Friday, May 31, 2013

Television Advertising in Perry

While watching The Misguided Model the other night, I started musing on another of the themes Perry has explored. While they have enjoyed picking apart show business on several occasions, one sub-category of that is the wonderfully weird world of television advertising. I think they only explored that angle twice, both in season 9.

The Bogus Buccaneers opens with the murder victim turning on the television and viewing a very odd and amusing commercial, common for the day. The housewife is looking very worn-out, slumping in a chair, and a Bennet Buccaneer wanders in and starts talking about her long day and how to get pepped up and ready for “your own Buccaneer” with some “Bennet magic”. There’s a cartoony flash as he reaches out to the girl, and when it fades, she’s perked up and cheerful.

Television characters of the day often advertised various products for the sponsors of their shows. I wonder if there were ever any such ads with any of the Perry cast?

Unless there’s more in the uncut version, that’s all we see of silly television commercials in that episode, but the focus itself is largely on the show that spawned the commercial. Or more precisely, on the cast and crew that puts the show together, as well as on the promotions for the show and its products involving people dressing up as Buccaneers and going to deliver sample products. The defendant is one of the delivery people and gets snagged into a mess when he has to fight off the wild, crazed victim screaming about wanting her money, which she thinks he’s bringing with the samples.

The plot of The Misguided Model largely revolves around television advertising. The product is searching for the perfect spokesgirl and holds a contest to choose their White Snow Princess. The titular character is obsessed with being chosen.

During one of the auditions, some of the other contestants’ attempts are shown. One isn’t too bad, but another is very wooden. And then there’s our Misguided Model, who gets up and wows them with an admittedly very enchanting performance.

The White Snow Princess seems to be a type of fairy, who stands in an ethereal world with her wand and the products while her voice faintly echoes through the commercial as she speaks.

As per the standards of the day, the company has some strict regulations for any contestant, including that she can’t have any skeletons in her closet. They want someone who really is pure to play their White Snow Princess.

The model is about as darkest black in the heart as can be. And the skeleton in her past, her involvement with a gangster and his rackets, is nothing compared to what she does to keep that skeleton in her past. She kills someone who knew about it and frames her poor friend for the crime, without him even realizing he’s been framed. He’s honestly convinced that he accidentally killed the guy in a fight.

I still love the bit where Steve angrily questions her about the defendant’s whereabouts and can’t be bothered to get the name of the character right. Twice he calls her Miss Snow Plow. Priceless.

The scene where the girl’s purity act falls apart (and on White Snow camera, no less!) is both amusing and frightening. I definitely sense some sort of tongue-in-cheek commentary on the writers’ part on how show biz people put on airs and acts and are often completely different from how they want to appear.

When she sees a photograph from her racketeering days on the monitor, she absolutely flips. Screaming and snarling, she starts knocking down all the products displayed in the room. Of course, the poor woman in charge of the contest is observing everything. I imagine that in addition to her shock and disappointment, she’s relieved to learn the truth about the girl before they started using her in the released commercials!

Another sub-category is contests, which episodes such as The Long-Legged Models explore. The Misguided Model crosses over between television and advertising as well as contests. And then there’s The Murderous Mermaid, with the girl trying all manner of crazy stunts to get into show biz. I’m not quite sure what sub-category that one goes under.

Television programming itself is what season 5’s The Promoter’s Pillbox and the series finale The Final Fade-Out revolve around. Overall, neither are particular favorites of mine; I usually find The Promoter’s Pillbox, and especially the opening scenes, very tedious. But I do like the little insights into Perry’s past as a law student struggling to make ends meet. And then I’ve already repeatedly expressed my dislike of some of the goings-on in The Final Fade-Out. It’s far less of a favorite than the other one.

I think another thing I don’t entirely like about it, however, is the tongue-in-cheek approach. A lot of the scenes at the set seem somewhat humorous with all of their in-jokes and the generally kooky people. I understand their desire to make commentary on the weirdness that goes on around them, but at the same time I guess I’ve never particularly caught the appeal of mixing that kind of humor with Perry. (Thankfully, it’s nowhere near as nuts as season 8’s The Betrayed Bride. I don’t think any Perry episode could top the kooks in that.) I am, however, amused by the comment on not wanting to run against Bonanza, since that’s exactly what Perry had to do in some years.

Movies and movie stars is another sub-category, but as far as television goes, I think those are the only times Perry went into that. Although since the defendant in The Final Fade-Out is a movie star forced to go to television, that episode kind of bridges both of those sub-categories.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

More Raymond Burr on MeTV!

