Thursday, October 31, 2013

The latest MeTV Perry news

Happy Halloween!

I was a bit surprised when I turned on the television and discovered not The Envious Editor, but The Glamorous Ghost. But it only took me a minute to realize that it was not MeTV screwing up; it was their attempt at a Halloween celebration.

To my pleasure, The Envious Editor will show on Friday. I would be very irritated indeed if we were not getting our full showing of Deputy D.A. Sampson goodness on this round.

Actually, aside from the title and that eerie opening scene with the girl in white, torn clothes in the park, The Glamorous Ghost has little to nothing to do with anything related to Halloween or spooky subjects. I think a better choice would have been The Fatal Fetish, The Fatal Fortune, or The Wrathful Wraith!

MeTV is going to be celebrating Halloween all day and night and it’s going to be awesome. For Perry fans on October 31st, The Meddling Medium will air in the morning and The Dodging Domino at night. (One of these days I am so going to write a Perry story about a masquerade party. That title always makes me think that episode should have been about one.) Also, there will be a nice, creepy Ironside episode about a weird house.

Speaking of Ironside, Barbara Hale’s guest appearance will broadcast on Monday, November 4th! That will definitely be something delightful for Perry fans to tune in for. I haven’t seen that episode before and am greatly looking forward to it. There should also be another episode with Richard Anderson coming up pretty soon, but I haven’t located it on the schedule yet. Actually, I’m a bit worried that they’re going to skip it, especially since they seem to have already skipped one early season 5 episode.

And MeTV’s movies have been all over the place lately. Following the second Columbo movie, they skipped around to show a Diagnosis Murder movie and then the pilot for Vega$. (I find it both clever and ridiculous at the same time that they use the dollar sign for the S.) November will continue in the same vein, with movies for The Mod Squad and The Andy Griffith Show on the first two Fridays.

However, we’re going to get another Perry movie on the third Friday in November! The Glass Coffin will broadcast on the 15th. Hmm, even though it’s about magicians, it’s such a creepy title and object that perhaps they should have scheduled it for this Friday instead!

You know, when it comes to the Perry Halloween episodes, one oddity I was recently thinking about is that James Forrest plays the murder victim in both The Meddling Medium and The Dodging Domino. And it gets weirder. Both characters are named Philip/Phil and both are rather obnoxious. But while Philip Paisley seems to have no particular redeeming qualities, Phil Schuyler does at least get a kick out of Halloween and wants to have things fun for the kids. And he’s a bit more amusing instead of just outright obnoxious (although some of his lines are cheesy as heck). I always feel kind of sad that he gets killed.

Both characters are also murdered in unusually brutal and cruel ways: Philip Paisley in the falling elevator and Phil Schuyler with an electric heater in the bathtub. Yikes.

And regarding actors from The Dodging Domino, I should do a spotlight on Robert H. Harris sometime. He pops up all over the place too, including in several Perry episodes. I’ve been running across him a lot lately.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Notable Guest-Stars: Milton Selzer

While trying to think of a good post for today (I didn’t want to miss yet another one on account of the October Writing challenge I’m still working with!), I thought perhaps I’d fall back on an idea I’ve had for a while, that of highlighting another fabulous Perry guest-star.

It turns out this is a pretty good time for highlighting too, as I chose Milton Selzer, and he was born, as well as died, right around this time of year.

He is certainly among the most prolific of television’s character actors. I’m always seeing him pop up on something, from The Untouchables to The Fugitive to Hawaii 5-O. And he always turns out a brilliant performance, no matter whether he plays good guys or bad.

Born in 1918, Milton lived in Lowell, Massachusetts and then in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with his family. After serving in World War II, Milton got his start, as did many classic character actors, on Broadway.

Although he appeared in several movies after moving to Los Angeles, it’s largely his astounding amount of television guest-spots for which Milton is most strongly remembered. Just like with Richard Anderson and H.M. Wynant, Milton is everywhere. He appeared in several anthology shows in the 1950s, most of the major series during the 1960s and 1970s, and continued acting on into the 1990s. And unlike H.M., he even got in some regular roles in series, such as The Famous Teddy Z and Valley of the Dolls. (Wow, I didn’t know they made a whole series about that.)

