Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Case of the Lawful Lazarus: Say what?

I’ve seen The Lawful Lazarus several times in the past year, and each time I’ve concluded that it isn’t one of my favorite episodes, even though I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly why. But I expect I’ll continue to watch it when it comes around, because there’s a lot of Andy and a fairly good amount of Hamilton. Season 6 generally is really good about giving them a lot of screentime, which makes it awesome for me. As long as they don’t seem out-of-character (and they don’t, here), their presence makes even mediocre episodes worth watching, for me.

I think I finally figured out what really bothers me about this episode, though. I’ve never really liked Jill Garson and haven’t ever quite figured out why Trevor Harris thinks she should be the guardian of his children. Okay, so she’s more normal than the rest of that dysfunctional family, true. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she should be raising the kids, either. In my opinion, all things considered, if Trevor didn’t feel that he could raise his kids, they should have been turned over to someone outside of the family entirely.

Trevor skipped out on his wealthy, invalid wife Barbara ten years ago, because the marriage just wasn’t working and he felt more like a piece of property than a husband. He doesn’t regret leaving her, but he does regret hurting the children. He returns to find her dying and the kids no longer in her cousin Jill’s care. At Jill’s request, they’ve been turned over to Uncle Edgar, whose love Barbara has never doubted. Trevor is alarmed, having seen that Edgar is not a fit person to care for the children. He spends much of the episode (before his arrest for Edgar’s murder) trying desperately to arrange things so that Jill will get custody of them again. He knows she loves them, he tells Perry.

Here’s another thing I don’t understand. Why isn’t more made of the fact that Jill herself requested Edgar to take them? Why doesn’t Perry point out to Trevor that regardless of whether Jill loves them, she deliberately gave them up? Why aren’t questions asked about why she did that until the case goes to court? Am I missing a scene where this goes on? (I know I’m missing something. Dratted edits!) Although I imagine that even if asked, Jill doesn’t tell the truth until they get to court. And boy, when the story comes out, is it a doozy.

As I understand it, Jill is aware that her brother was involved in something criminal, even though she doesn’t know what it was. And she knows that their uncle Edgar is blackmailing them, threatening to send her brother to prison unless she turns guardianship of the children over to Edgar. So she does.

… Which basically means that Jill is helping her brother elude justice, even though she knows he’s guilty of something, and she’s turned the children over to a blackmailer (who has an alcoholic wife).

Um, what?

Alright, sure, so she loves her brother and doesn’t want him to go to prison. But those children were placed in her care and she should be thinking of their well-being first and foremost. Her brother is a legal adult and has been for years, while those children are so young and innocent. And does she really think it’s a good idea to turn little kids over to someone who’s capable of blackmailing his own family members to get what he wants? Not to mention exposing them to an environment where his wife drinks to excess?

(There’s also the issue that Edgar is unfaithful to his poor wife, but that’s one thing I don’t think Jill knew.)

Honestly, if I was Trevor Harris, I’d be pretty upset once all of that comes out. How can Jill even be trusted to do what’s best for the kids when she’s proven that she puts her brother ahead of them (and when her brother is guilty, no less)?

And why in the world isn’t Jill charged with anything? It seems she’s just allowed to have the kids at the end, no strings attached. I suppose it’s because her brother committed a crime in the family business and the police don’t have authority to make an arrest if no one presses charges, but still.

Seriously, what a mixed-up family.

I’m also not crazy about how Trevor doesn’t even want to see his kids until he feels he can prove himself. He’s been away ten years, building up a business (if I remember right), so he hasn’t been bumming around. What he needs to focus on is his family. And how is he going to start proving himself to his kids if he continues to stay out of their lives altogether? He needs to ease himself back into their lives gradually, of course, but just speaking to them for a moment would be a good start.

In the end, I’m left scratching my head. It just seems like there’s a lot of bizarre writing where the guest-stars are concerned. I don’t get it.

I see the writer was someone named True Boardman. The only other Perry episode he wrote was The Ancient Romeo, another installment that I really don’t like. It’s also filled with strange behavior among the oneshot characters, and female characters that I find largely exasperating at best and irritating at worst.

However, I want to give Mr. Boardman his proper due. I may not care much for what he did with the guest-stars in either of those episodes, but as far as writing for the main cast, he did just fine. I’m thrilled with all the screentime he gave to Andy in The Lawful Lazarus. Sergeant Brice got a few lines in too, which always makes me happy. And Andy and everyone else sound quite in-character in both of Mr. Boardman’s episodes.

The only thing that has raised my eyebrow among the main cast every time is where Perry is insistent on seeing the prints made up from the infrared film, even asking if he’ll need a court order to see them. Seems he should have known that if Hamilton wasn’t planning to bring them out, there might be a reason other than what Perry seems to think it is. It goes to further show that the people representing the state aren’t the only ones making wild accusations and insinuations at times!

That other post I was contemplating on Thursday morning is something I think I’ll turn into a series of posts for October, wherein I examine each of the four paranormal-themed episodes as well as The Dodging Domino, the latter of which takes place at Halloween. I realize I already gave The Fatal Fetish a post, but this one would be to specifically highlight the seemingly paranormal aspects rather than the whole plot. I love Halloween—it’s my second-favorite holiday—and I’d love to celebrate, Perry-style.

I’m also writing a Halloween story that was originally going to be in one piece, but it’s getting too long for that. I’ll start separating it into chapters and begin posting it in October.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Character Interaction with Della

As the days march on towards the ever-busy last months and weeks of the year, I’m wondering if I’ll need to cut back again to one post per week. Nothing is definite yet, but I want to give a warning just in case.

I’ve been debating whether to do the musing on Della’s interaction with people or if I should do something else for now, especially since it’s shaping up to be one of those busy times. But at the moment I don’t have another topic except one perhaps better suited to posting in a week or more.

Out of all the characters, Della associates the most with Perry, of course. As his confidential secretary and close friend (and perhaps something else, depending on who you talk to), she’s with him through just about everything on the series. She’s absent from very few episodes overall (and curiously enough, Paul is in most of the ones she isn’t in, meaning he’s only absent from two or three total).

Della is a very levelheaded person. She’s also very compassionate and kind, and can easily be swept in by worried would-be clients’ problems. Sometimes, when Perry is hoping to get away for much-deserved vacations, new clients appear and Della tries to convince Perry to help, if she’s been taken in with their stories. This is seen in both The Green-Eyed Sister from season 1 and The Nine Dolls from season 4. Both times Perry initially balks, but of course, being compassionate and kind himself, he ends up taking the cases.

