Thursday, September 22, 2016

59 years of Perry on television!

It's hard to believe that we're looking at 59 years of broadcast history for our show this year. Next year, it celebrates its diamond anniversary. And for the very first episode filmed, it may already be the diamond year. I believe the first filming occurred in 1956.

The show is still perennially popular. What fuels this? Is it the acting? The stories? How has it stayed so beloved in spite of its formulaic nature and its predictability? Or is that part of what makes it so fondly remembered?

Over the summer, one of the things I've been doing is reconnecting some more with my childhood. This included finally getting back to the 1987 version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which I know I watched even though I remembered very, very little of it. It is probably one of the silliest, more formulaic shows in existence, and I find I adore it. Not so much for the formulaic nature, but because of its unbridled, unapologetic nonsense and fun, free spirit. And it got me thinking.

It isn't unusual for adults as well as children to enjoy cartoons. Looney Tunes, I believe, were originally aimed at a more grown-up audience. And they are both perennially popular and very formulaic. In the modern age, one of the most popular cartoons with both children and adults is Phineas and Ferb, which is also extremely formulaic and predictable. If you've seen one or two episodes, you know they always follow a particular pattern, no matter what screwball events happen along the way. Even when they did a ridiculous episode consisting of unintelligible "caveman talk" for most of the episode, it was easy to follow along because the viewer knew exactly what to expect from each character.

Could part of the appeal with a show like Perry Mason be that by its formulaic, predictable nature, it is almost like a cartoon for adults?

I realize that on some level it probably sounds like sacrilege to compare a drama about murder and courtroom trials to anything silly and animated. But in both a cartoon and Perry, we have definite formulas. Some people find comfort in knowing that there is a basic outline that will always play out: an innocent person has problems with someone who ends up dead, they're arrested, and Perry will come to their rescue.

Also like cartoons, Perry always features conflicts between the protagonists and the antagonists. We always expect the antagonists to be shown up as fools while the protagonists win. Some viewers, perhaps even a great percentage of them, enjoy laughing at Hamilton Burger and the police as the wrong person is arrested over and over again and they remain convinced it's the right person.

The great thing about Perry is that, unlike many cartoons, the characters are not just "one-note" characters. It would have been so easy to have made Hamilton a stereotypical sleazy prosecutor who deserves to get shown up every episode or the police buffoons with barely any functioning brain cells. Instead, Hamilton and the police are always depicted as very three-dimensional characters who honestly want justice done and are willing to listen when Perry brings hard evidence that they may have accused the wrong person. They only accuse the wrong person because they are victims of the formula. Because they are three-dimensional, it becomes difficult to believe that they are making mistakes every episode. They feel real, and real people would not constantly be stumbling like that. Everybody would be kicked out of their jobs if situations like Perry presents were really happening left and right. And so another cartoon element comes into play: we must suspend disbelief in order to enjoy what we're watching.

Of course, that is the case with most television series we watch, in one way or another. No one could be knocked unconscious as many times as Joe Mannix is and not suffer brain damage for it. But it wouldn't be any fun if Mannix had been completely given the realistic treatment. And Jim West could never fight off so many bad guys all the time and break all the furniture without seriously injuring himself. But what fun would The Wild Wild West be if the fights were about realism?

Cartoons have definitely had their influence on live-action television. Thankfully, live-action television doesn't have horrifying things happen like what goes on in Looney Tunes cartoons. But we see exaggerated fights, protagonists not suffering life-altering injuries, and the good guys winning out over the bad guys. We also see that antagonists are not always the bad guys and that sometimes they're the good guys too. Sometimes cartoons do show this, it's true, but it's sometimes in the background and not expressly stated. Some people may think the same for Perry, but it does generally strive to let the audience know that the police and the D.A.'s office are highly thought-of by Perry and that he does not see them as buffoonish antagonists. Classic television series like Perry combine some of the formulaic nature of cartoons with the realism of three-dimensional characters, and that is actually quite an impressive achievement. Here's to the next 59 years of our show!