To Perry fans, he is both Dr. Aaron Stuart in The Decadent Dean and Dr. Max Taylor in The Bullied Bowler. Unfortunately, it’s been so long since I’ve seen the latter episode that I can’t remember much about his character in that. (I’m told he’s the murder victim.) But I watch The Decadent Dean semi-frequently and it’s one of my favorite season 7 ventures.

Aaron Stuart is a great character, a man with so much stress being piled on him that he is losing his patience, and seriously, who can blame him? But he never loses his integrity or compassion. Even after everything Tobin Wade does to him, he feels no malice. He is absolutely sickened at the very thought of having killed a man, even if it was an accident. As he says to the fellow at the mortgage company, he hasn’t even begun to pay. He feels he will be atoning for it the rest of his life.

I usually see Milton play good guys, or at worst, neutral guys or antiheroes or down-on-their-luck average Joes. I’ve very rarely seen him play outright bad guys, except on The Wild Wild West. But, as he seems to have played many bad guys as well as many good, I’m sure I’ll be running across more of them eventually. I am very impressed with every one of his roles; they are always very believable.

He has appeared with prominent Perry alumni in several other shows, including Raymond Burr on Ironside, Richard Anderson on The Six Million Dollar Man, and H.M. Wynant (I’ll count him since Sampson recurs!) on Hawaii 5-O.

He was married to the same woman from 1953 to his death in 2006, which is awesome. According to the information I found, he was cremated.

He has left an astonishing legacy of appearances in media, according to, and I bet there’s still more that they don’t yet have listed. I look forward to discovering him in many more shows, and rediscovering him in current favorite episodes, in the future.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I actually made it!

I completed the Halloween Perry story ahead of time; I spent a lot of Sunday finishing it up and posted it while it was still Monday. On I am posting it in several chunks. And I posted too large a chunk to start with; I should have split it in half. I just thought the original breaking point was too dull and I badly wanted to get to the point where a particular character wandered in. I have very little willpower in cases such as that. But I know I should have split it in half anyway.

If anyone would like to read the full thing and not wait over the next couple of days as chunks go up, the entire thing is already posted at the October Writing community, in two large pieces. Total word count ended up being slightly over 17,000 words. A bit bigger than the offering for last year!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Uncut Hasty Honeymooner

So sorry I missed the weekday post. Thursday was a busy day in general, and I’m also rather frantically juggling my entries for the October Writing challenge this year, including the big Perry story. The big story can be posted to October Writing at any time during the last ten days of October, and I’m still sort of desperately hoping that I will have it ready for posting starting Monday. But that is highly unlikely. Even though I know where it’s going, and have the remaining scenes basically planned, there’s still quite a lot to be written. My other entries keep popping up with new ideas as well, and then I can’t focus on the Perry story until I write them. The other stories can be much, much shorter, but they keep getting extremely long anyway!

Then I’ve spent this week trying desperately to think of something to write in tribute for Dan Tobin’s birthday today. I don’t know anything more about the actor than what I’ve already posted, so I knew it would have to be about the character. That also poses a problem, since Clay is usually in the background and only comes around to make commentary in a scene or two per episode. But, since I knew of one episode where he plays a much more active role, I decided to watch the uncut version of it and try to find something new to comment on.

Unfortunately, it’s been so long since I’ve seen even the cut version of The Hasty Honeymooner, I’m not sure what wasn’t there before. I am fairly sure, however, that the scene where Luke Tolliver admires Hutch’s felt sign creations is not in the cut version. That is certainly amusing and unique. It isn’t often that Bible verses are depicted in the series, and I think this is the only time someone makes creations using them. Something about it reminded me of some of the few times Bible verses wandered into Nancy Drew books, although I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe simply because the characters involved are always quirky in some way.

That is still one of the strangest episodes I’ve ever seen in the whole series. But I like Noah Beery, so I just settled back and enjoyed the ride. (And, since one of my favorite oneshot episode characters from The Wild Wild West is also named Tolliver, I got the giggles over his last name.)