Sometimes Della’s compassion and kindness gets her into deep trouble, such as in The Weary Watchdog when she goes along with Janet’s pleas for help, even when it results in Della being arrested. Even Perry is upset about Della’s involvement, as he knows what could happen to her if she’s charged as an accessory to murder. And sometimes Della shows sympathy towards some of the murderers (The Romantic Rogue and others), as well as towards certain other rascals (The Sad Sicilian). It’s unclear what Perry thinks of this, but Paul is often appalled.

Barbara Hale is an excellent actress, and as some people mused on the Della-Perry Yahoo Group a while back, Della’s expressions can sometimes make a scene, even when she says nothing. It’s obvious when she’s taking in something someone is saying and when she likes or dislikes something. And the fond glances she casts Perry’s way are quite endearing.

It’s unknown how long Della has been with Perry in the series, or if the book Della’s background is also that of television Della. But it’s safe to assume that Della has been with him for a very long time, to have grown so close with him.

It’s unusual for Della to be visibly angry. The only time I can even think of where she becomes furious is in The Dead Ringer, when Perry’s client is fuming and believing that Perry was involved in bribing a witness. Both Paul and Della are outraged and defend Perry against the accusations.

Della loves children and is also highly resourceful. She can be gentle as a lamb with innocents (The Nine Dolls, The Borrowed Baby), and turn around and attack bad guys if she has to (The Bogus Buccaneers). It’s unclear if she learned the latter from hanging around Perry and Paul or if it’s some ingenuity on her part that she’s had for ages independent of them.

When Perry decides to tease Paul, Della generally goes along with it, if she’s around at the time. But as I don’t really care for the ways Perry teases Paul, especially about his money, I like it better when Della interacts with Paul on her own. They have a lovely and comfortable banter, with Paul often innocently flirting and Della coyly responding.

There are few times where Della and Paul are both investigating angles on a case, but one in which there’s some extensive interaction is The Glamorous Ghost from season 5. Della accompanies Paul to where Perry’s client’s sister is supposed to be staying and Paul gets to show off his investigative skills. Della gets to investigate a bit, too. Eventually she inadvertently discovers diamonds hidden in the girl’s face cream and a concerned Paul gives her instructions on what to do next.

Della absolutely breaks down in tears when Paul is brought to death’s door by poisoning in The Carefree Coronary. And at the hospital, while Perry is forced to leave to return, very reluctantly, to the ongoing inquest, Della opts to stay and wait for more news.

Being extremely loyal to Perry, Della doesn’t always seem to be on the best terms with those representing the state. When Lieutenant Tragg comes around she often seems to become aloof, although still charming in a distant way. With Tragg’s friendly facades, it’s not always easy to say whether he’s really got a bit of a crush on Della despite the age gap, but Della accepts his congenial comments and compliments with grace and poise. Sometimes, especially in season 2 episodes such as The Glittering Goldfish and The Lost Last Act, they appear to get along particularly well.

She expresses disapproval at Tragg allowing a witness to drop out of sight by registering at a hotel in season 5’s The Impatient Partner, calling it a “dirty trick”—even though it really is, as Tragg points out, the exact same thing Perry does all the time. As per season 5’s more book-oriented nature, relations between Tragg and Della are not so congenial, when they interact at all.

With Hamilton it’s hard to say if things are any better in general. Della usually seems fairly nice when speaking to him, which only happens rarely as it is, but in The Surplus Suitor she makes a quip about trying not to be hostile on the witness stand. Hamilton replies, as a quiet aside, that such would be a rare experience.

Della really doesn’t interact with him enough to present a clear picture of her feelings. She strongly dislikes a comment of his in The Lonely Eloper. In The Reluctant Model, she speaks to him with the same coy tone she sometimes uses with Tragg. And there’s the issue that Hamilton at least perceives that she treats him with hostility, since his quite aside seems completely serious and not just a return quip.

On the other hand, at least twice out of his presence she’s called him “Hamilton”, which Paul certainly would never do and which, under the circumstances, seems almost a term of endearment. Does she like him, in a platonic way? It’s a very good question. I would think that, since Perry likes him, Della would try to be open-minded. And maybe along the way, she would find that she’s come to like him too.

She also doesn’t interact much with Andy or Steve. With both of them she seems fairly comfortable and amiable, but there really isn’t much of any significant interaction to report. In The Weary Watchdog, Andy discusses the case and comes several times to deliver messages to Della from Hamilton, warning her of her state as an accessory when her friend Janet is charged with murder. Andy is sobered and seems reluctant. Della’s verbal responses to these messages are never shown in the script, and her facial reactions are mainly worried over what he’s saying. Steve, meanwhile, is more likely to interact one-on-one with Paul than Della. I can't remember if he's ever talked with Della at all, except to say Hello or Goodbye when they're having lunch or dinner with Perry and Paul, and in The Final Fade-Out when he delivers the invitation from Hamilton about dinner.

In season 9, Della interacts at times with Terrance Clay. Once, Della arrives laden with packages from shopping and wants Clay to help her stack them. Clay comments how he doesn’t understand women and Della proclaims him a masochist, in that matter-of-fact way of hers. Nevertheless, they usually seem to be on good terms.
The next post may or may not continue the interaction series. I think I might try to spread some of them out, with other topics in between.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The 55th Anniversary celebration continues! Perry's interactions with others.

After thinking things over, I decided one tribute post just isn’t enough for such a milestone anniversary. Especially when I slipped up and didn’t get one in at all last year. So, yay! We will celebrate here all weekend.

In fact, why stop there? Just assuming that CBS is celebrating too, with so many DVD releases, we can extend the festivities for as long as we want.

This post will be more particularly devoted to the characters rather than the seasons or other elements. I felt I just didn’t get enough said about the characters in the other post. I was going to make this an entry of all the main characters’ interaction, but I’ve found that it’s impossible. It’s already full-length and I’ve only covered how Perry interacts with the other characters. And I could easily get individual posts out of his interaction with each other main character at a time, instead of exploring it all in one post. So I may decide to do an entire series over the next few posts, on assorted character interactions between others on the show. I suppose I was already kind of tinkering with that, since I did a couple of posts on Andy’s interaction with certain others. But this series will mostly be on the main characters’ interaction with each other, instead of with oneshot characters.

The cast is so wide and varied in personality that it seems there’s surely someone for each viewer to gravitate towards. Each of the main actors really put themselves into their parts, perfectly bringing life to every fascinating character. And even the ones mostly in the background, such as Sergeant Brice, are highly memorable. Brice says very little, but he’s so often there, and Lee Miller makes sure he makes his mark as Old Faithful.

