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 that was specifically created for characters who are often misunderstood or outright detested:

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: 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 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

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.