It seems like every television series in the 1960s had to eventually get around to commenting on the blossoming trend of computer dating. I’ve seen episodes on the topic from shows such as Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., My Three Sons, The Wild Wild West (yes), and many others I’ll probably think of after I make this post. It’s amusing when it crops up, although also tiring, since all the various series wanted to get their two cents in on it. I was definitely amused by the audience getting a giggle over the co-owner of the Happy Future agency in The Hasty Honeymooner saying how horrifying it was that the two people’s cards were incompatible.

As for Clay’s role throughout the thing, we learn the bit of background information that he and Luke served in WWII together and Luke was a smooth operator, making captured Japanese flags and keeping him and Clay eating well, the little rascal. That’s when Perry first starts to realize that there is more to Luke than meets the eye.

The episode comes the closest the series ever came to giving Clay a real piece of the spotlight. At the wedding party, Clay is the only main character present to carry the scene with the guest-stars. He interacts with them, enjoys watching the dancing, and is available to witness Luke’s wife Millicent taking the fatal drink. He catches her as she faints and watches the ambulance workers trying to help her after they arrive. He is the first to vocally realize that Millicent is dying.

Clay cares about his old soldier friend and wants to do all he can to help clear his name. During the hearing, Clay is the first witness examined onscreen. It’s fun to watch his expressions. He’s so relieved and happy and pleased when Perry manages to score the first points in Luke’s defense.

Clay is present throughout the hearing, sitting with Paul in the gallery, and appears in the epilogue when all is well. He wanders off to tend to the restaurant, however. I would have liked for him to stick around for the remainder of the scene.

For all of his added screentime in this episode, we don’t really learn a great deal more about him. He doesn’t seem to be joining in the dancing, although he enjoys observing it. He’s very loyal to his friend. And the background information from the war is interesting and amusing. Apparently Clay didn’t have much of a problem with Luke’s less-than-honest antics by making the flags. But maybe in that situation it seemed perfectly natural and alright, since they wanted to eat well. Perhaps Clay always had a weakness for good food!

I wonder what would have happened with the character had the series been renewed. I would like to think that he would have had some more chances to emerge from the background, instead of always remaining there like Sergeant Brice does. But the existing material is a lot of fun, and this episode is good for a tribute on Dan Tobin’s birthday. When it comes to Clay’s very unique views on life, however, none of those colorful commentaries are to be found here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A wild Perry parallel has been spotted!

Every now and then, the writer of a script for one series will write a similar script for another series. It’s very interesting when that happens, especially when the parallels are quite glaring and easily picked out!

I believe I first saw it happen when an episode of Remington Steele closely followed the plot of the season 2 Diagnosis Murder episode where they go on the set of The Young and the Restless. The Steele episode didn’t involve that soap opera, but the details of the mystery were so similar regardless that I couldn’t help noticing.

Usually there’s enough differences that both versions are enjoyable. But on a more recent occasion when I saw this happen, the remake was so grossly similar to the original (even lifting the exact same lines and giving them to completely different characters!), that it was very difficult for me to fully enjoy the remake. The episodes in question here are an early Six Million Dollar Man venture where someone’s trying to kill Oscar on an airplane and a Bionic Woman remake where they’re after Rudy instead. (I prefer the Oscar version. Naturally.) They did try to make a few things different the second time around, including the addition of an amorous passenger crushing on Jaime, but overall the episodes were so extremely similar all the way along that it was seriously cringe-worthy. And in this case, with one show being a spin-off of the other, it’s highly likely that many viewers saw both versions.

I must admit that I myself enjoy recycling certain plots or plot elements between stories for assorted series. However, I certainly do not recycle dialogue in large quantities and give it to other characters! Since my love is character interaction, and all characters are different, the stories (and the dialogue!) come out different every time. Some basic themes are the same or similar, but I always try to make the majority of the details of the plots different for each attempt.

This past week I had out a Mannix disc. And I discovered that a particular season 3 episode, Murder Revisited, bears some striking plot similarities with the season 9 Perry episode The Midnight Howler. This is no doubt because Orville Hampton was partially responsible for the storyline of the Mannix episode (even though doesn’t credit him for it). Although he did not write Perry’s The Midnight Howler, he was, of course, one of the story consultants at the time and most likely thought of and remembered the unique plot when writing the Mannix episode. Robert E. Kent wrote The Midnight Howler, so a shout-out should be given to him for thinking of that very interesting plot.

