Saturday, September 19, 2015

Birthday Tribute: Karl Held

Well, it’s another September the 19th, which means it’s time for the most controversial post of the year: the birthday tribute to Karl Held!

I believe it was last year when someone finally explained to me the other main reason why Karl’s David Gideon character is so disliked. As I recall, it’s because the character has a tendency to sometimes act like he knows it all and/or tries to explain things that don’t need explaining? The person mentioned some occasions where he explains some things to Della and she has an expression like, “You don’t have to lecture me, David.”

I’ll agree that David does have those moments. And admittedly, I know some people in real-life who are like that. They are quite annoying. But on the other hand, I’m honestly a bit amused by them, because in general, they really aren’t trying to do anything wrong. They’re just sharing their enthusiasm and maybe letting it get a little out of hand. They don’t even really stop to think that maybe they don’t need to say this or that. So even that reason doesn’t make me dislike the character.

However, this much I will say: the commenter also noted that David does not act like that in The Grumbling Grandfather, in spite of his idolization of Perry. I do think it’s rather a pity that they changed the characterization in season 5, instead of sticking a little more with what the character was to begin with. Perhaps he wouldn’t be nearly universally disliked if they had taken a more season 4-influenced path and kept the character more as he was in his first appearance.

But regardless, it certainly wasn’t Karl Held’s fault that the characterization was altered. He just worked with the material he was given. Apparently those moments were actually in the script. I suppose perhaps delivering the lines differently could have made some level of difference, but maybe it was the director’s choice and not Karl’s to deliver the lines the way he did. There just isn’t enough information on that period of Perry to really judge what happened.

I wonder if anyone has ever even interviewed Karl about his time on Perry? It would be interesting to get the story from his point-of-view.

I still haven’t quite found a place for David in my Perry stories. I used him in The Case of the Spiteful Spirit two years ago and that is the only appearance he’s made in my official timeline. The Lux Aeterna stories on Livejournal remain nebulous as to whether they’re part of the official timeline. So as far as the official timeline goes, I have never explained where David disappeared to. Since I say that other characters who have disappeared onscreen are still around, however, perhaps David is just busy with law school and is still in Los Angeles, instead of leaving it as I said in Lux Aeterna.

While looking over the previous birthday posts, I saw I had an idea for David to maybe appear now and then, bringing Perry interesting problems that could sometimes turn into new cases. Perhaps I will use that idea for the next mystery story, if I continue the series after The Nefarious Necklace. I just hope that if I do decide to use David as a main guest-star in a story, that fact alone wouldn’t make a lot of readers decide not to bother reading!

It would have been neat, as I’ve said before, if there had been more canon scenes of Perry mentoring David in the ways of the law. Perhaps it could have been more like Perry’s relationship with Ken in the movies. Of course, I imagine that even if David’s characterization had been handled better, viewers wouldn’t have liked if the series had followed him to the end of his law school studies and had Perry take him on as another lawyer in the firm, as he did with Ken. That definitely would have changed the scope of the series a bit, probably unfavorably. I doubt I would go that route in my stories, but I would like to do some of the mentoring scenes. I will also likely try to characterization David a little more like in The Grumbling Grandfather.

I was a little worried that some readers might mistakenly think that the mechanic character in Necklace is supposed to be David and that he failed law school, but since there are many guest-star characters on Perry named David, I figured I would let it slide. The character is called David for a reason, so I didn’t want to try to find a different name that would work just as well. However, I did realize, much to my chagrin, that I accidentally started a pattern once I gave the character a surname. Both Davids have first and last names of Biblical characters: David Gideon and David Solomon! Oh well, it works.

As before, I feel that David Gideon is a character who had a lot of untapped potential. I’m glad that Karl brought him to life and gave it a good try for those nine episodes. I hope he has a very happy birthday!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

In Memoriam: Raymond Burr

So The Romantic Rogue is the first episode in which Lee Miller is officially called Sergeant Brice within the series! I like that Lieutenant Tragg introduces him to Harry West; it’s as though he’s introducing Brice to the audience, as well.

