Sunday, March 8, 2015

In Memoriam: William Hopper

I find it amusing that right after I called out MeTV for not airing their supposedly most popular show more than once a week, they make an announcement that they’re going to do just that. Naturally it’s a coincidence; I doubt anyone from MeTV even knows this blog exists. (And of course, even if they did, I highly doubt it would make one bit of difference.) I’m sure their reason is because of Leonard Nimoy’s death. Still, the timing of my post and their announcement amuses me.

The 6th sadly marks the death of William Hopper, who died much too soon in 1970. It’s saddening how many Perry cast members either met early deaths or otherwise died while the show was ongoing. Both Williams and Wesley died far too young. And it’s always sad that Ray Collins passed away in the middle of the show’s run, even though he was getting on in years. Some guest-stars, such as Theodore Marcuse and Simon Oakland, also died much too young.

I always love discovering more Paul-centric episodes. I finally had a chance to see the uncut Angry Astronaut, which wasn’t as cut as I expected it would be. In either state, it’s quite a good Paul vehicle, starting out by showing Paul being hired by the titular character to find some missing things. Perry doesn’t appear until after the murder, when Paul goes to him to see if he will represent the man. Even though Paul believes he’s nuts and really did commit the murder, he wants to see him have proper representation. (Also, in that case, the astronaut already knew of Perry and specifically asked Paul to ask Perry about representation. Paul always tries to follow through with an owed favor.)

It’s always interesting to me that Paul is the skeptic among Perry’s group. It definitely adds a little more spice, as opposed to everyone just fully believing that the client is innocent because Perry believes that. And it’s moving that in spite of the many times when Paul thinks the client is guilty, he’s still willing as always to help Perry try to dig up proof that the truth is otherwise.

It would have been an intense character study if there had ever been a case where Paul had such strong feelings as to a client’s guilt that he felt he could not help Perry on the case. Either that, or perhaps a situation where Perry wanted Paul to do something on the investigation that Paul absolutely felt he could not do. Although it never happened on the show, it’s always very clear that Paul has his limits and doesn’t want to put his license in jeopardy. I still don’t think Perry has the right to ask him to do things that could indeed disrupt his career. But of course, Paul could refuse if he felt he simply couldn’t do it.

The two have a great friendship, enjoying fishing breaks the few times a caseload eases enough to allow for it. And in spite of when Perry asks things that often don’t seem fair, Paul goes through with it anyway because of their friendship and his belief in Perry. Paul is quite invaluable to Perry; his investigations often bring in the final piece of evidence needed. Paul is likely aware of this, and perhaps that is one reason why he continues to lend his assistance on cases, even when he doesn’t believe in a client’s innocence or doesn’t like something Perry wants him to do.

I still love the intensity in The Carefree Coronary, when Perry finally acknowledges Paul’s value both as a friend and as part of the team. When it feels like Perry often takes Paul for granted, it’s nice to have him really announce that he is aware of Paul’s importance. Although, admittedly, it would have been nice if it hadn’t taken such a huge scare for Perry to say it. Still, it’s Perry’s way to not usually say such things aloud.

It’s very sad that we lost William Hopper so unfairly soon. But it’s awesome that he left us such a legacy of wonderful roles, especially Paul Drake. He will always be remembered for that.

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