Saturday, August 31, 2013

William Talman Tribute Site!

So MeTV remembered William Talman's passing! They have a lovely plug on their site and include a link to a tribute site! This is awesome.

And, in case they don't always keep the plug up, the link to the tribute site directly:

I am very excited about both the tribute site and MeTV's acknowledgment of it! William Talman deserves to be remembered this way.

I also think Wesley Lau deserves the same. I've been thinking of making a tribute site just for him, but have found the idea daunting in the face of my other projects (The Simon Oakland website, that blog, this blog, keeping Tumblr rolling, fanfiction stories, and of course, work). I have also been considering another blog, one that would focus on all of my favorite actors, Perry-related and otherwise, and their appearances.

I might not be able to make a Wesley site as detailed as the Simon site, since I co-run that site and am only responsible for half of its production, but I believe so strongly that such a site should exist for Wesley that I think I should get cracking and make even a little one.

Friday, August 30, 2013

In Memoriam, William Talman and Wesley Lau

I’ve been racking my brain for something unique and different I could say today. The idea I had hoped to use hasn’t worked out, so I’ve had to think of something else. And I decided perhaps it’s time to share the memorabilia I’ve crafted for myself featuring the characters created by William Talman and Wesley Lau, the two beloved Perry actors who departed this life on this day in 1968 and 1984, respectively.

I should add immediately: I am making no profit from any of these! It’s pure love for the series, and for anything existing in the physical sense, there is only one of each, just for me. I have not, nor will I ever, sell any of the designs here.

I’ve bemoaned the fact that there are no Perry character shirts. Well, I decided that I wanted some just for me. I crafted several designs, one of which has been turned into a real shirt.

The first one I came up with is humorous, with the famous “Objection!” caption from the Phoenix Wright games atop Hamilton’s head as he exclaims indignantly in court.

The second is a bit humorous too, but was also meant to show my great love for our district attorney. I used a shot of his beautiful smile from the end of The Lover’s Leap. This is the design I have on my shirt.

For Andy, I came up with a bit more of an overtly fangirlish design, utilizing one of my favorite shots of him from The Renegade Refugee. I'm hoping to make this into a real shirt this year.

I also created a keychain, with a plug for the blog on the front and a picture of Raymond Burr and William Talman on the back. I often wear this around on a lanyard when I’m not wearing my Hamilton shirt.

My biggest project was undoubtedly when I decided to make a Hamilton plushie. I first tried to utilize the services of someone who has made plushies for me in the past, but upon having a much more difficult time contacting her, I determined to make it myself. For someone who can sew, but doesn’t like it much, I knew it would be a huge challenge.

I thought for a while that I would have to make the entire plushie from scratch, but then we were at JoAnn’s and Mom noticed a pre-made plushie without clothes or features or hair (or ears). I immediately decided this was the best possible solution. The face shape wouldn’t be quite right for Hamilton, but that was alright. I would do everything I could otherwise to make it a loving tribute to my favorite Perry character.

I based the clothes off of what Hamilton wears in The Twice-Told Twist, during the lunch scene with Perry. I love the blue suit and felt it would make a very nice color combination. I managed to get fabric in just about the right shades of blue for both the suit and the tie, and white for the shirt.

I felt it would be easier for me to sew everything by hand instead of with a machine, when it would be so small. And that is exactly what I did. The pants got a little lop-sided, as did the shirt collar, but overall I think I did pretty well, especially when I used to be extremely sloppy at sewing anything. I was very meticulous here.

The ears were definitely one of the strangest challenges. I have no idea why the plushie was sold without them, so I had to make them. The first attempt was too small and I had to try again. The next attempt went a lot more smoothly, and I was able to get the ears attached without too much trouble.

Then there was the hair. I did not want to try to attach loose hair onto a backing; I wanted something already on a backing. I was just lucky that I found some mohair for sale on eBay. It’s perhaps a bit darker than it should be, but Hamilton’s hair looks darker in the earlier seasons, so I went with it anyway. I sewed it on in pieces and was quite proud of how it came out.

I still haven’t made socks or shoes, both because I really don’t like sewing and was ready to scream by that point and also because I’m a little worried that the black material of the socks might start rubbing off on the plush after a while. That’s what happened with the gloves on another plush of mine (that I didn’t make). But aside from those things, he’s done and has been for over a year.

