Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Deadly Double: So who really wrote it?

So I did watch The Deadly Double. It’s never actually been a big favorite of mine; even when I was a lot younger, I remember it wasn’t one of the ones I often wanted to re-watch. I can’t even put my finger on why!

It does feel different from most Perry episodes in that it seems like there really aren’t a lot of suspects. Usually, as one reviewer of the episode pointed out, there are many guest-stars, any one of whom could be the guilty party. In this episode, it seems like the only choices are the defendant (played brilliantly by Denver Pyle), Helen or Joyce, and Joyce’s boyfriend. So in the end, it actually doesn’t feel like as much of a mystery. We know the defendant is very unlikely to be the one. It does seem for a while that Perry thinks it might be Joyce (until he reveals that he always thought the boyfriend had the strongest motive), but I can’t recall that I ever suspected her too much.

I really enjoy Denver Pyle’s Perry performances. I should give him a spotlight post soon. It really surprised me the first time I paid attention to seeing his name in the credits. He is an amazing actor. Although a hillbilly goofball like Briscoe Darling or someone like the Uncle Jesse character (I don’t know enough about the latter to say whether he’s of the same breed as Briscoe, albeit I do imagine Briscoe may have been early inspiration) have typecast him, he can play so many other kinds of characters. On Perry, he is always a serious fellow, whether it’s the defendant, a suspect, the victim, or the murderer. His emotional breakdown in court in The Renegade Refugee is a powerful moment.

The one other main thing I do like about this episode is Constance Ford’s performance. The way she portrays both personalities is really quite incredible. It’s a flawless transformation from Helen Reed to Joyce Martel. The climatic scene in court really brings that home.

I can’t even quite place which scenes are missing in the television version. I watch the cut version so seldom that I couldn’t remember. I know it must be cut on television, but pretty much everything I watched seemed familiar, even though I’ve only seen the uncut version once before.

And then I spotted something that is very confusing and goes back to that question of whether Samuel Newman and Sam Neuman are the same person. credits this episode to Samuel Newman, which I took as the truth in a previous post. It’s actually Sam Neuman who is credited as the writer, so I will have to correct that with IMDB.

But I still wonder if they’re the same man. Even though Samuel Newman died in 1977, before two of Sam Neuman’s scripts appeared, I suppose the scripts could have been written before his death and then were just delayed in appearing. Sam Neuman seems to have vanished after the end of the 1970s.

When I was watching The Deadly Double I was a bit confused by knowing the IMDB information that Samuel Newman wrote the script. To me, it didn’t feel like one of his. When I saw the Sam Neuman credit, that made a lot more sense to me. While it’s true that they’ve both written some offbeat Perry scripts, they seem to have different preferences.

Samuel Newman’s strangest Perry ventures are probably the more supernatural-themed The Meddling Medium and The Fatal Fetish. By contrast, Sam Neuman seems to prefer more psychological storylines and other oddities that can’t quite be classed. He wrote The Clumsy Clown, which, while I like it, is certainly one of the most bizarre Perry episodes ever. The girl and guy are just secretly married, the other guy who’s always pined for her gets clawed by a tiger, and the girl decides the thing to do is to leave her poor new husband and go to the injured guy and try to make him happy by making him think she’s going to marry him (even though they only go through a mock ceremony and are not really married).

Of course, that still isn’t proof that the two writers are not the same. Many are the writers who have used different pennames to write different things with each one. And there are actors who are credited several assorted ways, whether on purpose or by accident.

I would really like to solve this mystery. Since Samuel Newman served as story consultant for four seasons, it seems a bit odd that we don’t know more about him. Someone must know whether he and Sam Neuman are the same. If they are, their credits on IMDB should be linked and merged. And if they’re not, mistakes like IMDB currently listing Samuel Newman as the writer of The Deadly Double shouldn’t be happening.

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