Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas, everyone! Or, for those who don’t celebrate Christmas, Happy Holidays! This will probably be a short entry, as I’m sure most of us are rushed today. I still have presents to wrap! And to make. Yikes.

I decided Christmas would be a good time to share several Perry-related things I’ve done over the past weeks. First, this is a trailer I made at the beginning of the month to promote my latest Perry story, The Broken Ties.


 
This is the story I mentioned in my last fanfiction post. So far I’ve just uploaded chapter 4 and it’s moving along very well. I’m happy with it and I hope my readers are too, despite how unusual it is (or in spite of it, even).

As you all know, I love Hamilton Burger. I wish he had a larger fanbase. I’d been considering writing a sort of essay on why he’s a wonderful character, and why the put-downs he sometimes gets from some Perry fans really aren’t fair (and often don’t have much, if any, basis in fact), for quite some time. For some reason, it was watching The Lonely Eloper that spurred me to actually get it done. I wrote this for a community at Livejournal.com that was specifically created for characters who are often misunderstood or outright detested: http://hated-character.livejournal.com/438282.html

On websites such as Livejournal, as well as on message boards and even here at Blogger (albeit to a lesser extent), people often like using little pictures called avatars or icons on their profiles or in their posts and comments. These pictures can be anything that represents the user or something or someone they like. I’m nuts about them. As you can see, I use an icon of Hamilton on my account here at Blogger. I made it myself, taken from my lovely copy of The Twice-Told Twist on the 50th Anniversary Edition DVD set.

I made many other Perry icons as well. Many are for my own amusement, but I wanted to have something that the mainstream fans would enjoy too. I took some nice pictures of the other characters and crafted some other icons. They’re all simple, mostly with just the coloring and focus slightly adjusted. Oftentimes, icons are very fancy. Aside from the fact that I don’t have the skills needed to make fancy icons, I think these look better the way they are. I only even put text on one of them. They are here: http://insaneladybug.livejournal.com/327159.html I think the icons of Della are my favorites after the ones of Hamilton. I’m also happy I managed to get in one of Steve.

I should probably mention, no copyright infringement is intended in the least. These are a non-profit celebration of the show and its characters. And all images were taken directly by me. If anything, I hope the pretty icons encourage people to buy the DVDs wherever possible. The image quality is just gorgeous!

(A few pictures were also taken from a couple of season 1 episodes available for streaming on CBS.com. However, I think those are only open for people in the U.S. to watch.)

I hope Livejournal is in a cooperative mood if anyone clicks these links! I plan to back up the icons and my essay/defense of Hamilton elsewhere, perhaps on Dreamwidth.org.

Once again, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you! Next week I plan to kick off the New Year by doing some more episode reviewing. I’ve seen some season 8 gems that deserve the spotlight!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Case of the Lover's Leap: Practically Perfect in Every Way

As episodes go, The Lover’s Leap is just about perfect in my estimation. The plot is intense and twisted, all of the main characters are present, and Perry and Hamilton team up to catch the crook.

Mr. and Mrs. Comstock have quite a convoluted plan, pretending to hate each other while they’re actually, deeply in love. They even go so far as to get a divorce. The crooked Mr. Comstock fakes depression after having to give her almost all of his temporal possessions and after his construction company appears to fail. This all leads up to the crux of the scheme, wherein it’s now very believable for him to fake death by suicide and then sneak away with his wife.

Julie Adams, who returns next season in the very unique venture The Deadly Verdict, portrays Mrs. Comstock. She turns out a powerful performance, from her insistence that she hates Mr. Comstock to her true, passionate feelings for him. When he is murdered and she must testify, she takes a large number of tranquilizers in order to try to sit calmly and continue the charade of hating him. Perry deduces the truth and is eventually able to get it out of her during cross-examination, whereupon she breaks down on the witness stand.

Both Tragg and Andy are present throughout and both have decent screentime. This is one of only a handful of episodes Ray Collins was able to be in by this point. It’s always a treat to see him return in these later episodes. As much as I love Andy, it hasn’t diminished my love for Tragg. I enjoy seeing them work together.

Perry and Paul concoct a plan to trap the murderer, a plan which involves the bluff of finding a missing spare anchor that weighed down Mr. Comstock’s body. Perry and Hamilton discuss the case in Perry’s office following Mrs. Comstock’s breakdown in court, and Perry lets Hamilton in on the idea. For the climax, Hamilton, as well as Tragg and Andy, are all present.

With the police having bugged the room next-door, they wait for Mrs. Comstock to confront the man she believes is the true murderer. In a shocking twist, he still isn’t the guilty party, but the real criminal is present too, and tries to contort the events to make it look like he will shoot the other man in self-defense and then blame Mr. Comstock’s death on him. The police and the lawyers rush in before this can be accomplished.

The fascinating elements of this episode don’t stop there. Instead of Perry or Paul, it’s Hamilton who confronts the murderer and sets up the bluff of the anchor being discovered. In rage the villain lunges at Hamilton, who puts up a hand to hold him back. Andy grabs the violent man from behind, wrestling his arms behind his back.

In the epilogue, Hamilton assures the now-vindicated former defendant that the district attorney’s office is interested in the innocent as well as the guilty. The subject turns to the anchor and it’s revealed that it’s a bluff. Perry suggests that Paul send the bill for the purchased anchor to Hamilton, since he was the one who used the anchor to entrap the murderer. Paul suggests sending him the actual anchor instead.

Hamilton looks about as confused and unsure what to think of that as I was. What would he want with the anchor? Boating isn’t a hobby of his, as far as I know. Perhaps it’s meant as a memento of the experience? I half-wondered if Hamilton wondered if Paul was saying it jokingly to mean to jump in the ocean with it weighing him down. But I’m sure that wouldn’t have been Paul’s intended meaning, especially after Hamilton just helped them with the case. Paul probably meant it as a memento.

In any case, on Hamilton’s endearingly perplexed look, we fade out.

The Lover’s Leap is an episode I saw years ago. I remember sitting by an old light-colored end table (which we still have) while watching it. I was fascinated and thrilled by it, particularly the team-up of Perry and Hamilton. And I distinctly remember the epilogue scene and being amused by the discussion of what to do with the bill and the anchor. But I didn’t consciously recall the episode until I saw it again several months ago. This time I must have seen an edited version, as I was sure a scene was missing where the police were looking for the anchor at night. But the important parts seemed to still be intact. The episode excited me just as much this year as it did so many years before. It stands out as an ideal example of why season 6 is so wonderful, and really, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the best episodes throughout all nine seasons.

