Sunday, December 29, 2013

Finally, a post!


I hope everyone has been having a wonderful December!
 
Oddly enough, I did have a topic for what should have been the next post. I was going to discuss The Poison Pen-Pal, one of the few out-of-town episodes I really like. But then I got caught up writing a Christmas story and working on another project. The only other time I might have had a chance to write the post, I was writing another Christmas story (and that time, one that was a gift). Neither Christmas story has anything to do with Perry, but hopefully soon I’ll have a chance to work on some of the Perry ideas I’ve had.
 
I watched The Crying Cherub on my local station Friday night. And I realized something that had never previously occurred to me: Since the deputies were given dialogue meant for Hamilton (and since Hamilton even had scenes for this episode that were taken out), Deputy Hanson’s interest in art must have really been meant to be Hamilton’s!
 
Before, I had just thought, Yay, another deputy that isn’t just a cookie cutter. But this new angle makes it much more significant.
 
Hamilton does show some indication in the series that he likes art to a certain extent; he has pictures hanging in his office that are very interesting and seem tailored to his personality and his feelings of fighting for justice. I never quite imagined art to actually be a hobby of his, however.
 
Regarding season 5’s The Poison Pen-Pal, it’s one of Douglas Henderson’s Perry episodes and is a very enjoyable and unique venture.
 
I’m glad that both pen-pals are innocent little girls and neither one means to do any harm. The script could have been written with one of the girls deliberately trying to find out information for an ill purpose, or with one of the girls not really being a child at all and instead a devious adult.
 
It’s interesting that the murder victim is found still alive. That only rarely happens in the series. Offhand, the only other character I can think of who fits that bill is Carina Wileen in The Fatal Fetish. And this lady in The Poison Pen-Pal dies of the original injuries, instead of receiving something new and fatal only in the hospital, as Carina does.
 
I always enjoy Douglas Henderson’s characters. Here, it seems like he might be being set-up to be the defendant, a role that actually goes to his former secretary. Douglas’s character is an overworked businessman, unable to spend the time with his daughter that he wants because of company business and problems getting in the way.
 
I love the interaction between Douglas’s character Peter and his daughter Sandra. Peter could have very humanly flipped out when Sandra said she had been telling her friend Jill about the company merger. Instead, he tries very hard to stay calm around Sandra. Later, he tells the detective he hires to investigate to be sure not to alarm Sandra when he questions her.
 
I always find it a little annoying when his former secretary Karen Ross accuses Paul of breaking into her house, and continues to insist that he must have even while Paul and Perry are both trying to explain that he didn’t. Part of it is that I don’t like seeing characters get unfairly accused (although that sort of thing abounds in this series and normally I roll with it). Also, though, wow, it’s hard for them to get her to see reason. Paul says they’ve been over it three times, without her budging. She finally shuts up when Della joins the conversation and gives Paul an alibi, but overall she definitely comes off as more annoying in the scene rather than not being easily swayed in a good way.
 
Murder victim Wilma, Peter’s aunt, is totally a brazen person. Peter certainly didn’t give her any guardianship rights before he left for Chicago, but she goes barging into his house, hits Sandra, and locks her in her room! I don’t blame him for becoming furious as soon as he learns of it.
 
The Lee character is quite obnoxious, making sarcastic cracks as soon as Wilma is dead. He does seem to regret that the candelabrum he gave her as a peace offering is what ended up becoming the murder weapon. The first time I saw the episode recently, I think I suspected him for a while.
 
The woman who actually was responsible, the wife of the general manager, is a bitter, cruel person. There’s some indication of her feelings very early on in the episode. I did find it a surprise when she was the murderer, but on repeat viewings there’s definitely hints all along the way.
 
The epilogue is really cute. Peter and Karen wanting to get married is quite predictable, after their interaction in the episode. But Sandra going on a boat ride with Perry, Paul, and Della is an unexpected twist. I bet that was a fun trip!
 
MeTV plans to air The Lady in the Lake on Friday. That’s certainly a compelling title. Although if the “lady” ends up being the murder victim, that’s a disturbing place to find the body!
 
And the first six Perry movies release on DVD New Year’s Eve! The price is still steep, though.
 
Have a very Perry New Year! Hopefully the posting schedule will start getting back to normal.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Notable Guest-Stars: Bruce Gordon


I decided to go to my idea of spotlighting Bruce Gordon, guest-star in three Perry episodes.

Born in 1916, Bruce Gordon started on the stage and for several years in the 1940s, played one of the policemen in Arsenic and Old Lace. When he went to the movies, he was in Love Happy. I think I need to watch that film again. There’s quite a few Perry alumni in it, including Raymond Burr himself!

He was with television almost from the beginning, with credits as early as 1951. As with many character actors, he appeared on several of the numerous anthology series. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on many more than are listed on IMDB.com.