Speaking of other projects the cast has worked on, I have more news! MeTV will start running Ironside beginning June 3rd! Maybe it will just be for the summer, or maybe if it does well, it will become a more permanent fixture for a while. It’s going to run back-to-back with the morning showing of Perry, booting The Rockford Files to get in.

I must admit, I really don’t care much for Rockford. It’s goofy and ridiculous some of the time, and I don’t like the way the police characters are portrayed most all of the time. It’s usually difficult for me to grasp that the main police character is friends with Rockford, and then in episodes where they do show a friendship, the other police characters still don’t always feel very flattering. Such as in the episode where the main cop, Dennis, is accused of crimes and is suspended. The other police pretty much just come off as one-dimensional, angry people. No one on the force seems to really be concerned for Dennis and/or thinks or at least hopes he’s innocent (unless I missed that part). And they generally seem to be portrayed as one-dimensional antagonists in other episodes. I’ve only seen one or two where I was happier with the portrayals. The police on Perry, by contrast, almost always feel very real and multi-dimensional, even within the confines of the formula.

I’ve been longing for months for the return of Cannon, a much better private detective series, but I am thoroughly thrilled by the addition of Ironside! I hope it will last long enough to do a whole series run—and that MeTV will, indeed, have all the episodes for an entire run.

Perry is actually one of the few long-running shows that they show all the episodes of. Bonanza they show six seasons of and then show sporadic episodes from later seasons, which is very frustrating. Gunsmoke seems to only show the color episodes. They literally show half of Hawaii 5-O, only going through season 6 before starting over. I kind of doubt that they have all the Bewitched episodes, since they keep doing these theme weeks. It makes me rather amazed that they air every Perry episode!

Other shows just beginning or returning in June seem to include The Lucy Show, Family Affair (the return of which I suspected when they spotlighted it with bells and whistles on a Sunday Showcase a while back), and Daniel Boone. I’m thrilled about the latter; I thought Leave It To Beaver had kicked it off either for good or for a long time. Daniel moves to an hour earlier than it was on before, causing the early-morning comedy shows to shift around. I’m still trying to pick up certain episodes of Daniel Boone with guest stars I love (including some Perry alumni), but Leave It To Beaver I can . . . well, leave. Shows about families rarely seem to interest me, although I can’t help loving My Three Sons. And I enjoy The Patty Duke Show, with Perry alumni William Schallert.

Overall, though, detective and police shows are definitely more my thing. And I love what I’ve seen of Ironside in the past. Robert Ironside is an interesting character, with some shades of Perry Mason while remaining very much his own person. Ironside is a lot more gruff and grouchy, but he’s really got a heart of gold and truly cares about the people working with him and the people they’re trying to help. It would be intriguing to see him and Perry work together on a particularly baffling case.

Someone I know had the same idea some time back. She’s been writing a series of crossover stories with the characters from both shows. And while I don’t really care for her occasional scenes of Perry and Della’s bedroom encounters (I just can’t think they’d do that without marrying first), I love the intense mysteries and how basically in-character everyone sounds as they work to solve everything. I’m quite far behind in reading her series (which, like mine, is also set in the present), but I enjoy reading a chapter or two when I have the chance. If anyone would like to have a look, they’re here: And it looks like I’ve been gone so long that she’s also written some recent, separate stories for each show without me being aware she had started them. Either that or wow, she writes fast. Awesome.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The last Perry DVD release

Before the summer is out, it will be possible to own every season of Perry uncut.

(And why in the world does the price of Part 2 of season 8 keep maddeningly fluctuating? What’s so special about that part that causes it alone to continually be more expensive than any other part? It’s very exasperating, particularly since I really want some of the episodes on it.)

It’s going to be a bittersweet moment, once the collection of Perry releases is complete. Of course for me, I’ll still have quite a few to collect even after I snap up season 9, since I haven’t been going in order. But for anyone, once they add the volume that completes their personal collection, wow. No more Perry releases to look forward to and no more uncut episodes to discover. Well, not unless you’re a fan of the movies anxiously hoping and waiting for their DVD releases.

(I think the movies look fun, honestly, from clips I’ve seen. But I still haven’t watched any of them in full. It just seems so sad with most of the cast not around to be in them. I rarely ever watch reunion movies for any show, largely because of feeling sad and finding it empty without all the cast there.)

Amazon currently seems to have some great deals on several Perry seasons. This is an excellent time to buy anything from season 1 through the first half of season 5. I’m particularly amazed by the prices for season 3. Wow! Why is it so low at the moment, I wonder?

