Oh dear, a late Thursday entry again. But at least I'm getting one in, as opposed to the weekend fail. (I wasn't feeling well.)
So, long ago, I discussed the Perry Mason computer game and mentioned my confusion over the inclusion of the Sergeant Holcomb character, whom I didn’t know. I thought they had created him solely for the game, as a Sergeant Brice-type character. Of course, more recent explorations into this matter have informed me that the character exists in the books, and that he isn’t at all like the quiet Brice.
Now armed with that knowledge, I realized his existence in the television series as well, when I was watching The Restless Redhead on my local station the other night. A character by that name also appears in The Fan-Dancer’s Horse.
Since he was a fairly prominent book character, at least early on, I wonder why they decided not to continue using him on the series. Did they figure Lieutenant Tragg was the only policeman who should be really prominent?
Were they having trouble keeping hold of actors to play the character? In two television appearances, he was played by two different actors to match.
I would say the biggest problem is that they couldn’t seem to decide how the character should be portrayed. In The Restless Redhead, he’s older, gruff, and no-nonsense, cut from the same cloth as Tragg, only definitely not putting on airs of being friendly when he doesn’t feel friendly at all.
In The Fan-Dancer’s Horse, he’s younger and not entirely ethical. He deliberately misleads witnesses in trying to establish identification of the real Lois Fenton, and even puts the real one in the shadow box when no one is there to see her. He knows very well that he did wrong, too, as he tries to run out of the courtroom when the whole matter is exposed. Hamilton angrily calls him back.
I would have to say that the main reason I never noticed the Holcomb name being used is that I don’t often watch either of the episodes in which he appears, and when I do watch them, the characters are so different that I can’t believe they’re the same guy. I came to that same conclusion now, after reviewing the relevant scenes in The Fan-Dancer’s Horse.
I feel that the Holcomb in The Restless Redhead is completely aboveboard. He may be closer to the book’s character; that is something I can’t say. But if he is Tragg’s predecessor in the books, as I read, then it seems to me that he is likely an honest cop there.
The Holcomb in The Fan-Dancer’s Horse certainly seems to be a slimeball. He doesn’t even have anything to say for himself (at least that we hear in canon). He’s still sitting in court after his antics come to light, but I imagine he received quite the reprimand and maybe even a reevaluation of his abilities when it was all over.
On TV.com, it discusses The Fan-Dancer’s Horse Holcomb and indicates a belief that both Holcombs are meant to be the same person. I can’t say what the casting director’s intentions were, but if either Holcomb wanders into a story of mine in the future, I will not try to say they are one and the same. I feel sorry for the poor Restless Redhead Holcomb, sharing a name with the Fan-Dancer’s Horse Holcomb and having people think they’re the same character. As far as I’m concerned, The Restless Redhead Holcomb is upright and someone to be admired, even if people feel he’s too hard on Perry. I like to think he would be disgusted by the Fan-Dancer’s Horse Holcomb, the same way Tragg is repulsed by the dishonest cop in The Moth-Eaten Mink. In fact, maybe that’s how I’ll get Holcomb into my stories; I’ll do a short piece of him upset over the incident.
I wonder if the two Holcombs could be related? Father and son, perhaps? Or, if the age difference isn’t that extensive, brothers or cousins?
This will be fun to play with.
And oh my goodness, in my Internet search to learn a bit more about the Holcomb character, I stumbled across something exciting for anyone who would like a chance to look at the books but hasn’t had access to them yet. http://www.e-reading-lib.com/bookbyauthor.php?author=21005 This website features fourteen Perry books to read, right on the site! I think they’re all complete; I skimmed through one to make sure. Since the books are long out of print, and the publishers won’t lose any money from the site’s existence due to that, I find nothing wrong with enjoying what the site has to offer. They have a couple there that I’d really like to read the book versions of, particularly The Singing Skirt (of course) and The Caretaker’s Cat. So, even though I don’t normally like reading books online (I much prefer curling up with one on the couch or the bed!), I will definitely be examining these. Or, here’s a thought, maybe I’ll print them up so I can curl up with them.