And in a week and a half, my own anniversary will come around and I will no longer be a member of the "twenty-something" group. I'm not sure, however, that I want to change this blog's name. Somehow, the younger one is, the more interesting it seems to me when they love the classics, so "twenty-something" sounds like a more interesting hook for a Perry blog than "thirty-something." But for the sake of accuracy, I may change it anyway.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

New Plans

Gah, I feel terrible about the lack of updates last month. I think I'm going to have to stop doing birthday/tribute posts in general unless I actually have something new to say. It gets very overwhelming to have so many tribute posts to make while not knowing what I can even say that's unique or new. I really do want to keep this blog going, so I'm still hoping to find some new topics to touch on. I'm certain there are many unexplored roads I haven't traveled yet!

One thing I've wanted to post about is the news that a complete set of the Perry television movies is being released. The most exciting thing is the price. Amazon's price is fluctuating between $35 and $45, depending on the day, and for all 30 movies, that is pretty incredible. That's a better price than the half-season sets of the television series or the six-movie collections that were previously released! The movies are still not "canon" to me and never will be, but I do enjoy them and I am very excited for this affordable way to get all of them, hopefully uncut, in one gulp. I don't know if the ones MeTV has shown are edited, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are. Perhaps at some point I will buy this set.

I'm also starting a new Perry story. I've posted several times about my dissatisfaction with how Andy was written in season 8. He was so much more stressed, short-tempered, and intolerant of Perry and company's antics, sometimes understandably, sometimes when it didn't make as much sense. I have that idea I've touched on in my stories that Lieutenant Tragg was seriously hurt in the line of duty around the time he vanished from the series and Andy's greater stress came from trying to take over Tragg's duties in the squad as well as his own. It seems to fit with the characters and with what we see on-screen, and it helps soften the blow of Andy's bizarre behavior, at least for me.

I never actually planned to write a story all about Andy's feelings during the time of season 8, partially because I don't like writing stories where a character I like a lot behaves rather unlikably for most of it. But on Sunday I had a dream of watching a non-existent Perry episode taking place during that time, where the problem comes to a head and Andy absolutely snaps during a particularly stressful situation that pushes him over his limit. I often use dreams to get story ideas, and I knew this one should be a story. After tinkering with two different versions of it, I put up the first chapter today.

I don't plan that this will be a particularly long story, but we'll have to see how things go. It takes place between seasons 8 and 9 and will hopefully tie them together in a way that makes sense. In addition to dealing with Andy's canonical problems in season 8 and fleshing them out, it will also spotlight Sergeant Brice a lot, as he is the main stabilizing factor in Andy's life during that time. His different view on how to handle Perry will prove to be a source of increasing tension between them, however. And the story will show the arrival of Lieutenant Drumm, as I am very curious to know how he arrived on the scene. Season 9 opens with him already there and already friendly with Perry and company. There's a story in that too. And I'm looking forward to contrasting Steve's by-the-book attitude with his friendliness towards Perry and Paul and how Andy reacts to that balance.

If anyone is interested in reading, it's at:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Happy Birthday to Raymond Burr and Lee Miller!

So far it has been a very sad year for classic television fans. We've lost Patty Duke, Joe Santos, Alan Young, and our own Perry alumnus William Schallert. I dread to know who will be gone by the year's end. I'm still reeling from Alan Young's death in particular; I just learned of it today and he was so important to my childhood. And I'm really struggling with the browser tonight, for some unknown reason. I can barely do a thing with it. So I'm afraid this post is really short. (I'll do better next time. I promise!) But I couldn't let the day pass without some recognition!

Today we should turn our thoughts to happier things and celebrate the birthdays of Lee Miller and Raymond Burr, who were both such quintessential parts of Perry Mason. Raymond played our beloved lead as no one else could, and Lee was his stand-in of so many years. How many times did we see Lee from afar and not know it, I wonder? He was most likely more greatly involved with Perry than we even know.