For those following the works of any of the cast members, there’s likely still quite a bit to discover and look forward to in addition to Perry. I’ve barely made a dent in what’s out there for some of the cast.

I wish more of the old anthology shows were available. So many of the cast members appeared in multiple episodes of multiple anthology shows. As long as those remain unreleased (or possibly can’t be released because prints no longer exist), there will always be a large space in the available collections for the actors’ works that can’t be filled.

If prints do still exist, I wonder why they don’t make more of them available. Surely there’s an audience for them; it seems that almost anyone who loves classic television and/or old dramas in general would enjoy giving them at least a try. I usually greatly enjoy whatever I manage to see of those programs. And I’ve dug up some rare gems for some of my favorite actors that way.

But in any case, I’m grateful for what’s out there and am very excited by any new releases of material the cast members have appeared in. They keep coming, as it seems that there’s at least one Perry connection with almost every one of the classic television shows that’s been released (and some that haven’t been).
It gets particularly interesting when there are shows that feature one or more cast members in familiar roles, or even roles with a Perry connection (lawyer, detective, policeman) but different from the roles they played on Perry. There's Richard Anderson playing a prosecutor in the short-lived television series Bus Stop and on Mannix. And there's countless guest-spots of his as policemen, including on The Fugitive and The Mod Squad.
William Talman plays a prosecutor in the film The Ballad of Josie and a policeman in The Racket. Ray Collins plays a district attorney in the latter film (albeit a crooked one). Wesley Lau often plays policemen in various movies and television series.

And then there's roles that really have no Perry slant but are still such fun to watch. There's Barbara Hale as a worried mother on Adam-12. William Talman as an alien (!) on The Invaders. Wesley Lau as the head of security at a top-secret military base on The Time Tunnel. Raymond Burr as the chief of police in the very first Dragnet episode.

So many exciting and enjoyable things to seek out and watch! There will never be another Perry Mason season release after August, but there's plenty of fun to be had in watching our talented cast in all manner of shows.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lee Miller and Raymond Burr

Yesterday was Lee Miller’s birthday and this Tuesday is Raymond Burr’s birthday. I’ve been pondering on exactly what I could say for them.

Usually I try to do episode recommendations if I’ve exhausted biographical information (or have little to none). But I have to admit, it’s hard to recommend something for poor Lee Miller, whose Sergeant Brice character is so often silent. He has a nice little speaking part in The Ugly Duckling, and even interacts with Perry, and there are some episodes in the third season where he’s given some dialogue, but in general Brice is a voiceless presence, investigating crime scenes, bringing evidence to the Lieutenant, and standing by, observing. Sometimes he only has one line per episode, if any. I do remember him having both lines and things to do in The Candy Queen, one of my favorite season 9 episodes.

Lee Miller also has a small part as a policeman in Please Murder Me, a pre-Perry court drama with Raymond Burr. I find it interesting that he popped up in that with Raymond shortly before Perry Mason began.

As I’ve mentioned, I would have loved to see Brice spotlighted in an episode, perhaps showing what an essential member of the police team he is and how the others would have trouble trying to handle their cases without him. A bit of a clichéd plot, perhaps, but I have confidence that the cast could have made it all seem new.

It’s actually also very difficult in some ways to give episode recommendations for Perry, since being the main character, he’s naturally featured prominently in almost every episode (except the ones where Raymond Burr was unavailable). So perhaps my focus should instead be episodes that I feel bring out the best (or in any case, the most interesting) aspects of the character.

One thing I love is seeing the development of characters throughout the series. To that effect, I feel that the very first episode, The Restless Redhead, is an excellent one to begin with. View the beginnings of television Perry in all his raw, sometimes rebellious, sometimes shocking behavior. Someone noted that in season 1, Perry seems more cynical and not as likely to believe in all of his clients. I have noticed that, in this episode and others, such as The Fan-Dancer’s Horse.

There’s the season 2 episode where one of Perry’s childhood friends appears. I think it’s The Married Moonlighter? It’s fun to get a slice of that rare background information on Perry (he’s from Oregon and the girl proposed to him at age 7. Aww). And it’s unique to meet someone from before Perry was an established lawyer. I think about the only other time that happens is in season 5’s The Promoter’s Pillbox. We meet a lady who, with her husband, helped Perry while he was a struggling law student.

While The Prudent Prosecutor is, of course, largely a Hamilton episode, I feel that it’s very good for Perry as well, showing how far he and Hamilton have come and what Perry is willing to do to help his friend and rival.

