Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Killer Kiss and more MeTV news!

So, The Killer Kiss. I missed some of the beginning of it while I was taking care of some things, but maybe I’ll catch up with that on the taped copy. I saw pretty much everything after the murder happened.

It was interesting that the defendant was a ward of Perry’s. It was fun seeing their interaction and getting a snippet more information about Perry’s backstory in the movie verse, even though I don’t consider it canon.

Della was pretty much adorable, finally getting some more decent screentime and being a soap opera buff. (And I was highly amused by Perry’s tale of a judge he knew also being a soap opera fan.) I’ve never been into soaps, but I could relate to Della’s excitement about the cast and being there to see an episode filmed.

As with most Perry-related show-biz things, many of the guest characters are a bit over the top and the plot pokes fun at Hollywood tropes, such as how they explain the dead guy’s character being played by someone new.

Lieutenant Brock was slightly obnoxious, but I like how friendly he’s gotten with Perry in these later movies. It’s some nice character development. And totally an improvement over there not being a steady police character in the earlier films.

I was slightly amused by the girl of the movie this time, and by Ken ending up locked in the men’s bathroom and her rushing right in to help him without thinking of or caring about the awkwardness and general impropriety of it. Sometimes exceptions must be made in drastic situations, after all!

And their experience in that small-town was horrible! Crooked lawmen are one thing that tends to irritate me, and that sheriff was the mother-lode of horrid. It was so, so satisfying when Ken and the girl managed to orchestrate a break-out and locked the sheriff in the cell. I also loved when Perry showed up to help them just as the jam got worse again. And the deputy being a good guy was definitely a nice touch. It’s always enjoyable to see that even in a corrupt place, you can find good people.

It was interesting viewing it all along as the last proper Perry movie, which actually included Perry. As a send-off, it wasn’t bad, especially since they didn’t know at the time it would be the last. The plot was intense and related strongly to the main characters in the form of the defendant’s connection with Perry, there was some good action with Ken, and the ending was rather adorable. I loved Perry grabbing Della and Chris and posing for a picture. It was slightly bittersweet, knowing it was the final shot, but it was a lovely last moment.

I wasn’t expecting the memorial screen for Raymond Burr, but in retrospect it makes sense to have had it, since the movie didn’t air until after his death. It was sobering and sad, and Mom hadn’t realized it was the last one he’d filmed, so it was a bit startling for her.

I’ll probably keep my taped copy of it, too, unless I end up desperate for a tape for some reason. I had a hard time finding one tonight for The Lady in the Lake, but I finally turned up something suitable without erasing The Killer Kiss.

It’s been nice watching those two movies I never got around to seeing, and re-watching The Lady in the Lake and The Heartbroken Bride was quite fun. I have to admit, I still honestly find it hard to believe that they really weren’t trying to say that Perry was the father of his friend Laura’s child. They certainly seemed to be laying on the implications heavily. But it’s nice that, according to a reader here, they apparently didn’t mean anything by it and Perry and Laura were meant to have a close friendship instead. It’s always nice to show that guys and girls can have really deep friendships without romance entering into the picture.

Oh! And I see that, according to Sitcoms Online, there have already been changes made to MeTV’s Fall schedule. It looks like now they will not be removing the morning Perry episode! It looks like it’s moving to an hour earlier instead. Also, now they’re saying the Mystery Movie will continue to air directly after the nighttime Perry and not later. We’ll see how this plays out in the coming weeks, but I won’t be surprised if that is how it will go. MeTV knows viewers love their Perry fix twice a day!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Glass Coffin

So, thanks to MeTV, I finally got around to seeing The Glass Coffin. I was very glad that one of the readers was right and there weren’t any onscreen tricks that were grotesque illusions of cutting people up, although the thing they’re doing with the boxes at the very beginning was probably meant to be one of those.

Overall, it was definitely one of the installments I’ve liked the best. In some ways it felt very much like one of the episodes, especially when Perry moved that the trial take place right at the theatre.

We have a defendant who is definitely flawed, having fooled around with the murder victim at one time (albeit only when he was drunk). I was worried for a while that maybe his wife would turn out to be the murderer, especially when Perry emphasized to her that she had to be in court the next day. I was very glad that she was not the guilty one and that she and David were going to be able to work things out.

