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Perry Mason: Season 5, Vol. 1
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
The fifth season of this venerable series, first aired in 1961, gradually begins to reflect the cultural changes since its premiere in the late fifties. In an anticipation of the Perry Mason returns series of the eighties, Perry now has an occasional assistant, a young law student whom he once successfully defended (just like William R. Moses' Ken Malansky). More traveling is going on, reflecting the wider world opening to Americans with the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Lt. Tragg is seen less and less often, usually replaced by Wesley Lau's Lt. "Andy" Anderson. Hamilton Burger is also seen only occasionally (fallout from William Talman's arrest on morals charges a couple of years earlier), and other prosecutors go up against Perry with the same zeal and the same results. To us males who entered our teens in the sixties, the cars are one of the obvious tipoffs to the period. One of Perry's clients tools around in a '61 Chevy, and Paul Drake's ride is a '61 T-Bird (presumably red, though we can only guess in black and white). For a while, there's the ubiquitous '61 Buick convertible, serving characters in several episodes. Some reviewers have complained of CBS Video's decision to release the series in half-season packages priced for a full season. This is greedy behavior characteristic of big corporations, and no one should be surprised. Business, with its unerring eye for profit, is the most reliable barometer of what's popular. PM makes the grade, season after season. My wife and I relax almost every night with yet another episode. Though they are somewhat formulaic, there are just enough twists to keep us fascinated. Second half coming up.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2010
This is really a very disappointing first half of the 5th Season (1961-1962). Despite this DVD having one of my all time favorite episodes ("The Case of the Posthumous Painter") it has numerous flaws. First, Ray Collins (Lt Tragg) makes only cameo appearances, no doubt due to his ill health. He is replaced by Wesley Lau (Lt Andy Anderson) in the Case of the Malicious Mariner, just 2 weeks after having been the defendent in the Case of the Impatient Partner. Figure that! Then there is Karl Held in a recurring role as David Gideon who was introduced in an episode in a previous season. The screenwriters just don't seem to know what to do with him, sometimes he is just hanging around, some times using Perry's law library, sometimes coming up with a remarkable suggestion ("thermacouple") to solve a problem regarding the age of a picture. Mostly, he just stops the normal flow of a scene and the interactions between Perry, Della, Paul, etc. That is probably why his tenure was so short. However, the biggest drawback to Season 5 is the very thin plot lines in many cases with the solution literally falling out of the clear blue sky. You can see it in numerous episodes such as the "Meddling Medium", "The Traveling Treasure","The Case of the Crying Comedian", and yes even in "The Posthumous Painter" [no explanation how he survived in full clothes out in the ocean for hours]. Big loopholes indeed. However, for all of us Perry Mason fans we will still buy it and enjoy the good moments, even though there are fewer of them than there should be.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2010
OK, now we're getting into the episodes that most of us haven't seen as often. I think with most syndicated shows (especially shows that were syndicated a long time ago), the syndication package is mostly made up of the first four seasons, and later episodes are shown much less often. I've loved the previous seasons, but I've seen most of the episodes many times before, and these seem less familiar. I don't think they are plotted as well as the earlier episodes, but the fact that I've seen them less often makes them feel a lot fresher.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A phrase that has escaped from the vernacular of television production-land to the rest of the English speaking world is "jumping the shark." It refers to the episode on Happy Days in December,1977 when Fonzie, waterskiing in bathing suit and black leather jacket behind a boat driven by Richie Cunningham, avoids a Jaws-like attack by jumping over the Great White. From that moment, Happy Days went from being cutting-edge comedy to something close to self-parody.

So as we look at the first part of season five of America's greatest television lawyer, we have to wonder, when did Mason jump the shark?

There is a lot to suggest he did. For one thing, there is Karl Held. Held in the mid-1960's plays David , a law student reading in Mason's law library, who muscles in on all of the cases and spews legal maxims like a brownnosing 1L in Contracts class. He has beach boy good looks, and always wears a sports jacket and thin tie. It is not exactly clear why he reads law in Mason's law library. Perhaps they were fumigating the academic law library at UCLA. But on a series which has such an iconic regular cast of Della, Burger, Tragg and Drake, his earnest recitations and pretty boy looks are a total distraction.

The writing seems to be slightly off the mark as well. Perry Mason is primarily a legal detective, using the engine of cross-examination to solve crimes and to free the wrongfully accused. The real murderer is generally motivated by lust, greed, jealousy, or disappointment. These plots do not stray from the formula per se but Mason's methodology in exposing true criminals seems off.

However, as always, the episodes are filled with the era's finest character actors who do their best to make up for the less than great scripts, and can usually overwhelm the annoying presence of "young David", as Mason oft calls him.

