Studio: Paramount Home Video
Release Date: July 11, 2006
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 19
Running Time: 16 Hours 39 minutes
Raymond Burr….Perry Mason
Barbara Hale…..Della Street
William Hopper….Paul Drake
William Talman….Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins….Lt. Arthur Tragg
This is the series that launched a thousand legal dramas and inspired a million lawyers. Even Ozzy Osbourne sang the praises of Perry’s legal mind. I’m not sure if any of this is a good thing. But I won’t argue this point with Perry Mason since he never loses a case (with one exception).
The boxset contains only first half of the first season. That’s still a hefty 19 legal cases with each episode running about 53 minutes. This show was an instant success since Raymond Burr nails the character. He’s not a slick weasel lawyer with an Ivy League diploma. He’s huge guy that dominates the small screen when he gives “the eye” to suspects. When Burr stands up and declares he’ll defend his client, it’s easy to imagine that includes fist fighting. Before he joined the bar, Burr was associated with cutting up his wife and chasing after Godzilla.
Even though Perry is the ultimate legal mind, he doesn’t quite live by the law. In several of these cases he doesn’t mind bending the rules to stay one step ahead of the cops. “The Case of the Crimson Kiss” has him hiding his clients in a hospital to avoid being interrogated by Lt. Tragg. “The Case of the Sun Bather’s Diary” features Perry dumping stolen money from a bank robbery instead of turning it over to the authorities. “The Case of the Nervous Accomplice” has him taking part in a plot to force client’s husband’s mistress out of a land deal. Even though law and order prevails, Perry had a shady quality to his practice. There are a few cases where Perry doesn’t seem too concerned with whether his clients are truly innocent. He just wants to make sure he can beat District Attorney Hamilton Burger. He could have been part of O.J.’s defense team.
Perry doesn’t win the cases all on his own. He has private detective Paul Drake working the streets for him. Even though Drake is supposed to be the muscle in the operation, he’s the slick dresser of the two. Perry’s secretary Della Street keeps the cases organized. There are plenty of hints that she’s a full service employee to Mason. At the end of the “Sun Bather’s Diary,” they look mighty comfy in a diner booth. But in 1957, a boss boffing his secretary without repercussions was forbidden on TV.
For those of you addicted to Law and Order, this show doesn’t seem to care too much about courtroom reality. A lot of times, Perry will solve the case while a witness is in the stand. I’ve never seen this happen on Court TV. And there are other non-realistic moments. During one case, Perry points a handgun straight at a witness while asking questions. No one at the D.A.’s table objects to the intimidation of a witness. But it’s easy to forgive these flights of fancy because we want to know not just how Perry gets his clients off the hook, but how he exposes the real culprits. Remembering a Perry Mason case won’t help you on the Bar Exam.
Here’s a strange sidebar, Talman and Collins have major roles in The Racket which is part of the recently released Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 3 from Warner Home Video. Collins plays a crooked judge while Talman is Robert Mitchum’s main cop. This is a chance to see them before Perry humiliated them as incompetent every week.
It’ll be interesting to see how Paramount treats this series since it lasted 9 seasons which means it’ll take 18 boxsets to cover the 271 cases. If you’re a fan from the afternoon reruns on TBS, you’ll want to get on the bandwagon now so they’ll keep releasing the seasons. If you are a fan of court dramas, it’d serve you well to discover the granddaddy of Gavel-vision.
The show is 1.33 full screen aspect ratio. The black and white picture looks stellar for a show nearing 50. Somebody made sure these masters weren’t run ragged.
The only audio track is an English Dolby Digital in Mono. No subtitles.
|InsidePulse’s Ratings for Perry Mason Season 1, Vol. 1
||RATING(OUT OF 10)
||7.2 (NOT AN AVERAGE)|