Of course, he is most well-known for playing Frank Nitti on The Untouchables. Originally the character wasn’t supposed to appear semi-regularly, but Bruce did such a good job that the character became popular with fans and appeared with increasing frequency as the series went on. Long after the end of the series, Bruce operated two different eateries called Frank Nitti’s Place and greeted patrons dressed as his interpretation of the character. I bet those were interesting places to visit!

One of my favorites of his guest-starring roles is in the One Step Beyond episode The Vision, a very powerful and moving adaptation of a mysterious event that happened during World War I. He plays a defense attorney assigned to four French soldiers charged with cowardice, a charge they most vehemently deny. (One of the soldiers is played by H.M. Wynant!) It’s one of the only times I’ve seen Bruce play a protagonist, and he takes to it very well, delivering a deeply poignant performance.

On Perry, Bruce’s first role is in season 3’s Paul Drake’s Dilemma. He plays a member of a well-to-do family who is cheating on his wife with a girl he knew long before he met his wife. He married into the family pretty much only for the money and was put in charge of business matters because he’s more competent at handling them than the father’s sons. One night while driving home upset, he accidentally hits and kills a man in the road. To his credit, he feels terrible about running from the scene, but then he agrees to the cover-up when the father insists on it. He hires Paul to deliver money to the widow, money supposedly obtained from a deal up in Canada. When Paul puts the truth together, he and the son-in-law have it out in the mistress’s hotel room and Paul ends up accused of killing him.

Again Bruce plays the murder victim in season 4’s The Loquacious Liar. Although H.M. is in the cast too, this time they do not share screentime. Bruce’s character is again cheating on his wife. And he and his step-son hate each other. But he isn’t responsible for hiring someone to scare his step-son into thinking there’s an assassination attempt on his life. He is furious and puzzled and believes that his step-son is making it up. After they have a fight, he ends up dead on the floor.

He isn’t seen again until season 8’s The Blonde Bonanza, and unfortunately, I rarely see that episode and do not recall his character off-hand. Skimming through the detailed summary of the episode at Storrer’s site, it looks like Bruce plays a relative good guy, the estranged father of the defendant. Perry finds him out and wants him to reveal his identity, but he feels he cannot. Eventually it comes out, however, and in the end he tries to make good. The daughter, although having been understandably upset with him, decides to try to patch things up.

Bruce appeared on many classic television shows, including Ironside, Mannix, Adam-12, and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, and dozens of others. I don’t recall his specific characters, but I always enjoy his performances, whether he’s playing good guys or bad.

A real veteran character actor, he lived right on into 2011 and passed away just shy of his 95th birthday. With this good man went another important part of our classic movie and television legacy. But his amazing performances live on, to continue to be enjoyed and remembered for decades to come.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Bullied Bowler


Two posts in less than 24 hours! Well, after the long stretch of silence, perhaps it’s fitting.

I’ve had the urge to re-watch The Bullied Bowler for a while now. Tonight/this morning I decided I’d do it. I was delighted to find some odd parallels with Mannix, especially considering this episode came three years before the start of the series!

Our lawyer Mr. Kelly, a friend of Paul’s, has the first name of Joe. Thinking of Joe Mannix, it felt very familiar to hear calls of “Joe” throughout the episode.

I was terribly amused by Joe Kelly not knowing how to work a car phone and having to ask Paul how to do it. If the shows had run simultaneously, that would have been a perfect in-joke, since Joe Mannix has a car phone that he uses with ease.

Of course, the characters have some very similar facial expressions, a personal touch Mike Connors bestowed on all of his characters. And Joe Kelly has the same type of compassion and concern for the innocent and guiltless as does Joe Mannix. But Joe Kelly can be grateful he doesn’t attract as much trouble as Joe Mannix in the way of being beat up (although that rotten Jack did pretty much threaten it at one point)!

I adored seeing Paul and Joe Kelly interacting a lot, as well as Della and Joe. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to really seeing them interact with Mannix, outside of the stories I’m hoping to write with them.

Milton Selzer turns out a beautiful and bittersweet and heartbreaking performance as Dr. Max Taylor, a man tormented by his immense guilt over the death of the defendant’s wife, whom he had been trying to save as she gave birth. The girl’s mother twists him around her finger, hoping to make him do things that he really doesn’t want to do, including to shut down the defendant’s bowling alley as a health hazard before he’s finished his investigation into whether it’s really the cause of so much mysterious new illness and bacteria in the town. He persists in investigating anyway, telling his secretary that maybe this time he’s really doing the right thing, and ends up getting too close to the truth. He ends up being one of the series’ few seriously undeserving victims, being murdered for what he’s finding out.

What he’s discovering is that the bowling alley is getting its water through a line that runs too near the sewage of an oil refinery outside of town. It seems that’s been seeping into the bowling alley’s water supply. (Ugh!)

