Friday, September 4, 2015

The first Sergeant Brice, and a new story

As the readers know, I adore Lee Miller’s Sergeant Brice. He is quiet, loyal, dedicated, and friendly. In episodes such as The Grumbling Grandfather and The Borrowed Baby he testifies in court and gets some pretty decent screentime. In later seasons, he sometimes talks with Perry about cases and has a mysterious teasing exchange with Della, certainly indicating that there’s at least one untold story there.

They were using Lee Miller all the way in season 1, playing unnamed policemen who usually worked with the L.A.P.D. Once or twice he played other law enforcement officers, such as a Highway Patrolman in The Rolling Bones. Even then, he appeared with Tragg. Back in season 1, I don’t recall they ever used the same person more than once to accompany Tragg, until they started using Lee Miller.

By season 2, they continued to use Lee in many episodes, but his character still didn’t have a name and only rarely, if ever, said a word. Meanwhile, someone came up with the name Sergeant Brice and it was applied to another police character. He appears in two episodes, to my knowledge—once in an episode that Lee is also in (The Glittering Goldfish)! That gave me a start the last time I watched it, to see the “real” Brice around yet have someone else get credited as the character!

MeTV showed the first of the two episodes the other day (The Fancy Figures) and I studied the character as played by Chuck Webster. Instead of younger, quiet, and closer to Raymond’s build, the first Sergeant Brice is older, slimmer, and quite talkative. While I suppose the idea is that both actors are really playing the same character, I have an urge to make this first Brice a completely different character, since he is different in every way except in his loyalty to the police department, and when I hear “Sergeant Brice”, it’s impossible for me to picture anyone other than Lee Miller. Perhaps the first Brice is a relative? Chuck Webster was only eleven years older than Lee Miller, and even though some actors sadly do look much older than their age, this character didn’t look old enough to be the other Brice’s father. So maybe an older brother, cousin, or an uncle instead.

Also curiously noted is that while the first episode has him and Tragg both calling him “Brice”, the second episode only lists him as such in the credits. Within the episode itself, Hamilton addresses him as “Officer.” I wonder which episode was filmed first? If Goldfish was, then we could say that perhaps they only thought of the name after it was filmed, so they quickly inserted it in the credits and then addressed him by that name within the other episode. If the other episode was filmed first, then I have to wonder if they were already considering making Lee Miller the Brice character by the time they did Goldfish later, so they didn’t want Chuck’s Brice addressed onscreen by that name again.

I may address these mysteries in a future story, or maybe even in the one I’ve started now. I finished putting up the Steve Drumm detective parody and decided it was high time I start writing the story idea that one of my steady readers, Harry2, brought to me three years ago when I was writing The Malevolent Mugging. It heavily involves Della and a mishap with a supernatural necklace. I was interested, but felt I needed to finish Mugging before I started it, and of course, that didn’t get finished until about a month or so ago. So finally it is time to tell Harry’s story.

Since I have been wanting to explore Brice and Della’s apparent friendship for some time, a story starring Della would be a good place to start. I am tentatively planning that Brice will play a large part in it, especially as the mystery deepens and it becomes clear that not all is well with Della.

Also, as per my love of bringing back characters from the episodes I enjoy most, this one features Gene Torg and Pearl Chute from The Bogus Books. They were part of the original outline from three years ago, being the first to encounter the necklace and then desperately wanting to get rid of it. Gene may end up falsely accused of a crime and need Perry’s help; I’m still unsure if I will do that angle.

I have also had ideas of writing a story about the Stuarts from The Decadent Dean and I decided that this would be that mystery. Perry is trying to solve a new series of weird events at Aaron Stuart’s new Manzana Valley Prep School while Della begins to act strangely. The mysteries will connect. And I’m also planning that this will finally be the mystery with scenes at a masquerade ball. The ball will be held at the school.

Does anyone know if Manzana Valley/County is a real place or something the show made up? I’ve been trying to look it up without success because I wanted to figure out how close it is to Los Angeles. Tentatively I’m assuming that within the show, it’s the next county over in some direction, since Tobin Wade seemed to be living at his cabin in Topanga Canyon (which is, I think, part of the Los Angeles area?) and probably wouldn’t want to be driving a long distance to work each day.

I’m a little nervous to do another supernatural mystery for my first big Perry story since The Malevolent Mugging, but I really wanted this one to be next, so I hope it will be enjoyed. I have the first chapter up and am in the process of writing the second. If anyone is interested in following this new adventure, it’s at:


  1. I can't believe it! I finally found someone as addicted to Perry Mason as I am! This has made my day...

    Keep up the good work. I have been looking for some more info on Lee Miller (Sgt. Brice), so I can update his IMDB profile, so let me know if you have anything to add...

    1. Wonderful! Always happy to meet another fan!

      I would love to help you update Lee's page! I'll be surprised if I find anything, but I'll keep looking.