In a steel cage match between Perry Mason and Court TV, Judge Cynthia Boris takes the classy dame with the mink stole over the uneducated, trashy chick.
Our reviews of Perry Mason: Season 5, Volume 2 (published December 22nd, 2010), Perry Mason: 50th Anniversary Edition (published April 16th, 2008), Perry Mason: Season 6, Volume 1 (published October 13th, 2011), Perry Mason: Season 7, Volume 1 (published August 21st, 2012), Perry Mason: Season 8, Volume 1 (published January 9th, 2013), Perry Mason: Season 1, Volume 2 (published January 31st, 2007), Perry Mason: Season 6, Volume 2 (published January 22nd, 2012), Perry Mason: Season 7, Volume 2 (published December 16th, 2012), Perry Mason: Season 8, Volume 2 (published January 16th, 2013), Perry Mason: The Final Season, Volume 1 (published June 20th, 2013), and Perry Mason: The Final Season, Volume 2 (published August 25th, 2013) are also available.
The Case of the Granddaddy of all Court Room Dramas
Hey, that's Raymond Burr. Isn't he supposed to be in a wheelchair?
Facts of the Case
Based on a character created by crime novel king Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason (Raymond Burr, Ironsides) is a likeable-yet-no-nonsense defense attorney practicing in the City of Angles where there are plenty of criminals to choose from. He is ably assisted by his paralegal (then known as a Girl Friday) Della Street (Barbara Hale) and P.I. Paul Drake (William Hopper). No case is too small. No fee is too small. Even if you're guilty, Perry Mason will get you off, so to speak.
With titillating titles such as "The Case of the Negligent Nymph" and "The Case of the Vagabond Vixen," Perry Mason harkens back to the days of the old pulp novels where girls were dames and every cop was Humphrey Bogart. I was particularly taken in with the style of this old series: fancy cars, cigarettes, and booze for every occasion—and elegantly dressed women. I got a real kick out of the lady screenwriter in "The Case of the Vagabond Vixen" who was wearing a mink stole while working late at the studio!
Each episode is like a mini-40's mystery movie. There's a crime, clues, and an "innocent" party who needs Mason's help in order to avoid a murder rap. The stories are intricately crafted with lots of interesting characters and plenty of twists. The big problem with the series is that it has ruined court trials for me as a means of entertainment. Come on, if you've ever watch a real trial on Court TV you know what I mean. You listen to the testimony of one witness after another, breathlessly waiting for the one that will break down and make an eleventh hour confession—"I did it! It wasn't Susan! I murdered Bob and he deserved every one of those 65 stab wounds!" Yeah, like that's going to happen. Still, we wait and hope because Perry Mason has taught us that justice always triumphs, especially when you've got a high-priced lawyer on your side.
Forty years old and these episodes are looking better than any face-lifted Hollywood starlet. The DVD is clean and virtually without any scratches or pops and the sound quality is even and clear. I've seen DVD's of new shows that don't look this sharp, so kudos to Paramount for doing a bang-up job.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's black and white. Yeah, I know that doesn't mean it's bad TV. It just means that you're going to have a hard time convincing people it's good TV. Come on Law & Order fans, black (& white) is beautiful!
Perry Mason had a long and healthy life on network TV running from 1957 to 1966. Twenty years after the show went off the air, a series of TV movies were released which had Burr playing Mason as a judge with the lovely Della Street still by his side. More than twenty movies were made with the last one being completed just weeks before Burr's death in 1993. Somewhat corny by today's standards, Perry Mason set the bar for all court room shows that followed and it still stands as a true television classic.
Come on, Perry Mason is on the case, of course the verdict will be Not Guilty!
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Scales of Justice
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