Monday, December 31, 2012

Hamilton bit on NPR!

Second post for today, but this is too exciting to wait for the later post! There will be a short, positive piece involving Hamilton on NPR's Morning Edition the day of January 15th! Use the below link and find your local affiliate, if you don't already know it, or listen online! I'll post more reminders as we get closer to the day.

Most stations repeat the two hours of the show, so I'm hoping to find where the bit is on the first round and then record it on the second round.

Let everyone know! Any Perry exposure on the news is an awesome thing, and anything that shows Hamilton in a positive light is absolutely thrilling. Heaven knows the poor man needs it.

Last post of the year

Well, that was an epic fail. I didn’t even make it in for so much as a notification post yesterday. I’m so sorry.

As the year draws to a close, the next promises for new Perry topics and continuing re-runs. The second half of season 8 will be out soon, although for the life of me I can’t figure out why Amazon is refusing to come down more than a few dollars on the price. People are complaining loudly, and someone mentioned finding it somewhere else for $10 cheaper than Amazon is insisting on selling it. Why? Amazon is usually the best! And yet they seem to be about the worst for buying the last fifteen episodes of season 8. There’s no way I’m going to pay Amazon’s price for it. $35 is already steep for only half a season, and that’s about as high as I’m willing to go, give or take a couple of dollars. I bought the entire season 6 set of The Virginian for a few cents less than that, for Heaven’s sake!

It’s been interesting, watching season 8 on MeTV. Since those episodes showed up around the same time as the first half was released on DVD, I’ve been holding off on buying the first set (and still don’t know what to do about the second at all). Some episodes are chopped horribly; The Missing Button horrified me with its important cuts, including most of the scene where Perry and Paul find Button safe with her father on the boat. Others don’t seem to be missing anything too serious, such as The Tell-Tale Tap.

We’re moving into season 9 at the end of this week. And I have to confess, I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot to love about season 8, but also a lot that makes me cringe. As previously explored, in some ways the production style is starting to feel very worn-out by season 8. The writers seem to be floundering on some aspects. Most exasperating to me, they just can’t seem to make up their minds on what Andy is like.

Maybe that’s the reason why he sometimes has such a reduced role in 8. I think it’s mainly only in season 8 where you’ll maybe see him for two minutes in a speaking part and then only sitting silently in court for the rest of his screentime. And the few times the writers decide to do something more with him, it often isn’t that flattering.

Take The Lover’s Gamble, where Andy is apparently responsible to some extent for some serious errors in the police investigation. The Mexican police were sloppy in their handling of their own investigation into the highway crash, and the American police didn’t learn this for some time. Either their investigation was sloppy too, with Andy either as supervisor and his men fouling up, or Andy with a more direct involvement and fouling up personally. It’s much nicer to think that maybe it wasn’t his fault at all and that someone on the Mexican police force lied through their teeth about their below-par investigation, and that Andy was actually a hero for uncovering the lies, but the writers don’t say one way or the other. The end result is that Andy just looks very, very bad.

There’s The Careless Kitten, where he just seems to be in a bad mood throughout. Although admittedly, with no one even being arrested yet and hence, needing a lawyer, it must be frustrating to find an amateur detective like Perry always ending up ahead of the official police investigation. In some ways, however, The Careless Kitten almost seems for Andy as The Final Fade-Out is for Hamilton—complete loss of patience. Andy’s method of losing patience is very different, however, with a smoldering glare, his lips pressed into a thin line, and his proclaiming of “That. Does it.”

Actually, I think angry Andy is more frightening than Hamilton’s yelling and blustering in The Final Fade-Out. Hamilton is known for having a bit of a short fuse. Andy is not. It’s always the quiet ones. . . .

The Mischievous Doll is just cringe-worthy, as Andy is made to look like a total fool during the whole cross-examination on the driver’s license. Perry’s solution is so far-out that it would not be usual to come up with it, of course, but the fact that he does and the police don’t seems a lot more groan-inducing here than in most episodes, due to the way it’s presented. Sometimes the police actually do apparently think of Perry’s possibilities, and even try to investigate them, but dismiss them for lack of evidence. Here, it outright seems that they did not think of it at all and it’s heavily implicated that they should have. Not that the series doesn’t often present things that way to some extent, but with the extended shaming of Andy it seems a lot worse here.

It’s really no wonder that poor Wesley Lau was growing frustrated, as he expressed in an interview around that time. What makes it worse is that seasons 6 and 7 were doing quite well with Andy by comparison. Since I’ve been buying those DVDs lately, I’ve been actively and recently comparing those episodes with season 8. 6 and 7 usually depict Andy more fairly. There may be an occasional slip, but it doesn’t seem as bad. Then 8 comes along and turns everything on its head.

To be fair, Andy does have some good moments in season 8. The Deadly Debt is one of my favorite episodes ever, where we see that Andy must be quite a well-respected officer on the force. In addition to being part of the Homicide division, he heads up a special taskforce investigating crimes that end up connecting with the current case. Andy is depicted as mature and serious and knowing his job well.

The problem with season 8 is that, unlike Andy’s other seasons, it goes from one extreme to the other, making him look very bad as well as very good. There’s definitely a higher ratio of unfavorable Andy scenes in season 8 than in 6, 7, or even 5.

I do get the sense that no matter how amiable Andy may be, he must be somewhat insecure in being around Perry and company, since there’s that noticeable lack of him being around in social settings. Steve, by comparison, seems very confident and perfectly at ease both with his job and with being friendly and social with Perry and the others.

I wonder what it would have been like to have had Andy and Steve interact, instead of that abrupt change from one to the other. Seeing Andy impart his knowledge and wisdom to the younger Steve, as Tragg did for Andy, would have been so interesting and intriguing. And the writers probably would not have done this, but it could have opened the way for thoroughly fascinating discussions, such as what each thought of Perry and company.

Since by season 8 the writers honestly don’t seem to know what to do with Andy and have been running his character into the ground a lot more than before, I look forward to season 9 to immediately see Steve again and see how my opinion contrasts with the season 8 episodes I’ve just come from watching.

One thing that’s changed lately is the way I list my favorite seasons. 8 has overall gone down on the scale, while 9 and even 5 have come up. 9 and 8 haven’t switched places, however; 8 is certainly not my least favorite season, as 9 once was. Since for me, character interaction and not storyline is the most important thing, and overall I prefer seeing the characters more mature than impulsive, I would probably rank 1 at the bottom of my list. They’re young and dashing, true, and that’s pleasant to see, but for me I’d far rather they were older and wiser, given the choice. And anyway, they’re still very handsome in the later seasons, as I see it.

7 is my most favorite season at the moment, with 2 and 6 immediately following. They were all at the top before, but with 7 below the others. I’m still trying to sort out where everything else currently ranks.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

So Sorry

The day turned extremely hectic and I have no topic to present at the moment, only a couple of brief notations on fanworks that may be of interest.

Apparently ranting on that piece I was working on about Sampson made me want to pick it up and try again. I wrote the rest and got it posted on Christmas Day. It's here, if anyone wants to read:

And I also accepted a prompt for a Monkees writing challenge that crossed it over with Perry. It's not the first time I've crossed the two series over, and I didn't manage to get it finished by the time of the deadline today, but I posted what I have. If people show interest, I'm more likely to try to finish it. So far, since I'm unsure if I'll try to finish it in the midst of my other projects, it's only on Livejournal. Even though it's the Monkees, I promise it's not a humor story. Dramatic Monkees stories used to be very common when I first got into the series in 1999-2000, and I feel sad that they aren't as common now.

That being said, I also had an idea for a silly one-part story that would involve Micky accidentally backing into Hamilton's car, and I may write that sometime. But to do justice to the prompt I was given, I felt the story had to be both serious and a multi-chapter.


Sunday, December 23, 2012


Merry Christmas, everyone! And Happy Holidays!

The first order of business is H*E*L*P! A week ago I received a communication from an NPR producer in search of a specific scene between Perry and Hamilton. I should have appealed to the readers here on Thursday, but I was still hoping that we would get a response from a source that we tried first. We have had no success there, and I just can’t find the scene, so I beg of you, dear readers, if any of you remember what episode the following scene is in, please comment to this post! The scene is needed by the second week of January. She says:

The episode I’m looking for is connected to something Justice Sonia Sotomayor mentioned during her confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court:

“She cited an episode in which Perry Mason, after winning yet another case, consoles beleaguered prosecutor Hamilton Burger by noting it must be hard to expend such effort only to have charges dismissed. ‘No, my job as a prosecutor is to do justice, and justice is served when a guilty man is convicted and an innocent man is not,’ she quoted the prosecutor as saying.”

I’m sure I remember the scene, but I can’t bring to mind when and where it happened. The only other clue someone was able to give me is that he thinks it was in season 7 or the first half of season 8. And that narrows down the possibilities a good bit, since I’ve watched many of those episodes lately without coming across it. I haven’t, however, seen the season 8 uncut in a while, and possibly it’s only available in the uncut version of whatever episode it is. I really want to help track this scene down, but I am rather at my wit’s end on where to begin. I’ve gone through the detailed summaries at Storrer’s site, without anything popping out at me as seeming to be the one in question.

I haven’t been able to think of any appropriate holiday topics for today’s post, but I did start curiously wondering which Perry episodes aired the closest before Christmas each season. A check of the airdates brought up the following list:

1. 21/Dec/57   The Case of the Baited Hook
2. 20/Dec/58   The Case of the Perjured Parrot
3. 19/Dec/59   The Case of the Lucky Legs
4. 17/Dec/60   The Case of the Larcenous Lady
5. 16/Dec/61   The Case of the Unwelcome Bride
6. 20/Dec/62   The Case of the Polka-Dot Pony
7. 19/Dec/63   The Case of the Badgered Brother
8. 17/Dec/64   The Case of the Blonde Bonanza
9. 19/Dec/65   The Case of the Golden Girls
That’s an interesting and highly assorted list. None of the episodes particularly have any connection with Christmas, of course. I can’t even recall if any of them take place in the winter. I suppose of these choices, my favorite ones to watch at Christmastime would be The Unwelcome Bride and The Polka-Dot Pony. They both involve family togetherness, with a rift being mended in the former and a girl searching for her mother in the latter. Several of the others involve families too, particularly The Baited Hook and The Badgered Brother. And I’m not really sure what I think of the final Perry episode to air around Christmas being the very odd and playfully tongue-in-cheek The Golden Girls.

There are other episodes good for holiday viewing. MeTV is going to air The Borrowed Baby for the morning Perry on Christmas Day, which is a sweet choice. Also, on Christmas Eve night, it just so happens to be The Hateful Hero’s turn to air. Family togetherness with Andy and Jimmy sounds great for the holidays.

I always like to write at least one Christmas-themed story each year. This year, I haven’t had too much chance to plan one. I wrote something short and cute for a Yu-Gi-Oh! Secret Santa exchange. And on the Perry front, that piece I shared involving Gene Torg and Pearl Chute takes place at Christmastime, although that was more of a background addition and not a driving force behind the plot. I was idly thinking of writing a scene for my time-traveling Wild Wild West story, meant for a later chapter, which focuses on Christmas, but I don’t know if I’ll get to that. I would like to finish the story’s current chapter before Christmas.

I haven’t really written a Perry Christmas story where Christmas is a central part of the plot. Last year, I was working on The Broken Ties around this time, but Christmas was, again, just a background feature. If I found it easier to draw the Perry characters, I might make Christmas fanart instead. But, alas, I’ve found it mostly impossible to draw characters from any of the live-action shows I love. Or I should say, mostly impossible to draw them looking even vaguely recognizable.

I have decided to put that Bogus Books-related piece on my account at I’ve added another scene with Andy at the beginning and tweaked a few things slightly around. (Please check the provided link in a little while if you want to see the additions.) And it looks like that will be the extent of my Perry Christmas stories this year, unless a good idea hits me in the head between now and Tuesday. I did attempt starting a piece involving Sampson, but while it sounded great in my head, it was going nowhere in the word processor. I may, however, try again if I get the spare time to tinker with it. 

However you celebrate, or even if you don’t celebrate, I hope every one of you has a wonderful December 24th and 25th!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quick Post

I’m not going to have enough time to get up a full post today, as it’s becoming a very busy holiday preparation day.

But one quick musing. I watched the uncut Loquacious Liar the other day. I don’t know, Lurene Tuttle’s portrayal of the tormented mother and wife is excellent, but something about the character herself bugs me and always has. Of course she wouldn’t want to believe that her husband was responsible for her son being kidnapped at gunpoint and driven into the middle of nowhere. But why did she then have to believe her son was off his rocker? Couldn’t she have believed that something really happened to him and he was just mistaken about who had set it up? It was almost like she felt she couldn’t be loyal to both her husband and her son at the same time. And that’s kind of messed up.

Which fits the character, I have to admit. She always seems messed up to me, from her behavior in that situation to how she kept holding desperately to a husband who really wasn’t worth her time and love. Poor woman. Hopefully she was able to get her life straightened out after the events of the episode and find a decent guy, if that was what she wanted.

The Loquacious Liar is, in general, a very intriguing episode. Tragg reveals how long he’s been on the force (30 years; I don’t know why I kept thinking he said 25) and shows a little-seen, stark serious, compassionate side as he tells Lurene Tuttle’s character about her husband’s death. And it is, of course, Sampson’s first episode. He presents himself as very blustery towards one of the witnesses (who admittedly isn’t being too cooperative), but alternately shows compassion as well, when he talks to Lurene’s character.

And I find it amusing that, while I figured I’d get the first half of season 4 eventually, it was way down on my list of what order to buy the DVDs in (rock bottom, along with the second half of season 3). But I ended up wanting it very badly and purchased it a couple of weeks ago. I have The Envious Editor on my 50th Anniversary set, but I wanted Sampson’s other episodes too, uncut.

As a parting, I wrote this thing yesterday, to tinker with Gene Torg and Pearl Chute a bit. Andy also has a fairly prominent role.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Capricious Corpse Cuts

Watching the uncut Capricious Corpse, it looked like three to four scenes were missing again. That seems to be around the standard number.

There was a short one early on, where Joane tells Nick about old Mr. Gage falling into a coma. At least, I don’t think I remember this one being in the syndication version.

A longer one later features George Gage waiting for the deceased Ernest during the time Nick is perpetrating his fraud. Joane tries to convince him that all is well, and he finally leaves, but he is still suspicious. Joane then dissolves into anguish, telling Nick she just can’t keep pretending Ernest is alive and how it just keeps going on and on. The scene then catches up with the syndication version as the phone rings, bringing the news that old Mr. Gage has died.

I wasn’t entirely sure I remembered the scene where George tries to blackmail Claudia, but some things seemed familiar, so I surely must have seen it before.

One thing I know I didn’t see is the part where Perry first reads about the missing samurai armor in the paper. I was always puzzled by the cut version, where he seems to mention Paul checking into the armor seemingly out of thin air. I knew something was surely missing on that subject. I was glad to see I was right.

The other cut scene has Perry and Hamilton talking on the shore while police divers search for Ernest’s body, once Nick confesses it’s supposed to be in the lake.

I have mixed feelings about that scene. On the one hand, Hamilton’s apparent suspicions as to Perry’s level of involvement in the wild story definitely hark back to season 1. But on the other hand, the delivery of the dialogue, and Perry’s reaction, shows something much different. Hamilton does not speak with harsh bitterness, as in season 1. And Perry’s reaction is calm and easy-going, unlike his more defensive, reserved responses in season 1. It’s like it’s become a familiar routine to them both by now, just a usual part of their interaction.

Hamilton’s sarcasm is in top form. I love where he asks Perry how he thinks the corpse could have changed its position. Levitation, perhaps? He offers one other, equally amusing possibility, which I can’t seem to call to mind at the moment.

I think Hamilton’s commentary of this sort started with The Meddling Medium, when he asks Perry how he plans to prove his case and then promptly jeers the supernatural (which is a key part of the mystery) by suggesting ectoplasm and a Ouija board. Someone else makes similar sarcastic comments on the supernatural in The Festive Felon from season 7.

This bit isn’t cut, but I love the part after the “body” is discovered in the lake, where Hamilton asks Ernest’s widow if it wouldn’t be better if she waited at the house (instead of viewing what they figure is the decomposed corpse). Even in season 1 the show had awesome bits like that, showing Hamilton’s compassionate side.

Something unique about this episode is that, for one of only a handful of times, we see Andy investigating on his own, in a scene where no other main characters are involved. He goes to the doctor’s office to ask about the pills Ernest was taking. Mostly, the only investigation scenes we see are with Perry or Paul, so it’s a special treat to see one focusing on a police character. Other episodes where Andy is seen investigating are The Hateful Hero and The Tandem Target.

I have got to get me the second half of season 6. 6 is still one of my all-time favorite seasons, and I’m having so much fun finding all the scenes that are usually cut from the syndicated versions I generally see. I wonder what other gems are in store with the remaining episodes on the first half of the season.

I’ve seen the uncut Double-Entry Mind and The Dodging Domino before, but it’s been so long that I can’t recall any of the missing scenes in the former. I do remember that we actually see the murder scene being discovered in the uncut Dodging Domino (whereas we do not in the cut version). I want to say Andy has one more scene in the uncut version, too, but I’m also unsure of that.

And I watched The Polka-Dot Pony last night. It’s another season 6 favorite. I’ll discuss it more later, but I’ll say now that Andy has an additional scene in that one. And it’s an important scene too, as it’s the one where it’s explained that the deceased’s employee went into hysterics. When that is referenced later, in the cut version it makes no sense, since we weren’t allowed to know about the hysteria in the first place.

It’s really exasperating when some of the cuts actually do affect the main plot. And even when they don’t, it’s exasperating to lose stuff with favorite characters! I wonder how many scenes of Andy’s got clipped overall.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Uncut Bogus Books

I’m a bad girl: I still haven’t got to The Rolling Bones. But I did watch an episode with Tragg on the 10th! I just couldn’t resist; I wanted to see The Bogus Books. It’s one of my most favorites from any season, and though I did see it uncut once, it was so long ago that I forgot most of the added scenes.

The only one that seemed familiar to me at all is the brief bit where Peter Norland meets Ellen Carter outside the bookstore after she’s been fired and asks if coffee would help. I don’t know why that scene would particularly stick out to me; I’m quite sure it’s missing both in my local station’s copy and on MeTV’s.

I like Peter’s obvious crush on Ellen. It’s cute. And I’m always amused when he tells how it took five people to throw him out of the store when he goes demanding to talk to Mr. Kraft about Ellen and the missing book.

The last time I watched my recorded copy, I deduced that at least two of Gene Torg’s scenes had been clipped. I discovered I was right. They omitted the sequence where he first shows up at the bookstore to talk to Mr. Kraft and encounters Mr. Pickson instead. My cut copy just shows him knocking on Mr. Kraft’s door.

Consequentially, the bit where Pickson flatly tells a bewildered customer, “No, Madam, The Tropic of Cancer is not a medical book; far from it!” is gone, too. Pity; I love that part. And for about the only time in the episode aside from the climax, Pickson has a different reaction to something other than that creepy deadpan stare. His eye-rolling at the lady’s lack of geographical knowledge is too amusing.

Also missing is the scene where Gene arrives at Pearl’s apartment while she’s fixing a book. He’s distressed and tells her that Mr. Kraft is dead. The cut version just shows him wandering the living room when Paul suddenly knocks.

They shortened the scene where Tragg and Andy speak to everyone following Mr. Kraft's death. The scene from the point where a shaken Ellen starts talking (as Andy regards her in obvious concern and compassion) to where Tragg sends some of the onlookers out is gone. Sadly, that also removes one of Tragg's most hilarious lines, when Peter deduces the obvious time of death. Tragg smiles and says in his classic way that he never would have figured that out. Even Perry looks amused.

They also leave out the scene where Perry talks to Ellen after she’s been arrested, before the hearing convenes.

I think that’s all of the chopped scenes. It’s such a shame added commercials have to cause things like this to happen.

I’m still curiously pondering on Gene and what kind of fellow he is, as well as on his friendship/probable romantic relationship with Pearl. He acts a bit like he might be trying to go straight(er) when the episode starts, as he’s alarmed when Pearl tells him the book he swiped is worth $8,000 and not $8. (Or maybe that’s just further evidence that he’s only a small-time operator and prefers to stay under the radar, not getting into big things.) He says he never would have taken it if he had known the real price, and she agrees and says that’s why she didn’t tell him. And she proceeds to tempt him into getting interested in the used book racket.

I think he could really use a better friend. But he’s certainly not guiltless in the matter, as she’s able to tempt him without much hesitation on his part.

Also, I really wonder if Pearl made “their” deal, as she tells Gene she did, and whether she actually cares about him at all. She seems genuinely happy to hear his voice when he shows up at her place, but on the other hand, she sure tries to keep from him the fact that she has the book again (and that she saw Mr. Kraft). And that seems very strange, if she did indeed do as she claimed.

I imagine Pearl definitely goes to jail when everything is over, since she had quite a big part in the racket, but I wonder what happens to Gene. He says in court that he wasn’t really in the racket, maybe thinking about getting in, but he wasn’t in. I suppose technically that’s true, although he seemed to be doing more about it than just “thinking” about getting in. And if Pearl made “their” deal as she claimed, he was in right before Mr. Kraft was killed.

But overlooking that (or considering the possibility that Pearl lied and cut him out of the deal), I question whether Gene would go to jail for that initial swipe of the already-stolen book from the store. (Especially when, at the time of the theft, he honestly believed it was only worth $8!) And they definitely couldn’t arrest him for just “thinking” about getting into the racket. There wouldn’t be any proof of that conversation he had with Mr. Kraft, other than his own words. (And the fact that Perry saw him leaving the office, but that would only prove that he had been there and brought the book back.) Maybe he would end up pleading Guilty, but since he keeps insisting his innocence and, as Paul says, he “looks like [he’s] going to make it stick,” I kind of doubt that. In any case, it would have been fun to have seen him again in another episode, especially considering his past history with Perry and Paul.