So let’s start with Perry, without whom we would not even have a show.

If we were in trouble, who of us wouldn’t want Perry for our lawyer? Seriously, we’d know we’d be in good hands with him. I may not approve of some of his methods, but I love his devotion to his clients. And although the angle wasn’t really explored as much as it could have been, it is kind of an interesting paradox in how Perry is generally so upright and yet has no problem with bending or occasionally even breaking the law when he feels it’s important. I was rather darkly amused when watching The Absent Artist and witnessing Perry telling Victor Buono’s character that tampering with evidence is a felony. And yet that’s exactly what Perry did several episodes earlier in The Mystified Miner.

For me, Perry is at his very best when he’s uncovering criminals in the courtroom through careful deduction. And I also often enjoy when he’s interacting with his friends.

I may not be that interested in actively pairing Perry and Della, but I do greatly love their interaction and coy banter. It’s immediately obvious how close they are beyond an employer-employee relationship, whether they’re friends or something else. Sometimes it looks like Della really wants that “something else”, but Perry neatly sidesteps the issues any time she brings them up. Usually Della seems quite content with things as they are, but she does look exasperated when Perry skirts topics she introduces, such as keeping a girl waiting for marriage.

Della often says the key thing that gets Perry figuring out how the mystery is solved, whether or not she means to. And they share a love of literature and apparently the Bible and have occasionally quoted passages and scriptures with each other.

I always find it interesting that Gardner insisted a good secretary would never sit on her boss’s desk, yet goodness, how many times it happened over the course of the series. And it definitely is another good indication of how close they are with each other. You wouldn’t do that with someone who is only your boss, unless you’re trying to be very forward!

Perry seems to drive Della to and from work on at least some days. He’s taking her home in The Fraudulent Foto, and it’s mentioned or implicated in other episodes. Della has a car at least by season 6, but I don’t recall if she had one in the early episodes.

She and Perry often go out for lunch or dinner, which often gets interrupted by current or new cases. In one season 7 episode, Perry suggests dinner and dancing. Whether or not they’re actually in a romantic relationship, they both seem to be very much at ease going on excursions generally classed as dates. They are the dearest of friends and love doing things together.

Meanwhile, Perry and Paul have a close but generally understated friendship.

Sometimes it feels unfair, some of the risks Perry has Paul take. But, as I wrote in The Denying Detective, Perry would never ask Paul to do something that Perry wouldn’t be willing to do himself. They usually both end up in trouble. And of course, Paul wouldn’t have to do some of the things Perry wants. But he does them anyway, and definitely not for the money, as he is often reluctant to participate at all. He does it because Perry is his friend and Paul knows that in the end Perry is working towards a greater good. Not that it necessarily justifies everything done (I say it doesn’t), but it does make for a complex situation.

One semi-running gag on the series is how Paul wants to be paid and thinks he doesn’t get enough, while Perry and Della think it’s too much. It’s never quite said whether he’s being unreasonable or if Perry is, but after all the stuff Paul does for him, I definitely think Paul deserves all the pay he asks for.

Paul and I don’t have much in common. In fact, we probably have the least in common of any of the main cast. But neither of us seem to like being teased. Paul looks quite exasperated when Perry and Della tease him about his money, sometimes keeping it from him, and sometimes even deciding themselves what to do with it instead of letting Paul decide (!). Usually, however, he takes the ribbing in stride. Sometimes, particularly with Della, he teases back.

I can’t help wondering if Perry decided to give Paul his money after all when he tore up a check once, claiming he couldn’t afford to pay him, and when he decided to give all of Paul’s check to Steve for some police fund or another. Some of the check would have been fine, if Paul had agreed, but all of the check?

I’ll admit that personally, I don’t generally go for such antics in friendships. I can’t really understand such behavior. I would never dream of it and I would hate it if someone acted like that with me. But I’m assuming that for Perry and Paul, it’s somehow all evidence of how close they really are, since Paul doesn’t just up and leave (and he definitely has left in situations where he feels like he’s being unfairly treated by other people). The Carefree Coronary, where Paul is at death’s door, really serves to show how Perry really thinks of him underneath all of the strange teasing. Perry’s sobered and stunned manner in the face of perhaps losing Paul is one of the most poignant moments in the series, as is Della’s breaking down and sobbing in Perry’s arms when she first comes to tell him the news.

Perry and Hamilton banter a lot too. It seems to be Perry’s preferred means of communicating with friends. And Hamilton himself seems to like it where Perry is concerned. While they spar more seriously in court, out of court it’s just fun and amusing. And they also often talk straight with each other, discussing the cases and what can be done. Theirs is a very comfortable friendship, capable of nonsensical banter as well as serious discussion.

It would be interesting to know what happened with them during the gap between seasons 1 and 2. Season 1 has hints of their friendship, and their banter, while by season 2 there’s a great deal more respect and camaraderie already in place. That’s not to say that Hamilton doesn’t still become exasperated and frustrated with some of Perry’s antics; he does, and often with good reason. But they are very good friends in spite of that, and that’s awesome.

Perry respected Hamilton before they even really became friends. He stood up for Hamilton more than once in the early episodes, my favorite being when he insists Hamilton would not bug the office in The Rolling Bones. Likewise, Hamilton respected Perry in spite of his frustrations. This respect definitely developed over the episodes and became a building block for their friendship.

Perry and Tragg are a bit more difficult to figure out. There’s some level of respect on both sides, perhaps more grudging on Tragg’s. And there’s some indication that they are also friends. Tragg comments that he’s almost like a member of the “family”. Tragg is certainly very comfortable hanging out in Perry’s office. He adopted that habit long before Hamilton started coming to visit. There’s some hint of the book Tragg in that, as Gardner portrayed him as being more receptive than Hamilton.

You know, I kind of wonder how Ray Collins got the part, since book Tragg is supposed to be closer to Perry’s age. I wonder how Ray even ended up auditioning. But I’m sure that once Gardner saw the fruits of said audition, he knew that Ray was just perfect, despite the age difference.

Perry is usually calm around Tragg, but occasionally he does lose his temper. The Mystified Miner is the best indication of that, but the scene still puzzles me a bit, since Tragg isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary (except sitting at Della’s desk).

Perry and Andy are normally quite easy-going with each other. Offhand, I can’t recall Perry ever even getting exasperated or angry with Andy, as he has with Tragg and even Steve, despite the fact that Andy has definitely become exasperated with him in season 8. Perry just stops and stares when he finds Andy sitting at Perry’s desk, talking on the phone, in an early season 8 episode.