Of course, Lee also played Sergeant Brice throughout many episodes, and while he usually interacted with the other police and suspects, he did occasionally interact with Perry as well. In episodes such as season 7's The Ugly Duckling, where they walk together and discuss the case, you can see how similar they are in body structure. It's easy to see how Lee was Raymond's stand-in for so long.

While he was Perry from a distance, however, only Raymond could be Perry in voice and personality. I find it both intriguing and ironic that I've been told Monte Markham put Raymond's portrayal down and insisted he could do so much better, yet when I've watched The New Perry Mason it is obvious that he is drawing from Raymond's portrayal and even downright copying it. Raymond's Perry is perfect. Even without meaning to, other people gravitate to it because he is Perry. No one else could bring the character to life as amazingly as he did.

Let's celebrate these classic birthdays by breaking out our favorite Perry episodes in which they both appear. I've been told that Lee Miller sadly died several years ago, unlike what IMDB reports. If this is true, I'm sure that in the afterlife, Raymond and Lee are still friends and perhaps even continue to act together. Here's to two wonderful people who made Perry Mason memorable!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Birthday Tribute: Barbara Hale

I would certainly be remiss not to post and wish the wonderful Barbara Hale a happy 94th birthday! It is so awesome and special that she is still with us. I hope she has a lovely day with her family and friends!

Where would Perry Mason be without Della Street? It is incomprehensible to picture such a thing. Perry himself acknowledged that his office completely falls apart when Della takes a vacation. Della is faithful secretary, confidante, and always the loyal friend to Perry. (And a lot of fans think or wish she would also be his significant other.)

Of course, not just any woman could play such a character. It has to be someone who perfectly complements the man playing Perry. I remember seeing a screentest with someone else playing Della and reciting dialogue from one of the books. To me she seemed too much of a femme fatale, tough and cool, and I don't know at all if the series would have worked with her or someone like her in the part.

Barbara Hale made the character so perfectly her own. Della is certainly no pushover, but she's not brassy or rude. She is, as noted by a guest character in The Borrowed Baby, a lady. Barbara so expertly balanced Della's intelligence and sharp wit with kindness and consideration. Sometimes Della may be a little too kind, showing sympathy to some characters who probably don't deserve it. But that's part of what makes her who she is.

Barbara mused on how Della wasn't like her, at least in the way of practical joking. Barbara enjoyed such things. While Della is not a practical joker, however, she is definitely a teaser. Teasing Paul seems to be one of her favorite pastimes. I am not a teaser and am usually not fond of Perry or Della ganging up on Paul, but I do recognize that for them, it's just one of the ways they show affection. Della cares about Paul very deeply, even visibly breaking down and crying when Paul is seriously ill in The Carefree Coronary.

Della is never afraid to speak her mind, either with teasing or seriousness depending on what it is. Sometimes she will hold her tongue if she feels it's not her place to speak, such as with one of Perry's clients, or if she's trying to be polite. She doesn't usually get visibly angry, but one memorable occasion where she does is in The Dead Ringer. Both she and Paul become furious when Perry's client seems to believe that Perry tried to bribe a witness. They just won't have it.

Della loves children and also animals and interacts very well with them. She seems to long to have children of her own, especially in The Borrowed Baby, and I still say it's too sad to think she never gets to. That's just one of many reasons why the movies will never be canon to me.

While Perry always wants to see justice done, sometimes he longs for a vacation or doesn't want to take on a case for other reasons. Della serves as his conscience during these times, encouraging him to just see the person in need of help and hear their story. Naturally, he always ends up helping.

Barbara is one of the vital puzzle pieces of the Perry Mason formula. Perhaps an episode or two can get by without her when she wants a little more family time, but it always swiftly gets lonely when she remains absent. Her strong and soothing presence is very much needed and wanted amid all the defendant and suspect havoc and courtroom pyrotechnics. She brings a softness to the series, the woman's touch, and as a woman with a career who knows what she wants in life, she is a worthy role-model for women and girls everywhere.

