DVD Review: Perry Mason (Season 6, Volume 2)

District Attorney Hamilton Burger (William Talman) must have been delighted at the news that Perry Mason was in the hospital. He’d have a reprieve from his weekly courtroom thrashing. Or would he? The producers didn’t want to go to reruns when Raymond Burr went into surgery. They lined up a guest lawyers to handle the load. Each newbie received assistance from secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale) and private eye Paul Drake (William Hopper). Perry made quick hospital room cameos to ensure his substitutes weren’t scrubs. Burger couldn’t catch a break on Perry Mason: Season 6, Volume 2.

“The Case of the Prankish Professor” nearly backfires on an academic. Barry Atwater jazzes up his creative writing class by having a stranger walk into the room and shoot him. Turns out it’s a blank. The professor’s just exciting the class with a joke. The joke nearly turns out to be on him since the rest of the bullets in the gun are real. Why would anyone want to kill a college professor? Normally they starve to death. Turns out he’s written a torrid novel under a fake name and his ex-wife wants a piece of it. There’s also the issue of a former student having written the book. Perry has to sort it out. Burr went into the hospital after this episode. Who could fill his chair at the defense table? The producers went big time with their first substitute lawyer. “The Case of Constant Doyle” tempts cinema superstar Bette Davis into the legal world. When her husband dies, Davis takes over his final case. The case is easy with Michael Parks (Kill Bill & Red State) being charged with burglar and assault. But when homicide gets tacked on, Davis seeks help from Perry and his staff. “The Case of the Libelous Locket” forces Michael Rennie (The Day the Earth Stood Still) to defend his law school student that’s up for murder. He gets Paul Drake to assist in gaining clues.

A legal gunslinger arrives when Hugh O’Brian (The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) strolls into town as a playboy lawyer for “The Case of the Two-Faced Turn-a-bout.” He’s defending a columnist whose hot scoop might have led to the murder of a foreign dignitary. Werner Klemperer (Hogan’s Heroes) gets to try out his European accent. “The Case of the Surplus Suitor” brings Walter Pidgeon (Forbidden Planet) as the final substitute attorney. He’s a corporate lawyer who needs help from Perry’s team on a homicide case. Joyce Bulifant (Match Game ‘75) is heiress is charged with the murder of her rich uncle. One of the suspects is her wannabe boyfriend, James Best (Dukes of Hazzard‘s Roscoe P. Coltrane).

Perry finally returns to action full time in “The Case of the Golden Oranges.” A land deal goes sour at the last minute. Who really did it? How can you not think Lee Van Cleef (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly? “The Case of the Greek Goddess” busts an artist for killing his future mother-in-law. She was against her daughter marrying a sculptor. How is George Kennedy involved in this? You’ll have to watch. “The Case of the Potted Planter” ferments with Mark Goddard (Lost In Space) suspected of having an affair with his uncle’s wife. “The Case of the Witless Witness” gets a jolt with a twist involving a crooked judge. Jackie Coogan (The Addams Family) gets tangled in the mess.

Thankfully Raymond Burr returned to the set before he was replaced by Ashton Kutcher. But Ray Collins slowed down his appearances as Lt. Tragg around this time. His health was failing him so he wasn’t a full time cop shaking down cases for Berger. Wesley Lau took up the heavy work as Lt. Andy Anderson. Collins’ name would continue to appear in the opening credits until his death after season eight. He only appears in four of the 14 cases on Perry Mason: Season 6, Volume 2.

The Episodes
“The Case of the Prankish Professor,” “The Case of Constant Doyle,” “The Case of the Libelous Locket,” “The Case of the Two-Faced Turnabout,” “The Case of the Surplus Suitor,” “The Case of the Golden Oranges,” “The Case of the Lawful Lazarus,” “The Case of the Velvet Claws,” “The Case of the Lover’s Leap,” “The Case of the Elusive Element,” “The Case of the Greek Goddess,” “The Case of the Skeleton’s Closet,” “The Case of the Potted Planter” and “The Case of the Witless Witness.”

The video is 1.33:1. Once more the black and white transfers excel in detail. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You can almost hear Burr wince as he delivers his lines from his recovery bed. The episodes are subtitled.

No bonus features.

Perry Mason: Season 6, Volume 2 covers a bumpy time when Raymond Burr went under the knife. Instead of shutting down production, the producers found four stellar guest lawyers to delight fans. No matter how big they were, they all needed a little help from Perry and his crew to make sure they didn’t end up losers like Burger.

CBS DVD presents Perry Mason: Season 6, Volume 2. Starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman and Ray Collins. Boxset Contents: 14 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: November 22, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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