Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lieutenant Drumm: Hard as nails, but sensitive

Over the past week or two I’ve been stepping up my quest to find Wesley Lau and Richard Anderson in some of their various guest-spots. This has resulted in new bursts of enthusiasm over them both, depending on the day. (Seeing The Impatient Partner again and starting a Wild Wild West story involving Richard’s guest-starring character hasn’t hurt, either. I suppose figuring out what inspired me with what is a bit of the “which came first” unanswerable question.)

Well, Wesley’s received a good bit of my lavishing attention on the blog of late, so I decided it was time to spotlight Richard’s Steve Drumm again. Heaven knows he needs fan love.

One thing I’m always wondering is whether The Sausalito Sunrise handled Steve’s personality change believably. Time and again I’ve praised how they did it; if you’re going to make a character act different than usual, give an explanation and have the other characters take notice. The episode does that beautifully. But an issue I didn’t really address is that, even if they do us those good turns, is the behavior believable? Would the character really act in those ways, no matter the explanation?

To some extent that’s also an unanswerable question. Not even the writers or the actors know every facet of a character’s personality. On the other hand, however, there should always be some basic knowledge of the character’s traits and some idea of what they would and would not do.

Now, Steve is noted for being very by-the-book. I’ve compared him to a 1940s hardboiled detective. On the job, he does indeed display rough, harsh, just-the-facts behavior. This is in sharp contrast to Tragg’s friendly facades or even his most serious moods. And Andy seems to come across as more businesslike and efficient while amiable (although he also has scenes devoid of amiability). They’re all excellent policemen, but they have varying approaches to their jobs and how they deal with people.

This does not mean, however, that any of them care less about people than do the others. Tragg has been shown to be very gentle and sobered when bringing the news of a loved one’s death. In one season 4 episode he even sadly says that for thirty years, it’s never gotten easier for him.

Andy, albeit he tries to keep up the businesslike persona, does let it drop. Of course, this is most noticeable in The Hateful Hero, when he displays a wide range of emotions, from worry to shock to gentleness.

He and Tragg have both gone more “hardcore” on occasion, Andy when he faces the real murderer in The Hateful Hero and snarls, “Well, what are you going to do with that gun?!”, and Tragg in The Moth-Eaten Mink when he rescues Perry from the dirty cop and then comments in anger how a corrupt officer ruins the hard work the honest police are trying to do.

While Tragg and Andy fall back on being tough only occasionally, it’s Steve’s usual approach. But, though he is usually gruff while on duty, he does not like offending or hurting any innocent parties any more than Tragg or Andy do. I’ve noted how he suddenly becomes awkward when he realizes how frustrated and irritated the apartment house manager in The Candy Queen has become.

In The Silent Six he feels that he is not supposed to have friends in his line of work, a curious and sad “lone wolf” view not apparently shared by Tragg and Andy. And in spite of Steve’s viewpoint, his partner is clearly his friend, as are Paul, Perry, and the others. And off-duty he is very relaxed and friendly, almost showing a 180-degree turn on his personality.

Coming back to The Sausalito Sunrise, the whole reason for Steve’s anger and fierceness throughout most of that episode is because of the cold-blooded murder of a policeman and the heart-broken family left behind. He does lose sight of the truth of a dirty cop being behind it all, and hence makes some mistakes that he would not ordinarily make (which requires Perry to force him to take a long look at himself). But as I see it, the real root of the problem just may be that he is deeply sensitive to tragedy and horror and the shattered pieces left behind after a murder. Perhaps that is the reason for his usual tough attitude: it could be what he feels is his best defense against the evil he encounters every day, as well as a defense against his own feelings. He tries not to let his personal views color his behavior on the job (which he pretty much outright says in The Silent Six and cites as why he feels he cannot have friends; he thinks they would color his view and make him less objective). Usually, in this he succeeds. In The Sausalito Sunrise, he could not. Having been dealt the final straw, the dam broke. Once Perry got him straightened out, he realized how he had been conducting himself and quickly set about doing his best to amend the damage. He never had a breakdown like that again in the series, so hopefully he figured out how to further master his feelings against it happening another time.

Is his behavior in that episode in-character with his personality? Is it conceivable that he could feel that way? I would say, in all honesty, yes.

(Of course, that also leads to that inevitable question of Hamilton’s behavior in some of those season 9 episodes. I still say that by season 9 it is far less likely for him to behave as he did in, say, The 12th Wildcat, based on evidence of episodes from every season, including some of 9’s better ventures. However, no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes and slip-ups. So if the writers want to do that with Hamilton, they need a viable explanation, which as far as I know, we did not get in any of those season 9 episodes. But had logical explanations been provided, they might not have come off as bizarre and out of place and out-of-character as they did.)

I’ve seen it said (and to some extent I believe it), that particularly angry or harsh people might actually be the most sensitive of all. Not knowing quite how to deal with it, it comes out through their emotions and/or is hidden by the shield over their emotions. Taking all of the known aspects of Steve’s personality into consideration, both could very well be true in his case. Perhaps as he grows older and gains more experience he will acquire a better hold on and understanding of his feelings and be able to deal with them in a healthier way.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Case of the Nebulous Nephew

First, before I get to the main body of the post, here is a trailer I made for the mystery I hope to start after I finish The Denying Detective (which I managed to update this week! Yes!):

Perhaps I shouldn’t have made it until The Denying Detective is closer to being finished, but I had the concept in mind and it wouldn’t go away. I’m happy with how it turned out, anyway.

I’ve been meaning to watch The Nebulous Nephew for a while. I kept it until now because I’ve been under the mistaken impression, due to more than one website, that Hamilton was not in it. I was aware that Andy was, however, so I finally decided yesterday was a good time to finally watch it. I not only discovered that Hamilton is in it, but that it is an incredible episode! I would have loved it even if he had not been present, so he was a special added treat.

The plot involves a twisted plan for the friend of a missing young man to go to the boy’s rich aunts and worm his way into their hearts by the things he knows about their beloved nephew. They will come to believe he is the nephew, and will their money to him, even though he will continue to claim that he is a friend and the boy himself is dead. The plan is masterminded by the only other living relative, although we don’t see that he is a relation until later on.

Everything goes exactly according to plan at first. The boy, John Brooks, manages to win over both of the aunts, even the more skeptical one. And when Ernest Stone, the other living relative, shows up, of course he makes a positive identification as well.

The problem arises when John begins to care about the aunts, who are overjoyed to have him there and insist on believing he is their missing nephew. He realizes he can’t bear to hurt them, and when he speaks with his employer, he delivers the news that he is leaving. Even though he won’t do anything to the aunts after they will everything to him, he isn’t confident that his boss won’t do something. They end up in a fight, struggling with a rifle, and Ernest is accidentally clubbed on the head. The boy apologizes and leaves him on the floor after he insists he’s alright. Moments later, however, one of the aunts informs John that Ernest is dead.