Barbara and Raymond are the most constant of the Perry family, especially considering the long string of movies, and when Raymond sadly passed away Barbara remained in the last four movies as the one last link with the original Perry characters. She is still one of our last links to the Perry cast, and certainly the last link of the original Core Five. Here's to still more years!

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Case of the Unknown Parentage

And so we arrive at March 11th, the anniversary of Erle Stanley Gardner's death in 1970. He gave us the wonderful characters who made up the original Core Five and wrote all the original novels first bringing them to life. He lost control over his characters for the 1930s films and the 1940s radio series and demanded better for the television series. Whether or not one agrees with every decision he made for the television series (and I don't always), I am thrilled for him that he finally had and kept control over his beloved series and characters for the best-loved media adaptation. Regardless of whether one wishes the show had tried some other paths every now and then, Mr. Gardner apparently knew what he was doing by making and keeping his rules; the formulaic nature of the series remained the same for nine popular seasons.

I wonder what he would have thought of the idea of The New Perry Mason, had he lived to see it. Much of the crew was still the same, and they tried to be faithful to the original series in both the scripts and the characters' behaviors, but some of the performances still fell very flat. (I find it both amusing and terrible that Monte Markham reportedly jeered at Raymond Burr's portrayal of Perry, yet clearly tried to imitate his speech pattern in the episodes!) I like to think Mr. Gardner would have complained about some of the casting, at least. But who knows. Maybe he would have liked it all. Or maybe he would have disliked it all.

In any case, I am, as always, very grateful to him for his imagination, his skill at weaving mysteries, and his intriguing characters. Because of Mr. Gardner's writings, we have the wonderful Perry Mason television series to watch and enjoy and the characters are still fondly remembered decades later. All thanks to whatever inspired Mr. Gardner to start writing The Velvet Claws. Thank you, Mr. Gardner.

I have fallen very far behind in watching my Perry DVDs, even though I was trying to keep up with MeTV's nighttime schedule. I'm in season 6 and am picking and choosing my way through the season by mainly selecting episodes I rarely watch. I suddenly discovered something very odd. While every season of Perry has at least one episode where a child's parentage is questioned, kept secret, etc., season 6 has an explosion of such episodes!

To demonstrate my point, here is a list I've compiled of all such episodes I can pick out from a titles-only episode guide. If anyone else can think of more, feel free to remind me in the comments!

Season 1

The Baited Hook (Daughter's true parentage was the reason for the murder.)
The Empty Tin (The initial mystery revolves around trying to find a man's real daughter.)

Season 2

The Stuttering Bishop (The mystery involves a girl being told her parentage is not what she thought.)

Season 3

The Watery Witness (The initial mystery concerns a girl trying to find out if she is the daughter of movie star Lorna Thomas.)

Season 4

The Wandering Widow (A woman tries to keep her son from learning about his horrid real father.)
The Nine Dolls (Perry tries to find a young orphan's identity.)
The Duplicate Daughter (Twins separated at birth.)

Season 5

The Borrowed Baby (Perry tries to find the family of a baby left in his office.)

Season 6

The Unsuitable Uncle (A girl's true father's identity is kept secret from her.)
The Stand-In Sister (Confusion over which man's daughter survived a car crash.)
The Polka-Dot Pony (Two girls are discovered when searching for a woman's long-lost child.)
The Bluffing Blast (A young woman shows up claiming to be the daughter of a man who supposedly didn't have any children.)
The Skeleton's Closet (A woman tries to prevent the news of her children's real father leaking out.)

Season 7

The Nebulous Nephew (Confusion over whether a boy is really a long-lost nephew or a con artist.)
The Simple Simon (A large part of the mystery stems from the fact that the defendant has a son somewhere and believes him to be one person when he is in actuality another.)

