Thursday, September 19, 2013

Birthday Tribute: Karl Held

Today is Karl Held’s birthday! I hope he has a lovely day.

In trying to think of something fitting for a birthday post, I started pondering on my favorite episodes that feature David, and out of those, which have my favorite David scenes.

I enjoy David’s very first season 5 episode, The Missing Melody, for the plot, the guest-stars, and how David is brought into the script, with Perry and Della remembering him from the Grumbling Grandfather case. Continuity in classic television series is always a delight to behold, so it gives me a little thrill each time I watch this episode and see David acknowledged as having been around before.

Of course, one that I’ve cited before is The Renegade Refugee. True, that is the episode where David makes probably his worst slip-up, but he tries so hard to make it right. And I say he should be given credit for how quickly he listens to Perry and realizes exactly what his error was. A rebel he is no longer.

Also, often cut from the episode is one of the most excellent scenes where Perry defends Hamilton, when David is upset over Hamilton springing a surprise witness in court. Perry says that he and Hamilton are adversaries but not enemies, and says the system works so that each lawyer is pushed to be his very best.

David is very prominent in The Left-Handed Liar, being friendly with the defendant and even letting him stay at his apartment. David has an extensive encounter with Andy in that episode, which is exciting for being the first time Andy really has a long scene. But Andy doesn’t yet have his own dialogue, so he mostly sounds like Tragg all the way through it. A pity, since no one can carry that dialogue as well as Ray Collins, and since Wesley is deserving of having a separate speech pattern for his character.

I was, of course, wrong last year when I mentioned that David rarely does anything that really helps. Several episodes feature him having ideas that move the plot along in a positive way.

Of those episodes, my favorite is probably The Meddling Medium. It’s interesting to think of David knowing a parapsychologist. He’s the sort of fellow with whom Perry might be acquainted, since Perry knows such a collection of unique people from all walks of life. But, since the writers were trying to give David something to do, this time he is the one who knows the person and suggests that Perry make his acquaintance.

One of the most intriguing things about David’s suggestion is the fact that the person he recommends Perry visit was a real parapsychologist, Dr. Andrija Puharich. This marks one of only a couple of times when a real, living person is referenced on the show, and possibly the only time such a person is actually seen. (Perry mentions knowing Rod Serling in The Promoter’s Pillbox, but alas, Rod doesn’t make a personal appearance.)

I’ve been thinking for a long time about writing a sequel to The Meddling Medium, which would delve into several supernatural angles that I believe the episode hinted at but never outright said. I still think that Phillip eventually had contact with spirits and that was at least partially why he was so insistent at the end that he wasn’t a fraud, even while he was absolutely sloshed. Also, I realized that while I assumed that proving Bonnie has ESP would imply that she picked up the real murderer’s thought process, that was never actually stated. By proving she has ESP, the implication that she really channeled a spirit instead is just as strong a possibility.

I’ve thought of the story following my timeline (which is post-season 9), but on the other hand it seems more likely that it would take place shortly after the episode and hence, still be in season 5. It might be the perfect place to stick David in, as I’ve been wondering how I could fit him into a story other than my Lux Aeterna pieces on Livejournal. If I have it set during the season 5 period, that would also give me the opportunity to explore Tragg and Andy’s relationship a bit, and Andy getting to know the other characters, as it would be shortly after he becomes a main part of the cast.

This story is intended to be my main Halloween story for the year, and whatever the final plan where its details are concerned, I’m hoping to start work on it very soon now.

If I have David in it, I’m unsure of whether I’ll explore why he vanishes from the series in mid-season 5. In the Lux Aeterna stories, it’s mentioned that a friend of his grandfather’s invited him to stay with him to finish law school and get into a firm. But I’m not sure if I’ve decided that those stories are part of my main timeline. Regardless, I may ignore the mystery of David’s departure and just focus on him as the episodes did, leaving it off with him still around.

In general, although most of the David episodes do not inspire fanfiction story ideas, almost all of them are quite good and enjoyable to watch. I like The Posthumous Painter less than most of them, but it’s still a fairly good offering, and come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen it uncut yet. Episodes are always better uncut.

It’s funny that I never realized David appeared in out-of-town episodes until once I caught part of The Roving River. I still need to see that one in full, but from what I saw, it’s quite good too.

The Shapely Shadow I still have mixed feelings about (even though the plot is basically very intense and well-done), but I plan to see it again, and I hope that when I do, it will be the uncut version. I don’t recall taking issue with any of David’s scenes.

With several David episodes still having been viewed by me in only their cut states, I suppose some of the scenes people use to complain about him could be in the uncut versions only. But I’ve seen people complain about him using the cut versions alone, so I don’t imagine there’s anything even more frustrating in the uncut versions. In any case, I doubt there’s anything I personally would be particularly irritated about, and if there was, I further doubt that it would make me change my entire opinion on the character. I like David fine, and I’m happy that the writers tried to experiment with using him a bit, even if it didn’t quite work out in the end.

Happy Birthday, Karl Held! Thank you for your time as part of the Perry Mason family.

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