Next week, as it’s Christmas, I plan to make that promised post concerning some of my various other Perry projects. It will include some goodies I’ve done that most of my readers here are probably unaware of.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Case of the Fatal Fetish

The Fatal Fetish, from season 8, is highly unique in several ways.

First, it, along with The Meddling Medium, are the only episodes I know of where anything supernatural is touched upon at all. Even though a logical explanation is eventually presented, for a while the audience is seemingly led to believe (or at least consider) that something spooky is afoot. The Meddling Medium deals with psychics and automatic writing; The Fatal Fetish, with voodoo.

More importantly, The Fatal Fetish also shows us a great deal of Hamilton and his office’s work. One of his assistants, Larry Germaine, is central to the plot. Larry has gotten himself into quite a terrible mess. Despite being an excellent assistant D.A., he is not so lucky in the women department. The one he has been seeing, Carina Wileen, is up to no good. Everyone around him can see that, including Hamilton and Larry’s mother Mignon. Larry, unfortunately, is oblivious.

Mignon is the other very unique element of this episode. She was the legendary Fay Wray’s third and final Perry character, and my favorite. Aloof and no-nonsense, she refuses to stand by and see Larry take the fall that’s unavoidably encroaching upon him. The episode opens as she confronts Carina and pleads with her to leave Larry alone. Larry’s well-being is the most important thing to her, she states, and she will do anything for him. But even though Mignon knows Carina is poison, she does not realize just how devious the younger woman is.

Mignon is seemingly a believer in vodun. She performs in a floorshow depicting some sort of vodun ritual. The doll from the show is otherwise kept in her dressing room. This becomes important later.

Mignon has the distinction of being one of a handful of oneshot friends of Hamilton’s (and the only woman among them, unless we consider the girl he danced with in The Golfer’s Gambit). By Hamilton’s own admission, he and Mignon have been good friends for a long time. They make an interesting contrast, particularly when discussing voodoo dolls and black magic, which Hamilton thinks is utterly ridiculous.

Hamilton’s genuine caring and concern for both Mignon and Larry comes through loud and clear. Worried over Larry’s involvement with Carina, he tries to talk to Larry about it. Instead, Larry snaps at him, ice in every word. Hamilton, first visibly shocked and then just as clearly hurt, lets him leave. There can’t be any reasoning with Larry in his state.

Immediately Hamilton has a reservation made for him at the nightclub where Mignon performs. After watching the dinner show, he goes with Mignon to her dressing room. His purpose is to talk with her about Larry, but he’s having trouble gathering the right words. He hates to bring up something that will hurt her, yet he knows he must. Mignon opens the door for him by deducing his reason for coming. During the conversation Hamilton expresses his regret that, while Larry has done excellent work for the D.A.’s office, Hamilton may have to fire him. Agonized, Mignon believes it’s because of Larry’s involvement with Carina. Hamilton tries to tell her that it’s because of something he isn’t doing.

The conversation is interrupted by Mignon’s fellow performer Agnes, who was apparently Larry’s close female friend before Carina entered the picture. She mistakes a bewildered Hamilton for Larry at first, but quickly realizes her error.

In addition to being friends with Hamilton, Mignon seems to have associated with Perry a good deal. After Carina’s intricate web frames Larry for soliciting a position in the law firm of the man who is defending a case Larry is handling, Hamilton has no choice but to suspend Larry until the matter can be investigated. Mignon calls Perry for help and notes that she’s aware that he’s been out of the office due to an unexplained accident. Unless the matter was publicized (which is possible), it seems the only other way Mignon would have knowledge of this would be if she had been in contact with Perry or Della—or if Hamilton recommended Perry for Larry but mentioned Perry’s accident.

For some unknown reason, Carina drops in at the nightclub that evening to see Mignon’s show. Furious, and probably desperate, by this point, Mignon takes the voodoo doll and dresses it like Carina. She then presents it to Carina and stabs it. It’s unclear whether Mignon is trying to threaten or scare her or if she genuinely believes that she can inflict harm by doing this. In any case, Carina gets up, laughing, and promptly collapses, clutching her side.

The rest of the episode follows the discovery that Carina was being poisoned, Larry’s fear that Mignon is responsible, and Carina’s eventual murder, for which Larry is accused. The solution involves unraveling the big case Larry was working on, as well as discovering the truth about what happened seven years ago in New Orleans when an explosion claimed the life of a company president.

Hamilton’s concern for the Germaines continues throughout the twisted plot. When Larry is stalling, waiving the hearing and insisting on defending himself at his trial, Hamilton scolds him for his foolishness. Later, when Larry is satisfied that Mignon did not have any involvement in Carina’s death, he wants to have a hearing after all—and for Perry to defend him. When Perry brings this news, Hamilton is excited and thrilled. Now, Hamilton hopes, Larry will have a better chance of being cleared and they can solve the mystery before the case ever has to go to trial.

Season 8 is a series of episodes that I have only seen a handful of recently. Hamilton seems quite friendly with Perry in the ones I’ve seen, particularly this one and The Ruinous Road. He acknowledges that he’s glad Perry could come when they all meet in the hospital following Carina’s mysterious collapse. He and Perry discuss the case, off-screen, and come up with a way to conduct the hearing that they hope will bring the truth to light. And at the end, Perry, Della, and Paul join Hamilton and Larry at the nightclub to watch Mignon and Agnes in their show.

Although of course Perry is vital to the episode, the spotlight really seems to be on Hamilton and the Germaines. This may have been on purpose, as I’ve heard that Raymond Burr was growing weary of the heavy workload and the writers tried to shift the focus to the other characters at times during the last seasons.

In any case, The Fatal Fetish is currently my favorite episode, tied with The Lovers’ Leap from season 6. Perhaps my next episode spotlight will be upon it. Any episode in which Hamilton and Perry team up is an instant favorite of mine, and this one has so many additional, intriguing elements. I love the glimpse into how Hamilton’s office is run and his close friendships with both Mignon and Larry.

The only real downside to the episode is the mistaken portrayal of voodoo/vodun as evil and dark. But that is not the writers’ fault, I’m sure; by then it was such a staple of Hollywood films and TV series to show it in such a way that the Perry writers likely didn’t bat an eye. As I’ve mentioned, I tried to soften the blow in my story The Macabre Mansion by having Mignon tell Hamilton a little about the true religion. When watching the episode, I cringe at the misrepresentation but love the story for all the good in it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Case of the Macabre Mansion: Final Reflections and New Story Ideas

I was debating what to write about this week. I have several topics stowed away, including the season 5 overview, the post for The Fatal Fetish, and one concerning some assorted Perry projects I’ve been tinkering with. In the end, I decided that I would instead write a bit more about my story The Case of the Macabre Mansion, as I am bringing it to a close this weekend. I have only to finish and post the epilogue now, which I will likely do tomorrow or Tuesday.

