I was understandably a little leery of an installment called The Murdered Madam. Knowing the way Dean Hargrove and Fred Silverman approached Diagnosis Murder, inserting suggestive things whenever they felt like it, I could easily imagine them doing the same thing with Perry.
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Unless MeTV cut something, there really weren’t any suggestive or racy scenes at all. It was handled very tastefully, only really mentioning the victim’s past through newspaper articles. I was concerned that Paul Jr. might have to go talking to some of the girls who worked for her and they would be in compromising positions and such. I remember one movie where he went to talk to someone and a model was posing for him naked.
But the only girl he needed to talk to was never shown in any states of undress, although it was mentioned that she was a call girl. And as usual, he had some very unimpressive scenes as he ends up maced by her and has his wallet taken by her.
I could scarcely believe it when he finally caught up to her and actually thought she would stay put while he ran out ahead to try in vain to catch up to someone who was trying to kill her. She wasn’t willing to hold still for him before; there wasn’t a reason to think she would then. Something he quickly learned.
At last he finally had a decent scene when he found her again and managed to get out of there with her despite an angry ex-boyfriend. It kind of seems like that’s a standard formula for the movies: Paul Jr. (or Ken) does some really stupid things while investigating, then finally does something right late in the film to move the case along. Even though Paul Sr. had some bad luck sometimes, he came across as a lot more competent than his son often seems to.
I forgot to mention anything about Sergeant Brock in the movie yesterday. He actually seemed to have a pretty good-sized role in it. (And hasn’t he been in more than one film? The name seems familiar.) However, both he in that film and the sergeant in this one come across as very businesslike and cold. They don’t seem to have any of the charm of the series’ policemen. Even when Andy is being businesslike and holding people at arms’ length, he shows instances of being compassionate and human.
Reston had a very nice scene where he expressed concern for Perry trying to stand on a knee that had just been operated on, and offered his own assistant if Perry needed help presenting exhibits. It was a neat way to show the prosecutor’s humanity and reminded me of kind gestures Hamilton makes on the series.
One of the most interesting aspects of this installment is the backstory on Della. According to her (and Reston), she grew up in the same neighborhood as Tony, the defendant, and she had a younger brother who was Tony’s age. She often baby-sitted both of them. And Tony’s uncle apparently proposed to her and they were even engaged. It’s not explained what broke that up, but she felt the need to tell Perry that it was a very long time ago, when she was very young. That was cute, and I imagine the shippers like it.
The very last scene is also very nice for the shippers, with Paul Jr. saying he’s going to have dinner with a beautiful lady and Perry saying that he is too. It’s just him and Della. Della smiles and leans into him.
It was a little bittersweet of a line for me, though, since for viewers coming from the series proper, it really was just Perry and Della; they were the only original cast members left. But it was lovely to see them still there.
Tony was an interesting character, too. It was heartbreaking to see him come home and find his wife dead, and then to not be able to accept the news that she was once a notorious madam. And boy, was he impulsive to preposterous extents, even bursting into a business meeting to demand of one of the suspects “Who killed her?!” and then punching him when he doesn’t receive an answer.
I liked that at the end of the film, Della told him that his wife was arranging that complex blackmail scheme because she wanted the money for him. Despite whatever wrong things she had done in the past, and whatever crooked things she had done right before her death, she really loved Tony. I thought it was nicer to have it that way instead of being that she really didn’t care about him. Plus, with my consternation over so many insincere couples on the series, I loved seeing one that really loved each other.
All in all, I was quite impressed by how they handled the potentially suggestive subject matter and was very pleased to not see any of the standard naughty scenes those producers are known for. Not all of the movies fared as well in that respect.
Paul Jr.’s ridiculous flubs made me roll my eyes, but he redeemed himself in the end, I suppose. I wouldn’t want him to be a complete Paul Sr. clone, but I think they could have made the character sufficiently different without having him make so many mistakes.
And even though I do not consider the movies to be absolute canon, just a possibility, it is interesting to see what they’re doing with Della’s backstory. I look forward to any future revelations they may have to that effect.
As a parting and unrelated note, I finally finished a short humor story I’ve been working on for the past several weeks. It mostly deals with Hamilton and some of his deputies as they have a bizarre day in the office. I’m overall quite pleased with how it turned out; it was definitely amusing to write. And I’m left wishing again that the show really had delved more into Hamilton’s interaction with his deputies. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/11056082/1/