Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The blog lives!

Oh dear. It’s terrible how long I’ve let it stretch without a post. If I’m not feeling ill, I’m lacking a topic or I’ve got so many other things I’m trying to do that the post slips away. But I ended up missing at least a couple of times when I fully intended to post.

I certainly intended to post on the 6th, for instance—the anniversary of William Hopper’s death. And then today is the anniversary of Erle Stanley Gardner’s death. Both men, curiously and sadly enough, died the same year, 1970, days apart from each other.

They are two people so very key to Perry as we know it now. Naturally nothing would exist if Gardner hadn’t got his ideas for the books and started to write. And if anyone else had played Paul, the dynamics of the series would have been so very different indeed.

I usually like to recommend episodes or other work to watch on the memorial posts. It isn’t always easy thinking of good episode recommendations after a couple such posts! But last night I was watching a DVD copy of an episode I’d missed on MeTV last week and was thinking it would make a great recommendation.

I don’t recall really thinking about it before, but The Nervous Neighbor is really good as a Paul episode as well as a Hamilton episode (the latter of which I usually think of it as). It has some of Hamilton’s best scenes and some of Paul’s most extended screentime. The episode opens in Paul’s office, a very unusual thing, and Paul continues to be extremely prominent throughout the story as he takes Charles Fuller around town and investigates the strange case. Even after Mrs. Bradley’s hearing, when she would have likely also interacted with Perry a great deal, it’s Paul she calls in a panic when son Charles runs off to confront criminal Henry Clement. Normally it’s Perry the person calls, and then Perry either runs out himself or calls Paul to go (or they both go).

Usually episodes also feature scenes of Perry investigating, so it’s very interesting and different to see so much focus on Paul. There’s even that adorable sub-plot where we can see Paul seems to be hanging around the Golden Age Club quite a bit as he sleuths and is getting to know the people, especially Frances—whom he promises a dance with and fulfills that at the end.

It’s known that Raymond Burr was tiring of the role as the show went on and the writers deliberately tried to focus some of the later episodes more on other characters. Seasons 8 and 9 are definitely said to have that focus, and it’s apparent in several of them. The Nervous Neighbor is season 7, and I’m wondering if the focus on Paul was deliberate because of Raymond’s feelings too. But either way, it’s a wonderful episode choice to watch in remembrance of William Hopper.

The episode is just about perfect to me in every way. My only confusion is that once again there’s a title that I don’t fully understand. Who is “The Nervous Neighbor”? There’s certainly a lot of people running around in this episode who are nervous. Which one is considered the “neighbor”? And neighbor of whom? But in any case, it’s a minor quibble.

Generally I recommend reading the books in remembrance of Mr. Gardner. And while that is a logical idea, perhaps other things fans would like to do would be to watch a particular favorite adaptation of a book or to view The Final Fade-Out and see Mr. Gardner onscreen as the second judge.

One of these days I’m going to give that episode another viewing; while it never will be a favorite, the in-jokes are amusing and Richard Anderson has some very nice scenes. And it’s nice to know that so many of the bit parts and extras are people on the crew. In that respect, it’s a nice send-off to the series, as is the epilogue scene.

Farewell again to William Hopper and Erle Stanley Gardner, two people still very often thought of and missed.

I have several topics waiting in the wings; tentatively I’d considered combining this post with at least one of them, but I think it would be more proper to give them separate posts. Hopefully I can get back on-track with posting. I know I keep saying that, but it is an intention!

And a bit of Perry news: MeTV will show The Lost Love movie this Friday! Happy watching to the interested!

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