Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Blushing Pearls, The Avenging Ace, and Mort Mills

It’s been enjoyable to watch the early season 3 episodes on MeTV this past week. A lot of them I haven’t seen in quite a while.

I particularly delighted in The Blushing Pearls. I generally really like the episodes with Oriental twists, and Nobu McCarthy is one of my favorites of the Oriental actresses who were often seen on classic television. Her character is so cute and sweet, and I felt so bad for her, being manipulated by the other characters in the story.

I agree with Perry in thinking that the guy she’s dating, Grove, is a heel and worse. He seems so adamant in having faith in her until he sees the picture, and then suddenly his entire viewpoint changes and he unshakably believes she’s guilty. It reminds me of something Officer Eve Whitfield says on Ironside, when she can’t believe in the innocence of someone she’s been interested in. The guy ends up being proved innocent, and Eve says that if she had really loved him, she would have believed in him all along.

Now, I'm not saying that there are never cases where it's human to doubt even someone you care about, or even that sometimes doubt is justified, but in this case I think it's terrible for Grove to completely refuse to even consider that the poor girl might be innocent. (I'm not typing her name because I'm not quite sure what it is. I'm getting two different spellings from different websites, and I had personally thought her name was something else.)

The Perry episode works out good and satisfying in the end for both Nobu’s character and Grove. He (presumably) has the girl who has loved him all along and Nobu’s character has her uncle’s bookkeeper Toma, who has likewise loved her. Although Grove will also have to deal with the shame of his father being the murderer, oh gosh.

It also boasts the infamous scene where Perry starts a fire in the alley to convince the real thief of the genuine pearls to try to run out with them and get caught. I love the epilogue, where Hamilton sends him a citation for burning trash without a license. Paul, who was so sure that Perry would get in big trouble for his stunt, gets quite a kick out of it.

The Blushing Pearls has a very intriguing, eerie, and ominous music score, one that I don’t think is used very often on the series. It’s also featured in The Impatient Partner, where it perfectly suits the bizarre things happening to poor Amory Fallon. Since I watch that episode more, I’ve thought for some time that the music score was created for it. It was a bit of a surprise to hear it in this earlier episode. I’ll be paying close attention to see if it gets into any other episodes.

Another thing I managed to see a bit of this week was the Avenging Ace movie. I wasn’t available for the one last week, and my negative feelings on the first film made me most unenthusiastic about even trying to catch the one this week even though I was available, but from what I managed to see of it, I think I like it better than the first installment. I’ll have to see it in full and make an assessment then.

One of my other issues with Perry Mason Returns was how little time was actually spent in the courtroom. It looked like The Avenging Ace went to court a lot sooner and probably spent more time there. Also, it’s one of the films with David Ogden Stiers as the prosecutor, and I wish I had remembered beforehand that he might be in it, because I am very interested in seeing all the ones with him. Charles Winchester is one of my most favorite characters on M*A*S*H.

I feel a bit chagrined, as I try to make a practice of never judging a series by its pilot. A pilot, with a different feel and tone from the series proper, is usually never a good judge of what an entire series is like, particularly if it’s a pilot movie. The only pilot movie I have ever seen that’s really a good example of the series that follows is the one for Cannon. It’s glorious, just like an extended episode instead of something darker, more suggestive, and with different characterizations, as the ones for, say, Hawaii 5-O, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker are. (Okay, so at the time they made at least The Night Stalker movie a series wasn’t in the works, but still.)

Anyway, Perry Mason Returns can definitely be considered a pilot for the television movie series. And I judged the entire series on it. I should watch at least one other movie in the series before determining if it’s all like that.

I do know that in any case, just having Perry and Della around won’t feel like Perry Mason proper to me. But if the plots are executed better than in the first film, and they spend more time in court, I think I might be able to appreciate the series a bit more.

This weekend is the 56th anniversary of the premiere of our series. I’m trying to decide whether to make a post on the actual day or if I should wait till the next day, since the 21st is on a Saturday. I also have a birthday post to make this week, which is certainly a happier prospect than a memorial post.

Speaking of both birthday and memorial posts, I was watching The Untouchables on Friday night and ran across Mort Mills. (He pops up everywhere.) I realized that I’ve never really highlighted him or his Perry character on the blog. And that is totally a terrible omission, as his Sergeant Landro character recurs for several seasons. I think we see him at least eight times.

Originally I didn’t like the character too much and that was why he didn’t appear in my stories or on the blog. Now, however, I’m not even sure why I didn’t like him. He’s a perfectly fine character and a good, upright policeman. And even if I didn’t like him, I shouldn’t allow personal feelings to keep me from highlighting a recurring character on the blog.

I should try to find a place for him in a story. I still may have a bit of trouble with that, however, as when he appears it means something is happening in Los Angeles County rather than the city, and the city police will most likely not be involved. I think I’d find it a bit hard to write a whole multi-chapter story without the city police! On the other hand, though, there are those episodes where Andy appears if some element of the crime involves his jurisdiction, so maybe I could get Sergeant Landro into a story that would have the city police, too.

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