Raymond Burr entered his fifth decade as Perry Mason and didn’t look like a man out of time. Sure the show had a changed a bit. He was no longer swaggering around a black and white court room. His legal genius was now being heard in stereo. Instead of crank out thirty plus hour long episodes a season, Burr could do a few TV movies each year. This worked out well for him with Burr’s health issues. For the six episodes in Perry Mason: Movie Collection Volume 3, Mason is assisted by longtime secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale) and investigator Ken Malansky (William R. Moses). He’s ready for the flashy ’90s.
“The Case of the Poisoned Pen” updates the version that ran on the original series. David Warner (Titanic) is a best selling author with a secret on how he keeps the hits flying off his typewriter. He steals plots, characters and complete books from young writers needing help. He gets his due when he finally turns up dead. There’s so many suspects and most of them swear they can write the perfect murder novel. Among the suspects are Cindy Williams (Laverne & Shirley), Barbara Babcock (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), Tony Lo Bianco (The French Connection) and Kiel Martin (Hill Street Blues). “The Case of the Desperate Deception” takes Perry across the pond. A man does his best to track down the SS soldier who destroyed his family during World War II. He gets a tip on how to locate the hiding Nazi, but becomes the patsy in a homicide. Yvette Mimieux (The Time Machine) gets to play international. In a stunning development Terry O’Quinn (Lost) meets Ian McShane (Deadwood). A rock star and his wife get into a loud fight in “The Case of the Silenced Singer.” Perry gets called in since the screaming ends with a dead body. The wife swears she’s been set up. There’s a great bunch of guest stars including Tim Reid (WKRP), Vanessa Williams (Soul Food), Angela Bassett (American Horror Story), Alice Ghostley (Bewitched), Kene Holliday (Matlock) and Rex Smith (Street Hawk).
“The Case of the Defiant Daughter” is a tale of woe when a woman swears her father didn’t kill his blackmailer. Turns out the guy had an amazing scheme that instead of asking for money, the victims would come over and lose cash in a high stakes Poker game. This one gets major points for bringing together Robert Culp (I Spy) and Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.). There’s an Ironside reunion with Don Galloway. “The Case of the Ruthless Reporter” is a TV station’s power struggle turning homicidal. Perry gets his interview at a TV station bumped. Things get uglier when a dirty laundry letter gets written up by the anchorman. Breaking news: someone shoots the anchorman. If only there were reporters around to find the real killer that weren’t all suspects. The episode scores with two major guest stars. First there’s Jerry Orbach right before he landed Law & Order. There was a time before Law & Order. Philip Michael Thomas is fresh of Miami Vice ending. He’s the suave sports reporter. Why didn’t ESPN pick him up? “The Case of the Maligned Mobster” features a mobster whose upset when he’s pinned as his wife’s killer. Sure he might have whacked a lot of people, but he’s a family man in more than just a mobster way. Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day) plays a cop.
This batch of episodes continues the formula that lets Perry take it easy during the cases. He doesn’t have to be too active. Ken is the major muscle as he gathers up the major facts. Perry needs to save his energy for those great courtroom scenes where clients are proven innocent and the guilty exposed. The numerous guest stars keep the shows peppy.
For those curious, Burr would only appear in 8 more Perry Mason TV movies when he passed away. The series continued for 4 more episodes with guest attorneys working with Della and Ken. Perry Mason: Movie Collection Volume 4 is supposed to come out on October 7th with six more episodes. This means Volume 5 will have the last 2 Burr episodes and the 4 with his substitutes.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The show was shot on film yet cut on standard definition video. There’s a little fuzziness to the image. This makes Raymond Burr look younger on the screen. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. You can hear the gavel on both sides of your TV. The episodes are subtitled.
No bonus features.
Perry Mason: Movie Collection Volume 3 is packed with all star homicide suspects. The six episodes allow Raymond Burr to strut his finest legalese. He has not lost his courtroom drama edge.
CBS DVD presents Perry Mason: Movie Collection Volume 3. Starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale and William R. Moses. Boxset Contents: 6 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: August 5, 2014.
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