And then there’s Perry and Steve. Perry’s reaction to Steve sometimes puzzles me a bit. He knows Steve is an honest, by-the-book cop, yet every now and then he throws an accusation at Steve to the contrary. I can’t recall what episode it is now, but once Perry seems to think Steve was asking questions he shouldn’t have without giving the suspect his rights. Steve assures him he didn’t start questioning until after.

Usually they’re on fairly good and relaxed terms with each other. Steve becomes consumed by his desire to catch the murdered policeman’s killer in The Sausalito Sunrise, which results in him not being relaxed at all and even throwing a few accusations at Perry (which aren’t completely unfounded, considering Perry’s past behavior). Perry even worries that Steve will get too rough with the murder suspects, although Steve promises he won’t do anything except convict them.

I absolutely love how Perry doesn’t give up on Steve and pushes him in court to take a fresh look at the case and the evidence and what doesn’t add up, because he knows he can count on Steve to come through if he can just make him understand. And finally he penetrates the anger and Steve realizes what’s happening. Steve manages to go save Perry’s life just in time, and he thanks Perry for helping to clear his mind. Perry says he had the best thing going for him—one good, honest cop.

In season 9, there’s also Perry and Terrance Clay. In many season 9 episodes, Perry hangs out at Clay’s Restaurant with the others and Clay comes around to chat it up with them. He and Perry are on very easy-going terms, as are Perry and Andy. Clay may offer commentary and suggestions on anything from the cases to life’s confusing conundrums, which Perry listens to with a smile.

I think the next post in this series will be Della’s interaction with everyone. And I’m not sure if I’ll do these posts straight through or if they’ll come now and then with breaks for other topics that come to mind. But I’m looking forward to them. It’s a chance to examine some things I don’t as much.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

General Series Tribute - 55 years of Television Perry

Eeeee! This news may be old-school now, since it’s a couple of weeks old, but I just learned of it a day or two ago thanks to Amazon. And it’s wonderful news to kick off a general series tribute post.

Even though the second half of season 7 should be out in a month (yes!), is already listing the first half of season 8 for a month after that! Here is the article on it, and some possible cover art:

This is very exciting news! Maybe CBS has finally realized that they’ve been moving too slow and need to pick up the pace. I thought it would be another year before the season 8 DVDs would arrive. I hope they don’t end up pushing the date along.

I just have one nagging question: Who is the fellow standing next to Perry in one of the top pictures? I’d almost be tempted to say some moron colored Andy’s hair black (possibly confusing him with Richard Anderson?), but he doesn’t exactly look like Andy. Yet in another way, he does. And continues to the more I stare at it. He has the same hairstyle, the same face shape, even the thicker eyebrows. He’s just . . . very improperly colored.

Oh goodness, if that’s supposed to be Andy, someone had better fix it! I was just silently complaining to myself about Andy not getting on any of the DVD boxes. It would be cringe-worthy indeed if they put him on one only to color him wrong. His hair is so very blond, easily seen in black-and-white and perfectly verifiable in any of Wesley Lau’s color appearances on other shows.

Ah, Andy. Steve. Perry, Della, and Paul. Hamilton and Tragg. Sergeant Brice. Gertie. It’s kind of mind-boggling to realize that it was 55 years ago yesterday, on September 21st, 1957, that television viewers were first introduced to Perry and company on our classic show. (And hey, maybe that’s the reason for the expedited DVD releases? The special anniversary?) That’s over half a century of Perry on television! And of course, some of the characters were known for about 24 years prior to that!

I read that some of the reviews for The Restless Redhead, the first episode, were lukewarm. I’m not sure myself if I like it as the one to begin with, but it certainly establishes many important and key elements of the series, from Perry’s desperate and frightened (and innocent) clients to the lengths Perry will go to protect said clients. Although I’m glad things were mostly toned down from his antics with the gun in The Restless Redhead.

The series changed over time; no two seasons are alike. It’s hard to exactly pinpoint and describe many of the changes, but some lead to others, and others after that.

Season 1 is raw and experimental. But it also has very intricate plots. That’s definitely an upside of being book-inspired. The downside would be some of Perry’s borderline (and occasionally crossing the line) illegal ventures. And there were definitely more wild accusations flung at Perry in season 1 than in any other season. Despite not wanting to change the basic formula, the writers did smooth out and mostly rid themselves of some aspects of it later on.

Season 2 is mostly television-exclusive plots. They’re still very watchable, as all the seasons are, and overall season 2 focuses more on the budding friendship between Perry and Hamilton that season 1 only hinted at. This continues in season 3, up to the point where William Talman was dismissed in real-life and Hamilton becomes absent.

Season 4 continues to deliver exceptional (and mostly television-only) mysteries, with the glaring omission of Hamilton. It could never feel right without him, and when he finally returns, all is right once again. But season 4 has a different feeling than any of the seasons that preceded it or succeeded it. It doesn’t feel like season 2 any more than season 3 feels like season 1. By this point everyone is quite comfortable with the series and has figured out more about the characters’ personalities. Perry and Hamilton’s friendship continues to develop, when Hamilton is around to help see to it.

Season 5 is an odd change of pace in many ways. Tragg’s screentime is starting to be reduced. Andy is coming in, albeit without much individual dialogue. David Gideon briefly pops in from season 4.

And the more book-inspired plots are back. There are more book-inspired goings-on in season 5 than there were in 2, 3, or 4 put together. The plots have a certain intricacy that the others, no matter how excellent, just don’t have. But it also means setbacks in character development. Perry pulls stunts the likes of which he hasn’t dared since season 1. He and Hamilton seem a lot less friendly again, with only a couple of episodes as exceptions.

It’s season 6 that really switches gears again. Much like season 2, the episodes’ plots are again mostly all television-exclusive. The book-inspired ones are more like television adaptations and don’t ignore the established character development.

Tragg is around when he can be, but by this point Andy is being given real personality. It’s increasingly clear that he is here to stay. As is Perry and Hamilton’s friendship, which has many chances to shine in season 6.

Season 7 continues the pattern. Tragg is quietly (and sadly) bowing out, but Andy is well-established by now. (And I still like to think that Tragg is still there, even if we don’t see him onscreen after The Capering Camera.) Perry and Hamilton still often disagree in the courtroom, but are clearly very close friends. Hamilton even admits, in The Ice-Cold Hands, to losing his temper and making a fool of himself. Oh, what a long way he has come from the young and impulsive Hamilton of season 1, whom I can scarcely picture admitting such things.