Season 8

A Place Called Midnight (A girl is distressed over being an orphan with no known family name. Not a major plot point, but since it is there and it's a large part of the character's emotional makeup, I'll include it.)

Season 9

The Fugitive Fraulein (Trying to retrieve the correct granddaughter from behind the Iron Curtain. This one may be stretching it a bit, but there is an attempt to confuse the girl's identity.)

Wow. So why was that such a popular plotline in season 6? It's the only season to have more than three such episodes, unless there's others I've forgotten about.

One possibility would be that the same person wrote them and it's a plot device they like. Well, among the five season 6 episodes, two were written by Robert C. Dennis, two by Samuel Newman, and one by Robert Leslie Bellem. Every episode is thankfully extremely different in the plot details, which is why I assume this was allowed to happen and every script greenlit, but it's still rather curious to suddenly realize that so many episodes had the concept of unknown parentage in one season!

In the end, I suppose there's no real answer as to why. For some reason, the writers' inspiration just traveled on that path that year. Most of the season 6 episodes with that plot device are not among my favorites or semi-favorites, aside from The Polka-Dot Pony, but I've liked the others a lot better on this viewing.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

In Memoriam: William Hopper

And so we come to another March 6th, another anniversary of the date William Hopper tragically left us far too soon in 1970. Eerily enough, Erle Stanley Gardner died within the week of the same year and we lost two key figures in the shaping of Perry Mason.

William Hopper brought his immortal contributions to Perry when he showed up to do a screentest for Perry Mason himself. He definitely left an impression and ended up cast as our beloved Paul Drake. That was most certainly a wise choice. He brought so much heart and soul to our cast and the reunion movies feel so lonely without him.

I love when Paul gets a chance to be tough and show his stuff, since sometimes he's used as a comic relief character. One of my favorite scenes is in The Stand-In Sister, when he corners the escaped criminal by calmly and smoothly holding a gun on him at the top of the pier as he starts to climb up.

That season 6 episode also has the curious distinction of being the only one, I think, to actually have kind of a downer epilogue. Even if the courtroom scenes end rather grimly, the epilogue usually tries to cheer things up and end the episode on a happy note. In The Stand-In Sister, however, the epilogue has John Gregory talking to his criminal brother Stefan and wondering why he changed his mind and lied on the witness stand in Gregory's favor instead of telling all the things he threatened to that would make Gregory look horrible. Stefan growls that he has to be nice, since Gregory is holding all his money for him. Gregory, who had apparently hoped that there was some spark of brotherly affection as the reason, goes back over to Perry looking downcast and the episode ends. Um, ouch.

The only other episode I can think of that ends rather grim doesn't even fully count, as it's season 9's The Vanishing Victim and it only appears grim because the version usually shown on television cuts off the epilogue for some bizarre reason. In the televised version, it generally ends with Hamilton talking to the murderer and telling him that he has one more trip to take and this time he can't pass it off on someone else to take for him. The real ending is that silliness with Perry and Paul and the money Paul is charging for expenses that Perry decides to give to Steve for charity tickets without Paul's permission. I still wonder whether Paul is really charging unfairly and hence, Perry might be somewhat justified in his actions, or if Paul is being perfectly fair (aside from maybe nineteen cents, heh) and Perry is not being very nice to just give all of Paul's money away. I usually tend to lean more in Paul's favor, since Perry has unfairly taken money away from him in other episodes such as The Married Moonlighter, although I still wonder.

Paul has some interesting hobbies. Fishing seems to be a casual thing with him, judging by the fact that he fishes with Perry in season 5 yet doesn't seem to know a lot about where specific kinds of fish can be found in season 7. He seems to want to take up golfing, at least in season 9, as he wants those clubs in The Vanishing Victim and then the very next episode is The Golfer's Gambit and he's out practicing on the green. He's in excellent physical shape, as shown in The Carefree Coronary, and he likely works out and exercises to be in top form for the very physically demanding parts of his job.

Of course, Paul's favorite hobby, most likely, is dating. And admiring beautiful women. Several episodes have scenes with him getting distracted by women, and many more have him either on dates or talking about going on dates. Or, unfortunately, being pulled away from dates. But, always the loyal friend, he goes about doing whatever Perry wants done.

Paul is more skeptical than Perry. Many times he's certain that a client is guilty, or at least, is wary of their innocence. But he supports Perry anyway. And in The Angry Astronaut, when Paul brings the case to Perry, he says that he thinks the client is guilty but that he still deserves the best counsel. Paul can be a good judge of people at times, though, such as when he pegged Mark Chester as a weak-kneed slimeball in The Candy Queen.

All of the Perry characters are very human and three-dimensional. Paul is definitely not an exception. He can be funny. He can be serious. He makes good decisions and bad. And all in all, Perry Mason could never be the same without him. William Hopper is still very loved and missed.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

William Talman: Birthday Tribute

And so we arrive at another February 4th. This marks the 101st year since William Talman's birth. That is an impressive figure!

I think back on how and when I was first enchanted by William and his portrayal of Hamilton Burger. The first time I ever saw Perry, I was fascinated to see such an old series still airing in reruns. I was also intrigued to see that in general, the prosecuting attorney was always the same one. I loved continuity then as I do now.

And I loved Hamilton. I thought he made an excellent foil for Perry in court and I found him attractive to boot. As the show became a favorite in the house, I watched and discovered the intriguing friendship between Perry and Hamilton. Even in season 1, the first indications of it were there and I was riveted. That became my top reason for watching.

Thanks to Simon Oakland, I rediscovered my love of watching the series on what will be five years ago this year. Hamilton was every bit as wonderful as I had remembered, and as I re-watched old favorites and found new ones too, I ended up finding him even more amazing than before.

Of course the scripts had a lot to do with that, but no less important was William Talman's portrayal. Whenever I read a script, it usually feels flat all by itself. It's when you add the human element, the freshness that the actor brings in voice and tone and expressions and gestures, that everything comes alive. And did Hamilton ever come alive! With William Talman at the helm, the character leaped out of the pages of the script and became three-dimensional and real.

From Hamilton's first appearance in court in The Reluctant Redhead to his final apology in The Final Fadeout, there are over 200 episodes with Hamilton scenes. That's impressive by any show's standards! We can watch his battles with Perry in court, see their friendship grow out of court, and enjoy all the other great scenes that make up William Talman's screentime.

For me, taking William Talman out of the equation is unthinkable. His absence was the main reason why I was uninterested in the television movies until MeTV put them on right in front of me. Even then, after I wasn't that impressed with Perry Mason Returns, it took me a while to be interested in seeing any of the others. I do feel that they should be watched at least once; it is certainly a precious gift to see Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale together again. But they are not the entire series, only two key elements of it. Hamilton is another. And for me, canon Perry Mason is still the television series and only that, since there we have all key elements and the full amazing lineup of actors who brought them to life.

What a special and marvelous privilege we have had all these years to be able to enjoy this series and William's incredible contributions. It's even more wonderful when you realize that a lot of old British television shows were destroyed when they wanted to make room for other shows. Thank goodness that wasn't the case in America! Aside from many live anthology shows, it's fairly easy to obtain most American television series. And as technology changes and the shows are preserved with the times, we're sure to be able to enjoy William Talman's legacy on many formats for decades to come.

Happy 101st Birthday, William. You are, as always, remembered and loved.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

William Hopper: Birthday Tribute

I need to come up with some more topics so I don't only update this blog on anniversaries. But regardless, we have the very special occasion of William Hopper's 101st birthday to celebrate!