This has been a very interesting project. It has been, so far, the longest Perry mystery I’ve written. Each one is longer than the previous one. This one stands at 16 installments, including the epilogue. I’m not sure whether it’s because the plot took up this many chapters or because I’m growing more comfortable writing for the characters and want to tell more about them.

Andy did indeed become very important to the plot, as those who have been following the story can attest. And he has been a joy to write for. The Hateful Hero in particular brought his character to life in a glorious way. I have tried to capture that three-dimensional portrayal in The Macabre Mansion.

The solution to the mystery is, perhaps, the most twisted mess of my Perry stories so far. I have honestly confused myself with each one and have to write out multiple notes to keep everything straight and make sure I don’t contradict myself. For the explanation in the prior story, The Memento Mori Murderer, I actually had to draw myself a family tree to remember all the characters’ relationships with each other.

For this mystery, Hamilton took center stage. Mignon went to him for help and the investigation was originally his alone before everyone else became involved too. Though Perry of course is a prominent character as always, he is undeniably not the main lawyer here. He is absent from two or three chapters. And just as the story opens with Hamilton and Mignon, it will close with them in the epilogue.

This mystery has a bigger cast than the other two, which is another reason why some characters did not always appear in certain chapters. I had to do some serious juggling and rotating to keep the focus on everyone. Not only is Andy very important, so is Mignon Germaine. Both are likely to be part of the main cast in future mysteries.

The supporting cast also needed to have room. Andy’s cousin Jimmy, their surrogate mother Mrs. Norden, her son Otto, and even Lieutenant Drumm have all played their parts in the tale. They, especially the first three, became critical to the last few chapters.

One thing I find very fun while writing stories is to have cameo appearances by characters from other shows. Officers Reed and Malloy from Adam-12 appear briefly in several chapters throughout the middle portions. Since they’re in Los Angeles too, it worked perfectly.

I also threw in Officer Johnson from Highway Patrol. Those familiar with this fifties classic know that they were always very careful to never say what state they were in. And there were a couple of throwaway comments in episodes that indicated they were not in California. But in spite of those remarks, I feel that the show most likely does take place in California. The beautiful and unique palm trees visible in many episodes narrow the location to California, Nevada, and perhaps Arizona. And it can’t really be ignored that the uniforms were based on the real uniforms of the California Highway Patrol at the time, and that the California HP operates as a full-scale police force, unlike most Highway Patrols in other states.

Officer Johnson’s presence means that three characters are present in the story who were played by William Boyett—Pete Kelton and Otto Norden being the other two. Although Pete’s and Otto’s resemblance to each other is a semi-important plot point, I decided it was better to not bring up that Officer Johnson resembles both of them!

I ended up breaking two of my rules for writing Perry stories while working on this one. I ended up revealing that Tragg’s wife is dead, as it turned out that I needed to mention what had become of her (if she existed at all). And the supernatural has been introduced. To me it doesn’t feel the same as outright fantasy elements; it’s more along the lines of my short story The Case of the Captain’s Ghost. But regardless, the supernatural parts in The Macabre Mansion are quite vital to the plot.

I also have more ideas for the future. I have just finished an exhilarating and intense role-play story with my good friend Crystal Rose of Pollux. It is part of a series of role-play stories we have been writing out involving characters from several sources, including Perry Mason. The plot involves a supernatural being wanting to stop some of his followers from going to trial. He enacts a spell across Los Angeles County that causes everyone involved with the trial to lose their memories. Many end up in different occupations in the pseudo-world he creates for them. Others retain their jobs but still have no memory of their ties with certain people.

But a monkey-wrench has been thrown into his plans. Hamilton Burger did not forget. I’m tentatively assuming that is because he so staunchly disbelieves in such things that the spell could have no hold on him. But that’s mostly a tongue-in-cheek explanation.

Anyway, Hamilton finds one other person who also remembers. In this person’s case, he remembers because it was thought that he would not be a danger to the plan. The two of them team up, try to find the other people, and tell them of the way things are really supposed to be. Though of course they’re initially met with resistance, the others gradually come around to a recognition of the truth as faint memories begin to resurface.

I enjoyed the role-play story so much I decided I would like to adapt it as a plot for a fanfiction story. It would not be a crossover, however, but instead be done solely with the Perry characters. I was unsure how the fanbase would react to something with such overtly supernatural elements, but I have received an interested response to my pitching of the concept. I’m planning to try working on it once the epilogue of The Macabre Mansion is fully finished and posted.

Hamilton would still be one of the two who remembers, of course. I’m considering that Paul Drake will be the other one. That would open the door for more intriguing interaction between them and force them to work together. Perhaps they both still remember because they’re so disbelieving of the supernatural, instead of it just being Hamilton who might remember for that reason. Paul would definitely be considered a liability, so the one responsible would never deliberately let him keep his memories. He is quite furious that Paul and Hamilton remember.

Perry would still be a lawyer, but he would not remember that he and Hamilton are friends. I’m thinking that Della isn’t working for him, and that a very important plot point is that Hamilton and Paul have to find her and convince her that she belongs as Perry’s secretary.

I’m seriously considering that The Macabre Mansion may end up tying in with this story. The reason as to why and how this might happen is hinted in the epilogue.

Meanwhile, I am very proud of how The Macabre Mansion has turned out. It has been delightful to share it with fellow fans.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Case of Constant Doyle: The first of the fill-in guest-stars

One of the strangest things about television series is when the main star has to bow out, for whatever reason, for a few episodes. A temporary replacement is needed, but whom? How? Why when and where?

I am generally not fond of such episodes. It feels too different without the main character. And their absence can cause other characters to have reduced screentime as well.

Season 6, of course, is the season where they needed four such episodes when Raymond Burr discovered he would need an operation. Interestingly, they decided to have the characters’ lives parallel real-life. Perry was hospitalized for an operation. They filmed a few scenes for the episodes where Perry called characters from his hospital room. That rare move kept the four episodes from being completely devoid of Perry.

They also decided to have a different guest-star in every one of the episodes. The most impressive to me is Bette Davis. To me she’s the absolute big-time. Her episode is the only one of the four I know I’ve seen. My local station skipped those four episodes when it was running season 6 on Saturdays. I believe they used to show at least that one, as the second courtroom scene seemed very familiar to me. What makes the entire episode familiar to me now is that I saw it a few weeks ago when I purchased the 50th Anniversary DVD set from Buy.com.

