Judge P.S. Colbert objects to being over-ruled!
"He's back on the case!"
Whether you praise him for giving us Raymond Burr, or blame him for giving us Johnnie Cochran, you've got to admit that Perry Mason, Erle Stanley Gardner's fictional defense attorney, is the one lawyer that Americans can't seem to spend enough time with. Nearly twenty years after the weekly series ended its nine year run, Burr reprised his most famous role for a TV-movie that proved so successful that it led to twenty five more, in a series that continued until the actor's death in 1993.
The Perry Mason Movie Collection, Volume 1 gathers the first six of these on three discs:
• "Perry Mason Returns"
• "The Case Of The Notorious Nun"
• "The Case Of The Shooting Star"
• "The Case Of The Lost Love"
• "The Case Of The Sinister Spirit"
• "The Case Of The Murdered Madam"
Get out your scorecards, there have been a couple of changes made to the lineup. William Talman, who played the virtually winless D.A. Hamilton Burger, died in 1968, and William Hopper, who played Paul Drake, Perry's crack private eye, passed away in 1970. Stepping into Burger's shoes is D.A. Michael Reston (David Ogden-Stiers, M*A*S*H), while Drake's mantle is taken up by none other than Paul Drake, Jr. (William Katt, The Greatest American Hero). On the surface, it might not seem like much deep thought went into making these changes, but the casting turned out perfectly in both cases. Bonus trivia: Katt just happens to be the real-life son of Barbara Hale, and not surprisingly, their on-screen chemistry is purely magical.
Otherwise, what can I say? If you loved those black and white, hour-long Perry Mason episodes from the '50s and '60s, you're more than likely gonna be thrilled to death by these '80s updates. There's a "celebrity guest star" emphasis this time around, reflective of Murder, She Wrote, which similarly boasted weekly lineups of (mostly older) familiar TV and movie faces—I particularly got a kick out of seeing Dwight Schultz (famous for playing "Howling Mad" Murdoch on The A-Team) fabulously chewing scenery as a prissy personal assistant in "Sinister Spirit"—which will tickle TV addicts now as much as it did then.
Paramount has done a first-rate job of delivering the picture and sound with precious little depreciation; the films look remarkably like they did back in the day, with those turbo-neon '80s colors popping, and ladies shoulder pads standing proudly. There are no extras, but possibly as concession to Perry's decidedly senior fan base, English subtitles have been provided.
Above and beyond all else, the primary appeal is the chance to see Perry and Della back together again, and these films bring back Burr and Hale at the top of their games. Welcome back, friends!
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Scales of Justice
• IMDb: Perry Mason Returns
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