The rest of the episode involves trying to solve the murder as well as to sort through the identity mess. John finally admits that Caleb, the nephew, is really alive, but he doesn’t want to involve him. Perry, Della, and Paul set about trying desperately to locate Caleb.

Caleb’s backstory, and the reason he went missing, was due to a scandal with his parents. Ernest secretly arranged for it to be told that their marriage certificate was a fraud and that Caleb was illegitimate. The patriarch of the family at that time sent Caleb and his mother away. (His father was already dead, killed in the war.) After Caleb’s mother died too, he was sent to an orphanage, where he met John Brooks. They ran away in their late teens after a newspaper published a new story about Caleb that tracked his whereabouts to the orphanage.

At last Caleb is located and agrees to fly out immediately to testify at the hearing. But when he walks into the courtroom, a new cover-up is revealed. He is not Caleb, but the real John Brooks, an African-American. After running away from the orphanage they switched names to make it harder for reporters or anyone else to track down the Caleb Stone they want.

Perry uncovers Ernest’s true murderer shortly afterwards and the real Caleb is exonerated. Back at the Stone mansion, the rest of the story comes out. Caleb admits that he went along with Ernest’s plot to basically impersonate himself because he was bitter about how his family had kicked him and his mother out of the house. (The aunts had not wanted to, but they had been afraid to go against the patriarch’s wishes.) However, as he stayed there, his desire for revenge turned to love.

All in all, I found it a thoroughly exciting and satisfying episode. The aunts longed so much for “John Brooks” to be Caleb that I longed for Caleb to be alive, too. I wasn’t too surprised to learn he was, and I even kind of wondered if he and John might have switched identities, but the details were a complete surprise. The outcome thrilled me.

The Nebulous Nephew was the season 7 opener. It makes me all the more anxious for CBS to release season 7 on DVD. For me, season 7 is truly one of the most amazing seasons, and this episode only adds to those feelings.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Case of the Impatient Partner

It’s always nice, to finally see the uncut version of a well-loved episode. Sometimes additional scenes are available with favorite characters, either important to the plot or to the character’s personality. Other times, not much has been snipped.

My local station is usually pretty good about getting prints with most of the episodes’ content intact. Season 1 episodes, which seemed to be longer than later ones, usually suffer the most. Others, by around seasons 5 and 6, are generally only missing one or two scenes.

When I saw the uncut version of The Impatient Partner, I had hoped for more scenes with Amory Fallon. There were none. What had been cut from my station’s copy was a short scene between plant chemist Burt Nichols and Amory’s secretary Miss Ames, as well as a longer scene with Perry and Burt conversing outside Miss Ames’ apartment. So the main thing I hadn’t previously known was that Burt and Miss Ames were friends and had been a couple in the past, before she started going out with Amory’s partner Ned Thompson.

Aired as the second episode of season 5, The Impatient Partner would really have quite an impact on the majority of the rest of the series. It gave us our first Perry-related glimpse of Wesley Lau.

I wonder how they stumbled across him. From what I’ve read of how television writers and other crew members operate, they often have specific people in mind when they write parts. Could that have been the case with Wesley, who was already a familiar character actor (mostly in Westerns and a few movies)? Or did they not have anyone in mind and Wesley just showed up for an audition? That would be really interesting to know.

Rare for the series, The Impatient Partner opens in Paul’s office. Amory Fallon, a client of Paul’s, is questioning an old lady. She has trouble sticking to the subject and exasperates Amory when she starts to ramble. He tries to stay calm and polite as he pays her for her time and ushers her out. Paul also leaves, to take a call in his very full waiting room. (Wow, I wonder if days are usually that crowded for him? They’ve definitely given the impression that he runs a large-scale agency, not some dinky little thing. He’s referenced many operatives over the seasons. Then again, maybe the office was so full that day because of all the ladies showing up to be questioned.)

A mousy fellow who has been observing things in the office gets up to talk with Amory. It seems Amory brought him along because he’s Amory’s brother-in-law and Amory thinks he might need a witness. He also thinks that the lady who just left is the woman he’s been looking for.

After further conversation with the woman at her apartment, however, Amory realizes she is not the one. He’s looking for someone who was standing outside the Fallon Paint company Monday night, when there was an explosion. This woman was at the nearby bus stop Sunday night, but not Monday. Frustrated, Amory leaves and remarks that it was her coat that fooled him.

The audience, and not Amory, sees the woman take the coat across the hall to the woman who really was there. The coat was a loan, and its real owner would have gone with her friend to the office, had she not come down with a cold.

Amory is a built-up bundle of nerves. In addition to his paranoia that his wife is having an affair with his business partner, he is certain that someone tried to kill him in that explosion. Though it was set up to try to look like a group of punk kids did it, Amory believes (and it’s later discovered he’s right) that it was someone else, someone deliberately trying to cover up a crime and destroy some important files that revealed it. And he believes it was someone in his company.

Apparently he didn’t tell Paul all of this. Paul shows up at the Fallon Paint company, angry at being used and worried that he’s done something wrong that may jeopardize his license. Amory breaks down and admits the truth to Paul and tells him that nothing out of sorts was being done. And he has no desire to keep anything from the police. He just wants to find out if the woman at the bus stop might have seen someone going in or out of the company building right before the explosion, and if she could identify said person.

Before and while they’re attempting to converse, Mrs. Fallon calls several times trying to talk to Amory. He doesn’t want to talk with her, convinced of the affair and certain that he really means nothing to her. He hasn’t even been home since returning from a month-long trip to Mexico the other day. Instead, he’s been staying in a hotel.

He talks with his partner, who appears in the office, and introduces Paul as Mr. Henry. He then goes around the building speaking with other employees as he tries to get to the bottom of what happened in the explosion. He learns that the suspicious files were moved to where they would be blown up on orders of Ned Thompson.

As he finally leaves the building at the end of the workday, he goes by way of the back stairs. He stumbles across his wife Edith, who has come down out of worry and bewilderment over why he hasn’t been home. He softens at her concern and is trying to work out a reply when Thompson appears on the same stairs. This tips Amory over the edge and he decides that Edith must have really come to see his partner. He screams that he doesn’t want to ever see her or speak to her again. As he flies off in his overwrought state, Edith stares after him in shock. Thompson looks on, his expression impassive.

