DVD Review: Perry Mason (Season 7, Volume 1)

No matter how dominating someone is, there’s always a moment when things go wrong and they lose. Dynasties and hot streaks come to an end eventually. David took out Goliath. The Washington Generals beat the Harlem Globetrotters. Kobayashi was swallowed by Joey Chestnut. After six years of futility, Hamilton Burger (William Talman) walked out of a courtroom with a victory over Perry Mason (Raymond Burr). Nobody could have called that one. Perry Mason: Season 7, Volume 1 contains the biggest upset of October, 1963 if you don’t count the Los Angeles Dodgers sweeping the New York Yankees in the World Series.

“The Case of the Deadly Verdict” gives us the lowest point in the legal career of Perry Mason. Janice Barton (Julie Adams) thinks she’s going to walk free when the jury enters the courtroom with their decision. She paid for Mason to get her that sweet “not guilty” plea. But instead of heading out to her old life, she’s declared a resident of death row. D.A. Hamilton Burger is more shocked than her. He gets to go home without his family mocking him for being owned by Mason again. Mason could probably spend his evening drunk. But he doesn’t get down in the dumps. The game isn’t over. He must free his client on appeal. But instead of merely finding a technicality, Mason can only truly clear her by exposing the real killer. He can’t afford to blow the rematch against Burger.

Perry Mason wasn’t always about winning the case. He wasn’t merely a weasel attorney looking for loopholes to confuse the jury and spring his clients like people Nancy Grace hates. Mason had to find the real guilty party to prove his client was innocent. So even if you know he didn’t lose the other 14 cases in Vol. 1, there’s still excitement of the mystery.

“The Case of the Nebulous Nephew” drags Ivan Dixon (Hogan’s Heroes) into a inheritance scam. He’s trained by a pal to pose as a lost member of the family to fool two elderly relatives. Billy Mumy (Lost In Space) finds a gun in “The Case of the Shifty Shoebox.” Will this clue get Denver Pyle (Dukes of Hazzard) tossed into prison? Mason goes undercover to expose a goldmine scam in “The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito.” Strother Martin (The Wild Bunch) gets grizzled once more. “The Case of the Reluctant Model” sticks a dead body in a shower after a Gauguin is suspected of being a fake. Who will get painted into a cell?

A saleswoman knocks on the wrong door and discovers the double life of a friend’s husband in “The Case of the Bigamous Spouse.” A dead body makes her next knock on Mason’s door. A lost diamond shipment and a found dead body introduces “The Case of the Floating Stones.” The story starts in Hong Kong which means by law, James Hong (Kung Fu Panda) must be cast. A land deal goes bad enough that someone has to buy a funeral plot in “The Case of the Bouncing Boomerang.” Alan Hale Jr. (Gilligan’s Island) gets to swap his skipper’s cap for a cowboy hat. “The Case of the Badgered Brother” features another cast member of The Wild Bunch with L.Q. Jones. “The Case of the Accosted Accountant” brings Richard Anderson (The Six Million Dollar Man) to Mason’s office. He’s suspects his father-in-law of stealing from the family business. This turns into Anderson being suspected of murder. Anderson would return for the final season as Lt. Steve Drumm as a cast replacement.

Even sadder than Mason finally losing a case was the loss of Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg. Collins health had been failing him and these were his last screen appearances. His name stayed in the credits until his death before the final season. It’s nice to know at least someone in Hollywood didn’t want to write off an actor so quickly. Who said lawyers don’t have feelings? Perry Mason: Season 7, Volume 1 brings to an end two streaks involving the show, but neither doomed the series.

The Episodes
“The Case of the Nebulous Nephew,” “The Case of the Shifty Shoebox,” “The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito,” “The Case of the Deadly Verdict,” “The Case of the Decadent Dean,” “The Case of the Reluctant Model,” “The Case of the Bigamous Spouse,” “The Case of the Floating Stones,” “The Case of the Festive Felon,” “The Case of the Devious Delinquent,” “The Case of the Bouncing Boomerang,” “The Case of the Badgered Brother,” “The Case of the Wednesday Woman,” “The Case of the Accosted Accountant” and “The Case of the Capering Camera.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers are up to the show’s high standards for resolution. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You can hear the stunned nature of Perry Mason when he gets his first loss. It hurts. The episodes are subtitled.

There are no bonus features.

Perry Mason: Season 7, Volume 1 brings to an end Perry Mason’s winning streak against D.A. Burger and Lt. Tragg’s time on crime scenes. Mason doesn’t spiral out of control like a spoiled brat. He doubles down to make sure he never hears a client called “Guilty.”

CBS DVD presents Perry Mason: Season 7, Volume 1 Starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Williams Talman and Ray Collins. Boxset Contents: 15 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: August 21, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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