I have a whole bunch of pictures on a roll of film, but I’m wondering if they’ll even turn out. When I tried to have a few recent pictures taken, I found that they were all extremely light. I have never had that happen with a camera before. It’s like when a printer is running out of ink and prints everything way too light. I tried very hard to darken a couple of them, but the details are still really hard to see. The pictures can be clicked on to see their original size, but I'm afraid that still won't make some details show up well. Oh, I hope that other roll of film is better.

I wanted his expression to be calm, Hamilton on a good day. I based it on a lovely picture of William Talman from before Perry, and practiced a simplified version of it many times over, on paper, before I drew it on the plush with Sharpies.

I have also wanted to make a plush of Andy. My biggest problem is wondering how to do the hair. From asking all around, it seems that for him I would have to work with loose pieces of hair, and I’m not sure I’m brave enough for that adventure. But I’m still looking for a more feasible solution, even a doll wig in the right size and approximate style, because I would really like to have one of him, too!

My love for the characters these wonderful men brought to life has certainly resulted in my trying out new methods of showing that love and being creative. I would never spend time engaging in such projects as plushie creation if the characters involved hadn’t deeply touched me.

And of course, I’ve also explored a medium with which I’m very familiar, that of fanfiction stories. I think with every new series I write about, I learn a little more about writing, and writing for the Perry crew has taught me a great deal. I spent and still spend many happy hours watching the character go on their adventures, and it makes me happier still to craft new ones for them to have. I only wish that the actors themselves could have participated in acting out my little adventures. That would have been a dream come true! I like to think that they are aware of and enjoy the stories, at least, even though some of them are very unusual.

I have even occasionally dipped into making fanart with Perry characters, even though I have mountains of trouble drawing anything resembling real people. Hamilton and Andy have both been drawn by me, although the one of Andy didn't turn out very well. I am happy that I managed to do a fairly good one of Amory Fallon, however. And I certainly haven't given up on hoping to get Andy right.

On August 30th, and on every day, really, I strongly think about and miss our wonderful William Talman and Wesley Lau. Though they were both gone before I was even born, I wish I could have met them. From all that I have been able to find out, they were both people I would have enjoyed knowing—very devoted to family and friends, friendly, good-humored, and fun to be around.

I have tried to take lessons from them, especially in being close to family. I want to thank them both for how they and their characters have touched me and for things I have learned along the way. I may not like sewing, but knowing how to do it better might help me someday! And writing, as always, is my deep passion. I love to express myself, especially when I am inventing new stories for characters I love or otherwise writing about them.

William and Wesley: I know you're both shining wherever you are and whatever you're doing. Stars such as you will never go out.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Today is the second anniversary of this blog! It’s hard to believe it’s been going that long.

It’s been such an intriguing two years of rediscovery. I’ve gone from detesting Deputy Sampson to adoring him, and from hating season 9 to being fascinated by its merits (for the most part). I’ve become familiar with many of television’s classic character actors and can now recognize them the moment they appear, on Perry or other shows. I’ve examined writing for the Perry characters in quite a few strange adventures. And through my interest in Perry actors, I’ve discovered many new and wonderful television series and some movies.

I’m wondering what the next year of the blog will bring, Perry-wise. I want to keep discovering the uncut episodes and post about what’s missing from the syndication versions. It will be a bittersweet moment when I’ve seen every available uncut episode.

I will most likely start posting about the television movies every now and then. And according to MeTV’s current schedule, the first two weeks of their “Made-for-TV Movie” deal on Friday nights will be devoted to two of the Perry television movies. Unfortunately, it looks like they will not be airing anything in any particular order, but if the movies don’t follow a timeline I suppose that doesn’t really matter.

The first one that they will air will appear on September 6th. It’s from 1989. I will try to see the very first television movie, from 1985, before that time and post about it.

I know I want to keep writing fiction about the characters. The other day I was thinking I’d like to do at least one piece, maybe more, from Sergeant Brice’s point-of-view. I really like him, the quiet policeman whose presence is usually taken for granted. He’s a calming presence, an old, familiar friend who is there through all the changes in the police department. No matter who takes the main reins, Sergeant Brice is always there to help him out.

And I still have to figure out how to resolve the tangled mess of The Malevolent Mugging. I know exactly what the problem is, which is that while I knew what I wanted the bad guys to focus on doing to Amory in the second half of the story, I don’t really know why they’re doing it. I did a version of this storyline in a role-play in the past, but the motivation in it won’t work for the story version. So I’m puzzling over that.

