Was Perry Mason a Great TV Series?

 

Was Perry Mason a great TV series?  How would  we know?

Perhaps we’d have to build up a mound of confirmatory evidence.  We would know then by the weight of evidence, not by any single logical argument.

If that is how we’d know, I will offer this empirical evidence, on behalf of the Affirmative side:  the theme song.

I think the Perry Mason theme song by itself is strong incremental evidence that this show was a great TV series.

If you argue only this narrow point I will fight you to the death.

But on other points, I will be just as likely to agree with you that Perry Mason was NOT a great TV series, as the opposite.

Without going through the details, I will summarize.  I think it was seriously flawed, but nonetheless, a great TV series.

It could not be great if the fictional character, Mason, were not a great fictional hero. He could not be perfect.  He would have to raise hard questions.  Was doing this or that dodgy act morally justifiable?  And did he care?

Then, Raymond Burr (and the actors portraying  Della Street, Paul Drake, and the others) would have to project these questions to us, even create little creative variations on the questions and the proposed answers to us.

Did Mason as put forth in Burr’s interpretation create an identifiable human character for us, even if we never read the books? Oh, yeah. Burr’s Perry always acted just like Perry, just as Titus Welliver’s Bosch always acts just like Bosch.  Was this guy complicated, just like a real life guy?  You tell me.

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  1. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    William Talman as Hamilton Burger (Ham-Burger, get it?), was an even better as the D.A.

    The  one thing I remember about Hamilton Burger is that in real life the police came to his home to investigate a noisy party and he showed up at the door nude!

    • #31
  2. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    @jameslileks,

    Needles to say I’m flattered.

     

     

    TAGS: Attempted Humor Employing Misspellings

    [This Tag automatically inserted by AI software in an effort to protect people with severe Humor Detection Deficit from embarrassing  themselves.]

    • #32
  3. Speed Gibson Coolidge
    Speed Gibson
    @SpeedGibson

    To me, the original Perry Mason is a time machine, taking me back to the era of mens’ hats (Lt. Tragg!), cigarettes, tail fins, pay phones (with rotary dials), tough guys, buxom women, and justice meted out in weeks, not years.  Series lost much of this by season five.

    • #33
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Did anyone post this?

    • #34
  5. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    I watch Perry Mason reruns every night and understand about 5% of them.  But it doesn’t matter.  There is something so earnest about Burr, Mason, Tallman, and Collins that keeps my attention throughout.  In another arena, but for the same reason, I am hooked on Jordan Peterson, whom I do understand most of the time but, even when I don’t, is always so earnest and passionate that it is difficult to look away from him.

    • #35
  6. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Gotta have the original theme, no hippy-hoppy stuff or whatever.

     

    • #36
  7. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Needless to say, the Fifties and early Sixties were a different era for gun ownership. No gun safes here. People are constantly leaving handguns around in unlocked glove compartments, desk drawers, night tables, coat pockets, you name it. Blind-as-a-bat old bats who’ve never fired the thing in their lives keep them wrapped in shawls. 

    Cars are left unlocked, with windows open so anyone can peer in and read the car registration, which is strangely strapped to the steering column. Apartments are frequently unlocked as well, and even when they’re not, building apartment managers have the keys to everyone’s place. 

    Distances mean nothing. (This is common to most TV shows). Mason will get a call in his office, somewhere near the courts of downtown Los Angeles, and say “Malibu Beach? I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. Tell Paul to meet me there.” Yeah, maybe if Perry had a helicopter with jet assists. 

    • #37
  8. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Gotta have the original theme, no hippy-hoppy stuff or whatever.

     

    Gotta have the end titles credits for the full minute-plus theme….

    • #38
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Yeah, maybe if Perry had a helicopter with jet assists. 

    Teleporter.  After the show’s run, they gave it to Rodenberry for use in Star Trek . . .

    • #39
  10. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Needless to say, the Fifties and early Sixties were a different era for gun ownership. No gun safes here. People are constantly leaving handguns around in unlocked glove compartments, desk drawers, night tables, coat pockets, you name it. Blind-as-a-bat old bats who’ve never fired the thing in their lives keep them wrapped in shawls.

    Cars are left unlocked, with windows open so anyone can peer in and read the car registration, which is strangely strapped to the steering column. Apartments are frequently unlocked as well, and even when they’re not, building apartment managers have the keys to everyone’s place.

    Distances mean nothing. (This is common to most TV shows). Mason will get a call in his office, somewhere near the courts of downtown Los Angeles, and say “Malibu Beach? I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. Tell Paul to meet me there.” Yeah, maybe if Perry had a helicopter with jet assists.

    I suppose some of what you describe here is realistic, actually happened in the proper time period, and some is not believable. Remember ESG’s stories occur over a forty year timeframe. One thing that amuses one today is the story can seem modern until Perry starts searching for a drugstore so he can get to a pay phone.

    I went to elementary school in Atlanta in the forties. We didn’t lock the house or the 1934 Chevrolet. Car windows would be down all the time except if it was forecast to rain which we probably would only know if we saw clouds in the sky. I lived in Carey Park and went to school near Grove Park so I rode The River streetcar for a nickel each way. The River designated the destination Chattahoochee River as the end of the line. I think my childhood was much more fun than what lies ahead for today’s children. 

    • #40
  11. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    I can only say that it was great for what it was: an entertaining adaptation of a series of highly enjoyable novels.

    • #41
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