My feelings on the episode are mixed. Most opinions I see of it are downright negative, but I don’t feel that hostile, nor do I have many complaints. I will readily admit that the plight of the guest-stars did not always interest me; I was restless and wanted to fast-forward some parts. The kid whom Bette’s character decides to help particularly irritated me. He’s a real punk, always seeming to be blowing his stack for one reason or another and often acting ungrateful. That character type is not one that generally appeals to me.

Bette’s character, Constant Doyle (and that really is Constant—not Constance, as I’ve seen some fans report), also receives a great many of the fans’ complaints. She’s too distant, too far removed. We don’t get to know her enough to know why we should care about her.

She’s aloof, I’ll certainly give you that. But I had no problem with her character at all. I love aloof characters. Perry himself is often quite aloof, really. Not as much so as Constant, but still.

Also like Perry, Constant is very headstrong and determined. When she sets her mind to something, she does it. She becomes determined to help this punk kid, even moreso after he becomes entangled in a murder case. He doesn’t often seem that grateful for her efforts and is often instead exploding at being asked questions. But she is insistent.

She also wants to know the truth about her deceased husband. They ran a law firm together, and now after his death, skeletons are starting to fall out of his closet. It’s starting to look like he was involved in something crooked. Constant can’t believe it’s true, but she has to know for certain.

Della and Paul appear in reduced roles. Constant is a friend of Perry’s, and when she finds him hospitalized and unable to assist much with the case other than a phone call or two, she recruits Paul to help her.

The episode has a bit of an unusual feel until these characters come into it. Once they are present, and especially when Paul starts investigating, it feels more like a regular Perry episode.

The main character who appears the most is, interestingly enough, Hamilton Burger. He is going to be prosecuting the case himself, which Paul finds odd for some reason.

I wondered exactly how they would be depicting Hamilton in this episode. How would he interact with a female attorney? It is, I believe, the only time a female attorney ever appeared on the show. Would he be as antagonistic as he can sometimes be with Perry? Would he be more reserved but still argumentative? Of course, as the prosecutor, he would have to oppose Constant’s case. That goes without saying. But his mood can vary depending on the case, or sometimes the season.

In season 5, I’ve noticed, he is usually quite unfriendly. I only counted a handful of times when he showed a bit of congeniality. Della even takes issue with one admittedly cringe-worthy remark he makes in the final episode of the season, The Lonely Eloper. Since she rarely comments on what he says, it seems significant. All in all, this element of season 5 was a surprise to me, after Hamilton was very often friendly in seasons 2, 3, and 4. I’m planning an overview of season 5 to explore this in more detail, but for now I’ll tentatively say that perhaps the writers were worried that he was too friendly and decided to cut back on such scenes. I also think that, in the latter half of season 5, he was probably smarting from his defeat in The Shapely Shadow. That was without a doubt one of his worst days in court ever.

Season 6, however, as I’ve said many a time, shows a very friendly Hamilton again. Maybe the writers realized that the viewers liked it better that way? Season 6 is a treasure-trove of moments showing Hamilton’s softer side and his friendship with Perry. And just because they’re friendlier doesn’t mean they don’t clash in court. One of my favorite clashes ever, The Elusive Element, is from season 6.

The Case of Constant Doyle is not an exception to this. If I had any concerns or curious doubts about how Hamilton would be portrayed, they were immediately refuted. Hamilton is wonderful here. He is very thoughtful and kind (dare I say even sweet?), always respectful of Constant, and eventually says that the reason he is handling this case himself is because he wants to get to the bottom of the mystery concerning her husband and be able to put her fears at rest. (They eventually prove him innocent of any wrongdoing.) If there’s one element of this episode I would like to watch repeatedly, it would be the courtroom scenes.

Constant also puts on a bit of a courtroom show, as Perry is famous for doing. She dons a trenchcoat, as the victim wore, and wants Hamilton to button it and tie the belt. In confused disbelief Hamilton exclaims, “I most certainly object to this!” But he sounds more puzzled than anything else. He doesn’t seem to consider Constant a sparring partner, as he does Perry, and doesn’t sound antagonistic or challenging in the least. The judge thinks he should go along with the demonstration, so, bewildered, he does. Her purpose, if I remember correctly, was to show how a man would button the coat as opposed to a woman.

The epilogue is nice. Her client is grateful to her and ends up inviting her to dinner. I’m still trying to figure out if he has some sort of romantic interest in her despite their rather large age gap. I think he probably has a little crush on her, at least. As she gets up to turn off the lights and leave her office, she bids her departed husband goodnight.

The epilogue also includes another phone call from Perry. And within that call is the one thing I object to in the episode. Perry tells her that Hamilton has called him ten times, telling him to get better and get back in court so he’ll have someone easier to go up against.

I honestly can’t imagine Hamilton ever saying that. At least, certainly not ten times! He has too much pride. I could imagine him maybe saying it once, jokingly, but no more. Furthermore, I didn’t think Constant was harder to beat than Perry. It seemed that the writers might have just thrown that in because they wanted her to seem so absolutely amazing. I believe fans in some of my recent fandoms would call that trying to make a “Mary Sue” out of the character. A “Mary Sue” is generally defined as a supposedly flawless character written by a fan who shows up in fanfiction stories and outshines all of the characters in her level of awesomeness, even the main character. Of course, I could be wrong on the writers' intentions. But coming at it from my perspective, that is the impression I received.

My conclusion was that it was a good episode overall. Not necessarily a great episode, but one that’s satisfying, particularly for Bette Davis fans. My mom certainly enjoyed it. And as for me, well, those courtroom scenes are a paradise for an admitted Hamilton Burger fangirl. They give me even more reason to love him and praise his three-dimensional characterization on the series. And any episode that can do that is one I'll always have a soft spot for.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Case of the Hateful Hero: Andy's Finest Moments

As previously noted, Wesley Lau, being brought in to ease Ray Collins’ work load when his health started to decline, originally was given dialogue meant for Tragg. It sounded very strange and wrong to hear another character say the same things that Tragg had said in the past. I wonder if viewers during the show’s original run really noticed.

It was in the sixth season when they decided to really allow the character of Lieutenant Anderson to grow. Perhaps by then they knew that it would be impossible for Ray Collins to ever be able to work as much as he had before and that it would be ridiculous to keep giving Wesley Lau dialogue meant for him.

As early as the first aired episode in season 6, The Bogus Books, Andy seems more like his own person and less like Tragg’s shadow. We find out a bit about him: he lives in a house (as opposed to an apartment), he has to relight his heater’s pilot light once a month, and he falls asleep very quickly. But it’s The Hateful Hero, several episodes later, that is generally hailed as Andy’s breakthrough episode.

