Friday, July 26, 2013

The Uncut Velvet Claws

Wow, what a week. I am so sorry. Sunday was rather hectic, I was ill from Sunday night through early Wednesday morning, and Wednesday was busy, too. I’m hoping I can get things steered back on track now.

It was very interesting to watch The Velvet Claws uncut. My original reason for doing that recently was in hoping to find a little more footage of Andy. I did, although the smidgen of what was cut of him puzzles me.

The very first scene that’s absent is right at the beginning, after Eva and her guy escape the joint (which seems to be the vine-covered house used as the Barkley mansion on The Big Valley). They’re stopped on the road near the house by the police and Eva has the guy hide under a raincoat so he won’t be seen and identified while she gives the officer a song and dance about being the neighbors and she’s trying to get her sick husband to the doctor. The officer is reluctant to believe her, but finally does, and lets them through.

I’m confused over why he does, too, since when he goes to look in the car it looks like all he sees is the raincoat and not any (unidentifiable) form hiding under it. I thought sure he would bust Eva when he came back and that he would say she didn’t have anyone else in the car, but instead he told her to go on through.

It’s an illogical setup. In order to make the officer think there’s someone else in the car, and ill, it seems that Eva should have told the guy to wrap the raincoat around himself and slump down towards the driver’s side of the car so he won’t be recognized. Having him get under the raincoat while it’s on the floor, so it looks like there’s no other person there at all, just doesn’t make sense considering what happens after the officer looks in the car.

It ends up being a fairly important scene for character understanding, but I wonder if it was cut both because of the illogic and also Eva’s playfulness with her guy. While he’s hiding under the raincoat, she gets back in the car and talks with him about her desire to find one good man who loves her, and how she’ll lie, cheat, or steal to have that. As she talks, she starts running her bare foot over his face. (Eww!) He responds by kissing the top of her foot.

Also cut is a scene where Perry goes to talk to the guy. He defends Eva’s erratic behavior by telling of how she’s always had a terrible life and says he loves her.

It’s very exasperating that so much of his screentime is missing from the standard version of the episode. One of the things that always baffled me about the cut version is how we don’t see much of him for the longest time and then we hear about him fleeing town after the murder. It makes him seem rather spineless, even with them keeping the later bit where he admits he shouldn’t have left and only did because Eva told him to (and that he came right back when he heard about the murder). I felt that he just wasn’t involved enough in everything that was happening and it was hard to swallow that he really cared about Eva. The uncut largely solves that problem with these other scenes and makes so much more sense—although I still don’t know if I would want someone like him to attain a high political office.

And then Andy is very puzzling. The bit missing with him seems to be when Perry goes downstairs to talk to Eva after the murder and she tells him she’s sure that he was the one arguing with her husband right before his death. Andy suddenly appears at the top of the stairs and bellows, “Goodnight, Counselor!” Perry then takes his leave.

Wow, Andy. Why so insistent? The police are currently investigating upstairs not down, Andy acted like he was through talking with Eva, and Eva is Perry’s client. (Not to mention the house is hers.) Why can’t Perry talk to her whenever he feels like it, especially when she isn’t even under arrest?

Of course, the police generally don’t like when Perry is hanging around while they’re trying to investigate a place. I imagine they don’t want him poking around through everything and Andy was concerned of that happening. But the scene would have made more sense if Perry had indeed been poking through something when Andy caught him, instead of just talking to his client.

It seems to be one more instance of Andy showing rather clipped and stressed behavior, as he does now and then in seasons 6 and 7 and in season 8 a lot more. It also seems an unnecessary bit; the scene could have easily ended, as the cut one does, with Perry staring at Eva in disbelief. Not that I’m knocking any extra footage of Andy; I’m happy to see him, but it doesn’t take away my puzzlement over the purpose of the bit.

Sometimes it seems like the writers like to slip in anything anywhere they can to show the strained feelings between Perry and the police. But it usually ends up making either one side or the other look bad, as it does here for Andy. They could have instead had Andy appear at the top of the stairs and rather casually or confusedly mention that he had thought Perry was leaving, which is his reaction in some episodes with similar scenes. Whereupon Perry could still take his leave as he does at that point in the episode.