The Singing Skirt, while not a favorite episode by any means, is intriguing in how it shows an extremely overconfident Perry. He’s certain that his plan won’t fail and that the gun he gave the eventual defendant will be proven to not be the murder weapon. Not that he has a real reason to believe otherwise, but instead, he discovers that it indeed registers as (one of) the murder weapons. Yikes. Poor Perry.

Another episode where Perry ends up being wrong through most of it is The Woeful Widower. He’s convinced that the titular character is the guilty party, an idea he latches onto for what seems to be the great majority of the episode. It’s very interesting to me to see it shown in canon that Perry is not always right, since in general it seems like he’s usually depicted as being on the right path to solve the case, and when he isn’t, it isn’t strongly emphasized the way it is here. Usually Perry doesn't have one particular (wrong) suspect that he zeroes in on so much. To me, it makes Perry a more realistic and interesting character to show him really seriously suspecting someone who isn’t the murderer.

I love the episodes where Perry is faced with serious moral dilemmas and it’s an important part of the plot. The main ones, if not the only ones, that I can think of are season 7’s The Capering Camera and season 9’s The Misguided Model. Both episodes, I feel, show a Perry who is much more mature and wise than the Perry of the very early episodes. While Perry in The Restless Redhead has no qualms about firing extra bullets around the murder scene, I can’t imagine Perry in The Capering Camera or The Misguided Model going to such lengths. Nor do I think Perry in the later episodes would juggle guns around as he does with confusing results in both The Long-Legged Models and The Singing Skirt.

Of course, even in the later episodes, Perry is sometimes depicted with the behavior of the early Perry, same as what happens with Hamilton. The Golden Girls particularly comes to mind, as Perry seems to be trying to escape the police in order to keep the murder weapon from being discovered (at least at that point). I think when that happens, though, no matter which character is involved, it’s mainly the writers simply trying to keep the original concepts of the characters alive, forgetting the character development, or else the writers not realizing the development happened at all.

By contrast, there are certain positive behaviors that Perry usually depicts in all seasons at some point or another, especially how he will take on all kinds of strange cases even if the people can pay little or nothing. It's definitely one of my favorite things about him, whether he's pretty much forced to accept a little old lady's calculations so he isn't rude or whether he deliberately agrees to help even if the client is destitute.

Whatever Perry is up to in a particular episode, Raymond Burr is always more than capable of handling it and depicting it as believably as possible. He’s a delight to watch, the true quintessential Perry Mason.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Uncut Impatient Partner

So I finally got Sampson into my Wild Wild West time-travel story. He hasn’t encountered his sadistic counterpart Pinto at all. Instead, he converses with a different counterpart, Coley Rodman, and one of his friends. Coley and Sampson have had several personality conflicts throughout the chapter, and it was a lot of fun comparing and contrasting them. It really brought home all the more what a wonderful actor H.M. Wynant is, to be able to portray such vastly different characters!

I’ve been watching the uncut Impatient Partner semi-frequently since getting my DVD set of the first half of season 5. And, after also seeing the cut version a couple more times, I discovered that my original evaluation of everything that was missing was wrong. Actually, The Impatient Partner is one of the most cut-up episodes there is.

First off, there is a very brief bit with Amory that was clipped, where he’s first informed of his wife calling him. He tells Vivian Ames that he doesn’t want to speak with his wife and hangs up. Then comes the scene that’s the same in both, where Paul storms in to confront Amory with news of his real identity.

The scene with Vivian and Burt is missing, as I originally noted. And with it gone goes a subplot fleshing out their characters more. They’re friends and apparently tried to be more, but Vivian wanted someone with more money than Burt had. She treats him very snidely in the scene. I really don’t like Vivian, and the way she acts with Burt is the main reason why. It suddenly occurs to me, too, that maybe the reason Burt decided to go along with Ned Thompson in selling the Martin project behind Amory’s back is that he was hoping to get enough money to satisfy Vivian. Ugh, she isn’t worth it.

The whole scene with Tragg, Perry, and Paul in Ned’s apartment is gone. There’s no reading of the note, which makes it extremely confusing in court when Perry asks questions about said note.

The first third or so of Frank’s conversation with Paul is missing. The cut version goes directly to him telling Paul that there isn’t anything between Ned and Edith. Gone is the part where they discuss the whereabouts of the siblings while Ned was being murdered, and where Paul queries if Edith has talked to Ned.

And then the whole sequence with Perry trying to find Vivian at her apartment and talking to Burt is gone. We learn a little more about him and Vivian here; he says they have a special knocking code so one will know the other is there.

All in all, there must be around six minutes of edits. Compare that with the more usual three or four.