It seems like Brice wasn’t usually introduced in the episodes. I’m trying to recall other times when whichever Lieutenant present introduced him to someone in the guest cast. I believe each Lieutenant introduced him at least once, but I hope there were more occasions than just three!

Last week I was curiously looking up Lee Miller’s credits and I discovered something that I knew I would want to save to talk about today. There was only one occasion listed where he was credited as appearing as himself, in a documentary about Raymond Burr called The Defense Rests. I went to YouTube hoping I’d find it, and I did!

I’m probably a latecomer and everyone else knows about and/or has watched this tribute, but just in case there are those who are not aware: This is the link to Part 1; it was broken up into six segments. I believe each one should either automatically follow the previous one or appear in the sidebar.

Some people may find it a little hard to get through in this day and age, as Bill Cosby is one of the co-hosts, and there are certainly reasons to not find it appealing to watch Bill Cosby these days. But I watched the whole thing and greatly enjoyed and was moved by it.

It came out very soon after Raymond Burr’s sad death on September 12th, 1993. They didn’t spend a lot of time discussing either Perry or Ironside, but they did manage to discuss both series as well as an overview of Raymond’s movie career. All of it was very interesting, but what I enjoyed the most were the parts about Raymond’s life and his personality. Barbara Hale was the other host and she delivered very touching information about Raymond. Also exciting was getting to see people in Raymond’s family.

Lee Miller talks at several different points throughout the production, giving little snippets of adventures he and Raymond had while filming things. The part about the Godzilla movie was particularly intriguing. I had no idea Raymond had appeared in one of those! Lee expressed sadness over Raymond’s passing and said how much he would miss him.

There were definitely things I would have liked to have learned that weren’t mentioned, such as how Raymond and Lee met in the first place (and how Sergeant Brice was cast; I’d like to know if Raymond had anything to do with that!), but overall I really loved the documentary and found it a very touching and poignant tribute while the wounds were still fresh from Raymond’s death. On this, the anniversary of that sad day, I find it fitting to share the documentary and encourage fans to have a look. Even if you’ve seen it before, it’s good to see again and reflect on. It’s an excellent and powerful glimpse into the life of the man we see as Perry Mason and Robert T. Ironside.

It’s hard to believe that Raymond Burr passed away 22 years ago today. It was very sad to lose him, especially so soon after they finished the movie The Killer Kiss. The information told about that experience in the documentary was something I hadn’t heard before. It was very moving how determined Raymond was to film that movie in spite of his illness because the proceeds had already been promised to charities. And it was very bittersweet and sad that Barbara Hale had a premonition that it would be the last movie.

However, as sad as it was to lose this wonderful actor and compassionate man, it can definitely be said that he lived a rich, full life and left valuable legacies behind. How many people were helped by Raymond throughout his life? Perhaps even posthumously by the charity money from the final Perry movie? It is staggering to think of the possible numbers. Raymond did so much good in his life through his charity work, as well as by bringing people joy with his famous and beloved roles on television and in the movies.

It was said in the documentary how much Raymond loved to act. I’m sure he’s continuing that love in the afterlife. Here’s to you, Raymond. Keep on shining. I know that won’t be hard for you to do.

I hope to have another chapter of The Nefarious Necklace up later today in further honor of Raymond Burr. With Della as the central figure, naturally Perry plays quite a big role in this installment. By now I have four chapters posted; the story is moving along very well.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The first Sergeant Brice, and a new story

As the readers know, I adore Lee Miller’s Sergeant Brice. He is quiet, loyal, dedicated, and friendly. In episodes such as The Grumbling Grandfather and The Borrowed Baby he testifies in court and gets some pretty decent screentime. In later seasons, he sometimes talks with Perry about cases and has a mysterious teasing exchange with Della, certainly indicating that there’s at least one untold story there.

