Sunday, March 16, 2014

Two Lauras?!

Now this is interesting.

In season 6’s The Hateful Hero, with the mysterious robberies playing such an important role in the plot, a policeman from the robbery detail is brought in. This character, Detective Sergeant Steve Toland, interacts with Andy and has quite a good deal of screentime.

He isn’t mentioned or seen in other episodes, and I thought he was just a oneshot character. But all of a sudden, in season 7’s The Woeful Widower, there he is again! Detective Sergeant Steve Toland, being introduced to Perry after Elizabeth’s jewelry gets copped! Apparently they didn’t ever meet on the previous case? (I was thinking they had.)

It’s such a random little thing, much the same as Deputy D.A. Alvin’s sudden and brief reappearance in The Weary Watchdog after two season 4 episodes. It’s a fun nod to continuity and it’s nice to see them remember the character and the actor and bring them back for another few minutes of screentime.

It’s exciting when characters recur. But it’s rather odd when more than one character has the same name! I had thought that I had seen the Laura character fans of the movies talk about when I saw The Heartbroken Bride. Now, after coming from The Lost Love on Friday, it seems Perry had two old flames named Laura!

Good grief, writers. Way to not pay attention. There’s so many names; why did Laura get picked more than once for that type of character?

Now I’m no longer sure which Laura it is that the fanfiction writers usually talk about. With The Heartbroken Bride Laura, there’s those double-meaning statements that could indicate Perry is actually the father of her daughter. Her husband is very friendly towards Perry and the family regards him as an honorary uncle to the daughter. With The Lost Love Laura, she and Perry and Della have known each other for 30 years and there’s still obviously deep feelings between Laura and Perry, whether or not they are, as Perry says, friendship feelings now. Laura’s husband Glenn is still suspicious and jealous of Perry.

I really love how devoted Glenn is to Laura. Even after Perry uncovers the shocking truth that it was Laura who went to see the blackmailer and she was there when he suffered an accidental death, and she kept quiet even after her husband was arrested, Glenn still loves her and is apparently still ready to forgive her. At least she’s remorseful and says that she was sure Glenn wouldn’t be convicted with Perry as his lawyer, but I’m still not quite sure what to make of the character.

It would be different if she had admitted the truth to Glenn and he insisted on taking the blame anyway and believed that Perry would get him off, hopefully without exposing Laura’s presence at the scene. But when she apparently kept it a complete secret from even Glenn, I just don’t know what to think. It’s very human that she longed for her Senatorial appointment so much, and I did love her remorse and how she acknowledged her terrible mistakes in betraying her loved ones right from the witness stand, but what she did was still disappointing, particularly where Glenn was concerned.

It was fun seeing David Ogden Stiers as the prosecutor. I love the little exchanges he and Perry have outside of court. The writers were clearly trying to set them up to have a relationship similar to what Perry has with Hamilton, friendly outside of court despite being rivals during court. The character is good and compassionate and wants justice, as Hamilton does.

For once we finally had a police character play a more important role in one of the movies! And it’s a policewoman! That’s a change. I enjoyed seeing the sergeant, and her interaction with Paul Jr. was amusing. His chagrin after bashing the police department and then discovering that she’s a sergeant instead of a secretary was priceless.

Paul Jr.’s role in things really reminded me of some of Jesse’s antics on Diagnosis Murder, especially repeatedly getting arrested and looking for an old flame, continually thinking he sees her. And he had at least one idiotic moment, when he believed that guy about the murder victim’s files being in the closet. He really walked right into that one. At least he redeemed himself by not believing that guy’s next string of lies later.

You know, it’s really a cliché in detective stories for a suspect to flee from the good guys and then get run down and killed by a car in the road. It’s happened in more than one Perry movie and happens again here, although switched up a bit. We get quite a graphic depiction of the guy flying all over the car before crashing to the pavement. And oddly enough after such a painful hit, this one actually doesn’t die. I don’t think we ever learn his eventual fate; he seems to still be unconscious when things wrap up.

It must drive fans of the Perry/Della pairing nuts when Della is talking to Laura and Laura actually asks her about her relationship with Perry. Della just starts to try to explain when Perry shows up and inadvertently brings a halt to the conversation. I’m still not big on actively pairing them off and I was a little disappointed myself to not hear what Della would have said. But of course, they felt they had to do that to tease and acknowledge the fans while not making a romantic relationship between Perry and Della out-and-out canon.

The very ending scene of the movie is sweet, where Perry comes out of the building after speaking with Laura and he solemnly tells Della, “Let’s go home.” They depart with their arms around each other.

One thing that puzzled me: I thought the movies were not only filmed in Denver, but that Denver was supposed to be Perry and Della’s new home. Yet in this movie, which takes place in Denver, there are repeated references to home being elsewhere for both them and the prosecutor. Are they still living in Los Angeles after all? Most of the movies I’ve seen other than the first one have them traveling, so where “home” is hasn’t been explained that I’ve heard.

Ah well. Regardless, this was quite an enjoyable movie, in spite of the Diagnosis Murder-type antics that don’t quite fit the Perry mold. I especially enjoyed seeing Gene Barry as Glenn. I was worried he might be the victim, so it was a relief when he was the defendant.

And tomorrow is Terrance Clay’s favorite day, St. Patrick’s Day! Curiously enough, I’ve been running into Dan Tobin all over the place lately, especially on Maverick. I have the first two seasons on DVD and also watch episodes on Cozi TV. And I keep somehow choosing episodes with Dan! If he’s not staring in horror as a camel peers through his hotel window, he’s challenging James Garner to a duel and then wounding Roger Moore when they have a duel. And if not that, he’s conning Roger Moore to switch a fake necklace for a real one, when in reality poor Roger is unknowingly switching a real one for a fake!

Ah, good times. I wonder if he’s going to pop up in any more episodes.


  1. Laura Robinson of "Lost Love" was, of course, an old flame.

    The Laura of Heartbroken Bride was not. (Two different people have confirmed that. Emails to the director, one to Christian Nyby II, and one to a co-writer of the episode confirm that. This Laura was exactly as Mason describe her to Della as they sit in the church waiting for the wedding--a friend he made while lecturing back East, a friend going through a really tough time.)

    1. Ahh. That's very good to know. So all the things that seemed like they could have double meanings and indicate Perry was secretly the father really weren't supposed to have such double meanings at all? I'd prefer it that way, definitely. I never thought of them as having double meanings until the very end of the movie.

    2. Right.

      Yes, that last scene was really just a simple, uninteresting line not meant to have a double meaning.

      They said they'd never have fooled around with Perry's image to suggest anything scurrilous.

    3. Awesome! Very happy to hear this. Thank you!