Sunday, August 17, 2014

More recurring characters!

The Buried Clock isn’t an episode I watch often, so when I do, I seem to find some surprises!

When Perry talks to his client on the phone near the beginning, the show employs a tactic it rarely uses: a split-screen. It’s a fun way to see both ends of a conversation at once, but I believe Perry only used it two or three times, if not just this once. It’s definitely surprising, even jarring, to see it on this show, as its lack of usage makes it seem somewhat out of place. Still, it’s a change from the regular way telephone conversations are shown, and it’s fun to have a change.

Also, when the sheriff wanders in, Perry greets him as though he knows him. That intrigued me enough that I decided to find out if both he and the district attorney are the same characters from season 1’s The Angry Mourner. I knew that Paul Fix’s D.A. always had a preference for bow ties, but I was thinking I’d learned that his guest-spots did not all revolve around the exact same character.

Apparently I was wrong. The character in The Angry Mourner, The Buried Clock, and two other episodes (The Barefaced Witness and The Potted Planter) is always called District Attorney Hale, albeit his first name changes from Darwin to Jonathan. Perhaps they’re twin brothers!

As for the sheriff, he bears the same name in the two early episodes, Burt Elmore, but the actor changes from James Westerfield to Robert Foulk. The latter actor also plays a different law-enforcement character in Paul Fix’s final episode as Mr. Hale.

As I’ve often said, I love continuity in old television shows, especially since they often didn’t have any. I’m rather excited to discover more recurring characters, even if one of them changed actors and the other changed first names! They’re apparently meant to be the same people regardless. And I believe they’re the only (or at least, the first I’ve discovered) out-of-county recurring characters! Sergeant Landro doesn’t count, as he’s in the county, just not the city.

Personality-wise, I’ve usually remembered Paul Fix’s district attorney character by the fact that he’s played by Paul Fix rather than that he had a particularly unique way of handling things. The more I think about it, however, the more it seems to me that he not only did a fine and professional job, he did put an unusual spin on his prosecuting. He seemed to add a bit of a calm, small-town, Mayberry-ish flair instead of being very out-and-out forward and blunt and raising his voice. I’ve meant to watch the uncut Barefaced Witness sometime, as I have the feeling the television version may be one of the most chopped-up of the series, so perhaps this will give me the added push to actually do it. I’ll pay close attention to Mr. Hale and see how he comes across.

From what little I saw of the sheriff in The Buried Clock, he seems to be a fairly friendly sort and on good terms with Perry, which is rather interesting and not always usual. I’ve never seen either The Angry Mourner or The Buried Clock uncut, either, so I believe I shall embark on that quest to see more of what the sheriff is like.

And tomorrow MeTV reveals the complete Fall schedule! I’ve been anxiously waiting for it for several reasons. I’ll be sure to report on any changes that will affect Perry or other projects of interest to Perry fans, such as Ironside. I would love to see Ironside return, either in the morning or following the nighttime airing of Perry. I would also love to see the morning Perry airing return, but given the choice, I would rather keep Cannon and Kojak and have one of them fill the slot. I know they’re leaving the Sunday block and I’m afraid they’ll both be booted instead of moving elsewhere.

Tentatively I’d say that the most we can probably hope for is that MeTV will at least keep the nighttime Perry airing as they have hitherto done. It seems to be a staple of the station, as its weekday afternoon Westerns are. Hopefully it will stay that way. MeTV’s prints are certainly less chopped-up than Hallmark’s, and for me, MeTV is the only way to see all of seasons 7, 8, and 9 on the television since my local station has eliminated so many episodes from its run.


  1. Ohhhhhhh, the old split screen. I seem to remember how shocked I was when I first saw that on tv (don't remember the first show I saw which employed it). I hated it. Still do.

    I can remember it being used in "The Brady Bunch" too, years later, often when Carol Brady or Alice was on the phone with someone.

    I seem to remember it being a fad. It made an appearance here and there on several shows, then disappeared and years later reappeared.

    There's another technique that directors used in Perry for just a bit and in other shows. I really find it awful as well, maybe worse than the split screen. I don't know what it's called, but when the scene shifts, instead of a fade, there's the perception of a page turning, a flip, I'll call it, and we, the viewers, feel as if we're turning a page or as if the scene is flipping into another one. I hope you understand what I'm trying to describe. That's the best I can do. Anyway, I really dislike that one.

    Anon 2

  2. I was thinking about WHY I dislike the split screen and the "flip". I think it's really nothing more than the old idea that movies and tv and plays are efforts to suspend disbelief. The more attention a director draws to the notion that scene is changing, the more we are jarred into reality. It's hard to suspend disbelief when something on the screen forces you to acknowledge to yourself that you are watching something UNREAL.

    anon 2

    1. Interesting analysis! I suppose it is a bit jarring. I don't like when I'm watching the English dub version of Sailor Moon and suddenly they do their version of the "scene change indicator," which is a giant tiara filling the screen. That definitely pulls me out of the story.

      I remember thinking at first that the flip technique was only used in the cut episodes of Perry, but then one time I saw it in an uncut version! I was surprised. I think to me, I think of it more as something that's seen in comedies, so to see it in a drama made it seem more light-hearted and that just didn't fit.

      I don't really mind the split-screen for a telephone conversation as much as I do the abrupt scene changes, though. I think it's kind of fun to watch the characters react to each other simultaneously.