Meanwhile, Paul has finally located the woman who actually was at the bus stop Monday night. They observe everyone coming out the main entrance of the company building, but she doesn’t recognize anyone. That night Paul has her at the apartment building where Thompson lives. He’s the last possibility, so they figure it must have been him. Suddenly the woman sees who she saw, and amid a flurry of exclaiming and pointing, Paul hurries out and across the street to apprehend him. He grabs a drunk and dazed Amory Fallon.

Back at Perry’s office, Amory finally tells his entire story while Perry and the others listen. Though sympathetic and declaring to help by speaking with Ned Thompson, who refused to see Amory when he showed up, Perry also very frankly tells Amory that a lot of what he thinks is wrong could be in his own mind. There isn’t enough evidence to support the idea of the affair between Edith and Ned, nor is it likely that the arsonist was trying to murder Amory, since no one even knew he would be at the building that night.

Amory doesn’t say whether or not Perry’s assessment makes sense to him, but he is grateful for the offer of help. He mentions writing a note and shoving it under Thompson’s door when he wasn’t allowed admittance to his apartment. Being drunk at the time, a state he’s rarely ever in, he can’t remember what he wrote. Perry says they’ll get the note back.

That turns out to be impossible. So is conversing with Thompson. When he and Paul arrive, Lieutenant Tragg answers the door. Thompson is dead.

One interesting note on Thompson’s apartment: he must really like chess. Not only does he have a board set up with some of the largest chess pieces I’ve ever seen, there’s also a huge statue of a knight chess piece on the floor near the body.

Paul talks with Amory’s brother-in-law during the investigation, who tells him that there was nothing between Edith and Ned and that it was something that just built up in Amory’s mind over a period of time, torturing him. When Paul leaves, Mrs. Fallon comes out and insists to her brother that she has to help Amory.

The court scenes are very intense, as everyone tries to unravel the mysteries surrounding Thompson’s death and the activity at the paint company. Someone was embezzling money and the books were doctored to reflect it. Thompson photographed everything, certainly making it seem like he couldn’t possibly have been the embezzler. Perry finally uncovers that there were two embezzlers and Thompson was indeed one of them. The pictures he took displayed the other embezzler’s work.

And there was also a deal going on under the table with Thompson and Burt Nichols working together with businessman Carlos Silva of Mexico. Thompson and Amory already had an aboveboard deal pending with him. That was the reason for Amory’s trip. But Amory knew nothing of the other deal.

Perry also pieces together why Amory can’t remember anything that happened after he tried and failed to get into Thompson’s apartment. There’s a forty-five minute gap between that and him stumbling out of the building. Perry finally gets Burt to admit that Amory was asleep on the stairs due to his uncharacteristic, heavy drinking. Burt was going to visit Ned to further discuss the deal with Silva. But Burt insists he did not kill Ned.

It’s Edith, Amory’s devoted and worried wife, who manages to close the case for them. In between court sessions she revealed information to Perry about her brother that made Perry suspect him as the second embezzler. And when Perry accuses him of the murder in court, the weasel leaps up, it having been bubbling inside him all during the examination of Burt, and repeatedly screams that yes, he did kill Thompson! Edith covers her face in sickened grief while everyone else in court stares on.

The epilogue finds Perry noting the great sacrifice Edith made in telling the information about her brother’s heavy gambling and money losses. Amory acknowledges that he’s aware of that, and apologizes to Edith for all of his wild imaginings concerning her and Ned. The episode ends on a happy note with them reunited.

Amory is one of my favorite oneshot characters. As already mentioned, he was responsible for making me realize my fondness for both Wesley Lau and Lieutenant Anderson. His tense, jumpy behavior is so completely different from Andy’s usually calm, aloof nature. When I first saw the episode and saw him so anxious, I wondered whether he would be the defendant or the victim. (Or the killer.) I was very happy that he was the defendant!

I was also happy that Edith really wasn’t having an affair with Ned, and that she was so loving and devoted in spite of Amory’s imaginations. As I’ve mentioned, I get a little tired of seeing so many marriages on the rocks. It was refreshing to see one that could be mended.

Also, something a bit amusing. While Amory does lie to Paul at the beginning, he never lies to Perry. And that is a rarity among his clients! It seems like they're always either lying or holding something back. I think I could count on one hand the clients who tell Perry the whole truth.

After I’m able to return to and finish my mystery The Denying Detective, which I hope to do in July, I have been toying again with an idea involving a double of a main character. In the past I had considered one where Hamilton has a bad double creating havoc for him, but I abandoned that after becoming aware of The Dead Ringer. Although the series has touched on doubles more than once (even with one of Perry’s season 6 stand-ins!), I don’t think there has ever been an episode where the double and the main character are both good guys.

Being as fond as I am of Amory, I had the thought of featuring him as well as Andy in one of the mysteries. Perhaps one of them (probably Amory) is found lying unconscious in a park, stripped of all identification, and is thought to be the other. Meanwhile, the other (probably Andy) is abducted for some reason. One of them is a mistaken target while the other is the one meant to be taken. And so far I haven’t quite sorted out which should be which. Amory’s already had so much trouble with people causing trouble for him in his company. But Andy’s had trouble in one of my past stories with someone trying to kill him, so it probably evens out.

There’s also the question of motive. If it’s some nut out for revenge on Andy, it could start seeming too much like my past story The Memento Mori Murderer, where some nut is out for revenge on Perry. And in that case, it might be better for it to be Amory who was the real target all along, and for a reason other than revenge.

If I decide to write the story, I’ll get it all sorted out by that point.

If someone else had played Amory, The Impatient Partner still would have been a good episode. But it would not likely have been significant in the overall picture. With Wesley Lau in the role, the episode’s place as an important installment is assured.

I wonder what viewers thought when Wesley appeared two episodes later as a Homicide detective. Maybe they were used to character actors popping up repeatedly and they didn’t bat an eye. In any case, they must have been receptive. If only the crew and not the audience had liked Wesley, it likely wouldn’t have worked out for any length of time. But he would be regularly present over the next four seasons.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Birthday Tribute (a day early!): Wesley Lau

This entry was meant for tomorrow, actually, but since I forgot to announce that I decided to see if I could get it up today instead, so it would be here for anyone checking in.

Tomorrow, June 18th, is Wesley Lau’s birthday. (He was born in 1921.) Perhaps it’s fitting to make the post today, when this year the 17th falls on Father’s Day. When Wesley was first starting work on Perry, he and his wife had a young child. They were grateful for the steady pay Wesley received for his part in the main cast. And among the beautiful tributes to him on his epitaph is “beloved father.”

I’ve continued to attempt watching Wesley in his guest-starring roles whenever I can. I found him in an episode of Combat!, where he not only played a German, he spoke the language.