As with many Perry episodes, I saw it years ago. I remembered parts of it very well when I finally saw it again last week on my local station. I loved it back then and I love it now. It is truly a unique and amazing venture.

And it is Andy’s moment to shine. There is no question of that. It opens showing him visiting a police precinct to talk with his close friend Otto Norden. Andy’s cousin Jimmy is being promoted from a beat to a patrol car. Otto will be his partner. All looks well.

But everything swiftly goes downhill when there is an apparent robbery at the Wilson Plastics building. Tragg comes to Andy, somber, and tells him Otto has been killed. Worse, it looks bad for Jimmy, who seems to have run away. Later, the security guard at the building is also killed, and Jimmy is arrested for the murder. Andy goes to Perry for help.

Things are complicated by a growing suspicion that Otto may have been a dirty cop. Andy can’t bear to even suggest such a thing to Otto’s mother, who has become a surrogate mother to Andy. He also can’t believe Jimmy is guilty of murder. But, he tells Perry, both agonized and determined, if he finds sufficient evidence pointing in that direction, he will put Jimmy in the gas chamber himself.

The episode shows so many facets to Andy’s character. Previously he had been mostly a dogged “just the facts” cop. Occasional moments of playfulness were written with Tragg’s words. Here he shows a wide range of emotions. We see his loyalty and love for Jimmy and the Nordens, as well as his determination for justice to be done, even if that means his cousin will be executed. He does all he can to uncover the truth, longing to believe that both Jimmy and Otto are innocent. Eventually they are indeed both vindicated.

The scene where Tragg comes to tell him about Otto’s death is so heartbreaking. And, though short, it depicts their close friendship in a most poignant and revealing way.

The amazing character actress Jeanette Nolan portrays Mrs., or Mama, Norden. She is noted for her ability to perform with different accents. Here, she is a little Germanic woman, devoted to her son Otto and refusing to believe that he could be a dirty cop. She is bitter against Jimmy, believing him responsible for both murders. But when Jimmy’s name is cleared and the mystery solved, she is able to begin moving past her grief. She welcomes Jimmy then, as another surrogate family member.

Otto himself appears only briefly, despite being so important to the overall plot. He is played by the wonderful William Boyett, who is most well-known for his assortment of upright policemen characters.

There is only one area where this episode falls a bit short, and that is where Mr. Burger is concerned. Unless something else involving him was cut, he appears only in the one courtroom scene, for a short period of time. Considering that Andy is his friend, as Tragg also is, I would have thought he might be seen a bit more. I would have loved a behind-the-scenes scene depicting him talking with Andy, perhaps concerning how the hearing would be handled. Or he could have been in the climax, when they caught the real crook. The writers were so busy showing how awesome Andy is that they ended up skimping on Hamilton’s screentime.

It’s no secret that Hamilton is my favorite character. I’ll freely admit that I even have a little crush on him. Ordinarily I would complain much more about his lack of screentime. But this episode is just so amazing that I’ll let it slide this time. I know it’s difficult to spotlight every character in a story, especially if one particular one is supposed to be the star. Someone will end up not having as much screentime in favor of fitting in everything that really needs to be shown.

I wish Jimmy and Mama Norden would have turned up in other episodes, or had at least been mentioned again. I have a great love for oneshot characters, particularly ones who are very close to characters in the main cast. The reason is likely because they help to further develop the main characters and round out their personalities and who they are. I’m planning a post devoted to The Fatal Fetish and the Germaines in the future.

Otto’s friendship with Andy is going to come into play in my current Perry mystery, The Case of the Macabre Mansion. Andy is a bit haunted by the resemblance Paul’s operative Pete Kelton bears to Otto. Later on, Otto himself will play a critical role in a scene towards the end. But I won’t say more on that subject.

Overall, Andy had already moved up on my list of favorite characters. The Hateful Hero pushed him all the way to the top, so much so that I believe he may be in my top three tier, along with Hamilton and Perry. And as I write for Andy in The Macabre Mansion, The Hateful Hero has helped me with his characterization more than any other episode. He has a close friendship with Tragg. His usual seriousness can be broken by moments of mischievous levity. And he is devoted to justice and doing what he must to uncover the truth, even if it is something he does not personally want to do.

I always find it interesting how I usually am very lukewarm towards any replacement characters, but then eventually they work their way deeply into my heart. Andy is certainly not an exception. And the episode they wrote to spotlight him is nearly perfect.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Case of the Macabre Mansion



This has been a little project of mine the last couple of days: a trailer for my story The Macabre Mansion. Several fanfiction authors have made trailers for various series they write for, and I decided maybe it would be a good way to get news of my works out there more.

These days, it seems the norm is to begin Christmasing as soon as Halloween is over. Feelings on this are mixed, but personally, I love it. That gives me nearly two months to enjoy Christmas music, instead of the one month I’d have if I started at Thanksgiving time. I’m writing this post to the background music of my local station, which typically switches to its Christmas format the first weekend in November.

The one thing that makes it somewhat confusing and awkward is attempting to write a creepy story with happy, magical, and spiritual songs playing. The process becomes an odd celebration of Halloween and Christmas at the same time.

Such is the case with my third Perry mystery, The Case of the Macabre Mansion. I had wanted to write a Halloween-themed story for a while, but this one was not what I originally had in mind. I had intended to write something involving a fake psychic, but somehow I don’t think that will come into play here, unless it’s as a small element and not important overall. Instead it involves Mignon Germaine, from season 8’s The Fatal Fetish, and the strange goings-on in her godson’s family’s house. Mignon comes to Hamilton asking for his help in discovering whether someone is trying to rout them out, and if so, who and why. Hamilton agrees, and before long everyone else is involved as well. It doesn’t help that an old enemy is back and is preying on them again, alternately flirting and trying to turn them against each other.

The old enemy is Vivalene, a character I created many years ago for stories I acted out with my mom. In those escapades she was an anthropomorphic skunk, but in all the stories I’ve written online for different fandoms she’s a human. Originally I created her to be a sweet girl, but somehow that changed to a flirt and then a deadly femme fatale.

It’s the latter template that I’ve used in my stories. Her only true loves are precious gems and money, and to get both she uses people in the most devious, distasteful ways possible, then discards them when they’re of no further use. When she met the Perry Mason characters three years ago she tried to make allies of them. Failing in that, she made up lies and tried to make the men suspicious of each other. She failed there too, and is failing again upon meeting them during the current events of The Macabre Mansion and utilizing her same tricks. But her plans don’t stop there. She will play a large part in the story, particularly as the climax draws near.