Season 8 is starting to show the signs of being a mixed-bag. There are many classic episodes, still mostly television-only, but some season 1 elements are creeping back in. Paul is threatened (not unreasonably, mind) with the loss of his license. Andy is sometimes tense, very unlike the calm fellow he has been prior to this. Perry and Hamilton’s friendship, thankfully, is still strong.

And then season 9, a full mixed-bag. The plots are still very good, but by now it’s clear that someone thinks the show needs to go back to its roots. There are season 1-type antics with Perry and more serious conflicts between him and Hamilton. They re-adapt some of the books that they already adapted in the past—and usually not as well as the first time around. They even bring in Clay’s Restaurant, a location mentioned in season 1, and finally show us the previously elusive Terrance Clay.

Andy is gone, with no explanation, and this time no easing out, as there was with Tragg. Instead we have Steve, someone very different from both Tragg and Andy. The writers seem to have figured out that the police character needs some good development, as Steve is given many glowing opportunities to show the varied facets of his personality. With Steve it makes sense, whereas with Andy his personality changes around season 8 seem more haphazard and unplanned.

You know, I have to wonder. After both season 1 and season 5, very book-inspired seasons, there were excellent seasons that were not so book-inspired. If there had been a season 10, would it have carried the tradition? My, it would have been a lot of fun to see Steve take part in a season similar to 2 or 6!

But I am very grateful for all that we received. Nine amazing seasons and 271 episodes. That’s quite a record! And there really are very few duds. The writing is basically very good all the way along, including in season 9. While I wish Gardner had allowed for some more breaking of the formula, I will always be grateful for what he did allow. The television series brought us some incredible characterization for Hamilton and a marvelous friendship between him and Perry that clearly deepens throughout the seasons. The friendships between Perry and Della and Perry and Paul are also very well-done. For people who love romantically pairing Perry and Della, many of their moments can also be interpreted as unresolved romantic tension. In any case, their interaction is gold.

And all the characters are so memorable and endearing, from Perry right down to Steve. Every one of them worked to bring the series to us in their own special ways, and every one of them added something. That is why I try to bring them all into my stories and will continue doing so.

I want to thank everyone involved in bringing the characters to life, from the actors to the crew to the writers, and to Erle Stanley Gardner for the blueprint, so to speak. The characters, while perhaps not the only element that has kept this series alive above some other series, are certainly a grand part of it. I can’t help noticing that the original books are currently out-of-print (minus the recent CD dramatizations of some of them), while the television series is very much in-print. And I can’t help wondering if the interest in the characterization and development on the series is a big part of that. Or more specifically, the original actors' interpretations of the characters and the development.

I know it was definitely a large part of why the 1970s remake failed. The plots, honestly, are not bad at all. They're very Perry-like. And some of the cast, even, is very, very good. (Dane Clark and Harry Guardino, I'm looking at you.) But, regrettably, some of the cast is not as good, and in any case, there simply isn't the same rapport between any of these versions of the characters as there is in the original series. There couldn't be, no matter how good some of them are. People wanted the versions of the characters they knew and loved. Without them, and with it being impossible to have them without the original Perry actors, The New Perry Mason flopped.

So here’s to 55 more years of the original Perry on television! And many more after that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Birthday Tribute: Karl Held

I’ve been waiting a long time to do this post. Today’s date made for a perfect opportunity, so I’ve been planning to do it now for weeks.

Karl Held was born September 19th, 1931. He’s one of the few cast members still alive today. Awesome. Happy birthday, Karl!

As previously noted, he may very well have been the Perry actor I was first aware of, as he had a small part as an FBI agent in the classic Disney comedy That Darn Cat! It was that movie that started me on a journey to find other old, live-action comedies by Disney and others, and it certainly played a part, to some extent, in sparking an interest in old television shows too.

Aside from that, and observing Karl in various guest-spots—such as on Sea HuntPerry is the main thing I’ve seen him in. He had a well-known role on the soap opera Falcon Crest for three seasons, but as I don’t tend to watch soaps, I doubt I’ve ever seen him there. I’m sure he did an excellent job, however!

I still really wish I could find Ready for the People. Karl Held’s character works for the prosecution in that, an intriguing switch. And Simon Oakland is the prosecutor!

I don’t know whether the ill feelings many Perry fans hold towards Karl’s main Perry character extend to the actor as well. I would hope not. And honestly, I feel that the harsh and negative views on David Gideon are unfair and his character’s faults exaggerated.

I can’t quite tell whether David is really disliked by the majority of the fanbase or if it’s just that his haters are among the most vocal fans. And naturally if someone is merely rubbed the wrong way by the character for a legitimate reason, that’s different. Some personalities don’t mix well. But when things become blown out of proportion, I do have to scratch my head and wonder.

I specifically studied David’s scenes as my local station went through season 5 again, looking for all of the evidence that the haters claim is there. To some extent, yes, it is. But some I couldn’t find much trace of. And most of it really doesn’t seem like grounds to detest him, even if true.

One charge against David is that he’s a virtually useless character who doesn’t do much. There’s no place for him in the series. True?

Admittedly, he doesn’t really do much. The great majority of the time, he’s along for the ride and his part could likely easily by filled by Paul (who is sometimes also there). But as for hating him because of it, well, it’s not even his fault. The writers are to blame for not using the character as well as they could have.

EDIT: There was at least one occasion where they tried to be more inventive, in The Posthumous Painter. David is aware of the device they can use to test the paintings and see how old they are, which becomes a key plot point. I suppose they could have had Paul or Perry mention it, especially since at least Perry is also aware of the device's existence, but it was nice to give that bit to David. I knew about this episode, and had seen it prior to writing this, but of course only belatedly remembered. Hmm, I think it works better when I write an entry over a couple of days instead of all at once....

It’s been mentioned to me that William Talman commented on how Gardner’s original characters took up the somewhat stereotypical roles in legal dramas—the defense attorney, the loyal secretary, the private detective, the district attorney, and the policeman. And it was further pointed out to me that David doesn’t occupy one of these roles and therefore, doesn’t fit into the formula.

Of course, my usual attitude is To heck with the formula! I think some elements of it could have, and probably should have, been played down or eliminated over time. But, objectively, examining things in that way doesn’t leave much room for David, it’s true. The stereotypical sidekick role, which could be taken by a young law student, is filled on Perry Mason by Paul as well as Della. And when David attempts to actively help with a case anyway, he ends up taking scenes away from Paul by investigating things instead of Paul. Which, I imagine, invokes the ire of Paul fans and fangirls. Perhaps not unreasonably, but still.