Instead of an obnoxious radio host, for Murder Revisited we have an obnoxious television host. But he still calls the murder victim on the air, the murder still (supposedly) happens on the air, and Mannix eventually proves that the call was a recording and the guy was already dead at the time—killed by the television host.

Other details are different from The Midnight Howler. Instead of a custody battle over a son, we have Perry alumnus Arlene Martel playing twin sisters, one of whom is tricked into going to the murder house and ends up arrested for the crime. And the victim and the murderer don’t have the same connection with each other that they do in The Midnight Howler. But the crime itself is so unusual and unique that one can’t help but be put in mind of the earlier Perry venture.

I think it’s generally neat when writers reuse specific plots or plot elements, as Orville Hampton did here. (Just as long as they don’t overdo the connections, as in the Bionic Woman episode Fly, Jaime. Oy vey!) Perhaps they really like the particular plots and want to use them again when it seems fitting. And perhaps, in the past at least, they often didn’t think anyone would remember the similar plots. When I spotted the Remington Steele episode and its similarities to the Diagnosis Murder one, I was told that the writers consider it a compliment when someone is paying enough attention to the scripts they write to notice when there are similar plots. Well, since Robert E. Kent wrote The Midnight Howler, I will consider it a compliment to him that I recognized elements from his script in Murder Revisited.

And speaking of writing, I am happy to report that my Meddling Medium sequel is underway and moving swimmingly. I now know the basic plot for the entire story, and although I am writing it as one long oneshot, I will probably post it in several pieces, as I did with last year’s Halloween story. Last year’s story just got too long to possibly think of posting it all in one piece!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, the word is in.

Well, this should be no particular surprise, but it seems the new Ironside is failing. Badly. I haven’t had a look at it yet, but the more I learn about it, the more I don’t think I even want to bother with it. It sounds like a complete atrocity and slur on the name of the original series.

This review is interesting, and I love how it gets into mentioning the original version:

But this review really digs deeper and reveals the appalling behavior of the new Robert Ironside and his staff:

Beating up suspects? Entering homes without warrants? Raymond’s Ironside would roll over in his grave. So he was always a bit of a maverick, but he was always very firm about the rules of procedure. He only ever bent them when encountering extenuating circumstances in the form of feeling like someone deserved another chance, and it was a very rare thing. He scolded Mark Sanger in one episode for going into an apartment and removing evidence. And he would never dream of beating up a suspect, unless possibly the crime was either particularly gruesome or it involved his friends and team members (or both), the suspect was someone he really, firmly believed was guilty (or knew was guilty and just couldn’t prove it), and he was pushed to the absolute limit of his endurance.

I can’t say I’m terribly pleased by the sound of the new Ironside being more sexually charged, either. Don’t we see enough of that sort of thing on just about every other series currently running new episodes on television? Yawn. For some reason, people still seem to think that such a thing makes a character really cool and unique. By now it’s so commonplace on television series that it’s boring as heck, predictable, repulsive, and makes my general opinion of the characters involved go way down.

All in all, everything I’m hearing makes me think of that “remake” of Rear Window featuring Christopher Reeve, and honestly, that thing was an atrocity and an abomination that never should have bore the name and vague resemblance to Hitchcock’s masterpiece.

Just reading about this new Ironside series makes me feel a little ill inside. I need to watch an episode of the classic series to bleach my brain of the travesty.

That is a perfect example of a remake gone totally wrong, and one reason why a new Perry Mason television series would likely never happen (and probably shouldn’t). As much as I believe Perry is not, and doesn’t have to be, a period piece, I have hope that Robert Downey Jr.’s period piece movie has a far better chance of being something decent than a new television series, considering the tripe we’re being fed on television these days in almost every current series.

A while back I made a post musing on the feeling that some Perry episodes are depressing. I mentioned that I might not like the death or certain other elements, but I didn’t think I had ever encountered an episode that depressed me all the way through.

I still feel that way. But one episode where the death is certainly depressing that I failed to mention in the previous entry is The Madcap Modiste. I can’t think of anything much more depressing than the victim’s friend being so upset thinking her friend’s husband is having an affair with that one model that she then tries to kill said model . . . only to have her friend end up suffering the fate instead.