I’m also wondering how Deputy Sampson’s past will connect with everything. I know that it’s supposed to; I didn’t just throw it in there in order to show my imagined backstory for him. (Even though I was excited to share it!) Part of me had considered that maybe the missing boy should turn up as the Big Bad of the criminal organization they’re fighting, but I don’t really want to do that. It would be too sad, and Sampson would definitely blame himself for the kid getting off on such a wrong path. I have another, cheerier idea that I will probably use instead, a ray of hope in the middle of their drastic problems. Or, on the third hand, I might not bring the boy into it at all, but leave his whereabouts a mystery and just focus on Warner Griffith being bent on revenge over the disappearance.

For this week, I’m wondering what I can do that’s different and unique for the William Talman and Wesley Lau memorial tributes on the 30th. I have at least one idea, but I don’t know if it will work out.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sergeant Holcomb, and some free books!

Oh dear, a late Thursday entry again. But at least I'm getting one in, as opposed to the weekend fail. (I wasn't feeling well.)

So, long ago, I discussed the Perry Mason computer game and mentioned my confusion over the inclusion of the Sergeant Holcomb character, whom I didn’t know. I thought they had created him solely for the game, as a Sergeant Brice-type character. Of course, more recent explorations into this matter have informed me that the character exists in the books, and that he isn’t at all like the quiet Brice.

Now armed with that knowledge, I realized his existence in the television series as well, when I was watching The Restless Redhead on my local station the other night. A character by that name also appears in The Fan-Dancer’s Horse.

Since he was a fairly prominent book character, at least early on, I wonder why they decided not to continue using him on the series. Did they figure Lieutenant Tragg was the only policeman who should be really prominent?

Were they having trouble keeping hold of actors to play the character? In two television appearances, he was played by two different actors to match.

I would say the biggest problem is that they couldn’t seem to decide how the character should be portrayed. In The Restless Redhead, he’s older, gruff, and no-nonsense, cut from the same cloth as Tragg, only definitely not putting on airs of being friendly when he doesn’t feel friendly at all.

In The Fan-Dancer’s Horse, he’s younger and not entirely ethical. He deliberately misleads witnesses in trying to establish identification of the real Lois Fenton, and even puts the real one in the shadow box when no one is there to see her. He knows very well that he did wrong, too, as he tries to run out of the courtroom when the whole matter is exposed. Hamilton angrily calls him back.

I would have to say that the main reason I never noticed the Holcomb name being used is that I don’t often watch either of the episodes in which he appears, and when I do watch them, the characters are so different that I can’t believe they’re the same guy. I came to that same conclusion now, after reviewing the relevant scenes in The Fan-Dancer’s Horse.

I feel that the Holcomb in The Restless Redhead is completely aboveboard. He may be closer to the book’s character; that is something I can’t say. But if he is Tragg’s predecessor in the books, as I read, then it seems to me that he is likely an honest cop there.

The Holcomb in The Fan-Dancer’s Horse certainly seems to be a slimeball. He doesn’t even have anything to say for himself (at least that we hear in canon). He’s still sitting in court after his antics come to light, but I imagine he received quite the reprimand and maybe even a reevaluation of his abilities when it was all over.

On, it discusses The Fan-Dancer’s Horse Holcomb and indicates a belief that both Holcombs are meant to be the same person. I can’t say what the casting director’s intentions were, but if either Holcomb wanders into a story of mine in the future, I will not try to say they are one and the same. I feel sorry for the poor Restless Redhead Holcomb, sharing a name with the Fan-Dancer’s Horse Holcomb and having people think they’re the same character. As far as I’m concerned, The Restless Redhead Holcomb is upright and someone to be admired, even if people feel he’s too hard on Perry. I like to think he would be disgusted by the Fan-Dancer’s Horse Holcomb, the same way Tragg is repulsed by the dishonest cop in The Moth-Eaten Mink. In fact, maybe that’s how I’ll get Holcomb into my stories; I’ll do a short piece of him upset over the incident.

I wonder if the two Holcombs could be related? Father and son, perhaps? Or, if the age difference isn’t that extensive, brothers or cousins?

This will be fun to play with.

And oh my goodness, in my Internet search to learn a bit more about the Holcomb character, I stumbled across something exciting for anyone who would like a chance to look at the books but hasn’t had access to them yet. This website features fourteen Perry books to read, right on the site! I think they’re all complete; I skimmed through one to make sure. Since the books are long out of print, and the publishers won’t lose any money from the site’s existence due to that, I find nothing wrong with enjoying what the site has to offer. They have a couple there that I’d really like to read the book versions of, particularly The Singing Skirt (of course) and The Caretaker’s Cat. So, even though I don’t normally like reading books online (I much prefer curling up with one on the couch or the bed!), I will definitely be examining these. Or, here’s a thought, maybe I’ll print them up so I can curl up with them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Musical Mayhem and Murder

Today I started thinking about another sub-category of episodes: Those involving music as an important plot point. There’s enough of them that a post is possible.