He seems to turn up as characters of Germanic descent semi-frequently. I’ve always imagined it was because with his blond hair and blue eyes, he looked the part quite well. And if he knew the German language before he ever needed to speak it on Combat!, that was surely part of the reason as well.

EDIT: I finally looked up the origin of his family name, Lau, and it is German. That is a surprise to me; it definitely did not call German to my mind from its spelling. But then again, I'm certainly no expert in German.

He has a small part in the suspense thriller Skyjacked as an FBI agent. I wish he had been involved in the film’s main action, though; they just talk to him on the phone in a scene.

He appears in an early episode of The Big Valley, as someone in town trying to hide a secret about an affair he had with another woman. While cowardly for a large portion of the episode, he does finally seem to come to want to repent and to mend things with his wife.

Slightly along the same lines is his second Bonanza appearance, in which he plays a clinging and needy brother of a woman who is falling in love with Ben Cartwright. is misleading in their descriptions of the episode; they make Wesley's character sound like some sort of treacherous villain. Really, he isn't. He's a series of contrasts: he honestly wants his sister to be happy and to find someone, but he is terrified of losing her and doesn't want her to fall in love because of that. When they were children, she accidentally started a fire that killed their parents and left his lungs injured for life. He may or may not hold her responsible for that; he indicates it once, but he could have been speaking in his fear. She has always blamed herself and feels that she must stay with him no matter what.

He’s also been in three episodes of Mission: Impossible, once as a definite antagonist, once as an assistant to the antagonist, and once as a neutral party (a security guard). The one in which he plays the antagonist, My Friend, My Enemy, is especially intense. He and his cronies try to brainwash Leonard Nimoy’s character into killing Jim Phelps!

I’ve even seen him play downright psychopaths, such as in an episode of Have Gun-Will Travel. He also sometimes plays young ruffians; he did this twice on Gunsmoke, and one time was in the episode Miguel’s Daughter with Simon Oakland! That isn’t the only time they can both be seen in something, either; they were both in I Want to Live! (albeit they did not share scenes) and in Crosscurrent, a television movie I still want very badly to see.

(I did manage to locate another television movie with Wesley, Incident on a Dark Street. It’s a very good film, all about the workings of the U.S. Attorney’s office. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the subject matter as well as for Wesley, who has a small part as a defense attorney. For me being fascinated by the district attorney’s office, I greatly enjoyed the whole film.)

A third time on Gunsmoke he played a ranch hand forced into keeping silent about the cruel and merciless killing of his boss. He doesn’t want to keep quiet, and had tried and failed to stop his associate from committing the murder. When he later discovers the wretch is stealing the widow’s cattle, he confronts him and is shot down and left for dead. Though he survives and struggles back to the house, he’s terrified to the point of tears that he’ll be blamed for the old man’s murder, especially when he hears that the real murderer was shot down in a fight by Marshal Dillon. Thankfully, there is a happy ending for him.

Most recently I saw Wesley in Cannon, playing a blackmailer. The most interesting notation about that role is that he and Richard Anderson both played characters with the exact same name of Ray Norman. And Richard’s character by that name was in The New Perry Mason!

We lost Wesley on August 30th, 1984. He was an amazing and sadly underrated actor. From all I’ve seen, he could handle any part he was given, from innocent and hapless ranch hands to cold and calculated spies to completely mad killers. And while of course Lieutenant Anderson is my favorite of his characters, I love branching out and seeing all the many others he is capable of portraying.

Interestingly enough, it was Amory Fallon (from The Impatient Partner) and not Andy who made me realize I’d become quite fond of not only Wesley, but Andy as well. I’d been lukewarm towards Andy up to that point. And I hadn’t wanted to bring him into my stories. Now I can scarcely imagine them without him.

I think the reason that Amory was the key may have been that Amory showed a lot more emotion than Andy had up to that point (I hadn’t rediscovered The Hateful Hero yet), and the contrast between the characters somehow brought me to the hidden knowledge of my positive feelings. The Impatient Partner is still one of my favorite episodes. After I finally see the uncut version this week, I should spotlight it in a post.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Case of the Sleepy Slayer: The writer most certainly wasn't sleeping!

One episode I enjoy watching repeatedly is season 8’s The Sleepy Slayer. It’s a very intense and twisted episode with some delightful extras, including a pleasing scene with Perry and Hamilton and (finally!) a male secretary who’s a good guy.

This is one of Samuel Newman’s episodes. He’s one of my most favorite recurring writers for the series. He usually tends to be kind to Hamilton in his scripts. And the plots are generally very intense and surprising. I wonder what season 9 would have been like if he had remained as Story Consultant.

I wonder how someone even gets chosen as Story Consultant. It seems that they would need a great deal of knowledge and understanding as to how the characters tick. Samuel Newman performed very well. Some others . . . well, always didn’t seem to as much.

But back to The Sleepy Slayer. It opens showing us one of the most dysfunctional households throughout the entire series, which is quite an arguable accomplishment. The old and nasty patriarch of the household, Abner Gordon, throws a temper tantrum and refuses to take his medicine. To the poor young nurse’s horror, this results in a stroke and a collapse. It’s not the first time it’s happened. But he’s too filled with hate to die off. The doctor comments that not even death wants him and that this could go on for years.

Rachel Gordon, Abner’s niece, still lives there. For the past fifteen years, it’s been because Abner has threatened that if she leaves or gets married, he’ll disinherit her. And she thinks one and a half million dollars is worth staying in the Hell Abner’s created for her. She keeps hoping he’ll die. And she threatens to kill him herself if he doesn’t.

The household, from the doctor to the nurse to Bruce Jay the secretary, as well as the other staff members, all feel sorry for Rachel and are sickened by how far she’s been pushed to the edge of a nervous breakdown. I, personally, had a hard time feeling sorry for her from the beginning. Her poor, oppressed persona didn’t feel believable to me, not when she showed such unbridled hatred not only to Abner Gordon (where it was certainly understandable), but to the hapless Bruce Jay, who had never done a thing to her. She snarls at him that she’ll see he’s thrown out of the house someday. And in spite of that, Bruce continues to worry about and defend her.

Perry is handling a legal matter for Bruce, who is concerned that money Abner promised him will not be handed over if the second will is introduced. He wants to leave the house and marry the nurse, and Abner doesn’t seem to want him to go, either. Bruce was staying there in the first place because of an accident in a plant owned by Abner, an accident that caused Bruce’s lungs to become gravely injured. Abner paid his bills and offered for him to stay at the house as a secretary. He said that if Bruce ever wanted to leave he would give $50,000, but it’s possible he may refuse to do so aside from Bruce inheriting it in his will after his death.