Well, I ended up deciding that I just wasn’t up to seeing the episode this week, so I watched the local station’s episode instead (The Lazy Lover). Hence, I didn’t get an analysis of Deputy D.A. Linn. So I’ll have to check it out at some other point when I’m feeling up to seeing it.
The Lazy Lover, incidentally, is one of my favorite season 1 ventures. I am familiar with a lot of the guest-stars, so seeing them pop up is fun. A cute dog is present. German Shepherds are one of my favorite breeds, and I like seeing Perry bend down and interact with this one. And once again, the murderer is a character played by the actor who played the murderer in The Frantic Flyer.

I was surprised when the murdered man was not the supposed amnesiac played by Harry Townes, but the step-father portrayed by Neil Hamilton. It's interesting to see how the amnesiac fits into the whole mystery. And of course, this is the episode boasting the infamous, amusing scene where Della plays the wife of said amnesiac to get him out of the cabin and to where he can be questioned. That scene is one of the few times Della ever stepped out of her usual role as the quiet, demure secretary. Watching her embrace a bewildered Bob and smother him with kisses is both amusing and brain-breaking all at once.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Other deputy D.A.s and The Nimble Nephew

I’ve often thought what a pity it is that the scandal with William Talman had to happen, and not only that, but that it had to happen right in the middle of a season. The episodes without him at the end of season 3 are among my most favorites of the whole season, plot-wise. And of course, if he had been in them, they would have been even better! (I still wonder if footage exists of his filmed work for The Crying Cherub.)

I decided that on this round of MeTV’s showing those episodes, I would pay attention to all the deputies and try to pick out what they’re like. Since they all work for Hamilton, it’s information that would be kind of fun to have, and possibly useful in a story someday, maybe.

I like the little notation that Deputy Hanson is an art expert. That’s interesting and unique. I don’t recall that little details like that are given for too many of the deputies.

Somebody, perhaps on the Yahoo Group, noted that the second deputy’s name is Drumm and wondered if the character was related to Lieutenant Drumm. Of course, I doubt the writers remembered the name once they got from season 3 to season 9, but it would be interesting to find out.

I found Claude Drumm to be rather a stuffed shirt. But I’m intrigued by the idea of him being related to Steve, and chances are, I’ll explore that sometime. (Whoever came up with the idea, I hope you don’t mind. If you’re reading this, let me know if you mind!)

Also, these deputies have first names: Mark Hanson, Claude Drumm. . . . I don’t think too many of the later deputies were given full names. Of course, there’s Victor Chamberlin, but aside from him I think we have last names only for most of the season 4 crowd. Then in seasons 8 and 9 Hamilton’s deputies have full names again.

Out of the late season 3 episodes without Hamilton, The Nimble Nephew is just about my most favorite. I’ve mentioned before that I particularly enjoy that none of the family members are killed or responsible for the killing. That is extremely unique. The more usual plot would probably involve the uncle being killed and both nephews being suspect, or one of the nephews being killed. I think this may be the only episode with a slightly rocky family where they all stay alive. At least, certainly one of the only episodes.

The uncle is really a nice guy, too. A little gruff, but a nice guy. The one nephew’s fiancĂ©e really likes him, and when that nephew is eventually arrested, the uncle wants to make sure the best possible representation is available, so he asks Perry to defend said nephew.

That poor uncle, though. The people who are mixed up in the crime probably seem like family, especially the secretary who was there for 13 years. And then the general manager turned out to be a crook right before he was killed.

I’ve never quite been sure what to think of the other nephew, the one who catches the defendant at the safe and later tells the police about it. He seems kind of like a jerk from his attitude, but maybe the uncut version would show him in a bit better light. (Or perhaps a worse light.) I hope to get the season 3 sets soon; I don’t own either one of them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Assorted observations on the police characters

Oh dear, I was going to post about this in the last post but somehow forgot. I received an email from Amazon that their TV Deal of the Week is all of the Perry DVD sets combined! It still costs a pretty penny, and I imagine most of us have at least a few sets already and wouldn’t want to end up with duplicates of those, but just in case anyone has the spare cash on hand and wants to buy the whole series in one swoop, here’s a heads-up for you! The deal runs through Saturday, I would imagine, or possibly Sunday. (Now I can’t find the page that actually tells.) It seems to be doing very well in sales, judging from its overall placement in the entire Movies and TV section!

