows Hamilton some very nice scenes, my favorite being when he cross-examines the defendant on his supposed chivalry in not naming the married woman he claims to have been with during the murder. Hamilton points out that while the man keeps silent, he is allowing a woman whom Perry has suggested may have been the one to be besmirched. Hamilton concludes by saying that everyone could use less “gentlemen” like the defendant. That bit is awesome.

I wonder what book Perry would think if television Perry told him about his friendship with Hamilton. And I wonder what television Perry would think if book Perry told him that he had proposed a couple of times to Della and had been turned down. There’s so many fascinating conversation topics that they could get into, both on their personal views and on the other characters around them.

I would totally write the story myself if I were more familiar with the books than just the summaries. But since such a time may not come for a while, I turn it over to anyone who wants it—as long as they share it if they write it!

Some people, I’ve noted, prefer Perry to be, if not necessarily unaffected by whether the client is guilty, more willing to “walk on the wild side” and bend and possibly even break more laws for the sake of his client. Sometimes I find rebellious, antihero characters like that quite interesting, granted. (Some people might be surprised by the sorts of characters I sometimes latch onto and write about.) But other times, I just get tired of it and like to see someone who isn’t always implementing their own brand of justice to the various situations.

One thing that’s definitely exasperating about those types of formats is how the person who actually is breaking the law is hailed as the good guy, and anyone who disapproves of their methods (like the police) are definitely cast in a negative light. To me it just doesn’t seem quite fair. Shows like The Rockford Files use that formula a lot, and while Perry is at least often making positive comments about the police, that doesn’t seem to happen as much on Rockford.

I suppose, as I read in a similar topic recently, the point of those types of shows is the idea that legal justice isn’t always the right kind of justice for the particular person being accused or sentenced. Sometimes it isn’t. But what puts Perry in a very curious and unique position is how Perry is always extolling the justice system . . . yet is often trying to find ways to skirt it when he feels justified in doing so.

I personally prefer Perry keeping closer to solving cases within the law. I don’t feel that necessarily makes him less interesting of a character, as some feel; actually, in keeping with my love of touches of realism, I think it’s far more interesting to see crime-solving happen with established legal methods, instead of trying all manner of trickery to get around legal barriers. To me, the trickery is so overdone in shows. Sometimes it almost seems that less-than-legal methods are what is expected, to the point that it’s often really uninteresting, cliché, and/or eye-rolling. And Perry being a part of that makes him seem like more of a stereotypical fictional lawyer. It’s when he doesn’t engage in those sorts of behaviors that I feel he’s more unique, where fictional lawyers are concerned.

I think soon I’ll do a post complete with pictures to explore some of the props that commonly recurred on Perry episodes (and even sometimes in other CBS shows). For instance, I knew that sculpture of Moses in the uncut version of The Greek Goddess looked familiar. While watching The Twice-Told Twist again yesterday, I spotted it in the museum scene! And there’s several other props I’ve seen pop up multiple times.


  1. Interresting topic. Yes, early-book Perry is definitly more fiery than TV Perry, but I think he does try to choose clients he thinks are innocent even though he says that the guilt or innocence is not for him to decide. He does also skirt the law more than you ever see TV Perry do, but when you read the books, you can definitly picture Raymond Burr as both TV and book. It was certainly excellent casting. The only thing that gets me every time is in the book they describe Hamilton as "barrelchested" and with a mustache... it's funny but W.T. did pull it off nicely in the Ballad of Josey. Back to the main topic, it would be interresting to see what would happen if the two ever met. If you ever got the notion, you can buy the books cheap and in good condition at and Amazon had a few of them as e-books, including the first one, The Velvet Claws. That book was really good and the writers could have done so much more with the episode, but oh well... I guess that is what our imaginations are for. Love the site and your stories. Can't wait for more of the Malevolent Mugging.

    1. Ah, how wonderful to see a real comment and not more stupid spam.

      Thank you for your thoughts! It's very interesting to read an opinion from someone who enjoys both the TV show and the books. :) When I've seen snippets of the books (or fanfiction of them), I have been pleasantly surprised by dialogue similarities between that and the television dialogue. I had previously pictured the characters being a lot different in the books, so finding dialogue patterns being much the same (at least in what I read) was very nice.

      I'm always amused that in The New Perry Mason, Hamilton really does have a mustache. I have wondered whether that was on purpose or just by accident.

      I tend to like to be able to look through a book before buying it, hence why I'd really like to find them locally, but maybe I'll look into buying The Daring Decoy, since I'm interested in seeing how Jerry Conway compares to Daniel Conway in personality. (Perhaps, if you've read that one, you can tell me if the two Conways are similar?)

      The Velvet Claws definitely sounds a lot different from the TV version, from what I heard.

      Thank you so much! I've been thinking today about how the next chapter for that will go. I kind of think I may do a little bit of a timeskip soon, while the bad guys lay low and plot and Sampson has a chance to heal more. Then the bad guys will strike somewhere again without warning.

    2. I haven't had the chance to get the Daring Decoy yet, but it's on my list. I have noticed that the book dialogue, especially in the courtroom, is a bit like season one before they become friends.
      I've found that thrift shops, flea markets, and used book stores occasional have at least one or two of the books if you look, so if there are any near you you might want to check those out.
      And oh, I'm excited now!! I love suspense stories, particularly ones with my favorite characters! Thanks

    3. Yeah, that's what I've heard. That makes sense.

      The next time I have a chance to wander into some, I probably will look. :) I prefer my books new overall, but if I want something badly enough I'm willing to get it second-hand.

      Awesome! :) I ended up working a bit on my Virginian story, but I have The Malevolent Mugging open now and am reviewing the most recent happenings.