Part of the story idea was inspired by season 7’s The Shifty Shoebox, another of my favorite episodes. The central focus concerns a young boy, and Perry’s interaction with him. For my mystery story, I decided I wanted to see how Hamilton would interact with a kid around that age or a bit younger. I like writing for young kid characters, especially after I had close association with kids for a couple of years teaching them music. In the past I did rather poorly writing for kids, giving them dialogue far beyond their years. I hope I’ve greatly improved on that by now, as I’ve made a conscious effort to do so.

I also realized that so far, although my mysteries try to rotate the spotlight on all of the main cast, I have been attempting to explore different character relations with Hamilton in each one. There was an emphasis on Perry’s and Tragg’s interaction with Hamilton in The Persecuted Prosecutor. Della and Hamilton were heavily explored in The Memento Mori Murderer. And Paul’s and Mignon’s relations with Hamilton are being investigated in The Macabre Mansion. It was not a conscious effort to handle things in this way, although it was very conscious to have Hamilton be highly important to the plot of every story. There should be more fanfictions featuring him!

As I grow more comfortable writing for the characters, I notice I’m far more likely to refer to Mr. Burger by his first name. I scarcely did so in The Persecuted Prosecutor and semi-frequently did so in The Memento Mori Murderer. With The Macabre Mansion I almost exclusively call him Hamilton, unless I’m writing from the point-of-view of a character who likely would not do so.

This story marks the first time I’ve written for Mignon Germaine. I love her aloof, serious behavior; she’s a type of character I feel very much at home writing for. In chapter 1 she goes to Hamilton for help, and mentions that she is certain it’s a human disrupting the Peterson family’s lives; she doesn’t sense any ghosts in the house. I debated for a while on whether or not she should be able to sense such a thing; while I believe in ghosts, I don’t want to give anyone unusual powers in a Perry Mason story. I determined at last that in this case it’s more of a heightened sense than a sort of power, and that considering Mignon’s interests and personality, maybe it would not be too off-kilter to think that she would have perhaps decided to learn how to sense the presence of spirits.

There were at least two times on the series when supernatural concepts were explored (in The Meddling Medium and The Fatal Fetish), but both times logical explanations were then presented. I don’t intend to deviate from logic and actually display the supernatural. Of course, who knows; I might decide to have something unexplained and benign happen at the end and leave the possibility open that that time it was a ghost. I doubt I would take it further than that, however. Aside from my little oneshot piece The Case of the Captain’s Ghost, which I wrote to help cope with Captain Caldwell’s death in The Misguided Missile, at this time I would prefer not to introduce anything genuinely supernatural into these stories.

As much as I love The Fatal Fetish, it seems to have given some misinformation about vodun—the religion commonly warped into voodoo—and the usage of the infamous dolls. That is not surprising, considering how Hollywood has more often than not painted everything connected with vodun to be evil and dark. After doing a bit of research, I cringed at the misrepresentation and knew that I did not want to perpetuate that if I could help it. In chapter 4 of The Macabre Mansion, Mignon explains a bit about the religion to Hamilton. The dolls do play a part in the story, serving their common creepy goals, but using them for ill purposes will not be connected with mainstream vodun.

I had a bit of a problem determining what to do with the unseen Leon, whom I had decided should be around. I had already listed Miss Miller as Mr. Burger’s secretary in The Persecuted Prosecutor, but I’m still not sure if she might just be a stenographer instead. Leon certainly seems to serve in the capacity of secretary. In The Macabre Mansion, both he and Miss Miller are mentioned, but neither is expressly said to be Mr. Burger’s secretary. They both handle answering the telephone, however.

I am tentatively planning that Andy will play a larger role in this story than he did in The Memento Mori Murderer; hence his presence (albeit brief) in the trailer I made. I don’t want to reveal future spoilers, but if all goes as I am planning, his inclusion will make things very intense.

With five chapters done so far, I’m a lot further from the climax while writing this than I was when I wrote the entries concerning the other two mysteries. I have a vague outline for how the rest of the story may play out, and I’m hoping it will come together the way I’m imagining (or even better).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Case of the Dead Ringer: Shameless, In-Character Fun

With my growing unhappiness concerning season 9, I have been increasingly wary of its offerings. One unique episode, The Dead Ringer, I have also been uncertain of due to something I was told that sounded highly out-of-character to me. I could believe it might be true that it was intended that way, considering the odd way some season 9 episodes decide to handle characterization. Nevertheless, I still wanted to see it.

The Dead Ringer is sometimes put down by fans, who cite it as one of the strangest things the show ever did. Perhaps it is, but I do not share their displeasure. On the contrary, after having been given the chance to view this late venture (indeed, it was one of the final episodes), I am enthusiastic and thrilled and find it without blemish. And the part that I was lukewarm about I actually loved and found in-character. The intent behind it seems to be at least partially a matter of personal interpretation, depending, I suppose, on how one perceives the characters involved. More on that later.

The Dead Ringer is the episode where Raymond Burr pulls double-duty as both Perry Mason and his “dead ringer” from England, Mr. Grimes. Raymond’s voice talent is just amazing. His Cockney accent for Grimes is, as far as I can tell, flawless. And of course, Grimes is about as different from Perry as he could possibly be. He’s brash, loud, and uncouth. Just a poor sailor without much money to his name, he jumps at the chance to come into some green by helping the villains set up Perry and try to make it look like he was soliciting a bribe in a big case.

Both Della and Paul are furious, even moreso when they argue with Perry’s client over Perry’s suspected illegal activities. For one of the only times in the series, we see a very angry Della. It’s exciting and exhilarating to see her and Paul chew out the client, who is insistent on feeling Perry must be guilty.

Especially since it’s a season 9 episode, and they’re so unpredictable, I wondered what Mr. Burger’s reaction was to all this. In the first season, I could imagine that things might play out similar to The Sun-Bather’s Diary and he would be furiously trying to get to the bottom of things while not wanting to believe that Perry would be guilty of so terrible a crime. Or, in a worst-case scenario, he would wonder if Perry actually was guilty (either because of bad writing or because of Perry’s past track record of bending the law).