The girl’s mother, called The Duchess by most people in town, has no idea of what’s really going on with the oil refinery she owns. She’s determined to shut down the bowling alley, not just because she really believes it’s a health hazard but more because she’s bitter against the brothers who run it. She blames the one, her daughter’s husband, for the girl’s death. That unfortunately happened because of things Dr. Taylor told her that led her to believe her daughter was sick while traveling with her husband. Judging from what came out in court, however, Dr. Taylor wasn’t trying to cast blame on the husband; he just felt so horrible feeling responsible for the death himself that he tried to tell himself and others that she had already been ill in an attempt to absolve himself of at least some of the heavy burden he carried.

It still seems preposterous to me when The Duchess tries to shut down the bowling alley claiming it’s a den of hoodlums and immorality. It looks like a nice, family-friendly place when we see it. A pool hall would be more understandable as a recipient of The Duchess’s accusations, but a bowling alley?

I love that once The Duchess realizes she’s been gravely mistaken about the husband, she wants to repent of her attitude and try to make up for the heartache she caused him. She comes to him and his brother, wanting to help them keep the bowling alley running and also to see her adorable young grandson (as she did twice before in secret).

One of The Duchess’s friends, the mayor Orson Stillman, seemed very familiar to me in his facial expressions and later, in his voice. After studying him long and hard for a bit, I realized in about his second scene that he must be the same actor who played Joseph Kraft in The Bogus Books. He looked quite different without that wild white hair and those thick glasses, but he was still so distinctive that he was most recognizable. And looking at the man’s credits, I see I was right. The gentleman, Maurice Manson, appeared in three other Perry episodes, too.

This is one of the rare episodes featuring a guest lawyer in which Perry is not seen or heard at all. He’s off in Europe, and the following episode shows us the tail-end of his adventures over there. But Paul and Della keep Perry involved in the story anyway; he’s mentioned several times, including where Della recounts a telephone conversation she had with him.

When a character is absent, I love when it’s handled in this way, with the other characters thinking about and remembering them. And even without Perry, it’s a very good venture. It’s great for all Mike Connors/Mannix fans. Perhaps it’s not so compelling for those who don’t care for either, but there should be something that solely Perry fans can take away from it.

Paul and Della have some excellent amounts of screen-time, for one thing. That’s always a treat. And seeing the brilliant Milton Selzer is a very good thing. Whenever he appears in a cast, I immediately know that there will be a high-quality and immensely enjoyable performance. He was excellent in The Decadent Dean and he is excellent here as well. I just wish his poor character hadn't been so cruelly killed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

And the posting gap ends at last.


I am so sorry for the terrible gap in posts. When I warned they might not come as frequently, I didn’t intend for there to be this much space before the next one!

We have been experiencing the utter frustration that digital television can bring. Our converter box conked out, rendering everything involving live television unusable. And when we finally got a digital television, thinking that would solve the problem, we still couldn’t record because the television didn’t have the converting technology that our VCR needed.

Thank goodness for Rite Aid and a sale they’re having this week. We got hold of a glorious converter box and now everything is set to go once again.

But with what all of that aggravation added onto the more typical havoc of the season, I didn’t have much time to sit and think about good post topics. Hence, this nasty week and a half gap.

A couple of nights ago I considered more notable guest-star posts, specifically a Bruce Gordon one since I ran across one of his Perry episodes again. And then of course yesterday was Ray Collins’ birthday and I had wanted to write a post for that. The only problem was, I haven’t seen anything new with him and I wasn’t sure what kind of angle I could use that I haven’t already used.

I also missed getting up a memorial post for Dan Tobin around November 26th. I was going to look at his guest-starring appearances on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, but hadn’t got to it yet, so I wasn’t sure what to write for him, either. It’s both amazing and sad, the utter lack of information available on him.

And just now I started thinking about the times Perry had Paul go undercover as a television repairman. I think it happened at least twice. And though I don’t think Paul actually “repaired” the sets either time, it made me wonder if he really could successfully repair a set, if needed. Maybe sometime I’ll write a silly short story about him dealing with the frustrations of technology and being forced to try to repair a television set or something else because someone keeps hanging around in the room and he can’t start looking for whatever Perry wants him to find.

I wonder how many different “jobs” Paul has had while undercover on cases. Paul often doesn’t seem to like doing that; I remember he didn’t like posing as a television repairman whenever Perry wanted it, fearing he would lose his license. And at the moment, the only other undercover job I remember him having is as a construction worker in The Carefree Coronary. I think that time it may have been his own idea? I’m not sure they specified one way or the other.

MeTV news regarding Perry actors and events: they will be showing both parts of The Fugitive series finale on Friday evening. Richard features in both parts. We caught part 1 on the 1st and he unfortunately had very little screentime in that. Hopefully part 2 will show him more.