I kind of suspected the female side of the guilty pair, although I don’t think I ever suspected the other. And I definitely didn’t suspect the reason. I thought she might just be a jealous star kicked to the curb. I was pleased that there was a more substantial reason than that, although of course it still wasn’t justified even though the woman was indeed horrid.

I really liked how Perry pieced together how the crime was actually committed. I had wondered if the girl might have been killed before the fall, but I definitely didn’t dream up all of the details Perry presented!

I loved the opening statements of both the prosecutor and Perry. And the trick Perry did with the glass. Heh! That was definitely an amusing way to prove his point, and I can certainly imagine Hamilton exclaiming about courtroom tricks if Perry had done it in the series.

Ken had his usual “I work alone” attitude, which is always kind of irritating, and he was a bit of a jerk near the beginning to mislead the female detective as he did. But of course, they ended up working together eventually anyway, and it was interesting how the writers tried to bring out the strengths and weaknesses of both of them. The girl may have been good at finding things, but Ken was very “fly by the seat of his pants” resourceful during tight moments. I really liked that the chase scene, instead of being the usual scene of Ken chasing the suspect, was the bad guys chasing him. That was a good way to mix it up. And it was nice that things didn’t get overtly romantic between him and the girl at any point. I really like seeing guys and girls interact in other types of ways, instead of always ending up falling into romantic attraction (especially when the girls are rarely ever seen again).

I was thinking while watching how the movies stretch things out by trying to inject a bit of humor here and there, like when Ken is accosted by the bad guys while only in his shorts and later, when he tries to sober up the drunk. I remember the episode The Candy Queen in particular, and how Paul mentioned he was going to try to get Mark Chester awake and talking by the time Perry got up there. I wonder if, had they shown the scene of Paul working on him, if it would have gone something like the scene in the movie. It was also highly amusing in the movie when, at the end of the wild escape in the truck, the drunk exclaims that he’s sober.

There isn’t much interaction between Perry and Della to speak of here, although poor Della having to call 258 optometrists! I love the little exchange where she matter-of-factly informs him that there are 258 and not 257. I could definitely picture that happening in the series. In fact, I think it did a couple of times, with Paul instead of Della.

I liked the brief subplot of the children’s charity. Perry posing with the kids near the beginning was adorable. And the ending of the film, with David and Sara going to adopt two of them, was very sweet. It was a very nice way for the movie to end.

I’ll probably just keep the copy I recorded many months ago, instead of recording over it as planned. It was good enough that I think I’d like to hang on to it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Perry Movies and Fall News

MeTV is running Perry movies this week. This time, they are all ones that MeTV has shown before, so I guess that answers the question as to whether they will replay things. However, if anyone missed them on the first round, perhaps now there will be a chance to catch them again.

Last night was The Fatal Fashion. I have a review of it around somewhere here. I recorded it the first time it was on and have kept it, since Scott Baio is the prosecutor in it.

The rest of the week will be, in order:

The Glass Coffin
The Heartbroken Bride
The Killer Kiss
The Lady in the Lake

I find it pleasing that they will show the two movies I recorded long ago to watch, but still have not got around to. Also, I did miss the first ten minutes of The Glass Coffin, so now when I see it tonight, it will be the whole thing. And I am very excited to get the chance to record The Lady in the Lake. It was probably my favorite of the movies for the surprise twist near the end and I regretted not having recorded it for keeps at the time I was originally watching it.

Also, MeTV has made their first announcement about their Fall schedule. I was very surprised; I was just thinking about it and wondering what it would be and figuring there would not be any news for a while yet. The full schedule is not currently available on their site, so I only have the most preliminary information, as reported by the Sitcoms Online blog.

The schedule will affect Perry. The morning showing is being booted again, this time for Matlock. Hmm, that seems a little recent for MeTV. I would think it would have been more likely to have found a home on Cozi TV. But I suppose MeTV wanted it because of Andy Griffith starring.

The Mystery Movie will remain on the schedule, but be pushed way down until 1 A.M./2 A.M., depending on your time zone. The Twilight Zone will be back, this time after the late-night showing of Perry.

So far, the only news I'm really pleased about is that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will now air twice a week. I am not, however, too pleased that it will move to 1 A.M. on the weekends. A lot of people will find it difficult to watch it then. It seems like a really ridiculous move to put it on that late when the movie is coming out and there will probably be a new influx of interest for the series.