And just a note, since this seems to be of importance to some shoppers: These are all of the already-released sets. They are not different releases in a special boxset.

Last night I opted for my local station’s Perry, which was The Substitute Face. It’s one of my favorite season 1 ventures, but I remembered that I really should watch the uncut of it sometime soon; I think it’s chopped up particularly bad.

I spotted one very interesting thing in that episode: the mysterious voice on Hamilton’s intercom (probably Leon) is there again. This time he speaks more than he does in The Daring Decoy, and of course, there’s the added bonus that this time his bit is even kept in the cut version.

Also, this may be the earliest occurrence of Perry throwing an untrue accusation about Hamilton in court. Hamilton also throws some at Perry, which is pretty much par for the course in season 1, but seeing the scenario in reverse is unusual in the early episodes.

Moving on to the police characters, in both Perry and several private eye shows, I’ve noticed some interesting similarities and differences. I’m going to focus on four shows in particular: Perry Mason, The Rockford Files, Cannon, and Mannix.

All shows have in common that the main characters are not the actual police, but they’re out to solve crimes. To that end, they often have encounters with the police, which many times do not end well.

To some extent, the police’s reactions are both at least semi-realistic and formulaic. Especially in Perry and Rockford, the main characters are running afoul of the police and are accused of getting in the way or worse, committing illegal acts. Sometimes the police aren’t altogether unfair or wrong in their accusations. Other times, it seems like they just behave in certain ways for the formula’s sake or to be belligerent and sort of the “heavies” of a script.

In reality, I’m sure there are many police officers who become frustrated by the interference of private eyes, lawyers, and amateur detectives in their cases. There’s probably even some stereotypically so. But I think there are likely others who have a very nice working relationship with their fellow investigators into crime.

I’ve complained more than once about Rockford’s police often seeming to just be formulaically angry, while the police on Perry are more well-rounded in their emotions. That is generally true. Nevertheless, I have found an occasional venture where I really like the Rockford police; the two-parter To Protect and Serve is a very good example where the police characters really feel like three-dimensional people.

One interesting difference that’s actually in the Rockford police’s favor is that they don’t often seem to make the mistake of arresting the wrong person (except for those times when Rockford is arrested when he shouldn’t have been). To that end, they seem a bit more realistic and have a better track record than the Perry police. However, they are still stereotypical in their opposition to Rockford and in some of their general suspicions about him and others.

Cannon is a unique series where the main character actually was a police officer and quit his job to become a private investigator. He has things he still likes and dislikes about the police force, and he has both friends and enemies there. In one way, I’d think he might have less trouble with belligerent officers since he was once a policeman, and one thing I’m grateful for is that none of the police that I’ve seen feel that he’s betrayed them by becoming a private eye. But Cannon does have quite a few problems regardless, being accused of interfering and even being nuts with some of his theories. There are a lot of out-of-town police who think the latter. Some of them end up becoming friendly later on. Some are crooked. And others are honest but just remain disagreeable.

Overall, he has fewer problems with the city police (probably because he was one of them). But he does have his clashes with them too, occasionally surmounting almost to Perry Mason levels of accusations of interfering (interestingly enough, once by Wesley Lau). As much as I love Cannon for the intensity and adventure and drama, and even though I feel that it’s a better show than Rockford, I do get exasperated at times with the portrayal of the police.

Mannix takes a very different approach to all of these shows. While Joe Mannix does sometimes run up against a very disagreeable, antagonistic police officer (often out-of-towners, but not always), in general he seems to have the best working relationship with the local police. He has several close friends on the force, and they and others usually seem to be happy to work with him on cases instead of against him. They don’t usually run around trying to outsmart each other. And that’s definitely a nice change from all of the fireworks and the worry and fear over the police that’s prevalent especially in Rockford and Perry, even if those shows are arguably more realistic when it comes to the police’s attitudes.