Richard will also appear on Ironside Monday the 16th, and on Gunsmoke both Monday and Tuesday! I am not terribly fond of the Gunsmoke episodes, however, which are parts 1 and 2 of The Guns of Cibola Blance. Amanda Blake actually quit the series over those episodes, or so I have heard. She was not at all happy with the abuse Kitty was to take in those episodes, even being raped if I remember right. So she quit and they got a different girl to go through the horrors. Richard played a bad guy, but he does survive. Or at least that's what I got out of it when I tried to watch those episodes when they aired before. I was so confused and unimpressed that I started skipping around after a while and only stopped at all the Richard scenes I could find.

Also, a final note, The Killer Kiss, one of the Perry movies, will air on the 20th. Hopefully I will finally get around to watching The Glass Coffin before then.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Further musings on the lack of Christmas episodes


Happy December! I hope all American readers had a good Thanksgiving, and that all readers everywhere are having a good weekend.

I remember that last December I had quite a struggle finding time to write posts. That may end up the case again this year. This time I may simply not do it on those occasions instead of writing very short posts.

I also remember musing one time on the lack of Christmas episodes for the series. Now I can’t find the post, but I have been thinking about the topic again lately.

I recall saying that there were other dramas, even other detective/crime shows, that had Christmas episodes. But what I’m wondering now is if Erle Stanley Gardner or someone else on the Perry staff just didn’t want to ever do a Christmas-themed episode, perhaps because they were afraid of it being too depressing.

The other crime shows that did Christmas episodes back in the day seem to have treaded into that category sometimes. True, Dragnet had that sweet Christmas episode about the missing Jesus statue that they remade for Dragnet 1967, but they also had a much darker, grimmer, and heartbreaking episode that spoke out on the dangers of giving children guns as Christmas presents. Their New Year’s episode is also quite sad, with everyone going to a holiday party and then discovering that the husband co-host of the party has been killed. The poor wife just breaks down sobbing.

Then I saw the Christmas episode of The Untouchables Friday night. I was always a bit leery of seeing it, figuring that with a guy wearing a Santa suit being gunned down, it would be very dark and sad. It definitely was, and there was no attempt to try to make things even a bit happier at the end, as even the dark Dragnet Christmas episode did. It was stark, heartbreaking realism. Which was appropriate for the show in general and even for their Christmas episode, but it certainly made for a discouraging hour.

The biggest downer, I think, is how Eliot Ness keeps learning more and more horrible things about the murdered man, who was his friend. He eventually gets so disgusted and disillusioned that he wants off the case, but then a new lead comes up to help him catch the man’s underworld boss and he pounces on it.

When he finally confronts the boss, who ordered the hit on the friend even though the friend was completely loyal to him and wouldn’t have told about the crime he witnessed the boss committing, the final nail is pounded in the coffin. While outrageously and cruelly laughing, the crime boss insists that the friendship was never real on the friend’s part; he was using Eliot all along. We don’t actually know if that’s true, but it snaps Eliot’s patience after the long and grueling and heart-wrenching night. He smacks the creep around before arresting him. And that’s the end, as the narrator informs us that the boss was found innocent of the murder when he went to trial.

Of course, had there been a Perry Christmas episode, it would have been lighter and probably quite festive, even if Christmas was more of a background thing like with Halloween in most of The Dodging Domino. But since there wasn’t a single Perry episode without a real murder, someone would have been killed. Perhaps murder just wasn’t something Gardner or someone else on the staff wanted for a Christmas episode.

I think that the classic drama series that has the best Christmas episodes ever is probably The Twilight Zone. Seriously, for a show that was often dark and twisted, it could also show some of the most hopeful, beautiful things ever, and do it without being cheesy. I’ve loved all the Christmas episodes I’ve seen from that series.

I might try my hand at a Christmas Perry fanfiction venture this year, probably without a murder. But that will be dependent on if a good plot idea comes to me.

One thing I’ve been thinking of long and hard for almost as long as I’ve been enjoying Mannix is that Della should be Best Friends Forever with Joe Mannix’s secretary Peggy Fair. I can just imagine them bonding over the long hours they have to work and the dangerous situations their bosses end up in. (And how resourceful both Della and Peggy have to be many times.) And Della would be so good with Peggy’s young son Toby! It would be adorable.

I totally want to see them meet sometime. So that is most likely a fanfiction project I’ll be jumping on as soon as I feel I can write well for Peggy. Perhaps following a short story where they meet, I’ll try writing a full-blown crossover between the shows that would have a lot of Della and Peggy being awesome under pressure on a very dangerous case that would involve both Perry and Joe. Meanwhile, Paul and Joe would interact a lot, as would the two shows’ police officers. It would be such fun.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Heartbroken Bride


And I still haven’t seen The Glass Coffin. But I did see The Heartbroken Bride!

So now I have finally encountered the infamous Laura that a Perry fan can’t help having heard about, particularly among the fanfiction writing circles. I liked her, and I liked Della’s interaction with her. I loved how Della said she knew about how close she and Perry had been, even though Perry really hadn’t told her much. Della knows how to read between the lines.

