Defense attorney Perry Mason is an iconic figure of detective fiction. Created by author and lawyer Erle Stanley Gardner, Mason first appeared in the 1933 novel The Case of the Velvet Claws and went on to appear in numerous novels and short stories. The character was the “King of All Media” before Howard Stern coined the term, appearing in films during the mid-‘30s, on a radio show from 1943-1955, in comic books, and about 18 months in a comic strip that began in October 1950. The most famous adaptation is the classic television drama that ran from 1957 to 1966, starring Raymond Burr who won an Emmy for his performance in the series’ fourth season.
The second volume of Season Three has recently been released and features 14 cases that first aired in 1960 from January to June. The episodes all follow a simple formula. After the classic theme song, Fred Steiner’s “Park Avenue Beat” , a group of characters is introduced who have some relation to a murder that takes place. The police, usually led by Lieutenant Arthur Tragg (Ray Collins), charge one of the characters, who becomes a client of Mason’s, which means they are innocent. Mason and his team, secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale) and private detective Paul Drake (William Hopper), investigate the case, and during the trial, with Mason usually battling against District Attorney Hamilton Burger (William Talman), the real culprit confesses.
The writing is smart and still holds up well. There are usually a number of suspects with motive so the culprit is not obvious; however, the identity can be figured out as very subtle clues are provided along the way for those paying close attention. The series is all about the cases and very little is revealed about the recurring characters. There is a good twist in “The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor” when Burger requests Mason’s help in defending a friend accused of murder.
Perry Mason fans should pick up this set because the video has been digitally remastered and looks great. The black and white images are sharp and clean. The audio is available in the original Mono. Mystery fans unfamiliar with Mason should enjoy this series, and fans of classic television will have fun identifying actors, including those who went on to gain notoriety as cast members of other television shows, such as Barbara Bain (Cinnamon Carter, Mission: Impossible), Edward Platt (The Chief, Get Smart), and Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse, The Dukes of Hazzard) to name a few.