There’s a mysterious attempted break-in at the Gordon house. When the police arrive, the sergeant wants to talk with Rachel but she refuses to see him. At the same time someone tried to break in, she was stealing money from Abner’s desk. She’s been secretly seeing a man on the side, a repulsive fellow who only wants her money and doesn’t care a bit about her. When Abner and his accountant learn of the missing money and Abner threatens her to return it by Monday if she doesn’t want him to replace his current will with the one that disinherits her (and everyone else), she begs her boyfriend to return the money she’s already given him. He says he can’t and walks out, telling her to pray her uncle dies before Monday.

Rachel still hasn’t talked to the sergeant about the attempted break-in. Instead she goes out and tries to buy a gun. Not wanting a police record to exist, she opts for a second-hand gun at a pawnshop and bribes the pawnbroker into not adding her name and address to his record. In one of the series’ most chilling and shocking scenes, Rachel practices her shooting in the middle of a lightning storm. As the thunder crashes and disguises the sounds, she fires repeatedly at a dead log while envisioning Abner’s sneering face.

Everything is set up so Rachel seems to be the usually poor, misunderstood, and innocent defendant. After telling the other household members that she wants to teach Abner a lesson in how he can’t torment them for the fun of it, and instructs them all to leave for twenty-four hours starting the next day, she drops scalding coffee on her arm due to a loose coffeepot handle and screams in utter agony. The doctor treats and sedates her, saying that she’s very close to a complete breakdown.

Early the next morning, the housekeeper gets up and hears that someone else is up. Upon curiously going upstairs and to Abner’s room, she discovers in horror that Rachel is shooting Abner with her gun. Rachel then collapses, having apparently been under the influence of the drug’s inhibitor-removing properties.

Upon the horrifying events of the murder, Bruce asks Perry to come to the house. He does, and while waiting for Bruce, discovers an upsidedown book on law in the library. All the others have dust on them, but not the one out of place.

Bruce enters and pleads with Perry to defend Rachel. Perry says he can’t because of the conflict of interest, but agrees to talk with her until she can find her own counsel. However, she is wheeled out on a gurney, unconscious and again sedated, and on her way to the prison ward of the hospital. Andy says that Hamilton won’t allow anyone to see her without an Okay from his office.

There are some classic lines of dialogue from the characters throughout the episode. One of my favorites is from Andy in this scene. Upon being told that Rachel has been through a terrible experience, he dryly and flatly replies, “Yes. I saw Abner Gordon’s body.”

Investigative goings-on happen. The accountant talks of the missing money and gives an intriguing and very sad possible insight into Abner’s behavior. “Did you ever stop to think that the last thing in the world he wanted was for Rachel to leave him?” Perhaps it was so. And Bruce had said that Abner was kind to him when the plant he owned caused Bruce’s lifelong illness. Certainly Abner did not seem to be of the same caliber as the most wretched and evil of the murder victims.

Paul tries to talk with Rachel’s boyfriend and is thoroughly disgusted by him and his uncaring and unconcerned attitude towards Rachel. He even says he’ll make her look guilty if he’s put on the witness stand. While observing him getting ready for a date with another girl, one who has a lot of money, Paul casually (and deliberately) knocks the bottle of cologne off the dresser and causes it to spill all over the guy. He exclaims in indignation. Paul just smiles and says, “Tracey-boy, you smell real pretty. You might just get yourself a platoon of promoters.”

It’s one of Paul’s best and most unexpected scenes. We don’t usually see him get so thoroughly revolted by someone, and it’s even less often that he does something about it. Still less often than that when he does it with a smile. Tracey is a new breed of rat, and Paul responds highly unfavorably and unusually.

Eventually Paul learns that Abner was dead when Rachel fired at him. He was poisoned. Consequently, Rachel has been released. Andy comes in with a warrant for Bruce.

The hearing proceeds with some wonderful and thorough handling by Hamilton, who questions the witnesses on every angle and wants to make sure he has everything correct. Perry remains extraordinarily silent, bewildering Hamilton and everyone else. Of course, Perry has a plan.

That night he, Hamilton, Paul, and the police are waiting on a cold and rainy street. Hamilton wanders over to Perry and says that they’ve been there for over two hours. Perry wonders if Hamilton has lost his curiosity, to which Hamilton replies in the negative. Perry says that the man they’re waiting for is a creature of habit, in more ways than one. Hamilton’s answer is gold: “Yes, and that’s the problem—so am I! And one of my habits is sleeping at night!”

At last the person they’re waiting for arrives. He’s caught buying drugs, which are hidden in a book. He’s revealed to be Tracey. As Paul approaches he says, “Tracey-boy, you just got yourself that platoon of promoters.”

In court the next day, Tracey admits that he’s a drug addict. Rachel tried to stick him in a recovery program but it didn’t take. He was hooked to her pocketbook and she to him. The night of the murder, she called him at midnight and told him she’d left a bit more money under his pillow. The problem is, she was supposed to have been under heavy sedation at midnight, put under an hour earlier. And Tracey insists he didn’t kill Abner so that Rachel would inherit all the money; he wouldn’t kill and anyway, he was out getting a fix.

Perry gets Rachel on the stand. And in one of his most awesome examinations ever, he pokes holes in her story and reveals her true plan: to get everyone to feel sorry for her and think she was having a nervous breakdown, then kill Abner Gordon “not once, but twice” to throw suspicion off of herself. She burned herself with the coffee on purpose so the doctor would have to sedate her. Then she negated the effect of the drug with a drug she stole from Tracey and called him at midnight. She deliberately poisoned Abner with the drug Bruce uses to breathe easier when his lungs hurt him, in order to throw suspicion on him. And three hours after Abner was dead, she went into his room, pretending to be in a drugged stupor, and fired three times.

She tries to protest that she didn’t have present ability when she shot Abner. Perry corners her on that and asks her how she knows the legal term if she hasn’t been reading law books. She studied up on every angle of the crime, and was the one who left the volume upsidedown in the library. “I have never heard of such a deliberately evil plan,” Perry declares. Rachel finally breaks down in tears on the witness stand.

The epilogue finds Della wondering how Perry knew the upsidedown law book was really a clue and not just a random coincidence. Perry smiles and reminds Della of a famous saying by Justice Holmes. Smiling too, Della quotes, “Even a dog can tell the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked.”

I have to say that, since I never liked Rachel, I was pleased to see that my feelings were quite justified. But we’re left wondering exactly how much of her sympathetic act was indeed just an act. She was hateful and bitter towards both Abner and Bruce, yet she appeared to genuinely love Tracey. Or at least, she seemed needy around him and most unlike the evil woman who hated and plotted. And her crying in court may or may not have been faked.