I wonder what happened to Burt. Naturally he’d go to prison, but maybe just for a short while. I wonder if he and Vivian would get along any better after he got out, or if she’d still be obsessed with finding someone who has a lot of money. Maybe she’d already have someone. Or maybe she’d try someone and fail again. Maybe she’d finally think Burt was worth something and recognize what a loyal friend he is to her.

I also wonder what happened to Frank. In The Malevolent Mugging, Edith mentions him in a monologue and says he’s in prison. But I wasn’t sure if he really would be or if he’d be executed. Killing Ned was definitely premeditated by at least a few minutes.

Poor Edith, in a situation where she has to lose either a husband or a brother. She’s so subdued in the last scene, most likely both because of hurt over Amory’s past accusations and because of Frank being the murderer (and one who was willing to deliberately frame Amory for it, the weasel). I love that Amory apologizes to her for his groundless accusations.

Suddenly I remember that one plot thread I had considered for The Malevolent Mugging (which is alluded to in the trailer I made for it) was that someone was trying to get at Edith by going after Amory. I didn’t end up using that one and it would likely only clutter things up to try to experiment with it at this point in the story. But it could be an interesting idea for something else later. It would be a confusing surprise, for Edith to have an enemy like that.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother episodes

Happy Mother’s Day!

I’ve been pondering which Perry episodes are the best viewing material for the holiday. There’s a lot of episodes with mothers, but the mother aspect isn’t always front and center, nor are the mothers always flattering enough for decent recommendations.

My favorite is probably season 7’s The Nervous Neighbor, with the poor amnesiac mother who killed her husband without even really being aware of it. And despite not having her memory, she badly wants to reconnect with her son and help him with the troubles he has to deal with through the episode. Sometimes their interaction is so natural that it’s easy to forget she really doesn’t remember him.

The Polka-Dot Pony is also a keeper, with the main character in search of a mother. The end result is bittersweet in some ways, with the real mother (and even the girl’s identity) a bit of a mystery, but enjoyable in that she finds a satisfactory mother figure in her future mother-in-law.

I also decided that The Borrowed Baby is a good one for the list. The mother is a pretty good character and is determined to do right by her baby. And Della gets to be a surrogate mother for most of the episode, taking care of little Leander. Della is an absolutely adorable mother, when given the chance. I imagine there’s a lot of Barbara Hale coming through in scenes like that.

I imagine it wouldn’t be out of place to add The Fatal Fetish, since Larry’s mother Mignon is such a key part of the plot and she wants to help him out of the mess he’s into with Carina.

Mothers are also fairly important players in The Deadly Toy, The Red Riding Boots, The Libelous Locket, and The Missing Button, although the fathers/step-fathers are just as important in those. And there’s the mother defendant in The Skeleton’s Closet, who gets into her disaster zone mainly because of wanting to protect her children (albeit the kids aren’t seen very much, and not at all in the cut version).

I also feel like I should mention The Vagabond Vixen, because even though the mother isn’t a very prominent character, she certainly is memorable and colorful! "The salt of the earth," as Perry says about her. I wish she’d had more screentime.

I suppose The Baited Hook is a fairly good choice, since the woman’s crimes came about all because of her love for her daughter and her desire to protect her, although it isn’t one I would recommend with enthusiasm.

The mother in The Loquacious Liar is a prominent character, but I’m not a big fan of her and within the episode she never does seem to improve. I do greatly enjoy the episode itself, however.

The mother in The Hateful Hero is also certainly prominent, but while I love the episode and like her, I don’t know that I would want to recommend it, since it’s heartbreaking with her grieving over her son.

Then there’s episodes like The Black-Eyed Blonde, but they kind of fall into a category that just seems a bit twisted. The mother isn’t really the kid’s mother and doesn’t even act like a decent mother. All of the disasters of the episode happen because of her evil and greedy scheming, which heavily involves the child she’s raising.

It’s been fun thinking on the episodes to mention. I came up with several while writing this that I hadn’t thought of before. I’ll probably do a companion post on Father’s Day.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Lost Last Act

The Lost Last Act is one of those episodes I never quite know what to make of. The general consensus about it, that it’s cheesy beyond compare, is true. And yet . . . dang, it’s fun and sweet. I have this feeling that I’ve mentioned some things about it before, but I don’t know if I went very in-depth, since I can’t find a tag specific to it.

Milton Krims, the writer, seems to be capable of penning both cheese and heavy drama; he co-wrote the heartbreaking war picture One Minute to Zero (in which William Talman has a very large role).

It seems that pretty much every Perry episode involving the stage is kind of cheesy/over-dramatic/what-have-you. I guess that’s not really much of a surprise, since theatre people are often said to be such. Oddball dialogue abounds in other theatre-centric episodes such as The Ancient Romeo, The Dodging Domino, and The Simple Simon.