The first foray into any kind of music is season 2’s The Jaded Joker, certainly one of the most disliked episodes, at least as far as I can tell. It’s definitely a strange one, as it explores some level of the beatnik culture and one particular beatnik’s philosophies on life. But it has its good points, including the wonderful friendship between two of the main guest-stars, Tragg using beatnik talk, and the titular song, which is played off and on throughout the episode by the resident beatnik.

It’s interesting that the episode boasts a big name in music, yet the man doesn’t sing one note! Frankie Laine plays the main guest-star, a discouraged comedian.

It’s also interesting that the episode has a little tie with the next major music-themed episode, The Missing Melody. Bobby Troupe, who is one of the main guest-stars in The Missing Melody, wrote the instrumental piano piece played throughout The Jaded Joker.

While Paul Drake's Dilemma doesn't revolve around music, it does make an important subplot, with the singer who refuses to testify and help Paul once she realizes her career would be helped along if she did not. And there is also the record she sings that plays in the murder apartment.

Music definitely comes to the forefront a lot more in season 5’s The Missing Melody. A jazz band has center stage, Bobby Troupe is part of it, and then there’s the titular item, which is not on the audiotape that Perry had thought it was on.

The episode boasts several very interesting guest-stars. James Drury, about a year before becoming the titular character in NBC’s long-running Western The Virginian, plays the leader of the jazz band and the bridegroom, who is jilted at the altar by the horrified bride due to a cruel blackmailer’s threats. Bobby Troupe plays one of his friends and a member of the band. Although he sang as well as played instruments, he doesn’t sing here.

Constance Towers does, however. This famous singer performs two big numbers in the episode and is also a major player throughout. She also ends up being the murderer.

Coming to think of it, Walter Burke, who plays Frankie Laine’s friend in The Jaded Joker, also turns up in this episode, with a smaller part.

The next major music episode is season 6's The Dodging Domino, the Halloween episode that really uses Halloween as a backdrop until the climax. The main plot revolves around a plagiarized song being used in a musical, a song that really sounds like it belongs in a musical made in the 1930s or 1940s, not the 1960s. But I could be biased because I don't care for the types of musicals that have a very thin plot held together by some musical numbers. The episode is filled with cheesy dialogue and seems to be very tongue-in-cheek throughout. It also features several different versions of the plagiarized song, including one played during a jam session courtesy of a beatnik's stolen tape.

Our next music venture is all the way in season 8, The Frustrated Folk-Singer. And singer Gary Crosby, who is of course one of Bing’s sons, appears with his guitar. He hires the main guest-star to sing at his place, although he says he can’t pay her. She just wants to sing, so she agrees. Her voice is passable, but not the greatest, a notation made in the episode by assorted characters. The poor girl ends up tricked by a lowdown creep into thinking she has a movie deal and eventually is accused of the guy’s murder. Gary’s character stands by her through it all, and in the end, if I remember right, he’s going to go back with her to her hometown in the South.

Of course, there’s The Avenging Angel in season 9, which spends most of its time making commentary on the music business and exploring the ins and outs of how it works. It’s amusing and interesting that even back then, some people were noting that talent wasn’t the most important factor in making a singing idol. The episode definitely isn’t dated today, and actually is quite enjoyable as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the industry, as it was likely meant to be. But for mystery fans, it does get exasperating that the murder doesn’t even happen until about 35 minutes into the episode! The writer got so caught up in laughing at the music industry that the mystery really got shuttled off to the side.

I can think of two other episodes where singers played some level of importance, but weren’t actually clues in any way to the mystery itself. In both The Bogus Books and The Tandem Target, a character plays a guitar and sings. Oddly enough, they both like the same song, This Train. The singer in The Tandem Target also sings another song, which is a rather odd one and I was disappointed he didn’t finish it or sing it again later in its complete form. Looking it up tells me it’s very old and fairly well-known, and that it has several versions.

Our singer in The Bogus Books is the 1960’s Batman, Adam West. I’m not aware that he ever released an actual album, but he has sung during other roles too, and his singing on Perry is really quite good. He has a very nice, strong voice.