(And it just occurred to me that Della doesn’t seem to know who he is. I wonder what she was doing when Perry and Paul met him the first time? Was she Perry’s secretary yet? Was she just on vacation? So many possibilities.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Uncut Hateful Hero

So I’ve had some more spare money on hand of late, due to my freelance writing and other work. I managed to pick up a few of the older Perry sets, including the first half of season 6. I haven’t seen most of those episodes uncut, and Netflix doesn’t have season 6 even though it was released over a year ago, so it’s going to be a real treat going through these.

It’s already started being a big treat, really. I finally saw the uncut version of The Hateful Hero for the first time. It’s a true delight! And I am exasperated at the stuff that the syndication version cut out. True, most of the scenes aren’t especially needed to move the main plot forward, but oh, they’re just wonderful for character development!

The first thing I noticed was that the scene where Andy speaks with Detective Toland is supposed to be twice as long. It was very interesting to see the full version, where the case is discussed at greater length.

The next major cut is the entire scene where Andy asks Jimmy about the stolen perfume and other objects. Jimmy insists that he didn’t take them and asks Andy if he’ll represent him as his counsel when he goes before the police board in five days. Andy is surprised and Jimmy interprets it as reluctance. Andy says “Jimmy, you’re my cousin,” and then Jimmy figures that’s the only reason Andy is agreeing and that Andy really thinks he’s guilty as everyone else does. Andy protests and tries to rectify the damage, but Jimmy is stressed and his patience stretched to the nth degree. He snaps that it’s a lot different compared to when they were kids and Andy got him into trouble. Eventually he storms off, with Andy calling after him in desperation.

I never quite pictured Andy getting Jimmy into trouble, unless of course it was just an accident. It was never specified whether it was accidental or deliberate, but now I’m wondering how to reunite this canonical information with the fact that I long ago wrote a scene for The Malevolent Mugging wherein they discuss their childhood and Jimmy intimates more that Andy was trusted to look after him because he didn’t get him into trouble. On the other hand, though, I have that idea where they often played rocket ships in the backyard and they had a few disasters with those, so I could always say Jimmy was referring to that when he said Andy got him into trouble. But Jimmy also said in that story scene that he didn’t remember Andy making any stupid decisions when they were kids. I suppose I could say it was a joke and Jimmy remembered very well.

In any case, I’m thrilled for any new piece of canonical information involving them. I’m glad that at least my idea of them not being too far apart in age and being kids together didn’t go against what was stated in the uncut Hateful Hero.

The next clipped scene takes place during the police board hearing. Jimmy and Andy wait while the board deliberates. Jimmy can’t sit still and bitterly tells Andy how he doesn’t believe that the police really look out for their own, like the myth says they do. He feels that he is a sacrificial scapegoat and that they’ve been grooming him for that from the start of this mess. Andy tries to console and calm him by telling him he didn’t have to come to the hearing, but he came anyway. How could he do anything else? How could he be anything but a policeman?

It’s unclear whether Jimmy is usually so cynical or if the pressure was just getting to him right then. I kind of like the idea of him being at least a little cynical in general, though. I knew of that scene’s existence, although I didn’t know the details before last night. I’ve previously tried to have a bit of that cynicism creep into Jimmy’s speech and personality in the stories I’ve featured him in. Now that I’ve seen the scene, and love it, I’ll probably continue to do so for sure.

I find it interesting that the police board scene happens without any on-screen resolution for the terrible confrontation Andy and Jimmy previously had. It makes me wonder whether they just didn’t show it to us but it happened or if it didn’t happen at all, even off-screen. Perhaps Andy and Jimmy are really so close that no apologies are needed.

I’m not quite certain without seeing the edited version of the episode again, but I don’t fully recall if Hamilton’s opening remarks in court were cut. What he said wasn’t familiar to me offhand. I wouldn’t be surprised if they cut directly to the interview of the first witness. I’ve seen that happen in other syndicated copies of episodes, including The Fatal Fetish.

I noticed some variously assorted things, including that Hamilton sounds especially gentle and sobered when he questions Andy, at least during the first part of the examination. That is the closest we get to seeing his reluctance for handling that case. He surely must have been reluctant to some extent, with Jimmy being Andy’s cousin and Andy so visibly agonized to have to testify against him. I still wish there had been an actual scene where they’re discussing the difficulty of the case.

Also, with the episode being for the Anderson family, there are many scenes of Andy investigating. And Tragg is usually with him. It was, sadly, one of Tragg’s last appearances, since his screentime was greatly decreasing by season 6, due to Ray Collins’ ill health. But it’s lovely to see him and Wesley together in so many scenes. I think that, out of all the episodes in which they both appeared, this is the one where they had the most time together.

