Available at Amazon.com
Erle Stanley Gardner
Raymond Burr….Perry Mason
Barbara Hale…..Della Street
William Hopper….Paul Drake
William Talman….Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins….Lt. Arthur Tragg
Paramount Home Entertainment presents Perry Mason: Season 1 Volume 2. Running time: 17 hours 23 minutes. Five DVDs. Unrated. Episodes aired: Feb. 1, 1958 to June 28, 1958. DVD release: November 21, 2006.
Perry Mason is back with the final 20 of the 39 episodes that made up the first season. Even with such a long production schedule, the folks in the story department didn’t pace themselves by softballing the legal icon’s clients. They didn’t have Perry going before the judge to argue speeding tickets or falsely accused jaywalkers. There’s a healthy bodycount to accompany the caseload. None of scripts are easy to solve crimes. Half the time you’ll be guessing what’s the real crime until Lt. Tragg slaps the cuffs on Mason’s client.
“The Case of the Long-Legged Models” opens as a simple tale about a ruthless crook who forces a Las Vegas motel sale by shooting the owner and putting the squeeze on the inheriting daughter. A friend of the daughter sends her to Perry Mason for legal help. You’d imagine the case would be able the father’s murder. But no. Turns out the friend’s family knows the crook. And the crook knows a lot about their shady past. When the crook gets shot to death, we have tons of suspects to ponder although the inheriting daughter is the prime suspect. Mason doesn’t make things easy when he plays with evidence. The stunt backfires on his client. Now in today’s world, Mason would be disbarred and brought up on charges. Why didn’t the law go after Mason’s tampering?
While Mason is known for never losing a case (with a rare exception), often he flushed out the real killer by the end of the trial. This is probably why D.A. Hamilton Burger let Perry’s tricks slide. Burger was never stuck with a pile of cold cases thanks to Mason. Perhaps that’s why Burger didn’t care about Mason often kicking his ass in the courtroom. Otherwise Burger would go after Mason’s ass like they went after Bruce Cutler, John Gotti’s lucky attorney.
The second half of the first season keeps the subtle sexual interplay between Perry and Della, his secretary, in high gear. The network censors kept them chaste, but they give a vibe that off camera, she’s all over his legal briefs. By keeping this relationship to sly innuendo, it allows us to know that Perry is more than law books without making the romance overwhelm the show.
More entertaining than the twisting plots is spotting familiar faces wrapped up in the various crimes. “The Case of the Lonely Heiress” features Sam Peckinpah regular LQ Jones as a conning correspondence Casanova. “The Case of the Leggy Models” has Frank Wilcox as the judge. Later he would discover oil on the Clampett’s residence and transform them into The Beverly Hillbillies. Future Policewoman, Anglie Dickinson gives a wink in “The Case of the One-Eyed Witness.” Werner Klemperer, best known as Col. Klink doesn’t escape from “The Case of the Desperate Daughter.” “The Case of the Lazy Lover” features Neil Hamilton and Yvonne Craig as father and stepdaughter nearly a decade before they’d reunite as the Commissioner and Batgirl on Batman.
The 52 minute long episodes featured on this boxset are:
DVD 1:”The Case of the Lonely Heiress,” “The Case of the Green-Eyed Sister,” “The Case of the Fugitive Nurse” and “The Case of the One-Eyed Witness.”
DVD 2: “The Case of the Deadly Double,” “The Case of the Empty Tin,” “The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife” and “The Case of the Desperate Daughter.”
DVD 3: “The Case of the Daring Decoy.” “The Case of the Hesitant Hostess,” Screaming Woman — “The Case of the Fiery Fingers
DVD 4: “The Case of the Substitute Face,” “The Case of the Long-Legged Models,” “The Case of the Gilded Lily” and “The Case of the Lazy Lover
DVD 5: “The Case of the Prodigal Parent,” “The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde,” “The Case of the Terrified Typist” and “The Case of the Rolling Bones.”
The second half of Perry Mason’s first season is as stellar as the first. The big shame is that there’s no history of the show on the DVDs. While most of the cast has died, they could find a few legal eagles to give testimony about the impact of Mason along with TV historians giving the facts. I’d enjoy hearing an audio commentary from a lawyer about every illegal thing Mason did during a case. The man knew how to contaminate a crime scene. If you enjoyed the first half of the season, you will not be disappointed in this boxset.
Presented in 1.33:1 full screen. Ignore the color photos on the cover. The series is in black and white. The transfers look great except for “The Case of the Substitute Face” which appears soft as a result of using an optical effect to give a boat rocking effect to the print.
The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 1.0. There are no subtitles.
The Inside Pulse
Even with an amazingly long 39 episode first season, Perry Mason didn’t suffer second half fatigue. The cases all have enough twists in them to keep from boring an audience. It’s easy to appreciate how this series ended up running on the air for a decade.