Our singer in The Tandem Target is Paul Carr. I’m not sure of the extent of his musical career, either, but he also has a pleasant singing voice. His official website describes him as a musician and mentions his abilities with both the guitar and the saxophone. He, sadly, has passed on. He sounds like he was an interesting and warm person.

The Bogus Books is also significant, music-wise, in the fact of the radio turning on at seven P.M. being a vital clue in solving the murder.

Of course, there are other episodes in which music plays a part in similar fashions, including season 4’s The Envious Editor, with its record being a key point in fixing the time of death and placing the defendant at the murder scene. I seem to remember a record being used in other episodes too, or at least one other, but this is the occasion that stands out the most for me at the moment. I remember an earlier episode that features a scene in a record store, and I believe it might be from season 3, but I can’t recall which one it is.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The arrival of the TV movies on broadcast television

MeTV has released their Fall schedule, which starts September 2nd, and it contains news for Perry fans! Although the schedule is shifting around a good bit, both showings of Perry are still firmly in place. Awesome.

Also, on their chart, for Fridays they list something called the “MeTV Made-For-TV Movie.” Now, just from looking at the chart itself, there is no information on what this movie is. It is a confusing puzzle. However, if you visit the page on their site where they describe the new stuff, they explain what this is. They’re going to air the television movies made with characters (or sometimes actors) from the shows on MeTV. And they specifically mention Perry Mason.

So it looks like, for those who like them, have wanted to see them, and/or those who don’t feel that Perry ends with The Final Fade-Out, the 1980s and 1990s television movies with Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale will be on MeTV! I recommend that if you’ve wanted them, be sure to record them when they come on. I know Hallmark has shown them (probably in a vastly chopped-up state, knowing Hallmark), but for those without cable or satellite in general or Hallmark in specific, there likely hasn’t been any access.

As for me, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing about it. I don’t consider the movies canon, and I think it’s sad to see reunion films where most of the cast is absent, but like them or leave them, they are a part of the television Perry legacy. I consider them a possibility, one possibility of a future for the characters, but not the absolute, only truth. And it is a treasure, to see Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale take up their iconic roles of Perry Mason and Della Street once again. I think that, if MeTV will be showing lots of the films and not just the first one, I should record them to have them. I’ve seen clips from at least one of them and I honestly liked what I saw and thought it was fun.

I also think that I should get around to watching my DVD copy of the very first one before any others in the series possibly air.

When it comes to Perry movies, there was some rumor floating around a while ago that Robert Downey, Jr. had decided to make a Perry movie and that he was going to set it in a verse similar to the books. According to articles, that meant a period piece set in the 1930s, the time the earliest Perry novels were written. Johnny Depp and Robert Downey, Jr. were both being considered for the coveted lead role.

Apparently this movie is still going to happen; doing an Internet search on it is turning up a few fairly recent pieces, including one from March this year. I don’t see it getting the same level of promotion as the Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie that’s been getting quite a bit of publicity recently and seems to be full steam ahead, but maybe if I had visited the Yahoo Group recently I would have found them discussing it.

This is the most interesting of the articles I’ve just turned up about that movie project:

What I’m still a bit concerned about regarding this idea is, of course, how Hamilton will be portrayed if they’re sticking so closely to the books. I have heard one interesting, dissenting opinion that Hamilton was actually portrayed better in the books than in the television series, with the person particularly disliking Hamilton’s glee in the series when he makes a point over Perry in court. But everyone else I’ve talked to about the books has told me that Hamilton’s glee wasn’t a deviation from the books, but something carried over from them.

Naturally, I will have to draw my own conclusions on that matter, and on Hamilton’s portrayal in the books in general (although I still lean towards the opinion that Hamilton and other prosecutors were not portrayed as well in the books as in the series). And one interesting thing that might happen if this movie comes out is that the books could get a long-overdue re-release. I’ve expressed surprise before that the books are out of print; it’s rather baffling, unless the majority of the population simply prefers the television series (or unless the books are tied up in a copyright web). If they come out again, and I like enough what I see, I will probably buy some. I honestly rather doubt I will care for them as much as the television series, especially where Hamilton and the police are concerned, but I’m willing to keep an open mind and admit that I could be surprised.

