Sunday, December 1, 2013

Further musings on the lack of Christmas episodes

Happy December! I hope all American readers had a good Thanksgiving, and that all readers everywhere are having a good weekend.

I remember that last December I had quite a struggle finding time to write posts. That may end up the case again this year. This time I may simply not do it on those occasions instead of writing very short posts.

I also remember musing one time on the lack of Christmas episodes for the series. Now I can’t find the post, but I have been thinking about the topic again lately.

I recall saying that there were other dramas, even other detective/crime shows, that had Christmas episodes. But what I’m wondering now is if Erle Stanley Gardner or someone else on the Perry staff just didn’t want to ever do a Christmas-themed episode, perhaps because they were afraid of it being too depressing.

The other crime shows that did Christmas episodes back in the day seem to have treaded into that category sometimes. True, Dragnet had that sweet Christmas episode about the missing Jesus statue that they remade for Dragnet 1967, but they also had a much darker, grimmer, and heartbreaking episode that spoke out on the dangers of giving children guns as Christmas presents. Their New Year’s episode is also quite sad, with everyone going to a holiday party and then discovering that the husband co-host of the party has been killed. The poor wife just breaks down sobbing.

Then I saw the Christmas episode of The Untouchables Friday night. I was always a bit leery of seeing it, figuring that with a guy wearing a Santa suit being gunned down, it would be very dark and sad. It definitely was, and there was no attempt to try to make things even a bit happier at the end, as even the dark Dragnet Christmas episode did. It was stark, heartbreaking realism. Which was appropriate for the show in general and even for their Christmas episode, but it certainly made for a discouraging hour.

The biggest downer, I think, is how Eliot Ness keeps learning more and more horrible things about the murdered man, who was his friend. He eventually gets so disgusted and disillusioned that he wants off the case, but then a new lead comes up to help him catch the man’s underworld boss and he pounces on it.

When he finally confronts the boss, who ordered the hit on the friend even though the friend was completely loyal to him and wouldn’t have told about the crime he witnessed the boss committing, the final nail is pounded in the coffin. While outrageously and cruelly laughing, the crime boss insists that the friendship was never real on the friend’s part; he was using Eliot all along. We don’t actually know if that’s true, but it snaps Eliot’s patience after the long and grueling and heart-wrenching night. He smacks the creep around before arresting him. And that’s the end, as the narrator informs us that the boss was found innocent of the murder when he went to trial.

Of course, had there been a Perry Christmas episode, it would have been lighter and probably quite festive, even if Christmas was more of a background thing like with Halloween in most of The Dodging Domino. But since there wasn’t a single Perry episode without a real murder, someone would have been killed. Perhaps murder just wasn’t something Gardner or someone else on the staff wanted for a Christmas episode.

I think that the classic drama series that has the best Christmas episodes ever is probably The Twilight Zone. Seriously, for a show that was often dark and twisted, it could also show some of the most hopeful, beautiful things ever, and do it without being cheesy. I’ve loved all the Christmas episodes I’ve seen from that series.

I might try my hand at a Christmas Perry fanfiction venture this year, probably without a murder. But that will be dependent on if a good plot idea comes to me.

One thing I’ve been thinking of long and hard for almost as long as I’ve been enjoying Mannix is that Della should be Best Friends Forever with Joe Mannix’s secretary Peggy Fair. I can just imagine them bonding over the long hours they have to work and the dangerous situations their bosses end up in. (And how resourceful both Della and Peggy have to be many times.) And Della would be so good with Peggy’s young son Toby! It would be adorable.

I totally want to see them meet sometime. So that is most likely a fanfiction project I’ll be jumping on as soon as I feel I can write well for Peggy. Perhaps following a short story where they meet, I’ll try writing a full-blown crossover between the shows that would have a lot of Della and Peggy being awesome under pressure on a very dangerous case that would involve both Perry and Joe. Meanwhile, Paul and Joe would interact a lot, as would the two shows’ police officers. It would be such fun.

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