I used to think Laura appeared somewhere in the television series. I looked for her there and was puzzled when I didn’t find any trace of her. Then I realized she must be from the movies.

I’m assuming one of the main reasons some of the fans find Laura so interesting is not just because she and Perry apparently had more of a past together than was outright stated, but more because there were so many hints that Perry might actually be the father of her daughter. Admittedly, I didn’t grasp the double-meaning nature of most of those comments until the very end, because my mind is so wrapped up in not making everything a romance that I took the surface meanings to heart and thought that Perry was just a very dear friend and a surrogate uncle to the girl. But when Della commented on the daughter, “Her father loves her very much” and Perry said, “Yes. Yes, he does,” the way he said it suddenly made me realize the double entendre and the true nature of the hints they’d been throwing all along.

I’m not entirely sure what to think of the idea. On the one hand, I loved Perry’s interaction with the girl and thought it was very sweet as it was, just on the surface meaning. But thinking that he might actually be talking to his own flesh and blood puts a whole new adorable, beautiful spin on it and on his words about how far he would go to protect her and her family.

On the other hand, Laura was married at the time (albeit she and her husband were having problems) and I don’t entirely like the idea of Perry getting so deeply, romantically involved with a married woman. Of course, even if she wasn’t married, I wouldn’t be terribly thrilled about them sleeping together when they weren’t married to each other, since I prefer to think Perry has higher standards than that, but it seems even worse to think of since she was already married to someone.

In the end, really, I think it can be taken however one wants it. Everything Perry says and does could indeed have the surface meaning and only the surface meaning. The second meaning was probably inserted deliberately to tease the fans, and may very well be the real meaning they were thinking of, but since it wasn’t firmly brought out in the movie, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the truth. Of course, I don’t think of the movies as part of the official television series canon anyway, but I don’t even know that I consider the second meaning part of the official movie canon. I imagine it’s something that some of the other fanfiction writers have a lot of fun playing with, though.

Moving on to other elements of the film, I liked the close-knit nature of the family (regardless of who the girl’s biological father is). There’s so many dysfunctional families on television, including on Perry, that it’s refreshing to see one that’s really banded together.

I also liked the girl’s fiancĂ©. He was adorable in how determined he was to prove she was innocent of murder.

Ken was kind of an idiot at some parts of the film, particularly concerning the Rocky’s club subplot. He was away from his mobile phone for literally hours, then just tries a couple of times to call Rocky’s and doesn’t get anyone, and from that promptly decides that lead is a total bust? He doesn’t even once think that maybe the tattooed lady tried to call him during the many long stretches when he was away from his phone (which was exactly what happened)? Good grief.

The mobster’s henchmen were really pretty stupid too, not even checking for identification the moment Ken showed up. Okay, so they thought he was the murdered man because he had a key to the apartment (and didn’t deny the wrong identification because he wanted to meet their boss), but they should have searched him and found his I.D. immediately. They didn’t even ask him who he was! I loved when the fiancĂ© showed up right in time to save Ken from being eighty-sixed by them once they learned the truth.

I liked the young fan of the defendant. Sneaking into the house for the wedding was a nasty invasion of the privacy the poor bride wanted, but since the girl wasn’t trying to do anything wrong, it was still amusing and cute on some level.

I was slightly annoyed when she ran from Ken as soon as he said he wanted to talk to her about what she saw. It didn’t seem like the bad guys had threatened her, so I’m guessing she just didn’t want to testify because she was worried her idol really had killed the guy, as her friend surmised. It’s definitely understandable she wouldn’t want to testify under those circumstances; she wouldn’t want to be part of possibly getting the defendant convicted. But I felt kind of sad that the fan didn’t have a little more faith in her, especially since she was so obsessed she tried to get into the wedding.

There was far too little time spent in court during this installment. I like when there’s a good, long, meaty amount of time in court.

I can’t say I was terribly surprised by the reveal of the guilty ones, although I was a bit surprised that it was both of the security guards together. I figured it was probably one or the other.

One intense bit was that the one bad guy attacked the other one, right in the courtroom! And poor Perry was caught in the middle of the mess and hurt his shoulder crashing to the floor! Owww.

Overall, it was quite an enjoyable film. I imagine it’s one of the fan favorites.

I’m not totally sure if I’ll post the weekday post right on Thursday, since that’s Thanksgiving in the U.S. I might post a day in advance (or end up not posting at all, ooops).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Judge Daniel Redmond and Hamilton Burger


I am so sorry. The complete lack of weekend post happened this time because it has been one crazy week. By the time I had both a topic and some time, it was Wednesday, so I decided to just wait until today.

I recorded most of The Glass Coffin last Friday (probably for watching and not for keeping), but I haven’t had the chance to get to that yet, either! I was hoping I’d get to see it before the next movie tomorrow, but I’m not sure I will.