Throughout the entire nine-season run, Perry never had a two-part episode. If there had been one, and if it had been this one, I wonder what sorts of behind the scenes goodies there would have been. Perhaps Tragg and Andy talking in-depth about the case and Jimmy? For all of their scenes together, they don’t talk that much to each other. Mostly they’re questioning others.

I think I shall have fun writing some missing scenes at some point, as I did for The Carefree Coronary.

Tomorrow is Ray Collins’ birthday, speaking of him and Lieutenant Tragg! It would be an excellent day to watch some of Tragg’s best moments on the show. I thoroughly recommend The Negligent Nymph, The Moth-Eaten Mink, and The Fugitive Nurse. I love his interaction with Andy in The Capering Camera. Also, he has some good stuff in The Rolling Bones, if I remember right.

It sounds like I need to watch that one again. Another thing I bought was the second half of season 1, something I’ve wanted for some time. Most of my favorite season 1 episodes are in the latter half, and well, since becoming extremely interested in H.M. Wynant’s roles, I just had to have an uncut copy of The Daring Decoy to enjoy whenever I feel like it. I shall watch The Rolling Bones tomorrow and rejoice in its completeness! I hated how badly it was chopped up the last time I saw it on television. Season 1 episodes get it worse than the others, since they’re a minute or two longer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Contemporary season 9

I saw an Andy Griffith Show calendar in Wal-Mart last night. It made me think: there are calendars for almost everything. Was there ever a Perry calendar? If not, there should be one! The television series is 55 years old and still going strong. I’m sure a calendar would be highly popular.

As much as I love some things in season 8, there are other things I don’t love so much. Season 8 definitely starts to show the strains of a mixed bag, with Andy’s sometimes-changing, stressed personality, wonderful Perry and Hamilton friendship scenes, some awesome episodes, and some that are an honest puzzle. Something somewhere in season 8 seems to feel worn-out, as though the writers aren’t always quite sure what to do and feel that they’ve stretched things as far as they can go.

If the feeling is real and not just my imagination, some of it may have been brought on by Raymond Burr’s restlessness with the role and his desire to do something different. And maybe the writers and crew members really were wracking their brains for new twists for the series.

I started realizing—no matter how many season 1 influences season 9 has, it also has many unique elements. Somehow it feels more contemporary, more fresh, as though the show is getting a new lease on life.

Bringing in the previously spoken-of Clay’s Restaurant was an excellent move, I think. It enables Perry and company to have somewhere to discuss the cases where they will be around other people, instead of just being isolated in Perry’s office. The office is a beloved location, and still is in season 9, but altering the main meeting place allowed for the exploration of new possibilities. In the restaurant, they run across Hamilton, Steve, and Clay very frequently, who all provide their own takes on the cases.

Steve also feels very contemporary and forward-thinking. As previously expounded on, he is given a great deal of development just in his few episodes. Tragg and Andy were never given the level of thought and consideration that was put into Steve's characterization. If they had been, it would have been incredible. Tragg and Andy remained fairly predictable throughout the series, with both only given occasional moments to show other facets of their personalities. But, perhaps because of Wesley's displeasure or perhaps because of the changing times around them, the writers at last did something different with Steve and allowed him to be both the most no-nonsense and the most three-dimensional of the main police characters. While Tragg's falsely friendly facade and his investigative slip-ups were intended to be, and were, laughed at, Andy was much less that way, and Steve, far less so. Aside from having to arrest the wrong person to keep the formula going, Steve rarely ever made ridiculously cringe-worthy or amusing slip-ups. Perry simply could not make a fool out of Steve as he did Tragg and even occasionally Andy. It's hard to feature laughing at Steve at all. And that's the way I prefer my police characters. I don't like making fun of the police.

In personality Steve is partially a cross between Tragg and Andy, but largely his own person. I half-wonder if at least some of his inspiration is the fact that Tragg was closer to being Perry's contemporary in the books (although Steve seems younger than Perry, rather than near the same age).

As I’ve mentioned, adaptations of Perry always kept up with the times. And within the television series, each season went with the flow, changing just enough to stay up-to-date while not changing the format much, if at all. Hence, each series of episodes feels like Perry, unlike with some shows, where they change so much over time that they’re barely recognizable.

Season 1 mostly feels very much like the noir series so popular in the late fifties. Seasons 4 and 5 embrace the arriving Space Age of the early sixties. Season 9 still has that special Perry feeling but also sometimes brings with it a feel similar to other dramas of the era, including an acknowledgment of the younger generation’s plight and the rising problem of teenage delinquency. Had there been a season 10, it would have been in color, we’re told, and it likely would have felt as contemporary as The Twice-Told Twist does.