The episode, overall, has never been a particular favorite of mine, in any form. But it is interesting, unique, and significant, considering it’s the televised version of the very first book.

Perry is always a puzzle in it; despite his insistence that he’s in it to stop Spicy Bits, it certainly seems obvious over time that he has some interest in the mixed-up, twisted Eva. If nothing else, the fact that he agrees to continue being her attorney at the end shows that he doesn’t hold the dislike for her that he does for some other clients.

I’ve heard that the plot in the book is quite a bit different, naturally, and that it also has the rather interesting ending of Della kissing Perry and Eva being upset about it. Considering that in the episode Eva’s interest is in the guy she keeps fighting to protect, I highly doubt it would have bothered her at all if Della had kissed Perry in that version.

Eva is certainly treacherous, the way she weaves Perry into her trap and threatens to make it look like he was present on the scene when her husband was killed—hence making him the prime suspect. But honestly, in the television series at least, I don’t really mind her. (I can’t say how I would feel about her book counterpart.) Aside from her nastiness in the bit about the murder, she kind of amuses me and appalls me all at once. And I do like how she really seems to love that guy so much and is so desperate to protect him. At the end she goes off with him, so the fans of the Perry/Della pairing surely don’t have to worry about her trying to break up any possible relationship between them.

Eva’s actress, incidentally, is the highly talented Patricia Barry, who often seemed to play femme fatales on Perry. She’s also the duplicitous Janet in The Frantic Flyer and the older woman luring David Gideon into a trap in The Grumbling Grandfather. Recently I saw her on Ironside, for once playing a relatively normal (by comparison) television producer—albeit she was in love with a very bad man. Her tastes certainly left something to be desired. She also toned down her usual, very distinctive voice. If not for seeing her name in the opening credits, I’m not sure I would have recognized her!

I wonder if Patricia and Raymond Burr were friends in real-life, since that seemed to be the case sometimes when actors recurred on Perry or on both series.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Long-Legged Models and The Singing Skirt

So last night I watched The Long-Legged Models.

A lot of the time I stared blankly at the screen, rather confused. I think I need to watch the uncut again; season 1 episodes are mangled even worse because of their longer running time.

Of course, I could follow the basic plot along alright. And I still spotted those similarities with The Singing Skirt, although now I realize I also have another episode mixed up in my thoughts. I’ve been thinking The Long-Legged Models is the episode that features the real-life spot Gardena, as opposed to The Singing Skirt’s apparently made-up Rowena. But it is not, and now I’m wondering which is the Gardena episode. I’m positive there is one.

There are still enough similarities between the episodes, however, that the parallels run about as good as those between the original versions of the stories and the ones that have announced themselves as remakes (i.e., The Silent Partner versus The Candy Queen, etc).

Gambling does play a part in The Long-Legged Models, albeit it’s more in the background than in The Singing Skirt.

There’s still those pesky three guns that confuse everyone from the defendant to Perry himself. But Hamilton doesn’t make as big a deal out of what Perry does with the guns as he does in The Singing Skirt, even though it seems like what Perry does in The Long-Legged Models is much more blatant.

Perry still tries to use said guns to confuse the issue and make his client look less guilty, but instead everything turns upside-down and the murder gun is discovered in her possession anyway. The difference is that in The Long-Legged Models, she deliberately switches guns to protect someone else, instead of the guns being switched on her without her knowledge as in The Singing Skirt.

A girl whom the defendant thinks of as her friend ends up playing a part in framing her for the murder. In The Long-Legged Models, she’s also the actual murderer. In The Singing Skirt, she is not.

All in all, I definitely still consider the episodes connected, in the same way I notice similarities between The Fugitive Nurse and The Frantic Flyer, even though the latter doesn’t officially claim to be a remake of the former.