I can say that apparently there won’t be a third Perry movie on Black Friday. It seems that MeTV is having an evening of Sid and Marty Krofft programming? There’s a saga in one of their shows I must see, as it has H.M. Wynant in it. But alas, that won’t be one of the things they’re showing. It’s on DVD, so I may have to buy it sometime.

Anyway, two Perry movies in the month is doing pretty good!

I was watching The Violent Vest on Monday and spotted a familiar face. It was rather surreal to see Bonnie Craig from The Meddling Medium as the murderess!

It seems the actress, Sonya Wilde, wasn’t in very many things (unless IMDB is completely incorrect, and that’s possible; I’m still adding credits to people’s lists that they’ve overlooked). If she really wasn’t in much, that’s a pity, really; she’s a fine character actress. I love her in The Meddling Medium, and she has some of that same spunk as Joy Lebaron in The Violent Vest (albeit Joy’s is in a rather different form than Bonnie’s). Her exchanges with the bartender, whom she insists on calling Joe, are amusing and obnoxious all at once.

Unless there’s a scene with Joy’s imprisoned boyfriend in the uncut version, we never actually see him, and he’s the one who engineers the plan that goes wrong and turns into murder. I always find it interesting when a character that’s key to the whole mystery is never shown onscreen. The same thing happens in The Duplicate Daughter, with the murder victim being someone we never see (even as a corpse).

I was also musing a bit on The Witless Witness. I’ve had it in mind to talk about it for a while if I had an opening. While it is definitely a good episode, I usually consider it a generally above-average venture that is nevertheless not among my top favorites. Mostly the reason for that revolves around how one of the early scenes in court is handled.

I’ve mentioned before about finding it somewhat odd that Hamilton doesn’t show any visible reluctance to prosecute the judge, both because Andy is very reluctant to arrest him and because Hamilton shows reluctance to prosecute the General in The Positive Negative. The judge is a highly respected man and generally considered to be a pillar of honesty, so it would seem to me that Hamilton would feel as reluctant as Andy did, or as reluctant as Hamilton felt in the later episode about the General. Hamilton clearly respected that General. Even though of course Hamilton performed his duty nevertheless, The Positive Negative is one case where he hated to do it. That train of thought has led me to think about one of the things that bothers me about The Witless Witness and makes me wonder if the two things could be connected.

Somehow I felt that this episode tried harder than usual to make Hamilton look like an incompetent. The way Perry tears into his arguments early on, causing the defendant judge Daniel Redmond to be impressed with Perry and smile in enjoyment and approval, always makes me wonder. Agreed, Hamilton’s arguments at that point seem flimsy and not well-thought-out, but I wonder why the writer chose to insert it there, especially after giving Andy such a poignant scene during the arrest. Why not allow Hamilton as well as Andy to shine, instead of putting Hamilton down? It would have been an excellent episode for some good Hamilton scenes and attitudes, such as what we get three seasons later in The Positive Negative. And if Perry and Hamilton are going to clash, I like it much better when both arguments sound good, instead of the prosecution being made to sound utterly foolish for its stand. In general, I think Hamilton has very good arguments. But here, it just does not fly. That seems to be why Perry wins that round, instead of it being a real match of wits as it usually is.

Naturally the judge would be happy for progress to be made on his defense, and it’s true that may have been the only reason for him enjoying the encounter between Perry and Hamilton. (That, as well as him simply reacting to the negative writing for Hamilton and liking its exposure.) At the same time, since he’s been a judge for so long, I would think he would respect the prosecution as much as the defense, and I sort of wondered if perhaps he just plain doesn’t like Hamilton. There was never any indication of him liking Hamilton’s methods (albeit of course he wouldn’t like being on the receiving end of those methods). Redmond and Perry disagree on methods, but respect each other, and I didn’t see any evidence of such respect between him and Hamilton.

I also mused on whether Hamilton’s lack of reluctance to prosecute might have been because he fully believed Redmond was never as upright as he appeared to be. If Hamilton believed the judge had bought his way into office and was crooked all those years, that would certainly lead to Hamilton’s attitude in the episode. In addition, even before learning the stories of the judge bribing his way into office, maybe Hamilton and the judge clashed often in court and Hamilton wasn’t fully convinced of the judge’s integrity. In turn, perhaps the judge felt that Hamilton was reckless, impulsive, or other such things.

Most likely, the writer didn’t give any thought to any of these questions one way or another and didn’t even stop to think about the fact that Hamilton was being written to look bad (at least with his flimsy argument near the beginning of the hearing, if not also with his lack of reluctance to prosecute) while Andy was written to look good with one of his best scenes aside from The Hateful Hero episode. And probably, the judge’s smile really was just to go along with the writing, since Hamilton honestly did seem to be being made out the fool moreso than usual. Sometimes he really builds a good case (and later in this episode he does quite well), but that scene is definitely a cringe-worthy moment for him.
 