I also like that Wagon Train will be back, as I wasn't finished recording episodes I wanted. I hope that they won't only show seasons 1 through most of 4 and 7 like before, however. There are some episodes from season 5 that I wanted, including one with Wesley Lau. I also want the Simon Oakland episode from season 6. And they stopped their season 4 episodes before they reached the one I'd been looking forward to with H.M. Wynant.

It kind of looks like The Mod Squad, Mission: Impossible, and The Saint will be leaving the schedule, but at this point I can't say. They might just be shifting to other times.

Their comedy block is going to be the same every night, with Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Hogan's Heroes. I liked when they aired something different every night.

It will be interesting to see the full Fall schedule when MeTV releases it. Overall, I'm not terribly impressed at this point and I wonder why they haven't been adding many shows this year. I worry a bit wondering if they're in financial trouble.

At least the late-night airing of Perry is staying, but I'm annoyed by the departure of the morning episode, since that's when a lot of people watch. Oh well, though, as we've seen from past experience, the morning episode never seems to be gone for long. People like it there and in the past, MeTV has listened to that.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Uncut Vanishing Victim vs. The Fugitive Nurse

First, a quick note: Rose and I have started a new Simon Oakland project, a Tumblr. We have weekly photo sets and post other Simon-related things during the week. I put up a Frantic Flyer photo set on Saturday. We're hoping the project will eventually reach the attention of all classic film and television fans on Tumblr, in addition to all fans of specifically Simon. If anyone wants to have a look, the link is:

The other day I finally did something I’ve been meaning to do for months: watch the uncut version of The Vanishing Victim. It’s taken so long for me to get to it since it’s one of my least-liked episodes. It remains so after the uncut viewing.

I watch it so seldom I’m actually not sure which scenes are new to me, besides the infamous epilogue. I ranted a lot about the cut version in another post, so I don’t think I’ll go into all of that examination here. I’ll just say that my previous opinions on the episode as a whole still stand. It’s a very messy, confused conglomeration, and the constantly changing idea of who’s actually dead around here makes it very wearisome by the time they finally get around to letting us know that the real dead guy is an extremely minor character we only barely saw.

And I’ll make a couple of comparisons with the episode it claims to be patterned after: The Fugitive Nurse. That season 1 episode is one of my most favorites, both of season 1 in general and the series as a whole. Hamilton and Tragg really have a lot of chances to shine in it.

Hamilton and Steve get a lot of screentime in The Vanishing Victim, but aside from Hamilton’s final comment to the murderer (which was just awesome) and Steve’s adorable appearance in the epilogue, they don’t really have much chance to shine. They’re by and large depicted as the antagonists, behaving ridiculously and unfairly, calling the hearing before there’s enough evidence and then, after the judge throws the case out, planning to re-arrest the defendant on a trumped-up charge while they try to gather new evidence to prove the murder. They honestly don’t often tend to pull stunts like that, so Perry’s comment about Hamilton being predictable with the re-arrest plan is still irritating to me.

Also, the defendant in The Vanishing Victim honestly seems like a block of ice. I’m all for aloof characters, but I like to get to know them a little even if they remain a mystery to the other characters. I couldn’t figure that woman out at all. Usually we get to know the defendants enough so that we can dredge up some sympathy for them, but it didn’t really seem like we got to know this one at all. Perry mused on trying to discover whether she’s a grieving widow or a murderer, and she didn’t seem to be either one. Her husband didn’t seem like a nice guy, but when Lisa Gaye’s character commented on how miserable she had made life for her husband, there was no refuting of that statement. I have to wonder exactly what their marriage really was like.

Compare that with the defendant in The Fugitive Nurse. She realizes she’s being selfish to not let her husband have a divorce if he wants it so badly and thinks the nurse will make him happier. She wants to do the right thing. She opens up to Perry and the audience gets to know her and that she’s a good person who handled some things wrong. Maybe the bad marriage was partially her fault, and she’ll own up to that.

The restaurant owner who was so key in The Fugitive Nurse doesn’t play much of a role here. In this version, the friend isn’t dead and his wife didn’t try to kill him. Their marriage is on the rocks, and she’s serving him divorce papers, but she’s not the cold-hearted penny-pincher Jeanette Nolan expertly played in The Fugitive Nurse. This character has class, running a very swanky restaurant instead of just a cheap burger joint. Her only scene has her sitting down with Paul to discuss her husband.

And then the epilogue. I was always annoyed by what I’d heard of Perry supposedly paying Paul and then taking the check away from him. I was also annoyed when I watched the epilogue alone and didn’t see the whole episode.