One unique difference where The Long-Legged Models and The Singing Skirt are concerned, however, is that both are based on separate stories written by Mr. Gardner, instead of the pseudo-remake being a television-only thing. And I have to wonder why he used the idea of multiple guns more than once. I thought that in general, if there’s such a unique plot point as the confusion over multiple guns and Perry inadvertently making it worse, the author would try not to repeat it. To his credit, he did have Perry do different things with the guns in each case to confuse the issues, but still, it surprises me to have used that plot angle twice.

Scrolling through the plot summary for the book version of The Long-Legged Models, I notice that while the murderer is still the same person as in the episode, she kills in self-defense in the book. In the episode, the implication is that it’s premeditated murder. I much prefer the idea that it was self-defense, especially since (at least in the episode) she’d been trying so hard to turn her life around.

On the series, self-defense killings don’t happen too often, but enough so that I might do a post to gather them together. Those, and the sub-category of when it’s an accident. They’re kind of a refreshing change from it so often being premeditated, although it is amazing how every one of the people who kills accidentally or in self-defense can never seem to speak up until Perry puts the pieces together in court. Some of them say they would never allow the wrong person to be convicted, at least, but they sure let things go on and on before they reveal the truth. Of course, I realize it's that way for the sake of the plot.

I’m looking forward to watching The Long-Legged Models uncut soon, to pick up the rest of the episode’s story once again. I just came from watching the uncut Velvet Claws, and it makes so much more sense in its originally intended state!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ray Collins and the uncut Fatal Fortune

It was so hectic on Thursday that I neglected to mention that the day, July 11th, was the anniversary of Ray Collins’ death.

MeTV, currently running season 1 in the evenings and season 4 in the mornings, has a lot of Perry offerings with great Tragg moments. The Moth-Eaten Mink and The Clumsy Clown are two of many classic episodes where Tragg has very good scenes. Nevertheless, I still wouldn’t say that either of them are Tragg-centric in nature.

I still puzzle over the fact that Lieutenant Tragg really doesn’t have a proper spotlight episode. Does anyone know if he gets one in any of the books? I think he may have one in The New Perry Mason, but that wouldn’t be Ray’s Tragg.

And on to The Fatal Fortune, one of the paranormal Perry episodes. I detailed the plot last October, so here I’ll try to focus mainly on the many scenes chopped from the standard television version.

The very first scene is when Max is still in the hospital and being released. Beth, the secretary, is there with him and the doctor is giving him instructions. Max is very irritable and cranky (as Perry says, “Max is being Max again”) and tells the doctor not to worry, he’s still going to inherit the money for his clinic when Max dies. Also present in the scene is the whistle Pat gave him, which Max declares he’s going to use.

The next scene is right after Max gives Pat the pearls. Pat takes them back to her office, admiring them, and Beth comes in and admires them with her. They then begin to discuss the men in Pat’s life and she mentions Max’s newest proposal. She comments how she’s just not in love with him and then excitedly tells Beth that Marius’s prediction about meeting her white knight has come true. Beth says she feels Pat should marry Max instead.

Our third missing scene features Gordon Evans arriving at the location where Pat has gone to meditate on the marital issues. He asks the desk clerk about Pat and is told she’s at the pool.

The episode proceeds the same as the cut version for a while, until after Max is heartlessly killed. Our next missing scene is when Perry goes to see Hamilton after Pat has been arrested, wanting to ask for her release. Hamilton refuses, very calmly and maturely. Perry manages to get in a wild accusation at Hamilton, which Hamilton denies, and he explains why he can’t comply with Perry’s wishes. There’s quite a bit of evidence stacked up against Pat.

Our final scene is right after Paul announces that Marius has returned after being mysteriously absent. Perry and Della go to see him and have their fortunes told. Perry uses Paul’s name, which Marius reveals he is aware of as he eerily tells Perry that he is like two people. He finally ends his fun and drops his charade, admitting that Hamilton told him Perry would likely be coming around. He then offers to give Perry a real fortune, for his true self.

