Thursday, November 21, 2013

Judge Daniel Redmond and Hamilton Burger

I am so sorry. The complete lack of weekend post happened this time because it has been one crazy week. By the time I had both a topic and some time, it was Wednesday, so I decided to just wait until today.

I recorded most of The Glass Coffin last Friday (probably for watching and not for keeping), but I haven’t had the chance to get to that yet, either! I was hoping I’d get to see it before the next movie tomorrow, but I’m not sure I will.

I can say that apparently there won’t be a third Perry movie on Black Friday. It seems that MeTV is having an evening of Sid and Marty Krofft programming? There’s a saga in one of their shows I must see, as it has H.M. Wynant in it. But alas, that won’t be one of the things they’re showing. It’s on DVD, so I may have to buy it sometime.

Anyway, two Perry movies in the month is doing pretty good!

I was watching The Violent Vest on Monday and spotted a familiar face. It was rather surreal to see Bonnie Craig from The Meddling Medium as the murderess!

It seems the actress, Sonya Wilde, wasn’t in very many things (unless IMDB is completely incorrect, and that’s possible; I’m still adding credits to people’s lists that they’ve overlooked). If she really wasn’t in much, that’s a pity, really; she’s a fine character actress. I love her in The Meddling Medium, and she has some of that same spunk as Joy Lebaron in The Violent Vest (albeit Joy’s is in a rather different form than Bonnie’s). Her exchanges with the bartender, whom she insists on calling Joe, are amusing and obnoxious all at once.

Unless there’s a scene with Joy’s imprisoned boyfriend in the uncut version, we never actually see him, and he’s the one who engineers the plan that goes wrong and turns into murder. I always find it interesting when a character that’s key to the whole mystery is never shown onscreen. The same thing happens in The Duplicate Daughter, with the murder victim being someone we never see (even as a corpse).

I was also musing a bit on The Witless Witness. I’ve had it in mind to talk about it for a while if I had an opening. While it is definitely a good episode, I usually consider it a generally above-average venture that is nevertheless not among my top favorites. Mostly the reason for that revolves around how one of the early scenes in court is handled.

I’ve mentioned before about finding it somewhat odd that Hamilton doesn’t show any visible reluctance to prosecute the judge, both because Andy is very reluctant to arrest him and because Hamilton shows reluctance to prosecute the General in The Positive Negative. The judge is a highly respected man and generally considered to be a pillar of honesty, so it would seem to me that Hamilton would feel as reluctant as Andy did, or as reluctant as Hamilton felt in the later episode about the General. Hamilton clearly respected that General. Even though of course Hamilton performed his duty nevertheless, The Positive Negative is one case where he hated to do it. That train of thought has led me to think about one of the things that bothers me about The Witless Witness and makes me wonder if the two things could be connected.

Somehow I felt that this episode tried harder than usual to make Hamilton look like an incompetent. The way Perry tears into his arguments early on, causing the defendant judge Daniel Redmond to be impressed with Perry and smile in enjoyment and approval, always makes me wonder. Agreed, Hamilton’s arguments at that point seem flimsy and not well-thought-out, but I wonder why the writer chose to insert it there, especially after giving Andy such a poignant scene during the arrest. Why not allow Hamilton as well as Andy to shine, instead of putting Hamilton down? It would have been an excellent episode for some good Hamilton scenes and attitudes, such as what we get three seasons later in The Positive Negative. And if Perry and Hamilton are going to clash, I like it much better when both arguments sound good, instead of the prosecution being made to sound utterly foolish for its stand. In general, I think Hamilton has very good arguments. But here, it just does not fly. That seems to be why Perry wins that round, instead of it being a real match of wits as it usually is.

Naturally the judge would be happy for progress to be made on his defense, and it’s true that may have been the only reason for him enjoying the encounter between Perry and Hamilton. (That, as well as him simply reacting to the negative writing for Hamilton and liking its exposure.) At the same time, since he’s been a judge for so long, I would think he would respect the prosecution as much as the defense, and I sort of wondered if perhaps he just plain doesn’t like Hamilton. There was never any indication of him liking Hamilton’s methods (albeit of course he wouldn’t like being on the receiving end of those methods). Redmond and Perry disagree on methods, but respect each other, and I didn’t see any evidence of such respect between him and Hamilton.

I also mused on whether Hamilton’s lack of reluctance to prosecute might have been because he fully believed Redmond was never as upright as he appeared to be. If Hamilton believed the judge had bought his way into office and was crooked all those years, that would certainly lead to Hamilton’s attitude in the episode. In addition, even before learning the stories of the judge bribing his way into office, maybe Hamilton and the judge clashed often in court and Hamilton wasn’t fully convinced of the judge’s integrity. In turn, perhaps the judge felt that Hamilton was reckless, impulsive, or other such things.

Most likely, the writer didn’t give any thought to any of these questions one way or another and didn’t even stop to think about the fact that Hamilton was being written to look bad (at least with his flimsy argument near the beginning of the hearing, if not also with his lack of reluctance to prosecute) while Andy was written to look good with one of his best scenes aside from The Hateful Hero episode. And probably, the judge’s smile really was just to go along with the writing, since Hamilton honestly did seem to be being made out the fool moreso than usual. Sometimes he really builds a good case (and later in this episode he does quite well), but that scene is definitely a cringe-worthy moment for him.
But it is interesting to think about other possibilities anyway, especially in light of Hamilton’s non-reluctance to prosecute. Perhaps sometime I’ll write a short story exploring Hamilton’s feelings and the possible reasons behind them.
(I suppose one could say that if he really believed Redmond was guilty of not only the murder, but of being crooked for years, he was desperately grabbing at straws during the beginning of the hearing, wanting any possible argument he could get. I think that might be about the only way to get around the bad writing in the scene while acknowledging its existence!)

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