I still wonder what a season 10 would have been like. I imagine it would have been fun, particularly in color. On the one hand, it almost feels like Perry needs to be in black-and-white, to preserve the mysterious atmosphere. On the other hand, both The Twice-Told Twist and The New Perry Mason present the series in color very well. It does not detract, but simply offers another angle, another way to look at it. And it’s very nice to see the characters and locations in color at long last.

(I just like to think that if there had been a season 10, they would have redone the colors of the courthouse. I can never picture things being so green and gray and blue. It’s interesting, but doesn’t feel much like a proper courthouse. I still envision the wood as being wood-colored, no matter what The Twice-Told Twist presents.) 

If it hadn’t been for Raymond Burr wanting to move on, and CBS wanting to end the series, I think it would have moved quite nicely into a season 10. Whatever new things it would have brought to the table, a tenth season would have still remained, firmly and faithfully above all else, Perry.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guest-Stars Who Should Have Been

Happy December, all!

Today I am excited for the second episode of Wagon Train on MeTV’s Sunday Showcase, The Sam Pulaski Story, in which Ross Martin is the main guest-star. And that started me thinking: Which actors and actresses never appeared on Perry whom you wish had done so?

Ross is definitely at the top of my list. Brilliant and multi-faceted, he would have been excellent as any character: defendant, family member, friend, murderer, victim. . . . And along those lines, it would have also been fun to see Robert Conrad. It would have been incredible if they had shared an episode, since they have such amazing camaraderie in The Wild Wild West, but having them in separate episodes would have been wonderful too.

Also, Darren McGavin. He was steadily appearing on many television series during many of the Perry years. I would have particularly loved an episode where he and Simon Oakland both appeared, as they are absolutely stellar every time they have shared a project, but I would have enjoyed seeing Darren in any episode. I could see him playing the defendant, or perhaps a smooth-talking conman. Or even the murderer, but I’d prefer not seeing him do that (even though he certainly could).

To appeal the interest of some members of the younger generations who would have been watching the show, I think Annette Funicello would have been a fun choice to play a defendant, or more likely, a family member of a defendant. I usually enjoy the episodes with teenage daughters, nieces, or siblings (although The Lonely Eloper still isn’t a favorite).

Albeit on the other hand, I wonder if having anyone thought of more as a teen idol type would have pushed the show too much into the pop mainstream, which wouldn’t have been good if it had resulted in format changes. The show changed with the times, it’s true, but the format remained the same. And that was the way it basically should have been, even though I do wish some elements hadn’t always remained steady.

William Bramley, a character actor well-remembered as Sergeant (yes, Sergeant) Krupke in West Side Story, would have been a neat guest-star whom I keep picturing as a store owner for some reason. Or a police officer.

I remember someone’s fan story “trailer”, in which she selected Peter Graves to play the defendant in her story. It would have been really neat if he had actually appeared on the series. And his predecessor on Mission: Impossible, Steven Hill, would have been a fine guest-star as well.

For the past year and a half or so, I have highly enjoyed watching Combat! It would have been epic to have seen Vic Morrow on Perry. Rick Jason too.

And along the same lines of this post’s topic, there are some guest-stars Perry did have that I would have liked to seen some more. I wish Simon Oakland had been there playing a character who didn’t die (and/or didn’t kill somebody). If not a defendant, he would have been awesome as a family member or friend of one.

I also have a wish that William Boyett would have been asked to play a defendant sometime. I don’t understand why, but I’ve noticed that he rarely ever plays a prominent character aside from the series in which he became or was always a regular (Highway Patrol, Adam-12). Oftentimes he pops up in episodes of Perry and other shows for literally 30 seconds to a minute! He’s wonderful even in those bit parts, but it puzzles me why he so often wasn’t offered larger roles. He could certainly play them.

Stanley Clements was on the show twice, both times in very minor roles. He’s a favorite of mine from The Bowery Boys films (yes, I’m one of the only people who really likes Duke, and probably the only one who likes him possibly even more than Slip). I would have liked to have seen him in a bigger role, either as a defendant or a more prominent guest-star of another sort.

I would love to have seen Fay Wray and Gary Collins return as the Germaines from The Fatal Fetish. And of course, H.M. Wynant as Deputy Sampson.

There were so many unexplored possibilities. But of course, there were also many that were, and I’m grateful for all the wonderful guest-stars who helped make the show so highly remembered. They really got people’s imaginations turning (including mine). And two of them became regular cast members (Wesley Lau and Richard Anderson). That's pretty awesome.