So in this episode we have a group of people reading an awful play. The storyline is dark and hopeless and the characters are one-dimensional and have no love or life to them. I have to admit, I’m curious to know more about them and the details of the play.

The writer is insistent that he won’t change anything about the first two acts, and is bewildered and outraged to discover that the third act is missing. But he says he’ll just write it over again. Only he isn’t given the chance; he’s murdered that night, and in an eerie scene that perfectly parallels a scene in his play.

Stacy Harris, in one of several Perry roles, is the defendant. He’s an interesting and colorful sort of fellow who comes across as a bit hoodish, but has made a completely honest living for himself. I didn’t manage to catch the scene on MeTV today, but if I remember right, he’s one of those rare ex-con characters who’s now going straight.

The press agent who appears throughout the episode is named James West, which highly amuses this Wild Wild West fan. CBS really seemed to like that name; I think there’s another Perry character who has it, too!

The court scenes are highly unique, including such bits as Hamilton ending up giving his opinion of the play via Shakespeare’s words: “It is a tale told by an idiot.” And on the more serious side of things, there’s that interesting and unique apology Hamilton makes to Perry and to the court, saying he hadn’t realized what Perry was trying to get at and that he’s willing for all matters concerning the Volponi death to be introduced, with the idea that the play is about that old murder.

The bit still leaves me scratching my head, even as I am excited over Hamilton’s apology. Perry never really makes it quite clear how the script connects with the Volponi death. He just gives some supposition, and a few scenes later, Hamilton is exclaiming pretty much the same thing. Perry retorts by reiterating the thing about the play being based on the murder and adds about the playwright’s murder paralleling a murder in the play.

I think what we have here is either really bad editing or a lack of quality control. I’d love to know if some stuff is missing that would have better explained Perry’s reasoning about the Volponi murder. And I’d like to know why Perry and Hamilton end up going in circles about that darned script and repeating nearly the same dialogue twice. Was the writer just having an off-day? Or were the editors messing around with things and attached two different versions of the scene into the finished product?

Milton Krims wrote eight Perry scripts, most of them in season 2. Then he popped up twice more, for season 4’s The Envious Editor and season 8’s The Sad Sicilian. And while I still can’t stand the very latter, I enjoy most of his other Perry ventures. I don’t even really mind the much-detested The Jaded Joker, because I love the friendship between the two main guest-stars. I rage that some of their interaction is what gets cut in syndication! (I will admit, however, that the whole bit of shoving the murdered man under the desk, and the reason for it, is just plain weird.)

Regardless, I don’t recall such confusing and repeating scenes happening in any of Milton’s other Perry stories, which makes me more inclined to believe that the fault is not the writer’s but quite possibly the editor’s.

The part where The Lost Last Act gets incredibly cheesy is, of course, where the play’s producer is on the stand. This is also where things are incredibly dated, as he’s actually managed to smuggle a gun into the courtroom (!) and tries to kill himself on the witness stand. He believes that his wife killed Volponi years ago, as she was Volponi’s girl and he didn’t want to let her go when she fell in love with the producer. And the producer also believes that she killed the playwright because the play was about that murder. But he tries to cover for her and says that he did it.

The scene is very intense in spite of the man’s over-dramatic lines about the gun’s limited vocabulary and how it has one word left to speak. Hamilton and Tragg get up in alarm when the gun is brought out, and Tragg tries to convince him to give up the weapon while the bailiff starts to move forward. Hamilton holds him back, apparently worried that any sudden move could cause the irrational man to fire.

Jim West, who has been in love with the wife for years, suddenly puts the pieces together and accuses her brother of the murders. He finally confesses, the gun is lowered, and the producer and his wife have a happy reunion. The producer thanks Perry for preventing him from becoming a “cheap and melodramatic anti-climax.” More very strange theatre talk, giving the clichéd impression that they can only think and speak in stage terms. But ignoring the odd choice of words, the scene is really sweet. I love the relationship between the producer and his wife, as depicted throughout the episode.

The tag has Tragg dropping in saying he was invited to go to the defendant’s burger place, as were Perry and company. Della mentions that there are flaming hamburgers on swords, which seems to absolutely appall Paul. Perry displays the supposed lost last act, which is blank, and Tragg says that Perry can eat the hamburger and he’ll eat the sword. Classic Tragg. I think Milton must have especially enjoyed writing Tragg’s dialogue; he’s also the one who gave Tragg the beatnik dialogue at the end of The Jaded Joker (unless someone else added it into the script later).