Bruce Jay was far kinder to her than she ever deserved. Despite her clear hatred of him, he still worried about her and wanted Perry to defend her after the shooting. And he staunchly defended her to Perry and others, insisting on how cruelly Abner had mistreated her and pushed her to a breakdown.

And of course, Hamilton was wonderful. I enjoyed his careful examinations of all the witnesses, particularly the doctor, as he wanted to make certain he had all of the facts straight. That would have been awesome enough, but then Sam Newman also threw in that scene with Hamilton joining Perry and the others on a stakeout. An absolute, perfect surprise.

All of the main characters really get their chances to shine in this episode. And the plot is so dark and twisted. For once, we’re actually really seeing the murderer’s plan unfolding, and who the murderer is, but it’s so obvious that it seems it can’t be and that Rachel must be the poor, poor person she pretends she is. Seeing Perry expose her for the wicked woman she truly is, is delicious. I believe that, even though Perry's scenes of exposing the murderers are usually always epic, I’ve only rarely enjoyed Perry’s examinations as much or more than this one.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Candy Queen vs. The Silent Partner

I wonder a bit why the writers wanted to remake some of the older episodes. Were they running out of script ideas? Did they think they could tell the stories better? Were they fiddling around just trying to see what they could come up with?

Remakes of anything, of course, are usually not popular. I’m always surprised when I hear about one that’s really taken off, such as the recent Battlestar Galactica or Hawaii 5-0. (I still want to see the latter, out of curiosity.) When it comes to remakes of Perry episodes, my opinion varies depending on the episode itself.

As ranted about before, I found The Vanishing Victim, the remake of The Fugitive Nurse, quite terrible in many ways. There were a couple of things I liked, but overall the episode really belonged in season 1. The atmosphere even felt like season 1. It doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else, and certainly not in season 9. Had it been season 1 I would have liked it a lot better. When it appeared in season 9 it just perplexed me. I already spoke of it at length in another post, so I won't reiterate it here.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I loved season 7’s The Woeful Widower, the remake of The Fiery Fingers. I felt that it improved on the story and really threw in a dark twist. Not that The Fiery Fingers didn’t have a dark twist as well, but the remake arguably had a larger or at least a more rare one. Perry defended someone who was actually guilty? Well, it was a robbery case, and Perry was a friend of the court, but still. That woman ended up being a multiple murderer (even though she hadn't been arrested for that at the point when Perry defended her).

Others I’m left not quite sure what to make of one way or the other. The Impetuous Imp falls in that category. Overall it’s a very intriguing and intense episode. But I’m not fully sure what the writer’s intention was with some of the plot angles he threw in. And I far prefer the more serious defendant of the original Negligent Nymph to the somewhat ditzy gal we get in Imp.

But that episode will get its chance at a full-length examination another time. This time I’m thinking more of The Candy Queen, the remake of The Silent Partner.

The first time I saw the former at any recent date, I had just come from seeing the original. I found that The Candy Queen did not handle some of the key plot elements as intensely as The Silent Partner. For instance, the girl who gets poisoned in the remake is never even heard of until she calls Perry on the phone, gasping for breath. But in the original, she is seen in a couple of scenes before that, and I think that works much better.

There’s just a certain intensity and intrigue present in the way The Silent Partner is told overall that makes it a classic. Half of the episode takes place over one night. The poor defendant has a nervous breakdown and is too ill to even be brought to trial. Hence, it’s the first time the mystery is solved out of court. And Tragg, rather grumpy at being disturbed late at night when he’s just taking his groceries home (including a loaf of Wonder Bread), has some wonderful screentime.

That’s not to say that there aren’t things I don’t care as much for. Season 1 certainly presented Hamilton as an outright antagonist more than once, and that is the case here. It’s the first time one of those wild accusations goes flying, I believe. Sometimes Hamilton has a basis in fact for what he’s upset about, but the accusation he makes here (that Perry told his client to fire another, random shot from the murder gun) just seems out of left field.

On the other hand, Perry has messed around with guns himself sometimes, including in the very first episode. Strangely, it seems like the things he does that are the most off-the-wall are things Hamilton doesn’t find out about. I suppose it’s possible that he does find out, off-screen, and those things are why he gets so upset and flings around the oddball accusations. That would certainly make it make more sense.

The Candy Queen did not ignore the character development with Hamilton over the past nine seasons, the way some of the other season 9 episodes did. In fact, I think just about everyone has awesome moments in it. And due to that, there are some rather surprising and delightful tidbits along the way.

This is the episode where Paul first seems to show that he particularly likes Steve Drumm’s company. When they call the police, worried about the girl having been poisoned, Steve answers. Paul perks up and asks, “Is that you, Steve?”

Paul must be in quite a good mood. While talking with Clay later on, he even acts a bit as though he’s defending Hamilton’s prosecution of Claire Armstrong, the titular Candy Queen, co-owner of a successful candy company.

Clay’s view of the whole thing made me raise an eyebrow a bit. He doesn’t think Claire should be prosecuted, even if she did kill the victim. After all, the victim was definitely a crook and not a good fellow to have around. Paul doesn’t vocally disagree but asks, “And if you were the district attorney?” Clay says he would pay Claire a bounty and that that’s how such cases should be handled.

Clay is definitely a unique and colorful character. I think I should do a character spotlight on him. He is a very prominent fixture during the final season.

The police are awesome, just as Tragg was in the original Silent Partner. Steve shows he is both tough and compassionate. While worrying for the poisoned girl he takes the keys from the fumbling apartment manager to get the right key for the girl’s apartment. Moments later he tells her not to pick up the phone when she finds it off the hook in the room. She is disgruntled (or further disgruntled, rather, after the key incident), and Steve tries to make amends by explaining why she needs to leave things alone. He looks adorably awkward and embarrassed, not having wanted to come off too harsh.

Sergeant Brice is around and gets stuff to do! Steve has him break up the crowd that has gathered outside the girl’s old address upon seeing the police. Later, he takes a call about the homicide at the gambling joint.

And we get a guest policeman in the form of William Boyett as a hardboiled vice officer. He leads a raid into the gambling establishment and it’s he and his men who find the body there. Best line, when addressed as “friend” by one of the staff members there: “I’m not your friend.”

Hamilton has a great deal of screentime, unlike the one scene he gets in The Silent Partner. They go to court in this version; Claire doesn’t have a nervous breakdown. He handles things in a mature and calm manner. I believe the only time he really objects to something is when Perry comes across as badgering a witness. It does look that way, definitely, especially to someone who doesn’t know what’s fully going on (as Hamilton doesn’t). Although even if he knew, he would still have to object on technical grounds.