And back to the television series, this is the week where it all wraps up on DVD. I’m hoping to get hold of the second half of season 9 as soon as possible, but as is usual for me, it will probably take a while. Good luck to everyone who is planning to get hold of this set right on the release date this Tuesday!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Birthday Tribute: Richard Anderson

Today is the 87th birthday of our still-living cast member Richard Anderson! I wanted to get this post up earlier in the day, but it’s been hectic and I wanted to be relaxed to write it.

I hope Richard has been having a thoroughly wonderful day and that the rest of it will also be grand! He certainly deserves it.

Over the past year, I have been greatly enjoying continuing to find Richard in assorted guest-spots, as well as to watch as much of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman as I can get my hands on.

Oscar Goldman is definitely a great character, so serious a lot of the time, but capable of relaxing, and he’s really a big softie. I was just watching an episode the other day, One of Our Running Backs is Missing, and a bookie who knew Oscar back when he was a public prosecutor said that once his mother was very ill in the hospital and Oscar bailed him out with his own money so he could go to her, even though Oscar was prosecuting him. Awww.

I admit, I previously had the idea that Oscar was more stern and serious and bureaucratic until he met Steve Austin and started learning Steve’s way of thinking. Maybe to some extent that’s true. But that episode clearly shows that Oscar has always been softhearted, even before ever meeting Steve.

One of the great things about Richard being a main cast member on two immensely popular series is that he’s in just about every episode. Another great thing is merchandising. I think Richard is the only one of my favorite classic television actors to have his likeness on an action figure. Two, actually—the original Oscar Goldman figure from the 1970s, which I’ve never seen in person, and the newly released one out this year (after a delay of six months). I can’t fully say how accurate the original figure is, but I got hold of the new one as soon as I was aware it was out, and it really does look like Richard! It currently stands just to the side of the computer.

I also have a shirt that features Lee Majors and Richard on it. And I’m aware of a shirt with Richard that lists some of the shows he’s appeared in. I intend to get hold of that one, too.

Another show in which Richard is a main cast member is Dan August. As far as I know, it hasn’t been officially released on DVD at all. And I have to wonder why, since the titular character is played by Burt Reynolds. You’d think that would cause it to be released for sure. Of course, Richard is the main attraction on that series for me, and I want very much to see it!

Among my favorite of the new guest-spots I’ve discovered is definitely his Wagon Train episode, in which he plays a Quaker vowing never to fight. His reason is that he feels he was responsible for a man’s death in the past, when his temper got the best of him. It’s a very intense and dramatic episode and has a happy ending, unlike some Wagon Train episodes I’ve stumbled across. (Two of H.M. Wynant’s are absolutely heartbreaking.)

Richard has been in so very many things that it seems I’m always discovering something I didn’t quite notice before when I examine his credits on IMDB. The other day I found that he was in an episode of Alias Smith and Jones, a show I’ve meant to try sometime anyway. Well, that cinched it, and I found myself watching it later that day. I can’t say I cared much for the episode (or the show, if it’s always as off-the-wall as that episode), but it was definitely a treat to see Richard (even though he was the bad guy and unfortunately died).

Another off-the-wall thing I saw a while back is his episode of The A-Team. I haven’t quite figured out what to make of that show yet, and I wish they had given Richard more screentime, but as he always does, he made the best of what he was given. And his character was central to the entire plot, as he was the psychiatrist for one of the main characters and was abruptly abducted by some creeps. So rescuing him became the goal for the episode. Awesome.

Last year I mentioned longing to see his second Rifleman appearance, The Lariat. As I predicted, MeTV got to that episode before Netflix was ready to send the disc. And it was so worth waiting for! Richard turned out a glowing performance as an old friend of Lucas McCain’s, a professional and honest gambler. I’ve seen all six of his Rifleman appearances now, and The Lariat is by far my favorite.

He also does extremely well in Flowers By the Door, probably the most disturbing episode of the whole series. He plays a madman, a bookseller who gives out flower seeds and seduces and kills lonely women. It’s very chilling to see him in the part, especially since he makes it so believable. In a complete turnaround, he masquerades as the easy-going bookseller, entrancing Mark McCain by telling some of the stories found in the encyclopedias he’s selling. He made the stories so fun that I couldn’t help thinking it would be awesome if he had released an album of storytelling, like Andy Griffith did a couple of times.

The only episode I was rather disappointed with is The Bullet, his final appearance, and my reason has nothing to do with his performance (which was outstanding, as always). Rather, it’s because I felt the episode totally underused him. His character was a plot device just to get the guest-starring sheriff to test his theories of ballistics. He did have a good amount of screentime, but I definitely felt that the script could have been better and should have utilized him more. Instead it’s all rather contrived, with Richard’s character just acting out things as the sheriff predicted he would, right down to eventually trying to kill Lucas and being shot in a quick, anti-climatic scene. He doesn’t even get to talk in that last scene.