One very strange cut in the MeTV version is that I don’t remember the scene where Perry has the fake lost last act in court. If they really snipped that out, that is completely ridiculous! That part is really vital to the storyline, and without it, the bit in the tag makes no sense.

I’m usually simultaneously cringing at and enjoying this episode whenever I catch it or deliberately get it out to watch it. It’s definitely one of the most off-the-wall and badly edited ventures that I’ve seen, but I love it anyway.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The upcoming season 9 DVDs

More news: The second half of season 9 is already up for pre-order at Amazon, although there’s no release date listed for it yet.

Just a little over a month to the release of Part 1! I’m so hyped for it.

I just wish the box art was different. It seems sad to not feature the other characters across the top, like with all the other sets, and instead just have Perry alone. It feels very final and melancholy and makes season 9 feel way different aside from its distinction of being the last season.

And really, it doesn’t start out that different, in spite of new cast members Richard Anderson and Dan Tobin. The early episodes are a lot like what we just left in season 8, which isn’t surprising since I heard 8 and 9 were given continuous production numbers as though they were all part of one big season. It’s only after getting into it a little more that things get quite different.

It’s episode 5’s The Impetuous Imp that brings the first real changes plot-wise, in the form of Hamilton’s assistant Bill Vincent. I certainly would like to know what the writers’ actual intention was with the character. The changes are positive in the respect that they throw more screentime on the district attorney’s office, but when Bill seems so unable to handle himself in court, I wonder if it’s really a positive change. I do enjoy seeing how Hamilton deals with the problems, however.

The Carefree Coronary, episode 6, is probably the first drastically different entry, with one of the main characters actually being at death’s door. Exploring how the others react to it results in, I think, a very positive change. It’s heartbreaking, but encouraging, to see how deeply worried and distraught Perry and Della are over Paul.

I would cite The 12th Wildcat, episode 8, as being the first episode in season 9 to really be noticeably negatively different in formula. Not explaining the crime is jaw-dropping in any season, including 9. But then there’s the oddity of the court scenes in both this episode and the prior one, The Hasty Honeymooner, being so identical. And The Hasty Honeymooner is so weird as it is that I wonder if I should list it as being the first negative one. It’s not the first oddball episode the series has ever done, though. But The 12th Wildcat and its gaping plotholes is certainly something new.

Granted, the show has had plotholes before. There’s some rather confusing stuff with that pesky locket in The Romantic Rogue, for one. But that’s still nothing compared to simply refusing to explain the crime. They always did that otherwise, to help the poor confused souls who couldn’t put all the pieces together (and to reveal pieces that no one would have put together).

With the first fifteen episodes (presumably) on the first set, that will also take us through the utter tongue-in-cheek oddity that is The Golden Girls and to The Bogus Buccaneers, an episode I’m particularly anxious to see in its uncut form. I just hope all of its plotholes will be nicely wrapped up, particularly why Clay gets to be one of the baby’s three godfathers.

Other episodes I’m especially excited to see uncut for the first time are The Fatal Fortune, The Wrathful Wraith, and The Runaway Racer. And I am hoping that if nothing else, the missing scene with Hamilton in The 12th Wildcat will at least help explain his off-the-wall behavior in court. (But since the court scenes are so similar to The Hasty Honeymooner’s, I kind of doubt it.)

Most of the other episodes on the first set I’ve seen uncut, except for the out-of-town episodes The Cheating Chancellor, The Hasty Honeymooner, and The Fugitive Fraulein. But I am very happy that I will get to own all of them uncut, including the ones I’ve seen uncut before. I especially look forward to taking screenshots on The Candy Queen. There’s so many actors I particularly like in that one!

And speaking of The Candy Queen, casino manager Tony Earle briefly wandered into something I was tinkering with concerning Slim Marcus (of The Singing Skirt notoriety). I finally got an idea for how to do a character study on Slim, but it ended up being . . . well, quite a bit different than anything I’d imagined. Slim ends up talking with a fellow from the Yu-Gi-Oh! Japanese anime series. But don’t worry, folks; if anyone wants to take a look, there’s only one throwaway reference to anything really strange. It’s just a conversation between two people each carrying a burden.

Another rather random idea floating through my mind involves Hamilton, Sampson, and maybe Leon on some sort of quest (which quite possibly involves rescuing at least some of the others). It was Village Lantern, a beautiful song by Blackmore’s Night, that sparked that idea. I’ve associated it with Hamilton for over a year, and to me it always has a certain element of both adventure and fantasy to it. It would probably be similar in nature to the Lux Aeterna theme set I wrote on Livejournal. (And it would probably also be posted on Livejournal.) But I don’t know if I’ll actually write it or even to start filling in the details.