Then comes the issue of claiming that David is always screwing up. And here’s where I really get confused. I did believe the haters’ words on this at first, but after reviewing the episodes, I found hardly any of it. Unless, of course, some such scenes have been cut, which is always possible.

Discounting his first appearance, where he was tricked by a femme fatale and met his idol Perry for the first time, I could really only cite The Renegade Refugee as an instance where David made a glaring mistake. While trying to help Harlan Merrill, who is panic-stricken and wants to get his affairs settled as soon as possible, David suggests various options for his situation and at last hits upon the idea of giving Perry the power of attorney. He forgets to add that Harlan also needs to write a letter with specific instructions for Perry, so that his desires can’t be contested as mere hearsay later.

Honestly, I’m more than willing to give the guy a break. He was just trying to help, after Harlan specifically asked him for help when Perry wasn’t there. He didn’t for one minute pretend to be a practicing attorney, either; he made sure to tell Harlan he wasn’t one, yet. And he tried to rectify the damage after Perry pointed it out to him. It wasn’t his fault he couldn’t get Harlan to hold still and come back when he found him again.

I suppose some people might say David also screwed up in The Malicious Mariner, where he fails to learn much from a suspect and ends up rather drunk for his efforts. But Paul doesn’t always succeed in getting information, either. Some suspects are stubborn. Who knows whether he would have done any better in that affair?

I think some of David’s haters dislike him merely because they feel he’s an intruder or because they don’t like some young kid hopping into the cast. This may even really be the main reason, and also be why they sometimes magnify David’s faults beyond the truth. I’ve seen it before, time and again. Scrappy-Doo, anyone? And, for anyone aware of Japanese anime, Chibiusa/Sailor Chibi Moon? The exact same arguments are levied against those characters.

You know, the ironic thing about Scrappy-Doo is that, back in the late 1970s when he was first added to the Scooby-Doo cast, he saved the show. The formula was wearing thin and they needed to try something a bit different. Hence, in came Scooby’s nephew Scrappy. And that garnered enough new interest to keep it going. Nothing else changed.

Of course, some would say that the addition of the sixth cast member did entirely alter the show. I disagree. They still solved mysteries. The ghosts were still fake. Scooby and Shaggy were still terrified. The only real differences were that Scrappy was eager to charge ahead and could never believe that Scooby was really a big coward. Actually, I think Scrappy’s presence added a whole new dimension to Scooby. It’s intriguing, seeing him try to look out for his nephew and keep him out of trouble despite his own fears.

That all being said, I don’t necessarily prefer the episodes with Scrappy. I just feel that the hatred against him is blown way out of proportion and is quite ridiculous.

And I feel the same for David. There was some character potential there. It wasn’t ever quite tapped—again, because of the writers, not David himself. I like the idea of Perry mentoring a young law student who idolizes him. That could have been very interesting and character-developing for Perry. One of my favorite scenes between them is when David rants about Hamilton in The Renegade Refugee and Perry tries to help him see that Hamilton isn’t the bad guy. Oh, why does this scene so often have to be cut for commercials? Sigh.

The problem was, the writers were trying to keep the standard formula rolling while trying to figure out what to do with this new character, and they couldn’t quite make it all fit. Good or bad, people don’t like seeing formulas get changed, much of the time. If David had stayed with the show, and/or if the writers had tried to change the formula to get him to better fit, would he have cost them viewer interest?

I honestly have no idea. And I don’t think there’s any way to know for sure. I only know that some viewers, at least, didn’t like the formula of always having Perry win, but that’s a rant for some other time. The point is, maybe some tweaks in the formula, even with David, wouldn’t have rattled most of them up too much. Some viewers would have no doubt been lost, as probably happened whenever any real casting change was made, but others would have stayed. And new ones would have come aboard.

Anyway, in the end, David is only there for what, nine episodes? It kind of boggles my mind that people can hate on a character so much who was there so seldom.

An ironic note: Karl Held played a different character in his first Perry appearance, one who seems far more aggravating and obnoxious than poor David ever was. That fellow, in The Angry Dead Man, is very disrespectful and unkind to his stepmother in some of his scenes, and I can't recall if he ever actually shows his good side.

David may have gotten off on a bad path in The Grumbling Grandfather, but he tries to turn his life around and make something of himself. He’s basically a good kid. He’s young and he’s still trying. Yes, he’ll make some mistakes. And maybe he’ll be a bit over-confident. But that doesn’t make him horrible, only human. And he doesn’t give up. I like to think that he makes it through law school and becomes a good attorney in his own right.

Karl did an excellent job portraying two extremely different characters.

I wish there could have been an actual send-off for the character, even so much as a mention, instead of having him fade into obscurity after The Shapely Shadow. He is a part of the Perry cast, like it or not, and he deserved better than he got. But alas, it was common in those days for characters to quietly slip away. Tragg and Andy both did as well.

Next week, weekday posts should resume their spot on Thursdays. This weekend post will be a celebration of the series overall, in commemoration of the anniversary of the premiere on September 21st, 1957. I’m undecided on whether that entry will go up ahead of time. I may try to slip it in halfway, on the 22nd.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Andy and Jimmy

Well, so this is the 100th post. Interesting. It’s been a lot of fun sharing my assorted Perry thoughts here. I hope to keep them rolling for another hundred, and beyond. Thanks to all of you who have shown your interest by reading! I don’t know who many of you are, but I know you’re here, thanks to the private hit counter.

I’ve been thinking a lot about The Hateful Hero lately, due both to seeing it recently and because I’ve been trying to figure out how to do more with Jimmy in my stories.

Jimmy hasn’t played a very large part in any of them, and knowing me with my love of oneshot characters who have strong connections to the main characters, it isn’t like me to leave Jimmy be. The reason is that I was having a difficult time getting into his head and wasn’t sure how to write him. But since I’ve been really focusing on the issue and pondering on him and Andy, a lot of things have started to make sense. And now I’m starting to get enthused.

First, let’s examine the nature of their relationship. Andy and Jimmy are cousins, but they really seem more like brothers—thanks at least in part to the wonderful chemistry between actors Wesley Lau and Richard Davalos. It feels so natural, so perfect, and so believable. Andy is clearly assuming the role of protective older brother, going to see Jimmy off on his first night in a patrol car and feeling very proud of him. Jimmy knows perfectly well why Andy is there, too, and he appreciates it. They have a very comfortable familial relationship. Andy is protective and likes to keep a watchful eye, but he doesn’t smother. Jimmy is relaxed around him.