This time, having watched the whole episode and seen the epilogue again, I’m not sure what to make of it. My opinion hinges on the key question: did Paul really have some expenses totaling $175.19, or was he totally trying to rip Perry off just so he’d have the money for his golf clubs?

I honestly can’t believe Paul would try to cheat Perry like that. Maybe he’d add a random 19 cents, but I can’t believe the $175 wasn’t a real expense.

If Paul really did try to cheat Perry with the whole amount, then Perry taking the money away from him and giving it to Steve is perfectly fine in my book. But if, as I originally thought, Paul had an actual expense and Perry was just refusing to pay up, then the epilogue still annoys me. I suppose the interpretation is up to each viewer to determine.

Overall, The Vanishing Victim never will be a favorite episode of mine. The war between Perry and Hamilton would work better in season 1 than season 9, but the confusion over the dead man’s identity would be exasperating and bewildering in any season. Pretty much the only things I like are still Perry’s speech to Lisa Gaye’s character, Hamilton’s final comment to the murderer, and Steve being adorable in the epilogue.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

In Memoriam: Ray Collins

And so we come to another July 11th, the anniversary of Ray Collins’ death. The problem of figuring out new things to say remains, but my respect and admiration of this highly talented and warmhearted man persists as well.

Every time we finish another run of Perry and switch to the early episodes, what I look forward to the most is seeing Tragg again. All the other characters seen at the beginning are still there at the end, albeit more mature and wise than they were to start with, but Tragg is very sadly absent. It’s always a joy to see him in the early episodes and hear those hilarious, snarky comments once again.

The first three-ish seasons have that special bond between the Core Five that was never duplicated in later seasons, even when they were together again after the real-life scandal that split the group up. By mid-season 4, when William Talman was finally restored to his rightful place in the cast, Ray Collins’ health was already deteriorating. The search for what to do began in season 4, not 5, as I have noted in another post.

Perhaps in some way, the real-life sorrows that plagued the actors had carried over to the characters at that point. There’s a certain innocence in those early seasons, as though the characters and the actors all think that everything is well and although there are problems to get through, they will all come out just fine in the end. That innocence was shattered for the actors when William Talman was suspended, and only grew worse when Ray’s health began to fail. Naturally, even after the actors and characters were all reunited, they could not fully be the same people they had been in the beginning. While Hamilton had not been suspended in the scripts, and Tragg was still healthy as far as we knew, the actors’ problems and sorrows were new, subtle elements to the characters. The innocence of the early seasons was gone; sometimes things didn’t turn out alright, or when they did, there were still scars left behind.

Tragg, of course, continued to be awesome right up through his final episode, season 7’s The Capering Camera. Always snarky even while he respects Perry, some of Tragg’s most amusing comments were among his last. I think of the scene in The Reluctant Model when Perry receives the call from “a client who no longer wants to be a client.” Tragg’s dry response is, “My heart bleeds for you.” Heh! And his final episode includes the classic scene where Andy comes to him for advice and Tragg suggests that Andy consider Perry his prime suspect and follow him around for a while, if he’s so uncertain that the apparent suicide is really suicide.

Yet even in these scenes, there’s still a definite sense that things are changing. Tragg seems somewhat worn-down in The Reluctant Model; in past seasons, he might have been perkier and cheerier, with some nice comment for Della in specific or some note of goodwill for both of them, despite his annoyance with whatever Perry might be holding back this time. And in The Capering Camera, during that scene where he advises Andy, he’s sitting down at his desk. It also definitely looks like the reins are being turned over to Andy, since he is the one in charge of the case and Tragg is not involved (although he becomes involved later).

Still, they wanted to show that Tragg is still a very active and important member of the police force. He’s very busy at his desk, with plenty to do, and in the majority of his other scenes in the episode, he’s standing up. He gets out in the field and does some investigating and picking up of suspects later on, and the final time we see him, he’s again standing, in the courtroom.

That’s a good memory to take with us of Tragg’s last episode. I still like to picture him carrying on through the remainder of the series, even though we don’t see him onscreen. Ray Collins brought to life such a wonderful, colorful character for us to enjoy and celebrate again and again, and I will continue to do just that.
Thank you, Ray, for all the happy memories and each episode that features Lieutenant Arthur Tragg. Ray played many amazing characters in films, but Tragg will always be the most iconic of all of his characters.