DVD Review: Perry Mason (The Complete Series)

Legal shows are a staple of television whether it be as dramatic series as LA Law and Boston Legal or reality of O.J. Simpson on trial or The People’s Court. No matter how real or fictional, any TV court room action gets one man’s name mentioned: Perry Mason. The lawyer was the creation of Erle Stanley Gardner. Mason’s legal genius had found success in novels, radio and films. In the Fall of 1957, Mason (Raymond Burr) stepped into a TV courtroom proceeded to become the greatest lawyer. Perry Mason: The Complete Series contains all 271 episodes that ran 9 seasons.Bu

Burr had been acting in movies since 1940 with a majority of his roles being a tough guy in crime dramas. He did have a couple notable non-thug roles as the suspicious neighbor in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and the reporter covering a monster attack in Godzilla. Not many people could imagine him as the savvy legal mind when Perry Mason hit the air. However all reservations were quickly forgotten as viewers thought of him as Perry Mason rather than a mobster. Sitting at the defendant’s table, Burr had the attitude of the most expensive lawyer in Los Angeles. You knew his clients weren’t going to end up on death row thanks to Perry screwing up the paperwork. Of the 271 episodes, only once did Perry find himself losing a case. Even in his losing episode, he gets things right in the end. Nowadays a good defense lawyer merely has to muddy up the water enough to make the jury uncertain of convicting the client. Sure Perry could have just got his client found not guilty of the charges. Having such an amazing record would make him hated by the police department and the district attorney’s office. Mason wanted to make sure his client was seen as innocent by uncovering the truly guilty party. He was still not beloved by the law since he proved how inept their detective skills were.

Mason had a tight support staff when it came to making his caseload lighter. First was his secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale). She understood how to keep order in Mason’s world. She would be next to him in the courtroom. She was support and there was hints in the early years that her and the boss had a relationship after hours. Later in the series, Mason and Street were very business-like. Private detective Paul Drake (William Hopper) was Perry’s legs and muscle when he needed evidence collected from shady places. The trio were practically undefeatable when hired by a non-guilty party.

Representing those that were constantly on the wrong sides of rulings were Lt. Arthur Tragg (Ray Collins) and District Attorney Hamilton Burger (Bill Talman). Tragg’s investigations always came up just a little short when it came to finding the truly guilty party. Tragg just need to cuff a suspect and haul them into court to look like his numbers were good. Hamilton had to tackle the case presented to his office. Mason didn’t always beat up on Tragg and Burger. There were cases that took place out of Los Angeles. But the duo took their fair share of abuse. Luckily since Mason would get the real guilty part to confess, there were no killers left on the streets or innocents hanging from a news at the state prison.

Perry Mason has remained a TV syndication success story when it went off the air nearly half a century ago. There’s a lot of legal dramas that fade away after successful runs. Perry Mason has become essential viewing on the same level as I Love Lucy. It was a lunchtime favorite on cable in the ’90s. Even now it runs in the morning and night on Me-TV. Although if you are really into binge watching episodes: Perry Mason: The Complete Series allows you to proceed at your own pace. The combined set is barely an eighth the cost of buying the 18 half season sets. The boxset is cheaper than talking to an inexpensive lawyer for 20 minutes and much more thrilling.

The videos is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers are sharp. The series was shot and cut on 35mm. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are right to enjoy the swaggering theme song and Perry’s cross examinations. The episodes are subtitled.

No bonus features.

CBS DVD presents Perry Mason: The Complete Series. Starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Bill Talman & Ray Collins . Boxset Contents: 271 episodes on 72 DVDs. Released: October 4, 2016

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