Nothing makes a suspect look innocent faster than being arrested by Lt. Arthur Tragg (Ray Collins). The law enforcement cop had a worst bust and conviction rate than Barney Fife. At least Barney could get Otis to sleep off a public drunkenness citation. Lt. Tragg’s prime suspect was out on bail with a simple call to Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) and walking the street when the gavel came down. Why did DA Hamilton Burger (William Talman) ever listen to this guy’s police advice? Some might blame Burger for constantly being played like a fool by Mason. But what could he do with such a weak link in the people’s case against Mason’s clients? Perry Mason: Season 5, Volume 2 brings more of Lt. Tragg’s great moments in booking blunders among the 15 cases.
“The Case of the Shapely Shadow” gets a girl busted based on an eyewitness description of a woman’s outline. A secretary gets ordered by her boss to put a suitcase in a train station locker. After doing the chore, she gets busted by Lt. Tragg since her boss was murdered and the suitcase is filled with cash. His big piece of evidence is a description of her shadow in the office window around the time of the murder. You can already see this conviction falling apart. “The Case of the Tarnished Trademark” turns a corporate buyout into a lethal agreement. A furniture maker sells his company only to be shocked to see the buyer destroy his reputation. His proud name is now plastered on cheap junk. Things get nasty when the knock-off owner gets knocked off. Guess who has to call Perry? “The Case of the Poison Pen-Pal” would today be about a poison Facebook friend. This time a pen pal leads to a murder. Everett Sloan is the guest district attorney that Perry spanks.
“The Case of the Mystified Miner” almost needs to be watched with a court stenographer to keep up with the twists. This seems like a regular embezzlement case involving mine’s payroll. Except nobody is employed at that mine. Then things get stranger when two women arrive claiming to be the same distant owner of the mine. Perry earns his hourly rate untangling the truth. “The Case of the Crippled Cougar” reminds us that revenge can screw things up worse than before. Bill Williams swears John Howard crippled him and stole his fortune. In his payback plot, he gets set up for a murder charge by the real culprit. “The Case of the Absent Artist” uncovers the murder of the guy behind the newspaper comic strip called “Zingy.” Years later their would be the hit “Ziggy” in the funny pages.
“The Case of the Melancholy Marksman” puts Paul Richards in a sticky situation. He suspects his second wife has killed his ex-wife. Before he can take action, somebody kills his second wife. Easy to suspect who gets the cuffs from Lt. Tragg. While most of the cases this season haven’t featured too many familiar faces, “The Case of the Angry Astronaut” has a double delight. James Coburn (In Like Flint) arrives to help out a space project. However he’s got a history with the rocket scientists. This leads to him being launched into an early grave. John Marley (The Godfather) guest stars without the horse head. Burt Reynolds (Smokey and the Bandit) pops up in “The Case of the Counterfeit Crank.” He’s got to deal with a relative that’s gone nutty and tossed cash out a window. “The Case of the Ancient Romeo” has Jeff Morrow gets stabbed to death on stage. Luckily Perry and Della Street (Barbara Hale) are in the crowd to represent his friend in the production.
While whomever Lt. Tragg cuffs is really innocent, it doesn’t ruin the show. One suspect is removed, but that doesn’t make things obvious for Perry. He’s got a lot of other people to poke through to out the real culprit in the courtroom. It doesn’t hurt to form this guess by taking in Tragg’s inability to read guilt on a killer’s face. Perry Mason: Season 5, Volume 2 marks the second half of the show’s original run, but it’s not downhill. The cases are entertaining with plenty of mystery to untangle.
“The Case of the Shapely Shadow,” “The Case of the Captain’s Coins,” “The Case of the Tarnished Trademark,” “The Case of the Glamorous Ghost,” “The Case of the Poison Pen-Pal,” “The Case of the Mystified Miner,” “The Case of the Crippled Cougar,” “The Case of the Absent Artist,” “The Case of the Melancholy Marksman,” “The Case of the Angry Astronaut,” “The Case of the Borrowed Baby,” “The Case of the Counterfeit Crank,” “The Case of the Ancient Romeo,” “The Case of the Promoter’s Pillbox” and “The Case of the Lonely Eloper.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers are crisp with plenty of detail. These episodes look as good as the earlier boxsets of Perry Mason. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are fine enough to hear Perry’s courtroom pronouncements. The episodes have English subtitles.
Perry Mason: Season 5, Volume 2 brings more legal maneuvering from the most prestigious series to ever grace a courtroom. Raymond Burr is completely in control in the title role. He never looks too lost while building a defense case. Of course it helps to know his client is innocent by having to get Lt. Tragg to uncuff them.
CBS DVD presents Perry Mason: Season 5, Volume 2. Starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman and Ray Collins. Boxset Contents: 15 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: November 16, 2010.