They were using Lee Miller all the way in season 1, playing unnamed policemen who usually worked with the L.A.P.D. Once or twice he played other law enforcement officers, such as a Highway Patrolman in The Rolling Bones. Even then, he appeared with Tragg. Back in season 1, I don’t recall they ever used the same person more than once to accompany Tragg, until they started using Lee Miller.

By season 2, they continued to use Lee in many episodes, but his character still didn’t have a name and only rarely, if ever, said a word. Meanwhile, someone came up with the name Sergeant Brice and it was applied to another police character. He appears in two episodes, to my knowledge—once in an episode that Lee is also in (The Glittering Goldfish)! That gave me a start the last time I watched it, to see the “real” Brice around yet have someone else get credited as the character!

MeTV showed the first of the two episodes the other day (The Fancy Figures) and I studied the character as played by Chuck Webster. Instead of younger, quiet, and closer to Raymond’s build, the first Sergeant Brice is older, slimmer, and quite talkative. While I suppose the idea is that both actors are really playing the same character, I have an urge to make this first Brice a completely different character, since he is different in every way except in his loyalty to the police department, and when I hear “Sergeant Brice”, it’s impossible for me to picture anyone other than Lee Miller. Perhaps the first Brice is a relative? Chuck Webster was only eleven years older than Lee Miller, and even though some actors sadly do look much older than their age, this character didn’t look old enough to be the other Brice’s father. So maybe an older brother, cousin, or an uncle instead.

Also curiously noted is that while the first episode has him and Tragg both calling him “Brice”, the second episode only lists him as such in the credits. Within the episode itself, Hamilton addresses him as “Officer.” I wonder which episode was filmed first? If Goldfish was, then we could say that perhaps they only thought of the name after it was filmed, so they quickly inserted it in the credits and then addressed him by that name within the other episode. If the other episode was filmed first, then I have to wonder if they were already considering making Lee Miller the Brice character by the time they did Goldfish later, so they didn’t want Chuck’s Brice addressed onscreen by that name again.

I may address these mysteries in a future story, or maybe even in the one I’ve started now. I finished putting up the Steve Drumm detective parody and decided it was high time I start writing the story idea that one of my steady readers, Harry2, brought to me three years ago when I was writing The Malevolent Mugging. It heavily involves Della and a mishap with a supernatural necklace. I was interested, but felt I needed to finish Mugging before I started it, and of course, that didn’t get finished until about a month or so ago. So finally it is time to tell Harry’s story.

Since I have been wanting to explore Brice and Della’s apparent friendship for some time, a story starring Della would be a good place to start. I am tentatively planning that Brice will play a large part in it, especially as the mystery deepens and it becomes clear that not all is well with Della.

Also, as per my love of bringing back characters from the episodes I enjoy most, this one features Gene Torg and Pearl Chute from The Bogus Books. They were part of the original outline from three years ago, being the first to encounter the necklace and then desperately wanting to get rid of it. Gene may end up falsely accused of a crime and need Perry’s help; I’m still unsure if I will do that angle.

I have also had ideas of writing a story about the Stuarts from The Decadent Dean and I decided that this would be that mystery. Perry is trying to solve a new series of weird events at Aaron Stuart’s new Manzana Valley Prep School while Della begins to act strangely. The mysteries will connect. And I’m also planning that this will finally be the mystery with scenes at a masquerade ball. The ball will be held at the school.

Does anyone know if Manzana Valley/County is a real place or something the show made up? I’ve been trying to look it up without success because I wanted to figure out how close it is to Los Angeles. Tentatively I’m assuming that within the show, it’s the next county over in some direction, since Tobin Wade seemed to be living at his cabin in Topanga Canyon (which is, I think, part of the Los Angeles area?) and probably wouldn’t want to be driving a long distance to work each day.

I’m a little nervous to do another supernatural mystery for my first big Perry story since The Malevolent Mugging, but I really wanted this one to be next, so I hope it will be enjoyed. I have the first chapter up and am in the process of writing the second. If anyone is interested in following this new adventure, it’s at: