Many facets of the American legal system have been altered since Perry Mason had his day(s) in court. For starters, they just don’t make lawyers like Perry anymore. These days, if there’s a large, broad-shouldered, mountain of a man standing before the judge about a murder, he’s most likely the kind who is adorned in an orange jumpsuit. Raymond Burr’s depiction of Erle Stanley Gardner’s fictional character, on the other hand, was no such fellow.
Ever accompanied by his famous theme music (“Park Avenue Beat” by Fred Steiner), the practical, quick-thinking attorney was also one of those few legal representatives who could disrupt the course of a trial via a spectacular hat trick — to wit he was able to prove his own client (who was practically always the prime suspect of an unsolved homicide) innocent and identify the true perpetrator right then and there.
Alan Shore tried that once or twice, but his act only ever succeeded in the residing arbitrator telling him to cool down. Of course, Mason’s courtroom antics were nowhere near as outrageous as Shore’s, mind you. But then again, the facets of public prosecutors and defenders have altered significantly since Perry Mason has his heyday as well.
It had been nearly a year since CBS/Paramount issued the last half-season set of the iconic courtroom drama Perry Mason to DVD, but Raymond Burr and company (William Hopper, Barbara Hale, William Talman, Ray Collins, et al) is back to delight fans of vintage television once more in Perry Mason: Season Six, Volume 1. The set brings us the first half of the show’s 1962/1963 run.
By this time, lead performer Raymond Burr was so adept and comfortable in his role, that he didn’t even need to act. In fact, those of you who enjoy participating in the popular pastime of a drinking game — a trait typical in members of the younger generations, more than likely — will no doubt like diving into this TV Land favorite, just to take a sip every time Burr should be using a facial expression, but doesn’t.
Those of us who grew up with and were able to appreciate the sight of Raymond Burr’s deadpan expressions and impressive physique dominating the courtroom, however (whether during the show’s initial run, or in syndication), will be pleased just to watch in the classic fourteen episodes presented here, all cleaned-up for DVD and in chronological order. Plus, there aren’t any annoying commercials to interfere with the stories.
Guest stars in this four-disc set include Adam West, Allison Hayes, Gary Lockwood, Joseph Sirola, Frank Gerstle, Jeff Morrow, David Hedison, Harvey Korman, R.G. Armstrong, Charlie Chan veteran Keye Luke and a young James Hong (as father and son!), Ann Doran, Jim Davis, Strother Martin, Byron Foulger, Leonard Nimoy, and Peter Breck. Morris Ankrum, Edgar Buchanan and Kenneth McDonald appear as judges.
This set also features one of those rare instances wherein Perry leaves the big city for a fishing trip to a small town (“The Case of the Lurid Letter”), and there’s also a trip to Los Angeles’ famous Bradbury Building in one episode (“The Case of the Double-Entry Mind”).
Recommended for that endearing, nostalgic TV quality that a show like Perry Mason never stops giving.