Paramount // 1966 // 778 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // August 25th, 2013
"Your Honor, Mr. Mason is about to launch another of his courtroom spectaculars." -- District Attorney Hamilton Burger
Fifteen of them, in fact -- The sum total of episodes in Perry Mason: The Final Season, Volume 2:
* "The Case Of The Midnight Howler"
* "The Case Of The Vanishing Victim"
* "The Case Of The Golfer's Gambit"
* "The Case Of The Sausalito Sunrise"
* "The Case Of The Scarlet Scandal"
* "The Case Of The Twice-Told Twist"
* "The Case Of The Avenging Angel"
* "The Case Of The Tsarina's Tiara"
* "The Case Of The Fanciful Frail"
* "The Case Of The Unwelcome Well"
* "The Case Of The Dead Ringer"
* "The Case Of The Misguided Model"
* "The Case Of The Positive Negative"
* "The Case Of The Crafty Kidnapper"
* "The Case Of The Final Fadeout"
It may be true that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but this pioneering procedural had a few up its sleeve before its "final fadeout" as a weekly series after nine consecutive seasons.
Unfortunately, this otherwise top-notch batch of episodes originally aired from January through May, 1966 is slightly marred by one dirty trick. The package boasts one special feature -- a (very brief) intro to "The Case Of The Twice-Told Twist" (the series' only color segment) by Miss Della Street herself, actress Barbara Hale. Nice, right?
Well, yes and no. Ms. Hale is still pretty as a picture, and her enthusiasm is so contagious that you'll wish there was more. Aha, but there is! You see, this "special feature" is an extremely slimmed-down version of the intro originally included on the Perry Mason: 50th Anniversary Edition set released five years ago. When I say "an extremely slimmed-down version," I mean that it only presents the first thirty-five seconds of what was originally an insightful two minute and thirty-five second intro featuring Ms. Hale in the company of series producer-director Arthur Marks.
What the edited intro doesn't tell you is that CBS had already decided against a tenth season by the time they ordered a color episode "just to see what it would look like." And the payoff was that it looked pretty damned good!
Still, most entertaining by far is "The Case Of The Dead Ringer," featuring Burr in a dual role as Perry and his "doppleganger," a wizened and whiskey-soaked merchant marine named Grimes, who floated in on the Liverpool Lady. Watching the man strut his stuff with a limp and a slurred cockney accent is a real treat, and a real revelation for anyone who doesn't know that long before he established himself as a paragon of law and order (both on this, and his second long-running series, as Police Chief Robert Ironside), Burr mostly paid his rent playing villains to a tee -- see Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window for the most famous example.
As usual, guest star spotting is a prime attraction. Look for pop-ins from Daniel J. Travanti (Hill Street Blues), Sue Ann Langdon (Zapped!), Allan Melvin (The Brady Bunch), Victor Buono (Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte), Gloria Talbott (I Married A Monster From Outer Space), Brian Donlevy (Beau Geste), Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show), Marlyn Mason (The Trouble With Girls (And How To Get Into It)), Dick Clark (American Bandstand), and finally, the man but for whom there would be no Perry Mason at all, creator Erle Stanley Gardner -- making his one and only appearance (uncredited) as Judge No. 2 in series-capper, "The Case Of The Final Fade Out."
Of course, the Perry Mason: The Final Season tag is a bit misleading. After all, Perry, Della Street, Paul Drake, Hamilton Burger, and even Lt. Arthur Tragg (who was written out during season eight, when actor Ray Collins was forced to drop out due to failing health) returned to the CBS lineup in the fall of 1973 for a thirteen-week run, albeit with an entirely different cast. (For the record, dashing TV veteran Monte Markham (Hot Pursuit) took over as the undefeatable defense counselor). A dozen years later, Raymond Burr reclaimed the title role for the first of twenty-six TV movie adventures over eight years, until cancer claimed him on Sept. 12, 1993 at the age of seventy-six.
As I mentioned earlier -- excepting its not-so-special-feature -- Perry Mason: The Final Season, Volume 2 is yet another bargain batch of episodes transferred to DVD in terrific shape, courtesy of Paramount Television. English SDH subtitles are available as a standard option.
The defense rests.
Justice is served.
Review content copyright © 2013 P.S. Colbert; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 778 Minutes
Release Year: 1966
MPAA Rating: Not Rated