Other favorite guest-spots include some more of his Big Valley characters, particularly in The Long Ride and also in Fall of a Hero. He interacts a bit with Lee Majors again in the latter, if I remember right. It’s always interesting to see actors interact in shows long before the main interaction that made them famous as a team.

I’ve also seen Richard appear in shows ranging from Gunsmoke and The Virginian to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and I Spy (where he plays Ronny Howard’s father; epic). And I’m greatly looking forward to upcoming guest-spot discoveries and more episodes with Oscar Goldman in the upcoming year.

Happy Birthday, Richard!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Misinformation on the season 8 case

So yesterday I had the first chance to actually see one of the season 8 sets for sale in person. I didn’t buy it, because it was at the horrifying price of $49.99. But I did notice a very interesting and rather amusing bit of misinformation on the back.

It turns out Andy is indeed mentioned on the case for Volume 1. But very strangely, he’s listed as a member of Perry’s team, working feverishly to help clear the innocent clients! Of course he’s working towards the ultimate goal of justice from where he is, but he isn’t on Perry’s team and certainly isn’t working to clear the clients, unless he has ample reason to believe they’re not guilty. Considering how uptight Andy can be, and how he seems to shy away from any interaction with Perry and company that isn’t necessary, I’m not sure that he would be too pleased with the DVD case’s description!

Also, I noticed that in person, the colorized picture of Andy on the front doesn’t have as dark of hair as it looks in the online stock photos. But it’s still darker than it’s supposed to be.

Well, even with the goofy misinformation and wrong color of hair, I’m happy Andy finally gets acknowledged, since he isn’t for the other three seasons in which he appears. Perhaps it’s because 8 is his only completely solo season, without Tragg there even once—sadly due of course to Ray Collins’ illness and eventual death mid-season. Andy has to take complete center stage for the police department (a role that he had almost taken over by necessity in season 7), and hence, it makes sense for him to be mentioned at last on the DVD case.

Upon thinking about it, I believe it’s only in episodes that Andy carries by himself when he’s uptight, in any season. When Tragg is there too, Andy adopts more of the easy-going nature that people always seem to remember him most for. That isn’t to say that every time Andy carries an episode he’s uptight (that definitely isn’t true, and episodes such as season 6’s The Prankish Professor show that), but only that I’ve only noticed it happening in some episodes where he is carrying on alone.

In some other episodes, Andy tries to maintain a strange balance between being uptight and being more relaxed. He approaches The Case of the Golden Oranges with rigid determination, yet finds time to admire a lovely suspect with Paul. This was an angle not used often; either he seemed to be fairly easy-going throughout an episode or fairly uptight.

Occasionally he would show another interesting side, that of visible reluctance to go through with his job, such as when he has to arrest the judge in The Witless Witness. I’m not sure there is another episode where he shows such reluctance. It’s a very powerful scene, attesting to Andy’s obvious feelings of deep respect for the judge, and it’s a nice glimmer into his personality that parallels, to some extent, his agony over possibly finding evidence to prove Jimmy guilty in The Hateful Hero.

I would be curious to know if it was mostly the writers who portrayed Andy with the more uptight mannerisms or if it was Wesley Lau who thought of at least some of it, wanting to give the character a bit of spice. It’s certainly an approach that makes him different from both of his counterparts. Wesley Lau was a wonderful actor who could take on any role. I’m not sure, however, how much freedom he was given with Andy’s characterization, considering his frustrations over the formulaic nature of the show and of what Andy did within the episodes.

Even if, however, Wesley was allowed some measure of decision in how Andy reacted to various situations, it would still be limited control in a very formulaic environment. Andy would still largely only be able to appear, investigate, arrest people, and testify—and occasionally be frustrated with Perry or agree to help him with a new angle. He only really had the spotlight in The Hateful Hero, and while I love it, I wish there had been more episodes like it. One of the few things I appreciate about television shows today is that most likely, Andy would have been allowed more character-defining episodes. Writers and producers today seem more willing to acknowledge the importance and appeal of the entire cast and try to allot time to develop each one.

Another thing about television shows today is that Tragg and Andy never would have been able to vanish without a trace. There would have been a mention of what happened, at least, or even, depending on the situation, an entire episode devoted to what happened. I can’t say I would have liked an official episode acknowledging Tragg’s death after his actor passed away; I prefer to think of Tragg still alive and kicking (and still on the force). At the same time, though, I don’t like how characters could vanish from classic television shows without so much as a mention, even if they were critical to the main plot. It’s interesting how television writing has changed in that respect; in the old days, I think only shows such as The Andy Griffith Show and M*A*S*H were really good about acknowledging vanishing characters.

However, I’ll admit that the one good thing about a character disappearing with no mention is that anything goes. Whatever you want to have happen to the character can happen; you don’t have to face a canonical declaration of a death or a retirement or whatever you most don’t care to envision happening to the character. I appreciate the workout that can give to one’s imagination.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Uncut Bogus Buccaneers

Happy August! August is such a fun time, an interesting, transitional time, as summer moves towards fall. And for everyone who has had too much of this extremely hot summer, like me, autumn surely sounds like a glorious relief!

August is positive for Perry fans in that the 8th will be the birthday of Richard Anderson, our Lieutenant Drumm. (Yay!) But August is also a bittersweet time for Perry fans, marking the deaths of two Perry cast members (on the same day!). And for me, the death of Perry alumnus Simon Oakland as well.

This particular August should be exciting for Perry fans, as we will see the release of the final DVD set. That will be bittersweet too, really, but wonderful to know that all the episodes are at last available uncut! I can hardly wait to see the uncut Sausalito Sunrise and Fanciful Frail.

It also marks the second anniversary of this blog. I will do my best to make August an interesting month here!

I don’t know if I’m going to have to officially bring the blog back to single posts a week for a while. I haven’t had much luck getting up weekend posts for the last couple of weeks. I still need to review the uncut version of The Bogus Buccaneers, and by now it’s been so long that I wonder if I need to go over it again to make sure I remember all the missing scenes. I’ll give it a try and see how well I do.

The first missing scene is right near the beginning, after the wild woman and Tony have their fight. We see the police rounding up the confused Buccaneers and Tony running when they come for him.

I also seem to recall that the lineup scene is longer, with one of the Buccaneers (Mike Woods, the one who goes missing for publicity reasons later) actively complaining about being brought in. The cut and the uncut versions meet when he’s told to go stand in the lineup.

I always thought something was cut around the area where Steve is talking to parole officer Abe, but according to the disc, the scenes in that part are intact. However, I want to say that the part where Perry talks to Tony is longer. I’m not sure I remember the early part of the conversation, with Tony thinking he’s a charity case and Perry being annoyed and wanting him to stop wallowing in self-pity.

Some of the cuts in this episode are very short, but they help flesh things out better anyway, such as the little bit with Clay fussing over Tony’s wife and the telling of the special diet he has her on.

Also available is a scene right when Perry and Paul come to the murder scene to look around. Brice tells them they can come in within five minutes, when Steve will be ready. Meanwhile, they discuss the case, including the weird fact that the victim only lived there for three days.

There’s also a very short scene later showing the girl and Della heading for the car and that guy following and watching them. That takes place right before the scene where he holds them hostage (and Della gets to be awesome bonking him with a frying pan).

I recall a scene right before the reading of the fan letters, where Paul talks to the producer of the show and is given a box of letters. He’s told that it takes a whole storage room to hold them all. He inquires how the sample lists work and if the murder victim’s name was on one of them. He’s told that it was, and that they select people at random after they’ve sent in some sort of card. Paul wants to see hers, but is told that it would be very time-consuming to dig it out.

The part where Perry goes to talk to the star of the show is longer, and in the uncut we see that Della is with him. She ends up accidentally colliding with said star and having a very nice exchange with him—the dream of many girls who are nuts over certain actors. His wife comes and comments that on the show, girls are paid to run into him. When Perry asks to speak with him in his dressing room, Della and the wife are left to themselves.

The Bogus Buccaneers is one of the most interesting commentaries the show did on other television shows, what with its goofy commercials and promotional door-to-door samples and the extended parts on fan letters. And, of course, the fear of the show falling apart if there’s any hint of scandal about the star. Television certainly was different in those days, behind the scenes as well as on camera.

The only thing that seems to be relatively the same these days is fan mail. There’s no more silly commercials, rarely if ever any door-to-door promotions, and people sure don’t worry about scandal like they used to. Although I suppose to some extent some still must, considering how Charlie Sheen got booted from Two and a Half Men. But, for the most part, people didn’t seem to worry that the show would crumble without him.