And Perry definitely has good reason to be angry at said witness, who is a complete slimeball and lies to protect himself while digging Claire deeper into a pit. And that’s after he already told Perry and Paul the truth and said he would tell it in court to help Claire. He had threatened the victim with Claire’s gun, which was how it had gotten to the gambling joint. It had then been taken from him and he had fled.

In all fairness to the creep, if he deserves fairness, he does look sickened and guilty as he lies on the witness stand. But that doesn’t change a thing about his story. Paul comments in disgust that he knew the guy couldn’t be trusted.

Said slimeball was also someone Claire seemed to have been interested in. She had tried to help him repeatedly, so his betrayal was even more of a blow. And the guy who co-owned the candy business with her had recognized what he was but Claire had refused to believe him, even planning to not renew his contract. Those around Claire had thought she was just awful for it. I imagine she felt horrible too, when the whole truth of everything came out.

Perry does do something rather jaw-dropping at the climax. To prove that the poisoned girl is lying and that she couldn’t have eaten five pieces of candy without realizing there was something wrong with them, he brings a box of chocolates to court and has some of the pieces doctored with what he later claims is a bit of the poison. The girl recognizes something is wrong on the first bite.

I was stunned by that method both times I recently saw the episode, but I don’t think I put enough stock in it. I suppose that’s because I figured Perry didn’t put in enough to do any real damage, and that he would have stopped her if somehow she hadn’t tasted the bitterness, but still. And then I’ve also wondered if Perry really did put poison in those pieces of chocolate or if he just said it to psych the girl out and he substituted something else bitter instead. If it was the poison, that does seem like one of the most appalling stunts he’s pulled in a while. Even moreso considering that the girl really was poisoned with the stuff earlier (albeit she poisoned herself on purpose). Maybe even having a small amount could have caused a negative reaction, considering the poisoning.

The poisoner being the same person as the poisonee is the same as in The Silent Partner. That person is also the murderer. But the motive was different. The original girl didn’t even know the defendant, I don’t think, save for one brief meeting. Here, they were cousins, raised as sisters. But she was jealous of Claire and felt that Claire had everything. And she wanted the formula for the candy that Claire had inherited. It reminded me of the climax of The Fiery Fingers.

The epilogue has Claire going on a cruise, after finally renewing her co-owner’s contract, and Paul being late to see her off. He makes it just in time with a gift, which Della realizes in disbelief is a box of chocolates. Just what a candy-maker doesn’t need. But Claire is sweet and gracious and tells a downcast Paul that it’s just what she needed.

All in all, my conclusion about The Candy Queen is that, while The Silent Partner might be better plot-wise, character-wise I prefer The Candy Queen. And despite their similarities, if it hadn’t said at the beginning that it was based on The Silent Partner, there wouldn’t have been much to tie them together. The Candy Queen doesn’t even have the same atmospheric feeling as the original. It’s thoroughly embedded as a later venture. The two are really quite different episodes, and perhaps overall, should be examined as such. Standing on its own, The Candy Queen will likely fair better than if it is compared to The Silent Partner.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Assistant District Attorneys and Mr. Burger's Interaction with Them

(I’m late! I’m late! I’m late for an important date!

I apologize; I may be a bit delayed in getting up all the blog posts this month. These June writing prompts are taking up more of my time than the other theme sets I wrote for the 31 Days community. Plus I have work and some other Perry-related projects, the latter of which I may talk about later. Hopefully I won’t be so delayed that I’ll post here on the wrong days.)

Ah, the assistant district attorney. It’s an office we see quite a lot of on Perry, particularly at the last of season 3 and throughout a great deal of season 4. (And in season 2’s The Stuttering Bishop, as an unplanned venture when William Talman had laryngitis.) And we’ve probably only seen a drop in the bucket of the sheer number available; the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has over a thousand of them.

It’s a bit curious that we don’t often see Hamilton interact with these vital members of his staff (aside from the silent communications between them whenever Hamilton is in court and has one in tow). Of course, the main times they have speaking roles are when he is not around, but there are still cases where they and he appear in the same episodes and all speak.

I’m still trying to remember if Hanley from episode 19, The Haunted Husband, is an assistant D.A. or an investigator. In either case, that is probably the first time we ever see Hamilton converse at length with someone from his office. In the uncut version of the episode Hanley even has a scene of his own, as he questions the girl survivor of a car wreck.

A good example of Hamilton’s character development is in his handling of the assistant district attorneys. While he is very mature and sobered with Hanley (whoever he is) in The Haunted Husband, Hamilton in the early episodes certainly has a tendency to be more impulsive, blurt out things he probably shouldn’t, and generally display how young he is at the time. His behavior in the scene with Hanley (and many other scenes) is an intriguing contrast, another side of his personality. Certainly, everyone has many facets.

As the seasons pass, however, Hamilton reflects this. In the later episodes, he is by and large older and wiser. The more mature side of his personality is more prominent than his outbursts. And, no longer as rash as he once was, he counsels those around him who are.

Larry Germaine in The Fatal Fetish is definitely a prime example. Youthful and impetuous, Larry digs himself into a deep mess with the femme fatale Carina Wileen. Hamilton sees what Larry doesn’t and tries to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Larry snaps at him, much as a young boy might do with someone older than he if he feels the counsel is unneeded and unwanted. Hamilton is clearly stunned and hurt by this. He later tells Mignon that he’s worrying about Larry. And when Larry loses his temper and tries to grab Neil Howard, another attorney, Hamilton has to physically pull him back.

The full extent of Hamilton’s concern for Larry is unknown, but considering his canonical admittance that he and Mignon are close friends, it seems likely that Hamilton could have also known Larry quite well even before he joined the D.A.’s office. I certainly believe that Hamilton’s association with him goes deeper than just that Larry works under him. But I’m also sure that Hamilton is concerned for every one of his assistants and that, were any of them to get themselves in the same kind of mess, Hamilton would be just as involved in trying to help them as he was with Larry.

One of Hamilton’s assistants also plays an extended and unique role in season 9’s The Impetuous Imp, a remake of season 1’s The Negligent Nymph. While I’m a bit unsure what to make of the episode overall, I am fascinated by the rarely seen angle of what Hamilton does when one of his assistants has the reins. I’m even more fascinated since it’s really just a subplot and doesn’t directly connect to the main plot (save for the assistant’s impulsiveness in court and his seeming reluctance to let Perry investigate the murder scene until he’s done looking it over himself). Hamilton and his assistant have a whole subplot?! Oh yes!