When it comes down to why the attitudes are different, however, I don’t think it’s because characters like Jim Rockford and Perry Mason are not the police. While that may be part of it, I think the main problem is simply that those characters often tread into more gray territory and aren’t adverse to noticeably bending the law as far as they can in order to meet their goals and solve their cases. Characters such as Frank Cannon and Joe Mannix, by contrast, usually stick a lot closer to solving cases without going into gray areas (although they occasionally have done that as well). And most definitely, the police are not going to be realistically happy in dealing with people whom they know have been bending the law. Hence, Rockford and Perry often do not receive very warm welcomes, in spite of their efforts in fighting crime. It’s certainly understandable and I don’t blame the police for often feeling frustrated or upset. I have certainly felt exasperated by some of the things Perry does and wish that he would approach things in a different manner.

Even taking all of that into consideration, however, I still do not usually like the attitudes of Rockford’s police. Sometimes it seems like he runs into a lot of police characters who don’t even know him and rail against him pretty much just because he’s a private eye (although admittedly, it’s probably because they know a lot of shady ones). The Perry police might be reserved and cautious, but I don’t think they would behave in such uptight and angry ways when meeting a new private eye. I enjoy how the Perry police have such varied personalities (Tragg’s snark, Andy’s businesslike congeniality, and Steve’s outright friendliness and seriousness) instead of just being angry.

Also, it’s definitely obvious that Tragg and Steve respect Perry (and that Steve, at least, is also quite a close friend). It’s harder to tell what Andy thinks. At least once he comes to Perry as Tragg often does, wanting to know how Perry figured something out (in The Melancholy Marksman), but that’s before the writers really started writing him as his own person, so I’m not sure it counts. Once Andy develops his own personality, I don’t recall him ever coming around like that. Steve doesn’t either, for that matter, but he’s often around for other social reasons while Andy isn’t.

Regarding Rockford’s police friendship, it seems like Sergeant Dennis Becker does mellow over time. By seasons 5 and 6 he seems a lot less uptight than he did around season 3 and more comfortable with being Rockford’s friend (while of course still not upholding any of the gray areas Rockford sometimes explores). It’s nice to see that level of character development.

Sometimes I kind of wonder if at least part of the reason why Rockford’s police behave as they do is because that series seems to often be distrustful of the government and authority figures. They have many episodes with conspiracy theories and some claiming to show actual injustices of the government and/or the legal system. (And I should insert that where such injustices are real, Rockford should be applauded for daring to talk about them. It was certainly a unique approach that its fellow private eye and amateur detective series didn’t generally do.) But then something great in a positive way like To Protect and Serve comes along and I’m no longer sure what they’re thinking.

Perry sometimes feels like an interesting series of contrasts: it praises the good of the legal system and exposes the bad all at once. And while the police keep arresting the wrong person (only for formula’s sake), Perry is often commenting on their efficiency while investigating. Sometimes it’s a little hard to believe they’re really so efficient and it seems more like the writers were just trying not to get real police upset. Other times, however, the police are shown doing a lot of investigating, and the cases are definitely set up to make it look like the defendants really are guilty, so it’s hard to put too much blame on the police. I usually prefer to blame the writers for most of the screw-ups, rather than the characters, although it is impossible to not blame the police at all after so many false arrests!

In the end, all of the shows have their good and bad points in the way the police characters are handled. And there are things I like and dislike about each approach. If Perry and Rockford were not bending the law so much (and I would prefer they did not), they might be able to have as good of a relationship with the police as Cannon and especially Mannix do. However, the conflicts are intense and interesting (although I often sigh at them since they happen so much). If the Perry police had less trouble with false arrests, they would be more likely to seem as efficient as the police on the other series. Yet even as they are, they are very lovable. If the Rockford police were less uptight, they would be more likable. But at least they don't have trouble with making a lot of false arrests. The police on Cannon are often formulaic to some extent, but always colorful. And Mannix often has such a fun, symbiotic relationship between Mannix and the police.

Whatever one thinks of these assorted casts of characters, I find it very interesting how the angles are both similar and different in each series. Every show and each batch of characters brings something unique to the table.

You know, one other unrelated but still interesting thing: every one of these series takes place in Los Angeles. One thing I love about so many shows taking place there is that I can have the characters cross-over in stories and know or meet each other. Realistically, it seems like a very possible thing that could happen.