I've been trying to think of something new I can say about our Paul Drake. As the long-suffering detective for Perry Mason, Paul often gets roped into doing all kinds of bizarre and sometimes slightly illegal things to further the cases and uncover the guilty parties. He goes undercover as a television repairman at least twice in order to search dwellings for important evidence. Other times he passes himself off as an insurance salesman or other random occupations.

Even though I don't accept the television movies as canon, I do find it interesting to muse on the contrasts between Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. Paul Jr. seems to be more of a detective cliche, falling back on lies and masquerades at every turn. Paul Sr. never likes doing anything off-the-wall or law-bending or breaking. Always worried about his license, Paul Sr. is determined to stay on the straight and narrow as much as possible . . . which isn't always as much as he would like when working for Perry Mason!

Sometimes Paul has to collect bizarre items, such as his long list of sugar, hay, horseshoes and other acquisitions as part of The Bashful Burro case or the flies in The Bogus Books. As only William Hopper can do, Paul reacts to some of these outlandish requests with appropriate shock and disbelief. "A couple of dozen flies?!" is a classic line with a priceless expression to match.

Perhaps the weirdest and most appalling things Perry asks Paul to do are the blatantly illegal ones. In one of the last episodes of the series, The Scarlet Scandal, Perry actually wants Paul to saw off part of a hollow pole in the park and bring it to court for a visual aid! When Paul expresses concern about going to jail for damaging county property, Perry simply says he'll have to take that chance. But for once Paul puts his foot down; he hands Perry the saw and says, "We'll have to take that chance." (I do have to wonder why the local law enforcement or the judge doesn't get on Perry's case for that little act of vandalism!)

Paul is a good and loyal friend, the most faithful Perry and Della could have. Although they generally tease and banter, The Carefree Coronary allows Perry and Della to really show how much Paul means to them and that they're definitely aware of how much Paul has done for them through the years. It's a rare look into their special friendship from a more serious point-of-view, one that I think was a long time overdue.

Paul loves the ladies, but always seems to have trouble dating them. Cases dominate his life and always seem to get in the way when he wants to have a social life. We don't ever seem to see the ladies getting frustrated about this, but it would certainly be understandable if they ever do. Paul definitely finds it discouraging. But always a trooper, he knows that work comes first and accepts that.

Paul also has the misfortune of being the only one in the main cast to get knocked out during the show's run, and not just once, but off and on throughout. Season 3's Paul Drake's Dilemma and season 7's The Ugly Duckling are just two of those painful moments. With Paul's dangerous occupation, it's understandable that it would happen sometimes, especially in classic television. Paul can be grateful he wasn't knocked out over fifty times, like fellow detective Joe Mannix!

Travel doesn't happen a whole lot on Perry, at least travel out of the state of California. Most of the time when it does, Paul is the one doing it. He's been to Mexico multiple times and New Orleans a couple of times. He's also visited Boston, Washington D.C., Florida, and other assorted locations. One of his most important and intense trips is to South America in The Deadly Verdict, a trip that directly brings about the solution of the case. It's doubtful whether he ever gets to take vacations; all of those trips were for work. On one occasion he comments that the idea of a vacation must just be him dreaming. Poor Paul.

As with all classic television shows, there were little inconsistencies. In season 5's The Travelling Treasure, Paul is going fishing with Perry and seems to know what he's doing. In season 7's The Frightened Fisherman, Paul acknowledges that he is not a fisherman and doesn't know what Perry is driving at when it comes to the fishing aspects of the case. But it's a minor quibble and the most important things about Paul always stayed the same, thanks in no small part to William Hopper's wonderful acting.

It's hard to imagine Perry without William Hopper's strong presence. I can't even begin to picture the series without him. He is an enduring and glowing part of the series' appeal.

There are those on Facebook who feel likewise. William Hopper has a special corner of the web via Facebook and The William DeWolf Hopper Jr. Fan Page. If you're a William Hopper and Paul Drake fan, this is a lovely place to go to celebrate with other fans.

Happy 101st Birthday, William. You will always be a large part of what makes Perry Mason special.