We don’t see a scene of him reacting to the scandal at the time. But there are things in the episode that indicate his feelings. A month goes by without the D.A.’s office making any move to prosecute Perry. And during the later hearing for the episode’s murder, Perry attempts to question Mr. Grimes about the impersonation. When asked by the judge why he isn’t objecting to the line of questioning, Mr. Burger says that everyone should have a chance to clear himself. It seems that Mr. Burger must have believed Perry’s innocence in the matter, or at least felt that there was not enough evidence to warrant a prosecution. With enough evidence against Perry, of course Mr. Burger would not have had a choice about prosecuting. If he had, I feel it would have been with as much reluctance as he prosecuted Paul in Paul Drake’s Dilemma. Despite the times when Mr. Burger has accused Perry, both with and without good reasons, I don’t recall him ever coming up with anything about bribes. (And then of course in The Sun-Bather’s Diary he outright says he doesn’t want to think Perry could be guilty of being an accessory to murder. I believe that's the time when he comes closest to getting Perry in serious trouble, and he is not savoring it at all. He just wants the truth.)

For me, the episode had gained a high point and I would have been perfectly happy if it had been left at that. But it only got better.

Mr. Grimes ended up being quite a philosophical fellow, as Perry even noted in the epilogue. He accused everyone involved in the case of being just as bad as him with their facades and their criminal acts. He also seemed to hold a great deal of respect for Perry and felt betrayed when Perry exposed him as the murderer. He is quite an engaging oneshot character. It would be fun to bring him back in a fanfiction story sometime, capturing both his unique speech pattern and his complex personality.

The epilogue concerns the bit that I was unsure what to make of before seeing it. It features Perry and Hamilton sharing a table at Clay’s restaurant. Hamilton tells Perry that Mr. Grimes has been sent on his way to San Quentin earlier that day. He then jokes that he supposes it was Grimes, and wouldn’t it be funny if there had been a mix-up and Perry had been sent up while Hamilton was dining with Grimes.

I saw no indication that Hamilton relished that thought, as I was told he seemed to, and indeed, if he had it would have been drastically out-of-character. He would like to catch Perry on his legal tricks, it’s true, but he would never want anyone convicted for crimes they had not committed. He made that plain once again right in this very episode. In the epilogue he just seems to be making a joke concerning the whole ridiculousness of the situation of Perry having a double. I could not see any malicious feeling in it at all, and Perry even smiles in amusement in response. I don’t see it as being any different than Perry joking in The Prudent Prosecutor that he would help Hamilton’s friend “even if he did save your life.” Perry didn’t mean that; he would not have wanted any harm to come to Mr. Burger. They just have a tendency to tease each other now and then.

After they and Lieutenant Drumm and Clay converse a bit, they suddenly hear a voice that sounds like Grimes, singing a song that he sang several times throughout the episode. They, especially Hamilton, turn to look in shock. And Paul descends the stairs, grinning in mischief as he continues his (impressive) imitation of Grimes. Hamilton is extremely relieved and amused and laughs. Perry appears more deadpan.

My conclusion is that the epilogue is one of those fascinating scenes I was intrigued by years ago and really depicts them as good friends out of court, moreso than even some other scenes do. The sheer relaxed nature of their in-character gathering is a joy to behold.

Overall, between Raymond Burr playing two characters and Della and Paul putting Perry’s client in his place and Hamilton being awesome and he and Perry dining together, this episode takes its place as one of my favorites of season 9 and is also quite high on the list of my favorites throughout the run of the series. I remember watching it years ago, as the confrontation between Perry and Grimes stood out to me when viewing it recently, and I’m very sure I was intrigued by it then as well as now.

This episode’s existence does rather knock out a possible story idea I had a few weeks ago after re-watching William Talman’s film The Hitchhiker, in which a double of Mr. Burger’s is wandering around causing trouble and confusion. I don’t think I’d want to write it with there having been a canonical instance of a double. But I’m just fine with that; The Dead Ringer is wonderful and fun and should be a treat for Perry fans. For me it was a breath of fresh air in the sometimes bewildering and contradictory season 9.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Very Belated In Memorium: Wesley Lau

This is two months overdue. I felt very bad when I realized that I had completely, inadvertently missed the date of Wesley’s death. I decided to post it now both because it is the 30th (Wesley passed away on August 30th, 1984) and because this coming week is when we think a great deal about the dead. It seems an appropriate time to remember another dear friend long gone.

Quite a few of the cast members died far younger than they should have—both Williams were also cut down in their prime. More information is available on them; by contrast, it is almost impossible to discover anything about Wesley Lau’s death—and his life, for that matter.

I am not happy with changes, particularly changes in the cast of a beloved show. I had long been leery of these other detectives who came in when Ray Collins’ decreasing health forced him to slowly begin to back out. But at the same time I was curious, especially since I knew that at least one of them, Andy, was supposed to be more permissive and genuinely friendly. (I love Tragg so very dearly, but sometimes it’s hard to know when he’s being friendly for real and when it’s just a fa├žade.)

I believe I saw both Andy and Drumm years ago, but the memories had not stayed with me. Recently I “re-met” Andy in, I believe, The Golden Oranges. Aside from being quite an awesome episode in and of itself, I found I liked Andy. It was interesting to see a younger detective, more contemporary with Perry and company. And I was surprised and amused to see him admire a pretty girl with Paul.

While I liked Andy, however, and continued to do so, I had not fully accepted him as one of the regulars. Strangely enough, it was when I saw Wesley Lau portray the troubled Amory Fallon in The Impatient Partner that I realized I liked him and Andy very much, more than I had previously thought. I welcomed Andy with open arms at last and began looking up some of Wesley’s other roles.

It seems that, aside from Perry, he often played villains. I watched an episode of Bonanza entitled Desert Justice, in which he fools the Cartwrights into thinking he is a good person when in actuality he deliberately caused the death of a federal marshal’s wife and quietly taunts him about it when they are alone. It was a very different performance, but very chilling and very effective.

Wesley played other good guys too, however. Twice he played law enforcement officers on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. And he starred as a World War II pilot possessed by an Egyptian pharaoh in an episode of One Step Beyond. There are others as well. From all that I’ve seen, he played both good and bad guys marvelously.

Wesley’s Perry character was originally not conceived as being his own person so much as he was a replacement for, or at least assistant to, Lieutenant Tragg. By Wesley’s own admission, many of his early episodes had him speaking dialogue that was written for Tragg. It definitely shows. In The Left-Handed Liar, he has an extended conversation with David in which he parrots Tragg’s speech pattern and words. And at the end of The Melancholy Marksman, when he walks in on Della and Paul role-playing what happened during the murder and Paul says that now Della’s dead, Andy comments, “Aww, what a pity.” I can just hear Tragg saying that. It is not a Lieutenant Anderson statement. Nevertheless, Wesley handled these early episodes well, delivering the material he was given in a professional and realistic way.