It’s certainly preposterous how much is missing from the usual television version! I think there’s even more edits here than in The Impatient Partner, which is also one of the most mangled episodes. There are mainly pieces of scenes missing from the latter, but in this venture, it’s mostly entire scenes gone! Good grief.

The episode makes alright sense without all the absent pieces (unlike some episodes that just fall apart without one or more of the scenes), but it certainly presents a much fuller, more well-rounded plot with all of them intact. I always felt that the standard television version was much too short. Now I definitely see why.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Silent Six and The Runaway Racer

So I watched The Silent Six yesterday. I saw it uncut some time back, but I’d forgotten pretty much all of those scenes!

In the cut version, we see Perry telling Steve that he doesn’t know how he can possibly take on another case right now. That looks fine by itself, but in the uncut we actually see why he’s so overwhelmed. He talks on the phone with a client who is having problems, tries to instruct a young law graduate (the same one we see in the cut version who comes out of the library), and is late for dining with a judge. His swamped tone of voice when he tells Della he’ll see Steve now makes so much more sense.

There’s also more Steve content. After speaking with Monk Coleman and Hampton Fisher, Perry and Paul join Steve and Sergeant Brice at the apartment houses. They converse for a few minutes on the sidewalk about the progression of the case and Perry’s feelings that Dave Wolfe really is innocent. Steve still isn’t convinced, although he wishes he were.

One very long missing scene is after the questioning of the people in the apartment houses. Paul comes to report that Dave needs to see Perry right away. The whole scene where they talk is absent. And that scene is very important, as Dave is going bonkers behind bars due to worrying over Susan, and he’s trying to convince Perry to plead him guilty on a lesser charge instead of going through the agony and uncertainty of trying to be found innocent. Perry refuses, saying the situation has changed since he suggested that very thing to Dave in the morning, and he won’t let Dave drag himself and the entire police department through the dirt with a false confession.

Hamilton doesn’t appear in The Silent Six very much, and I had hoped for a bit more with him in the uncut version, but his scenes are intact even in the cut print.

One thing that fascinates me about The Silent Six, in addition to its dark tones and lots of Steve, is that I just realized yesterday how many of the clues are right there to be seen. A lot of times, we don’t even find things out at all until we get to court. But in this episode, we can plainly see things like the three candlesticks in Susan’s apartment, the three phones in Mr. Jefferson’s, and the one candlestick in Linda Blakely’s. We don’t know what the significance is until we get to court, but the clues are there, laid out for us to think about. It reminds me of detective stories such as Ellery Queen, actively trying to involve the audience in putting the pieces together in ways that Perry usually didn’t. Usually the audience, like the other characters, just sits back and watches in awe as Perry fits all of the strange pieces together.

I do get my wish for more Hamilton in the uncut Runaway Racer. The scene where he first appears, in Clay’s Grill, is longer and he and Steve are both present for a little more screentime before we get to what the cut version shows us.

Overall, The Runaway Racer doesn’t have as many edits as I was expecting after seeing The Fatal Fortune, but it does have a couple of fairly large scenes gone. I’m sure that at least half the scene where the defendant is confronted by the injured man’s wife is new to me.

There’s also an entire sequence where he goes to the hospital cafeteria and converses with his partner and Perry. He and his partner are definitely at odds after what happened on the racetrack with the car malfunctioning and his friend being badly hurt. He doesn’t want to race on Saturday, feels that something shady is going on, and wonders how to get a look at their books. Perry tells him he doesn’t need a court order, since he’s one of the partners. The partner is unconcerned and tells him to go ahead and look.

You know, usually the murderer ends up being a surprise, but in The Runaway Racer it doesn’t feel like much of one, despite the alibi. Pappy Ryan is the sort of obvious suspect who could have just as easily been the innocent defendant in another version of the script. That bad temper is a staple of many Perry defendants. To see him be the murderer is a rather blatant move that feels a lot like how it goes in real-life, since the obvious suspects often really are the guilty parties.

The Runaway Racer has never been a big favorite of mine, mostly because I have no interest in car racing. But I noticed something about it this week that kind of intrigued me.

It has a feel about it similar to some of the season 5 episodes. I’m not sure exactly why; the epilogue may be part of the reason. The bit with Paul ending up in the racecar as it takes off, with Perry and Della amused, reminds me of a couple of season 5 episodes where they tease Paul and are quite entertained by it, such as The Left-Handed Liar and The Angry Astronaut.

Also, season 5 as a whole really feels like it’s taking the show in a whole new direction. They’re experimenting with a lot of topics they haven’t tried before, and for the first time, one of the people they’ve brought in as supplemental to the cast becomes a regular.

Compare that with season 9, which seems to clearly be an attempt at a facelift for the show after season 8. There’s a new regular in Steve Drumm, and actually, another in Terrance Clay. Many of the plots, as with season 5, are something very different. There’s levels of social commentary in season 9 that didn’t exist before, particularly in episodes such as The Golden Girls and The Twice-Told Twist. The latter feels, in some ways, a lot like an episode of Ironside, which is often quite socially conscious.

Season 5 is, I think, the first season to really have episodes concerning sporting activities, including a vacation gone tragically wrong in The Jealous Journalist and hunting in The Crippled Cougar. While there are some elements of hunting in season 3’s The Prudent Prosecutor, it’s never really brought to the forefront the way it is in The Crippled Cougar for at least a couple of scenes. And I don’t think sports of any kind are really ever at the forefront again until The Runaway Racer. (Well, aside from any episodes about horses, of course, which I admittedly didn't think about when originally writing this entry.)

In any case, it’s always fun to see the additional scenes in the episodes. I’m definitely enjoying the exploration.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Season 9, Volume 1: First Thoughts

So the first half of season 9 arrived on Friday! I’ve been happily exploring some of the episodes I’ve never seen uncut.

I noticed one intriguing thing on the container itself: Steve gets pictured and mentioned! Andy is certainly never mentioned on the containers for seasons 5, 6, and 7. He is depicted on the ones for season 8 (with the wrong color hair, oy vey), but I don’t know if he’s actually mentioned in the blurbs. Anyone with season 8, please let me know if he is!

The very first thing I wanted to do was to dig out The 12th Wildcat and find that missing scene with Hamilton from before court convenes. I skimmed past the first part of the episode and paused to watch Steve when he appeared.

You know, it’s really a shame about how that episode handled the court scenes, making Hamilton look so unable to control himself and having to be reprimanded every few minutes. Not to mention their refusal to even explain the crime at the end. The 12th Wildcat has copious amounts of both Steve and Hamilton and I would probably greatly enjoy the venture if not for those problems.

I love the missing scene. There is no similarity whatsoever with what happens in court moments later. Hamilton is awesome, he handles the reporters asking about his narcotics bust awesomely, and his conversation with Perry is awesome. It reminds me of that great scene at Clay’s Grill in The Golfer’s Gambit, before everything goes downhill in court.

Hamilton is very happy and pleased about the bust, naturally, but he doesn’t come off as overconfident or prideful or anything like that. He’s very mature, logical, and composed. When Perry asks him to release the client, Hamilton refuses, but he has good reasons for his actions, and he explains them very nicely to Perry. And he even comments that he’s mellowed out to be giving Perry some of this information. He certainly has mellowed out in later seasons, and that canonical notation of his character development deeply thrills me.

Having seen such a wonderful scene, I cringe all the more to think of watching the court scenes again. But I do plan to give the episode one complete viewing in its uncut state, to make sure I see all of the missing material.

I sure would like to know the explanation for why the court scenes in the back-to-back episodes The Hasty Honeymooner and The 12th Wildcat are almost identical, right down to the prosecutors being chewed out so frequently and the exact nature of Perry’s complaints against them both. It really does make the court scenes in The 12th Wildcat lose a lot of their meaning. It makes me feel as though they were sloppily tacked on and possibly not even meant for Hamilton at all, since The Hasty Honeymooner comes first and the prosecutor is a random guy we never see again.

That would make me feel better about The 12th Wildcat, honestly, because Hamilton gets such wonderful scenes outside of court that to me it’s just not believable that he would regress to being so unprofessional in court. When he has to be reprimanded, it’s usually only once or maybe twice in an episode, which is vastly different from how often it happens in The 12th Wildcat.

Other things I discovered are that The Fatal Fortune is one of the most mangled episodes there are. I counted five scenes that are cut short or missing entirely from the syndication version! It will require a post all to itself to detail them all.

I also encountered another instance of Perry throwing an accusation at Hamilton, which he does in The Fatal Fortune. I really do puzzle over why Perry does that so often in later seasons, but I love how Hamilton reacts. He handles it very calmly and maturely as he responds and tells Perry that he is not doing what Perry is accusing him of doing.

I started skimming through The Bogus Buccaneers to find the missing scenes in it, and I located two or three by the halfway mark. And one of them does explain a bit why Clay would be chosen as one of the three godfathers for the baby. It’s an adorable scene of him wanting to make sure the mother-to-be has plenty of milk to drink. I’m looking forward to watching it all the way through, and The Runaway Racer, too. I’ve long suspected that it is also one of the most chopped-up episodes.

I also watched The Wrathful Wraith, but only found one long scene and one short bit missing from it. They’re important parts, though, especially the long scene. It’s where Louise goes for the diamond cufflinks and eerily gets locked in the room. Then she finds the cufflinks aren’t even in the box.

The short scene is a bit when Perry and Paul are going to call Della back after Louise goes to visit the clairvoyant. Paul talks Perry what he’s learned about the clairvoyant, and wow, she’s a character. And they comment that Della probably ran out of gas for the third time in a month and is probably walking to the phone in the rain. One of them remarks on how Della can remember the details of a four-year-old brief, but can’t seem to remember that cars run on gasoline. Haha, poor Della. That isn’t why she called, but it’s an interesting little conversation. I love anything like that, which sheds light on the characters’ personalities and quirks.

I also couldn’t resist watching The Candy Queen. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it uncut. But I was left scratching my head in confusion. I only counted one small bit missing from the MeTV version, the first half of Perry’s conversation with Claire in jail. Honestly, I could have sworn that there was a scene where Wanda was telling about being poisoned on the witness stand, even though that would contradict Hamilton saying that he had tried to avoid the subject. I wonder if I’m mixing it up with The Silent Partner. And yet I don’t see how I could be, because they didn’t go to court in The Silent Partner.

Maybe a scene really is missing, because on the container it says that some episodes may be edited. I’ve thought that the only edits on the DVDs are the specific opening sequences, but perhaps there are occasionally others. I’d have to wonder, though, why I could have seen an uncut version not so long ago and yet CBS wouldn’t have access to one for the DVD set! And judging from the running time (close to 52 minutes), it seems it surely must be uncut. I don't think the episodes ever ran longer than that, except in season 1.

In any case, cut or uncut, The Candy Queen is always one of my favorites to watch. I get Hamilton, Steve, William Boyett, and H.M. Wynant all in the same episode!

I’m looking forward to an upcoming week of more uncut scene discoveries (as well as a whole bunch of guest-spots by H.M. Wynant on MeTV over this week and the next).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Deputy D.A. Alvin

Happy 4th of July, to all fellow American readers!

I have finally got hold of the first half of season 9! It should arrive at the end of the week, and I will happily start viewing the episodes I have never seen uncut. Comparison posts will definitely follow.

A friend of mine has recently developed an interest in character actor Kenneth Tobey. This in turn has caused me to sit up and pay attention to something I was vaguely aware of but didn’t really stop to think about before.

Kenneth appeared in three Perry episodes, always as the same fellow. And that fellow is Deputy D.A. Alvin! Say Hello to another deputy D.A. who was around for more than one episode.

Here’s where things get even more interesting. Alvin is the first deputy we meet in season 4. He appears twice, in The Ill-Fated Faker and The Clumsy Clown. Then he vanishes and we hear nothing more of him, just as is the case with almost all of Hamilton’s season 4 assistants.

Only Alvin resurfaces, very briefly, in season 6’s The Weary Watchdog. As far as I know, he is the only deputy D.A. to appear in more than one season.

As the very first of Hamilton’s season 4 deputies, Alvin bears some similarities with Hamilton. His approach in court seems to generally be very professional, yet personable and kind. He treats the witnesses with dignity and respect, and tries to be gentle when they warrant it.

Then on the other hand, he has some very Hamilton-ish outbursts and defensive comments when he doesn’t like what Perry is up to and when he is trying to defend something he’s done that Perry doesn’t like. Of course, all of the deputies have dialogue written for Hamilton, but even in the way Alvin speaks in these intense scenes is quite a bit like Hamilton. Kenneth does, however, try to add his own touches whenever possible, such as in some of the gestures he makes when emphasizing a point. I do not recall Hamilton ever slamming his fist into his palm, as Alvin does at one point in The Clumsy Clown with gusto.

Alvin also looks a bit like Hamilton, with the same basic face shape and, especially in his first appearance, curly/wavy hair. Considering that he was the first of the season 4 deputies, I’m wondering if the casting director was deliberately looking for someone who resembled William Talman, in case he would still end up replaced.

I find it particularly fascinating that they brought him back two seasons later for The Weary Watchdog. His part is extremely minor, as he prosecutes C.C. Chang for grand theft, and pretty much the extent of his scene is strenuously objecting to Perry appearing as a friend of the court and having witnesses brought in before the judge rules on Perry’s motion.

Why didn’t they just bring in some random guy to play some random prosecutor, to be seen once and never again? Why did they choose instead to revisit the Alvin character, especially so briefly? Was it that Kenneth Tobey was available and someone thought “Hey, let’s use him again; he’s great”? Was it that someone liked the idea of showing one of Hamilton’s old deputies again, as a bit of continuity? Was it both of the above and more? Something else?

In any case, I’m always excited when an old television show has continuity. And it’s nice to see that a deputy with whom we are already familiar is still around two seasons later, still doing what he can to help Hamilton in the cause of justice. I can’t deny that it makes me long all the more that we had seen Sampson other times, but I’m happy to see another of the deputies too.

It’s a bit hard for me to decide what I think of Alvin as a character, since he is so much like Hamilton. I love Hamilton, but for me there's only one Hamilton and I like the deputies to be different. Kenneth does a very good job with the material he’s given, but especially in things such as The Weary Watchdog’s brief scene, Alvin seems more like an echo of Hamilton rather than his own person.

A lot of it has to do with approach. With each of the recurring deputies, the actor has his own interpretation of the similar lines and actions and brings them to life accordingly. We have Chamberlin’s businesslike, detached attitude. Bill Vincent’s overconfidence and blundering. Sampson’s absolute passion. Alvin’s professionalism.

After examining Alvin’s scenes more closely, I feel that he is the deputy probably most like Hamilton, followed by Chamberlin. Even with their different approaches, some lines and aspects of their characters remain very much like Hamilton, including Alvin’s kindness to the witnesses, his outbursts, and Chamberlin’s stubbornness that parallels Hamilton’s season 1 attitudes.

Sampson will probably always be my favorite. His supercharged approach intrigues me, particularly how he comes across as overconfident yet mature, completely unlike Bill Vincent. Sampson has experience that Bill lacks. It seems like every time we see Bill, he’s bumbling his way through a court case, except for when he questioned Hamilton on the witness stand in The Golfer’s Gambit. Other times, he’s stopped by Hamilton or chewed out by the judge.

By contrast, Sampson takes control. He builds some of the best cases the prosecution has ever been allowed to build throughout the series. He’s young and blunt and sometimes blurts things he probably shouldn’t, but overall he knows better what he’s doing than Bill does.

Now that I have fully noticed Alvin as the recurring character he is, I will likely want to introduce him into my stories somewhere along the way and flesh out his character. I’m still having a bit of trouble getting a handle on Chamberlin, so trying to take control with Alvin should be an interesting challenge.