Hamilton and the young assistant, Bill Vincent, seem to be on quite friendly terms with each other. Showing how congenial Hamilton can be, he even brings the kid along to Clay’s for lunch with Perry and Steve. This is following a robbery hearing at which Bill lost to Perry. They have a very interesting scene where Hamilton good-naturedly tells Bill he should never let Perry talk him into stipulating anything. He describes some of Perry’s methods, still calmly and peaceably, and Perry, Steve, and Clay all join in the conversation. It’s a very nice, relaxed, and friendly scene.

Hamilton supports Bill in his decisions concerning the murder room, once the murder happens. And he is willing to let Bill do as he feels best; under the circumstances Hamilton doesn’t feel that Bill is doing wrong.

But he is not blindly accepting of everything his assistants do, either. That was shown with Larry Germaine and again here, when Hamilton interrupts the preliminary hearing with new information just as Bill is acting out badly in court. Hamilton all but apologizes for him and says that he is taking over the case due to the new information he’s found. It is quite possibly also because he realizes that Bill isn’t ready for these responsibilities yet and that he needs to take over before Bill further embarrasses himself or the D.A.’s office by his upholding of a situation that could be seen as an obstruction.

I have to say, I wish Bill had returned in other episodes. He could have been a wonderful gateway into the goings-on at the district attorney’s office and towards seeing more of this side of Hamilton’s personality. He was so prominently featured that I found myself wondering whether he was the murderer (he wasn’t) or if he was a character they were bringing in to test for a spin-off (who knows). If he was just meant to be there as an interesting twist, they succeeded. And they impressed me for taking that path on a series so often focusing mainly on the defense team.

Hamilton also interacts with an assistant D.A. later in season 9, in The Golfer’s Gambit. When he needs to testify to a phone call in court, he has the assistant take over and question him. From what I recall, the assistant looked a bit nervous or apprehensive. I would have liked to have seen them converse a bit at some other point in the episode (and for that matter, for Hamilton’s whole testimony scene to have been handled better; see my post on that episode for those comments).

Those are the only times I can think of when Hamilton had any kind of extensive scenes with his assistants. I would have liked to have seen him handle the insufferable Sampson from season 4. I wonder a bit if Hamilton did talk to him, off-screen, since in Sampson’s third and final appearance he is more subdued.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Notable Guest-Stars: Richard Anderson

Whew. This has been a very busy last twelve hours, from hurrying to finish Crystal’s birthday gift to working on today’s prompt for the Perry story idea I mentioned last post. These stories seem to be turning out by and large longer (and more detailed) than the ones I wrote for the other theme sets. I’m barely keeping abreast of the current theme, whereas before I was usually several themes ahead. By the way, I’m gathering all of the prompts at this link, for the interested:

While musing earlier on what today’s post could be I thought of a very interesting phenomenon that has happened more than once on the series: when a guest-star later becomes a regular cast member (albeit rarely playing the same character). To that end, I decided to spotlight Richard Anderson in his two guest-star status episodes.

Richard has quickly become one of my favorite actors, as I am very fond of Lieutenant Drumm. I’ve started to look up Richard’s work on other series. And Richard is one of the few guest-starring actors I like enough to get me actively interested in deliberately choosing an episode without Hamilton in order to see the guest star. True, I like his episode in season 7 best, but both were really quite good. And the out-of-town prosecutor in the season 8 episode didn’t have a lot of screentime, and for once, I rather liked him anyway, so I didn’t have to think a lot about how different he was from Hamilton.

Richard first appeared in episode 14 of season 7, The Accosted Accountant. He plays the titular character, a man faced with evidence that the president of the company (and his own father-in-law to boot) has been mismanaging the company and even embezzling. He feels the man needs to resign, which causes friction between him and his wife. And the plot only gets more twisted when the president, B.K. Doran, feels he has evidence that Edward Lewis, the accountant, is the one embezzling. Of course, this comes out to bite Ed when B.K. turns up dead, killed by Ed’s letter-opener.

Ed is a friend of Perry’s and had asked for him and Paul to help with the case he’s building concerning B.K.’s embezzlement. Now he has to have their help when he’s accused of murder.

It’s one of the delights of season 7, for many reasons. There is some excellent interaction between Perry and Hamilton, which will be discussed at length when this episode gets its own spotlight post. And it also gives us some intriguing and ironic interaction between two more people: Wesley Lau and Richard Anderson. It’s impossible to watch them in the same scene and not think of Andy questioning and arresting Steve. While it’s a pity their detective characters never met, it’s still a treat to watch the only interaction between them on the series. Within a season and a half, Wesley would be passing the torch to the man his character arrests here.

Season 8’s The Paper Bullets features Richard portraying Jason Foster, a Senatorial candidate. His campaign is marred by the attempts of his competitor’s brother to involve Jason’s younger sister in scandal. (And for once, the competitor himself seems to be upright and is upset by his brother’s actions. I love it.) It doesn’t help that the sister, Susan, doesn’t believe she’s being used and is very bitter towards Jason, feeling that he keeps her on a tight leash. And things go from bad to worse when her boyfriend turns up dead, it looks like Jason’s wife may have killed him, and Susan is certain Jason did it.

Susan is one of the most teeth-grinding characters I’ve encountered on the series. Gah, the way Jason looks when he tries to talk to her and she continually rejects him, totally breaks my heart. She even has a horrid outburst right in court, saying she’s not hostile towards the prosecutor, but she is towards Jason.

Unless the episode is missing a scene, she somehow has a complete turnaround after that low point. She goes to Jason and apologizes for ever thinking he would kill that guy and let Maggie take the blame. I was glad to see her shape up, yet the scene left me somewhat unsatisfied, as I couldn’t quite figure out what led to it. Did she just need to vent, and once it was out, she calmed down and realized how asinine she was being? Or were the writers being lazy?

In any case, Susan is nice for the remainder of the episode and in the epilogue, she and Maggie both embrace Jason as the press snaps their picture. In addition to Maggie being cleared, Jason wins the election. A nice ending all around.

And the whole thing left me wondering what it would be like if Steve Drumm had a sister around Susan’s age. I can just imagine him being overwhelmed with all the problems that would crop up. Hopefully she wouldn’t be as frustrating as Susan was for most of the time, but they would definitely have their disagreements.

Overall, both of Richard Anderson’s guest-spots are very enjoyable to watch. It’s easy to see why he became a prime casting choice when, for whatever reason, Wesley was no longer around.

Richard is one of the few cast members still alive. I’ve even seen him on Facebook and a couple of Blogspot accounts, albeit he doesn’t seem to have time to update the latter. But it’s exciting to see him wanting to connect with his fans in these ways. From all I’ve seen and read, he’s not only an awesome and professional actor, he’s a gracious and friendly person.