But it is interesting to think about other possibilities anyway, especially in light of Hamilton’s non-reluctance to prosecute. Perhaps sometime I’ll write a short story exploring Hamilton’s feelings and the possible reasons behind them.
 
(I suppose one could say that if he really believed Redmond was guilty of not only the murder, but of being crooked for years, he was desperately grabbing at straws during the beginning of the hearing, wanting any possible argument he could get. I think that might be about the only way to get around the bad writing in the scene while acknowledging its existence!)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Perry actors on Ironside, and The Bouncing Boomerang


For those interested, remember that MeTV will show the Perry movie The Glass Coffin tomorrow night!

So I’m torn between complaining about how little screentime Richard had in the Ironside episode Monday and squealing with glee over what they did with the character in such a short amount of screentime. I was worried that he was going to be crooked, as Sergeant Brown’s friend seemed to think he was. But he refused to have anything to do with the crooked goings-on in the episode, as soon as he figured out what was going on.

I’ve noticed a really strange trend, though. Any time a guest-star from the main cast of Perry shows up on Ironside, they never seem to have a great deal of screentime. I would’ve thought that they would be the main guest-stars carrying the episode at least sometimes. Certainly I thought that would have been the case with Barbara Hale, and with Richard, too. There’s still two or three Richard episodes I have yet to see, but at this point I’ll be really surprised if he’s ever really one of the main guest-stars who is prominent throughout the episode. He has only appeared in three or even only two (sometimes quite short) scenes in all the ones I’ve seen him in. And in Wesley Lau’s appearance, which I found and saw quite some time ago, his role is extremely small and he hardly has any lines. Wesley is such an incredible actor that this is a terrible waste. Of course, the same goes for Barbara and Richard.

I’m certainly happy to see them pop up in any capacity, but I think they’re all being greatly underused. An episode featuring one or more of them in one of the main guest-starring roles would be just absolutely amazing. They could have done so much more with Barbara Hale than they did. And they could have had an episode with Richard as the guest-star in need of help. Or at least, certainly the characters I’ve seen him play could have been worked into the scripts more often. And Wesley could have had a larger part.

(Also, I hear that the new Ironside has already been cancelled. I feel bad for the cast and crew, who invested themselves in it, but I have to admit I rejoiced a bit to hear the news. That thing sounds like it was a complete abomination.)

Since there’s still a handful of out-of-town Perry episodes I haven’t seen, I randomly decided to watch one of them this morning. The Bouncing Boomerang was on MeTV the other morning, but I didn’t catch it, so I chose my uncut copy on the season 7 set. And . . . wow. That is one of the weirdest things I have ever seen. While I think The Betrayed Bride and The Hasty Honeymooner still hold the titles for weirdest Perry episodes, this one is certainly gaining on them.

So basically this couple lives on a beautiful ranch spread in the middle of nowhere and the wife isn’t happy and wants to leave. But she also wants a bunch of money and doesn’t think the offer on the place is enough. So she conspires with two other people to defraud the insurance company by getting one of the people to make a much higher offer that goes through and then fake his death, so that his insurance policy in the same high amount will get paid. Only she and the other conspirator decide to really kill the third member. Gah.

The poor guy; he’s a conman and all, but he doesn’t want anything to do with murder. He thinks they’re bringing in the body of someone already dead (by natural causes) to fill in for him, and that the body will be burned beyond recognition, the only identification being the spare bridge for his teeth. Then he thinks they’re going to kill the person and doesn’t realize it’s going to be him.

Originally I figured his death was going to be the customary murder and that Eula, the wife wanting off the ranch, would somehow be guiltless of the crime, even though it certainly looked like she was fully mixed up in it. Instead, yes, she and the third guy really killed the conman and then Eula herself ends up dead. The husband is thought to be the third member of the conspiracy and is arrested.

Eventually it ends up that the third member is the insurance agent investigating the conman’s death, and Eula’s death was an accident during an argument when she was getting so freaked out over all the crimes she was taking part in. But before we get to that revelation, we discover that the conman accepted the identity of a missing man and that there’s three teeth bridges and three dentists.

Everyone confused yet?

What a convoluted case!

Eula is certainly a teeth-grating villainess. Her poor husband is willing to cut her some slack and put most of the blame on the insurance investigator, but he’s much too kind. Eula may have grown increasingly nervous over her part in things, but she seemed to only be worried about being caught. I didn’t see any signs of guilt over anything she did, including help commit murder. Ugh.

I wonder if there are any other off-the-wall Perry episodes like that. The other out-of-town season 7 episode I haven’t seen, The Drifting Dropout, sounds a little more normal. I guess season 8’s The Grinning Gorilla is pretty weird too, really, but I had a lot of fun with that one. I wrote a fairly enthusiastic review on it sometime back.

