Paramount // 1965 // 776 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // June 20th, 2013
"Della, tell me, what would you have done if you had a client whose husband died twice?" -- Perry Mason
Alas, another avalanche of alliterative adventures for that dapper defender of the defamed, in Perry Mason: The Final Season, Volume 1.
* "The Case Of The Laughing Lady"
* "The Case Of The Fatal Fortune"
* "The Case Of The Candy Queen"
* "The Case Of The Cheating Chancellor"
* "The Case Of The Impetuous Imp"
* "The Case Of The Carefree Coronary"
* "The Case Of The Hasty Honeymooner"
* "The Case Of The 12th Wildcat"
* "The Case Of The Wrathful Wraith"
* "The Case Of The Runaway Racer
* "The Case Of The Silent Six"
* "The Case Of The Fugitive Fraulein"
* "The Case Of The The Baffling Bug"
* "The Case Of The Golden Girls"
* "The Case Of The Bogus Buccaneers "
Consistency is key. In one year and out the other, the intrepid attorney has been approaching the bench from stage right, and mining the benefit of doubt for maximum potential. This penultimate DVD set continues that tradition, with sober-suited, laser-focused Mr. Mason (Raymond Burr, Ironside) taking on all comers for fifteen rounds, going to the mat each time in service of truth, justice, and due process for the wrongly accused.
As ever, TV's most famous legal eagle plays it cool, enduring the patronizing attitude of eternally incumbent D.A. Hamilton Burger (William Talman), shrugging off sustained objections to his arguments, (legally) circumventing police procedure -- no matter how obstructive it can sometimes be -- and greatly benefiting from the efforts of his skeleton crew: secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale, Jolson Sings Again) and private investigator Paul Drake (William Hopper, 20 Million Miles To Earth).
What can I say? The uniformity of this show is so resolute that one without a detailed knowledge of automobiles and haute couture can easily be forgiven for confusing Season One's episodes with those of Season Nine -- and all the ones in-between. The ceaseless cavalcade of con men and women, hoodwinked inheritors, jilted lovers, and blackmail artistes will be more than familiar to habitual followers of the pioneering legal drama that set the template for Arrest And Trial and Law And Order, among so many others. Even having reviewed the three consecutive seasons prior, I'd be unable to reliably testify as to whether or not I'd seen some of the exact same stories replayed each season! On the plus side, this predictability on the series' part makes it extremely easy for newbies to drop in any time, without feeling like a stranger in a strange land.
For those keeping score, the first half of the last season marks the addition of two new regular characters. Lieutenant Steve Drumm (Richard Anderson) replaces the late, lamented Lt. Arthur Tragg (elderly actor Ray Collins had died, following a long illness), while veteran character actor Dan Tobin (Woman Of The Year) appears in the guise of Clay, the loveable wisenheimer who runs the gang's new favorite supper club.
Fortunately, that aforementioned uniformity extends to Paramount's top-tier transfers of these vintage black and white episodes, with surprisingly crisp and clear full frame picture, and mono sound to match. English SDH captioning is available, but extras (save for trailers of other Paramount television sets) are not.
Settle back for some legalizing as it's probably never been, but always should have. In keeping with the times, Season 9.1 finds Perry borrowing a bit from James Bond, slipping behind the Iron Curtain at one point, and at another, actually using the olive in his martini glass as a surveillance device. One thing more: there's a bit of "Surf Rock" music playing in the background of some these stories, so set your pacemaker accordingly.
Not guilty, as usual.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 776 Minutes
Release Year: 1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated