Saturday, September 19, 2015

Birthday Tribute: Karl Held

Well, it’s another September the 19th, which means it’s time for the most controversial post of the year: the birthday tribute to Karl Held!

I believe it was last year when someone finally explained to me the other main reason why Karl’s David Gideon character is so disliked. As I recall, it’s because the character has a tendency to sometimes act like he knows it all and/or tries to explain things that don’t need explaining? The person mentioned some occasions where he explains some things to Della and she has an expression like, “You don’t have to lecture me, David.”

I’ll agree that David does have those moments. And admittedly, I know some people in real-life who are like that. They are quite annoying. But on the other hand, I’m honestly a bit amused by them, because in general, they really aren’t trying to do anything wrong. They’re just sharing their enthusiasm and maybe letting it get a little out of hand. They don’t even really stop to think that maybe they don’t need to say this or that. So even that reason doesn’t make me dislike the character.

However, this much I will say: the commenter also noted that David does not act like that in The Grumbling Grandfather, in spite of his idolization of Perry. I do think it’s rather a pity that they changed the characterization in season 5, instead of sticking a little more with what the character was to begin with. Perhaps he wouldn’t be nearly universally disliked if they had taken a more season 4-influenced path and kept the character more as he was in his first appearance.

But regardless, it certainly wasn’t Karl Held’s fault that the characterization was altered. He just worked with the material he was given. Apparently those moments were actually in the script. I suppose perhaps delivering the lines differently could have made some level of difference, but maybe it was the director’s choice and not Karl’s to deliver the lines the way he did. There just isn’t enough information on that period of Perry to really judge what happened.

I wonder if anyone has ever even interviewed Karl about his time on Perry? It would be interesting to get the story from his point-of-view.

I still haven’t quite found a place for David in my Perry stories. I used him in The Case of the Spiteful Spirit two years ago and that is the only appearance he’s made in my official timeline. The Lux Aeterna stories on Livejournal remain nebulous as to whether they’re part of the official timeline. So as far as the official timeline goes, I have never explained where David disappeared to. Since I say that other characters who have disappeared onscreen are still around, however, perhaps David is just busy with law school and is still in Los Angeles, instead of leaving it as I said in Lux Aeterna.

While looking over the previous birthday posts, I saw I had an idea for David to maybe appear now and then, bringing Perry interesting problems that could sometimes turn into new cases. Perhaps I will use that idea for the next mystery story, if I continue the series after The Nefarious Necklace. I just hope that if I do decide to use David as a main guest-star in a story, that fact alone wouldn’t make a lot of readers decide not to bother reading!

It would have been neat, as I’ve said before, if there had been more canon scenes of Perry mentoring David in the ways of the law. Perhaps it could have been more like Perry’s relationship with Ken in the movies. Of course, I imagine that even if David’s characterization had been handled better, viewers wouldn’t have liked if the series had followed him to the end of his law school studies and had Perry take him on as another lawyer in the firm, as he did with Ken. That definitely would have changed the scope of the series a bit, probably unfavorably. I doubt I would go that route in my stories, but I would like to do some of the mentoring scenes. I will also likely try to characterization David a little more like in The Grumbling Grandfather.

I was a little worried that some readers might mistakenly think that the mechanic character in Necklace is supposed to be David and that he failed law school, but since there are many guest-star characters on Perry named David, I figured I would let it slide. The character is called David for a reason, so I didn’t want to try to find a different name that would work just as well. However, I did realize, much to my chagrin, that I accidentally started a pattern once I gave the character a surname. Both Davids have first and last names of Biblical characters: David Gideon and David Solomon! Oh well, it works.

As before, I feel that David Gideon is a character who had a lot of untapped potential. I’m glad that Karl brought him to life and gave it a good try for those nine episodes. I hope he has a very happy birthday!


  1. As you stated, David was too preachy and no one can out lawyer Perry Mason and David really tried. he was not needed but pushed Della and Paul away and they often struggled with screen time. Thank goodness they were smart enough to let him go.

    1. Well, that wasn't exactly what I said; I just said he had know-it-all moments. I also said it didn't really bother me. :) I don't think he was deliberately trying to outlawyer Perry; he just idolized him so much that he wanted to prove himself a good legal student. Again, didn't bother me, but I do wish they'd kept the original characterization from season 4. Maybe that would have worked better or maybe not, but at least they wouldn't have changed the character in a way that made him so hated.