I have plans for the next chapter of The Malevolent Mugging, which I intend to start writing this week. It would be very nice if I could get all the rest of the story written before it’s been up for a whole year!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Foot-Loose Doll vs. The Fanciful Frail

I am so sorry about the lack of the weekend post. That did not happen for lack of topics, but lack of modem. And now we have a new modem, but I’m sick with what I hope is just a cold and not the flu. But either way, it kept me in a fog last night, so if anything sounds strange in the post today, that’s likely why.

I’ve seen The Fanciful Frail a couple of times recently, due to airings on the different stations, but it’s been some time since I saw the original, The Foot-Loose Doll. I caught most of that on MeTV this week.

The Fanciful Frail certainly has one of the most downright ludicrous concepts in any episode, right up there with the oddness of The Blonde Bonanza. Two ladies meet, talk for thirty minutes, and deliberately agree to switch identities. Um, what? This is definitely not Pippa Scott’s most intelligent character, as in her fragile emotional state, she is totally manipulated by the scheming other woman. The role definitely shows what an amazing actress Pippa is, as most of the other characters I’ve seen her play are considerably smarter.

Things make a lot more sense in The Foot-Loose Doll, where the other lady is just a hitchhiker the main heroine picks up. They get into a car wreck when the hitchhiker pulls a gun. When Millie, the main guest star, wakes up, the hitchhiker is dead and badly mutilated. She escapes with this other girl’s luggage and takes on her identity at that point, since in her real identity she’s wanted for a crime she didn’t commit. It’s still illogical, true, since she knows nothing of this other girl’s life, but it beats Pippa’s character being manipulated into switching identities while the other woman is still alive.

The Foot-Loose Doll also has that whole subplot about the senator wanting his son’s letters to his fiancée back, as the son says some very embarrassing things about his father within them. The fiancée is supposed to be Fern Driscoll, the lady killed in the car wreck. But then, to throw in a new monkey wrench, the Fern Driscoll hitchhiker turns out to not even be the real Fern Driscoll.

I love the scene where Perry realizes that maybe the hitchhiker attacked Fern and took on her identity before meeting Millie, and the real Fern is found alive at a private hospital. She’s suffering from amnesia and shock, but seeing her beloved brings her out of it enough to at least remember him. I was happy that Fern turned out to be a nice girl. It was certainly a unique twist.

Instead of letters, The Fanciful Frail has a mysterious packet of money that everyone wants. It’s only revealed in the climax that it’s a bunch of counterfeit money. It always makes me cringe to think of the killer burning real money, believing it’s the counterfeit packet.

Both episodes have the sad thing of the defendant being jilted by her fiancé, which sets everyone into motion. It’s particularly heartbreaking in The Foot-Loose Doll, although there is content in The Fanciful Frail that I have not seen, which could add to the sadness of how that version was handled.

One interesting thing in The Fanciful Frail is the scene of Perry attending the “defendant’s” funeral, while everyone else is thinking she was the one killed in the crash. Her former fiancé even has the gall to be there as a pallbearer, and to claim there were no wedding plans between him and her! Della refuses to believe that, and doing some research of her own, learns that there really was a wedding planned, right down to the ring.

The fiancé in The Foot-Loose Doll, by contrast, only appears at the beginning to jilt poor Millie and then skips out for the rest of the episode.

The murderer’s identity is very different in both episodes, as are the victims. The Foot-Loose Doll features a private detective investigating the whole mess, who ends up murdered by his wife because he was going to leave her. In The Fanciful Frail, it’s the fiancé, and he’s murdered by the counterfeiter looking for his fake bills.

Best dialogue, hands-down, goes to the scene in The Foot-Loose Doll where the senator tries to get Perry to represent him for $10,000. Perry says he’s already accepted a retainer from Millie. When asked for how much, Perry says matter-of-factly, “Thirty-eight cents.” The senator’s expression is priceless. And it’s definitely one of Perry’s best bits. One of my favorite things about him is how he’ll take on a case for anyone who needs help, even if they can scarcely pay.

Overall, the episodes are quite different. The Foot-Loose Doll wins for twisty turns, while The Fanciful Frail comes out on top for utter bizarreness. But I do enjoy them both. Steve has some great scenes in The Fanciful Frail, while Tragg and Brice have some classics in The Foot-Loose Doll. And despite the off-the-wall behavior of Pippa’s character in The Fanciful Frail, she’s always fun to watch.