By season 6, commonly pinpointed as beginning in The Hateful Hero, Andy is finally being written as his own person, not as Tragg’s surrogate mouthpiece. Though hints of his unique personality came through before, now he is truly allowed to shine. But while perhaps more permissive in some ways, he is still not going to tolerate any bending or breaking of the law. And though the writers were eventually worried that he was too friendly and they needed someone more by-the-book, Lieutenant Drumm in season 9 is honestly just as friendly (even though yes, he’s by-the-book). So with that in mind, I can’t understand why they kicked Wesley Lau off the show. I miss him in season 9, although I’m fond of Drumm too.

According to one article I read, Wesley was married with a small child when he first began playing Andy. He was grateful for the steady work, as the money was certainly needed. He and his wife felt he looked terrible in hats, and he tried to wear one as little as possible. I disagree with them; I think he looked awesome and dashing in that fedora. But then, I'm probably biased. I think everyone looks good in them!

I don’t even know how or why Wesley Lau passed on so young, in his early sixties, in 1984. His gravestone has a beautiful epitaph that reads “Beloved husband, father, actor, writer, friend, soldier, reader of books, and believer in the human race.” And to that, all I can really add is that he is loved and missed by many, including fans old and young.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Case of the Blissful Bachelors: Romance in the Series

She turned back, lightly tapping the brim of his white fedora with the edges of the envelopes. “I can’t see your eyes with that hat’s shadow falling over them,” she complained. “You always did have very nice eyes.” With that and a last smile she turned away, sashaying very deliberately up the hill.
---from The Macabre Mansion, chapter one

One of the most surprising, and dare I say amusing, factors of the series is that none of the main characters appear to be in a romantic relationship with anyone. In a world so seemingly obsessed with romance, this seems quite a unique thing. Of course, Perry and Della have their lovely scenes together, and it’s clear that they care about each other deeply, but even for them it’s never canonically established that they’re in a relationship.

Personally, I feel it’s better that way. It changes shows so much whenever long-time characters pair off, and usually for the worse. Perry and Della’s interaction is quite perfect as it is. Let the shipper fans imagine things going further if they wish, but don’t inflict it on everyone by making it canon.

Hamilton Burger and Lieutenant Tragg only rarely appear to have any inclination towards romance. In season 1’s The Baited Hook, Tragg shows interest in asking a woman on a date. This is a bit of a surprise. If any of the main cast were to be already married, I would most suspect him. But the scene in The Baited Hook convinces me that he is single, at least by the time of the series. It is of course possible that Tragg was married prior to the series and his wife either died or they were divorced.

To my knowledge, the only time Hamilton is ever seen on any semblance of a date is in season 9’s The Golfer’s Gambit. At the country club, he is shown dancing with a woman. They later observe part of the fight between Hamilton’s acquaintance Chick and another man. But it is most unclear whether Hamilton actually brought the woman to the club for a date or if they just met there by accident and did not know each other. I kind of think they were on a real date, however. This entire scene is silent on their parts; we don’t even know what the woman sounds like. And Hamilton never speaks of romance throughout the series, that I’m aware of.

There is at least one woman who is regularly in Hamilton’s life. But Mignon Germaine, from my favorite episode The Fatal Fetish, appears to be a close friend and nothing else. In Hamilton's words, they “have been good friends for a long time.” I never picked up on any hint that there was or had been a romance between them; neither seemed interested in such a thing.

We don’t even really know who Hamilton’s secretary is, to determine what his relationship might be with that person. There is an older Miss Miller in an early episode, but she might be a stenographer. In The Fatal Fetish there is an unseen girl whom Hamilton speaks with over his intercom, but she might be a receptionist. In many episodes Hamilton speaks with someone named Leon. This person seems the most likely candidate to be his secretary. He could be an assistant, but whenever Hamilton is in court a different person is with him. Hence, I don’t think he relies on any one assistant more than another. It’s more likely that Leon is a secretary.

In any case, I would really prefer that Hamilton not have any romantic relations with anyone who works for him. That would just be paralleling Perry and Della too much. One suspected office romance is enough for the series.

Paul is the ladies’ man. Even a show like Perry Mason felt it needed one, and it does add spice and amusing comments to many episodes. Paul often shows interest in various women passing through the cases. Occasionally he is depicted on dates, which usually seem to get interrupted by assignments from Perry. He certainly doesn’t have a steady girl, but I wouldn’t think it of him. He doesn’t seem ready to settle down, although when Perry described a girl he was looking for Paul quipped, “I’ve been looking for one like that for years.” Perhaps, if Paul found that right one, he would indeed settle down.

(I will refrain from even venturing into the territory of the television movies, where it not only is obvious that Paul settled down, but that he died. Too, too depressing. Those movies are not out-and-out canon as far as I’m concerned, but instead just one possibility of the future. I prefer to picture the characters on the original television series, largely unchanged, still having their adventures now as they had then.)

While Paul appears to actively be looking, the other main men seem to be quite content to stay bachelors. When Della makes remarks that sound as though she may want things to get more serious between herself and Perry, Perry worms his way out of it. Once he comments that Della is asking a leading question!

Andy’s feelings on staying single versus getting married are uncertain, although he oogles a pretty girl along with Paul in The Golden Oranges. And for Lieutenant Drumm, I doubt the subject was ever broached.

Of course, it was common for the characters in early crime shows to be devoted to their work and for that to be their life. However, even shows such as Dragnet had characters who were married, and they would sometimes talk about it even if the wives were never seen. Perry doesn’t even feature that. And that says to me that either these guys really like the single life . . . or Erle Stanley Gardner just didn’t want them bogged down with anything else. And either or both could very well be true.

I myself have no intention of straying from the show’s formula on that point. Perry and Della will continue their very close and deep friendship in my stories, and the readers are free to imagine that they’re romantically involved if they wish. Paul will continue to be a ladies’ man and will probably occasionally crush on various girls. Tragg is unmarried, but while I kind of think he probably was married at one time I don’t believe I’ll venture into an explanation of what happened. (Of course, that could change as time goes on. I do have a vague idea that I might expound on if I write a Christmas story.) And Hamilton will not be romantically attached to anyone. He may occasionally take a girl out, as he likely did in The Golfer’s Gambit, but I will likely not depict it, as I prefer to keep the focus on the mystery and the friendships.

The quote I chose to place at the beginning of this entry is in reference to my own character Vivalene, who appears at some point in stories for every one of my major fandoms. Here she is making her Perry Mason debut. As always, she is a criminal. In the story, Hamilton hopes to get her arrested and convicted. She flirts with him, despite the fact that he prosecuted her three years before. He means nothing to her, and since he knows that as well as what she is, he is unmoved by her attempt to soften him.