I find it curious too that both The Bouncing Boomerang and The Hasty Honeymooner involve ranches. There’s some perfectly good episodes with ranches, but it isn’t really a common setting, so it’s amusing that two episodes with such a setting are so odd.

I don’t recognize the scriptwriter’s name, either. Arthur E. Orloff? Hmm, according to IMDB.com, he wrote one other Perry script, The Greek Goddess. Which is also a little weird, honestly, but nothing like this one! I will usually watch The Greek Goddess and I enjoy it when I do, although I still feel sad for the sculptor and how things worked out for him. But I don’t think The Bouncing Boomerang is an episode I will ever really enjoy, and certainly the fact of it being an out-of-town episode has very little to nothing to do with that.

About the only thing I got a kick out of was seeing Alan Hale as the conman. I had thought his only Perry episode was season 5’s The Unwelcome Bride. But his poor Perry characters certainly have bad luck. First he’s the murderer. This time he’s the victim!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Notable Guest-Stars: Alan Hewitt


I forgot to mention, Amazon sent an interesting email the other day. Some people have been complaining about the lack of the Perry post-series movies’ availability on DVD. Well, apparently there will be a set of the first six!

Unfortunately, the price is currently astronomical. I’m sure it will come down eventually, as we get closer to the release date, but right now it’s close to $50. Eeek. Hopefully it won’t stay ridiculously expensive, like part 2 of season 8 did for so very long.

Also, we are getting more than one of the films on MeTV this month. The Heartbroken Bride will air on the 22nd. Perhaps one more will flesh out the month on Black Friday, but that day’s schedule isn’t posted yet.

And now, for our Sunday night edition of My Favorite Perry Guest-Stars…. (Seriously, it’s not purely intentional, but for the third Sunday in a row, that’s the topic I have.)

Tonight I’m thinking of Alan Hewitt, a seasoned Broadway performer who moved to movies and television later on and has been a favorite of mine for years from his work in such hilarious Disney films as The Absent-Minded Professor, The Barefoot Executive, and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.

I had to do a bit of digging to find some biographical information on him. This is the obituary that ran in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/1986/11/11/obituaries/alan-hewitt-actor-for-50-years.html That’s interesting that he attended Dartmouth College; there’s another Perry connection right there, since William Talman attended Dartmouth for a while. And wow, that’s awesome on the one hand that his mother was alive for all of his 71 years of life, but so sad that she had to witness his death.

On Perry, Alan appeared four times, three times as the killers. One of them, however, is one of those more sympathetic fellows who didn’t mean to do it and then was too frightened to come forward.

His first appearance is the only time he wasn’t the killer—the best friend of the defendant in season 3’s The Golden Fraud. He’s an awesome character, appalled by his wife’s insistence on doing anything possible to help him get the company vice-presidency, even if it will hurt his friend. He refuses to have any part in his wife trying to get evidence to make his friend look guilty in having an affair with and even murdering the episode’s victim. There are so many unfaithful friends among the show’s guest-stars that he is a breath of fresh air.

Then there is the murderer in season 4’s The Wintry Wife. As he says, he was only one of several people who wanted the titular character dead, but he was the only one with guts enough to do it. It was a very premeditated crime, involving the manipulation of the house’s heater via remote control.

The character in season 5’s The Brazen Bequest is once again the best friend of the defendant. This poor man was outraged at what the victim was doing to his friend and others (and to him as well) and went to have it out with the guy. But killing him was an accident. In court Perry manages to break him down into finally admitting the truth, and he berates his utter cowardice in allowing his best friend to suffer for something he did.

I always wonder what will happen to characters like that. It was an accident, and in this case may have even been self-defense (I need to watch it again to refresh my memory), but he withheld that crucial information. In a situation like this, the holding back seems the worse crime over the actual death.

And the other character is from season 8’s The Fatal Fetish. I was kind of sad to learn that Curt Ordway had been blackmailing Brady Duncan for years, especially since he put on that act of being a friend. It seems he must have really been a friend at one time and then got soured by jealousy and envy after Brady was made the company president instead of him. Then he kept up the act of still being a real friend and Brady went along with it so no one would know the truth (and hence, learn the reason for the blackmail).

His confession to the murder in court is so chilling, said while making the gesture of bringing down the dagger into Carina’s body. “I knew what I had to do and I did it!” Certainly a character far removed from his amusing Disney jaunts, or even from his other Perry characters.

I was delighted when I started seeing Alan turn up on Perry and other shows, since I had previously thought he was only in movies. Apparently he also had a recurring role on My Favorite Martian as a police detective. I bet that’s hilarious. He’s a great actor to put in comedies, one of those serious types trying to make sense of all the nonsense going on around him. And he is excellent in dramas as well, as evidenced by his Perry ventures. I look forward to enjoying more of his work in the future.