Andy is increasingly worried about Jimmy as the episode goes on and the disasters unfold. He tries to get to the bottom of what happened at the fake robbery that resulted in Otto being killed and Jimmy being knocked out. As he quizzes Jimmy, trying to get Jimmy’s story straight, Andy is stressed and Jimmy gets a bit stressed too. “I’m just trying to help,” Andy protests.

When Jimmy undergoes the police hearing after being accused of committing the robbery, Andy is right there with him. Jimmy is dismissed from the force, and Andy lays a hand on his shoulder and sincerely tells him he’s sorry. And right on the heels of that, Tragg is forced to serve a warrant on Jimmy for the murder of the security guard who was mixed up in the robbery.

Andy immediately goes to Perry for help, wanting him to defend Jimmy. It’s clear how agonized he is by everything. And he’s so pained when he says that if he finds evidence proving Jimmy’s guilt, he’ll put Jimmy in the gas chamber himself. He’s not trying to be cold or cruel. His heart’s being torn in shreds. But he has to uphold the law. He won’t give anyone special favors, even a family member. It takes a special kind of man to have that kind of courage.

Of course, it’s also possible (even likely) that if Andy had found such evidence that all but damned Jimmy, Andy would consider it a deep-seated betrayal. Being involved in criminal acts and possibly being an accessory to murder, two murders, if not outright committing at least the first one? Yeah, that would hit Andy hard. Caught between a rock and a hard place, with a cousin who may have betrayed him and his dear friend dead. I can’t quite picture Andy being absolutely unforgiving, even if he came to believe Jimmy’s guilt (or if Jimmy had really been guilty), but I do imagine him being so extremely bewildered and confused and unable to understand. I have an image of him exclaiming, “Why, Jimmy, why?!”

Deep down, though, despite having to face the reality of all possibilities in the case, no matter how grim, Andy really, truly seems to believe Jimmy is innocent of all charges. He’s even considering the deceased Otto as being the thief, which seems the only other conceivable possibility for the longest time, in order to exonerate Jimmy. And he tries to rationalize that the security guard’s murder may not have had anything to do with the robbery, and hence, Jimmy. He really knows that it’s more than likely that the two incidents are connected, but he’s so desperate to find a way for Jimmy to not be involved.

When Andy testifies in court for the prosecution, once again it’s obvious how much he hates what he has to do. He would rather do anything else, to be able to focus on proving Jimmy’s innocence, but his testimony is critical and he has to be there to give it.

I think there must have been several levels of tension going on during the episode’s events that we didn’t see. Was Andy’s relationship with Erna “Mama” Norden at all strained, since Otto was her son and she blamed Jimmy for Otto’s death? How did Andy feel about Tragg having to serve the warrant? How did Tragg feel? Gah, there must have been so much heartache all around, even though Andy no doubt understood both Mrs. Norden’s and Tragg’s positions.

The end of the episode, after the real criminals have been exposed and Jimmy and Otto have both been exonerated, is so lovely. Andy and Jimmy go grocery shopping and come to Mrs. Norden’s house for the Thursday get-togethers Andy and Otto always had with her. Now knowing that Jimmy is innocent of everything, Mrs. Norden has forgiven him and welcomes him wholeheartedly. Everyone will heal.

I’ve been wondering how large the age gap is between Andy and Jimmy. That’s been another reason for the lack of Jimmy in my stories. Without knowing how many years separate them, I’m unsure of what to have them connect on.

I always kind of picture Andy in his mid-thirties. Wesley was 39 or 40 when he first took up the role, but I usually think of the characters as being several years younger than the actors, if no age is specified. (Book ages do not count here, as far as I’m concerned. And of course, Andy doesn’t exist in the books to begin with.) I wondered if Jimmy was in his early twenties, around 21 or 22. 21 is the youngest you can become a police officer. Although I was forgetting that Jimmy had been on the force for an indeterminable amount of time already, as a beat cop.

Andy, as specified in a season 8 episode, has been on the force for 15 years. Maybe 12 or 13 around season 6. It depends on whether the events of a season take place over a year for the characters. I figured that’s pretty much up to the imagination. But in any case, since Andy did give that specific number, that is semi-restrictive on determining ages and dates. And Jimmy is young enough that both Andy and Perry refer to him as a kid.

(Although that may not be very helpful; just what ages are “kids” in their eyes? Jimmy might always be “the kid” to Andy. Andy calls the impulsive teenage defendant in The Tandem Target “son”, which seems odd considering that Andy really couldn’t be very old. He certainly doesn’t look old enough for the term to make sense, at least. It’s a term I don’t quite picture anyone using unless the person they’re talking to is in an age bracket that could make them the speaker’s son. The fellow in The Tandem Target would probably only barely fall into that bracket, if at all. Unless Andy is older than he looks and is closer to his actor’s age or older.)

So originally I started with a gap between Andy and Jimmy that could potentially be up to 15 years (Jimmy, 21; Andy, 36). But I didn’t really think it was that much, as reflected by Andy’s comments in The Broken Ties about him and Jimmy playing together as children. I definitely got the impression that they were surely a little closer in age. Still, however, I couldn’t quite figure out anything beyond that.

Looking up Richard Davalos’s age this past week, I found that he is nine years younger than Wesley Lau. That excited me, as I had at last wittled the conceivable age gap down to maybe 8 years. And with my feelings that the characters could believably be several years younger than the actors, I decided that as little as 5 years between them could work. Thus, I have now placed Jimmy around 28 and Andy around 33 during The Hateful Hero. In my stories, where two or three years have passed since then, Andy is approximately 35 or 36, making Jimmy 30 or 31. Although this might not be quite static, as I keep finding it hard to picture Jimmy not in his twenties in my stories. I might have to make the age gap closer to 7 years, although I prefer 5.

Another curious question: Where in the world is the rest of the Anderson family? Are they alive? It would seem that even if they were out of town or out of state, they would come running when Jimmy was arrested. Perhaps Andy and Jimmy are the only real family left. That would certainly explain how they bonded, and Andy’s protectiveness, especially if at least some of the parents died while they were still kids.

I’m torn on that issue. I haven’t mentioned anything about the Anderson parents’ current status at all. They could all be perfectly alive, and just weren’t pointed out in the storyline even if they were there, or they weren’t able to get out there as much as they wanted to. And a tragedy like them dying certainly wouldn’t be the only way Andy and Jimmy would end up bonding so closely.

We don’t even know if Andy and Jimmy are native Californians. I kind of picture them as such, but that might or might not be true. Andy could have moved to California from elsewhere and Jimmy could have followed him when he wanted to be a police officer (or earlier). Or they could have moved out together from elsewhere. Who knows.

So many fun speculations!

And you know, curiously enough, I think Andy and Jimmy are the only familial relationship we even see among the main characters. We know next to nothing about the families of Perry, Della, Paul, Hamilton, Tragg, and Steve. We know that Perry once lived in Oregon. Perhaps his family is still there. Della has an aunt whom she visits in season 7, but we never see said aunt. And I think that’s the extent of the information on the television series, where any of their families are concerned! Good grief. That certainly makes Andy and Jimmy even more special.

Jimmy first appeared in The Macabre Mansion, one of my stories last Autumn. With Andy’s prominent role in that, second only to Hamilton in story importance and “screentime”, and with Andy’s serious injuries, it was logical for Jimmy to turn up. I wasn’t sure what to do with him, though, and I wrote him mostly as a hurting and later grieving loved one, perhaps a bit impatient and rash, but certainly no more than might be expected under the circumstances. Jimmy nevertheless didn’t do anything stupid, and stayed within the limits of the law even though he certainly felt like taking revenge on Vivalene for shooting Andy.

Jimmy definitely isn’t overly impulsive in The Hateful Hero, and does not come off as someone who is always rash, but he does occasionally make decisions he probably shouldn’t have, such as going back to the plant on his own to try to figure out what really happened. I could imagine him naturally becoming furious if Andy were hurt, and wanting to seek out the culprits, but somehow managing to restrain himself from what he might like to do at the moment.

Jimmy continued to be mentioned off and on, but didn’t really appear with any further importance until The Malevolent Mugging. Again playing the role of worried and agonized loved one, this time he’s managed to interact more extensively with Andy in later scenes, something that doesn’t really happen in The Macabre Mansion. Developing their comfortable interaction is an enjoyable activity. I’m hoping to include him in more scenes.

I’ve debated with ideas where Jimmy is the one in trouble, but after all the canonical trouble he had in The Hateful Hero, I’m hesitant to write him into any more. Andy has likely been there for him all through the years, so in my stories I’m kind of more interested in exploring him being there for Andy. Maybe sometime I'll write a story where they're both in trouble and have to work together to get out of it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In Memoriam: Raymond Burr

(An unrelated note, but after going over that experimental piece of Della and Andy conversing at a point when I wasn’t exasperated with it, I decided I captured Andy’s voice after all. So I may finish and post it sometime.)

Today the post is a day early in honor of Raymond Burr, who left us September 12th, 1993. This year, the post is on time!

Of course, we all know what an incredible actor Raymond was. The quintessential Perry Mason. The perfect Robert Ironside. And he brought many other amazing characters to life, good and bad.

I’ve seen more of Ironside off and on over the past months. I’ve been particularly impressed by Lesson in Terror, in which Raymond has some extensive interaction with Simon Oakland. I still need to discuss that episode at the Simon blog. Simon plays a good guy in it, a close friend of Ironside’s. His son is mixed up with a bunch of teen rebels and has several run-ins and clashes with Ironside, who always gives the right answers to the kid’s queries.

I think my favorite exchange is when they discuss the Boston Tea Party. The kid wonders what Ironside would have done if he had been a policeman during that time and had been at the harbor. Ironside calmly replies that he would have done his duty and arrested the rebels. No matter how important the Boston Tea Party was to the American Revolution in hindsight, Ironside wouldn’t permit breaking the law. An interesting contrast with Perry, who will bend it if he deems it necessary.

Then I discovered an intense and intriguing and chilling gem this very week. While tinkering with that Tumblr account I shared, I learned more about a film called A Cry in the Night. I was able to track it down and watch it. Made in 1956, it features Richard Anderson, Natalie Wood, Raymond Burr, and Edmund O’Brien. Richard is dating Natalie, he’s hurt and she’s kidnapped by Raymond, and Edmund is her (very Simon Oakland-ish) father, the police captain.

Raymond’s character couldn’t be more far removed from Perry and Ironside, or indeed, any other character I’ve seen him play. We all know he often played villains before Perry, but they were generally cold and hard. This kidnapper is a complete mental case.

He is often very childlike. He insists he doesn’t want to hurt anyone and becomes distraught at the idea he might have killed Richard’s character. (He didn’t, thank goodness.) He worries that his prisoner will “get him in trouble.” He’s a Mama’s Boy, still very much tied to her apron strings despite being physically and chronologically an adult. He hates that she always waits up for him to get home from work, and says he hates her, but he seems to love her and hate her all at once.

(She, by the way, idolizes him and can’t believe he would do wrong. But the police finally do convince her that he’s kidnapped someone and that she needs to help them find him in order to save him.)

He displays signs of frightening and disturbing behavior all along, swinging from that to a more gentle soul all in a split-second. He caused a small dog’s death, but insists he hadn’t meant to kill it and had just wanted to stop it from crying all night. When his prisoner expresses her horror, he becomes stuck on the idea that she will feel better about being with him if he just removes the dog’s body.

He’s a pathetic and pitiable creature. He talks of how lonely he is, and how hard it was to always be teased and tormented in school, and how he always wanted to give a girl something nice as a present. He longs for a friend, and tries to recruit Natalie’s character in that capacity. She plays along for a bit but then tries to threaten him with his gun (which is empty). He takes it as a betrayal and becomes violent, forcing her to escape with him when the police arrive.

Her father, overcome by hatred, eventually starts beating him up when he’s cornered by them and Richard’s character. She pleads for him to stop, knowing what a sick mind her abductor has. And instead of fighting back, the kidnapper cries out, “Mother! Mother, help me!” The police captain backs off, realizing he can’t bring himself to further hurt a man in such a mental state.

All in all, it’s just an incredible, chilling, and heartbreaking performance. It’s elevated my opinion of Raymond’s acting abilities even higher than before. Definitely, this is a movie that all Raymond fans need to see. He slips so completely into the character that every move, every word, is entirely believable, even knowing how different the man is from the other roles Raymond has played.

Of course, Perry Mason will likely always remain my favorite of Raymond’s characters. I love most of all to see my favorite actors play good guys, and Perry is the Raymond Burr character I have the strongest connection with. But it’s still very enjoyable to branch out and see the other characters he has portrayed.

Raymond William Stacey Burr: Never gone from the hearts of his fans.