I haven't yet seen the episode in which young David clad in bathing suit and sports jacket skis behind a boat driven by Tragg, but if it occurs during the next half season, I am rooting for the shark.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2010
Perry Masons are for anyone who wants an excellent mystery; who doesn't want to be grossed out with deviance, blood and gore, or maniacs. The courtroom dialogue between Perry and Hamilton Burger, the district attorney is excellent and right on the point of law. The friendship between the major characters is warm and true. This was the first "Law and Order." They are in black and white which isn't a problem. Now and then, there is an early appearance by a big name star such as Robert Redford; and the scenes of Los Angeles in the 50's and 60's add a nice little icing on the cake!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2012
Perry Mason Season 5 Volume 1

These fifteen TV shows from 1961are based on the novels of Erle Stanley Gardner. The books are more complete and informative, they tell about life that is not experienced by most people. The books explain why some things are done, the films only show you what happened. The books tell you about “ropers”, rough or smooth shadows, how to evade surveillance, and avoid leaving a back trail. Some questioned the legality and ethics of Perry Mason’s tactics but the stories were written before modern legal rules. The background tells about life in Los Angeles and America. There is nothing like these dramatic stories on today’s broadcast TV. When was the last time you saw a trial lawyer as a hero? Erle Stanley Gardner was a founder of the "Court of Last Resort" which sought to free the unjustly convicted. Gardner sought to use scientific means to find the guilty rather than using hunches or guesses alone.

The seeming reality of these stories is due in part to characters who don’t look like Hollywood actors. Some of the original stories were modified for TV. The theme music is typical for the late 1950s. Note the style of clothing and culture; ladies wore white gloves. People seldom lock their doors. The prices date these films. One advantage is seeing the many automobiles from that era. How many can you identify? Note the slimness of people, the smoking, and the familiarity with pistols. Watch how the actors express their emotions by their facial expressions. The camera sharpness and quality is excellent, but these films have a higher contrast than in earlier seasons. These stories often use the misinterpretation of circumstantial evidence to provide dramatic effects. The courtroom scenes are usually the Preliminary Hearings and often tell about the law. The titles begin with “The Case of the ...”.

“Jealous Journalist” 9/2/61; “Impatient Partner” 9/16/61;
“Missing Melody” 9/30/61; “Malicious Mariner” 10/7/61.

“Crying Comedian” 10/14/61; “Meddling Medium” 10/21/61;
“Pathetic Patient” 10/28/61; “Traveling Treasure” 11/4/61.

“Posthumous Painter” 11/11/61; “Injured Innocent” 11/18/61;
“Left-handed Liar” 11/25/61; “Brazen Bequest” 12/2/61.

“Renegade Refugee” 12/9/61; “Unwelcome Bride” 12/16/61;
“Roving River” 12/30/61.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2010
I bought the 25 Columbia House DVDs($24.95 a pop!) of this show for an EXORBITANT amount of dosh,so these prices are not that big an issue for me.
The slow release of half a season at a time is still faster than I was getting it through Columbia House(and then they just stopped).
Nearly everyone is just complaining in their reviews,though,not actually reviewing.
And,this being the internet,there is the "counter-complainers" that ALWAYS pop up in every place online.
Doesn't matter what the argument is about,they have to chime in and complain about the complaining.
Telling them to suck it up and just not buy it,or going on about what the market will allow,or they own it so they can do whatever they want,etc.is NOT helpful.
And before this becomes just a complaint about the complainers complaining about the other complainers...
This is one of the best old school shows out there,bar none.
This was the CSI of it's time,and it holds up magnificently even today.
To be honest,reviews per season are not really all that needed.
Some episodes stand out with every season,of course,but if you have seen one season of Perry,you have pretty much seen them all.
The shows can be quite repetitive as all modern procedural shows are,as well.
Every episode is almost identical in setup and play out to the other eps,the actors and locations are all that change.
You never really learned anything personal about Paul,Della,or Perry.
Their private lives were all but non-existent on screen,just like today's procedural shows.
It was about the CASE,and they(nearly)always made for some good viewing,even given the repetitive framework of the show.
These main three,our attorney,secretary,and private eye are not just good at their jobs,they are heroic at them.
There is a lot of murder and mayhem in every episode,and yet this is some of the best feel good TV out there.
Good always triumphs in the end and that's comforting,especially when looking around the real world we all have to live in.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2010
In these times of a struggling economy you need to be a wise shopper. If you wait a few months the price will go down. I usually buy the Perry Mason half-seasons at Barnes and Noble, it's usually 10% off, combine that with 10% off for being a member and using their 15% - 25% period coupons, you can get the half-season for half-price. All I know is it works for me. But I will spend the money, I love the Perry Mason series, it was one of the greats!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2011
While others have complained about the fifth season, I personally have enjoyed it greatly. Some of the regulars are gone but the new characters are equally enjoyable. You still have the core players of Della, Perry and Paul who still shine in this season. Like all the other DVD's in this series, they are very well produced and have great picture and sound quality. Can't wait for next season!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2010
I am an avid fan of the Perry Mason series and have been willing and excited to purchase each new season of the show as it has been made available. I was terribly disappointed to notice that season 5, vol. 1 was not the crisp, black and white production I am used to receiving. The video was slightly grainy and the sets appear to be shadowy. The filming techniques appear to have changed as well (shooting from different angles in the courtroom and in Perry's office). I also feel that the plots are becoming too involved. I will continue to watch as I purchased vol. 2, but this may be my last purchase. I am inclined to think that "modern" filming techniques may have spoiled the simplicity that I so loved in the older shows. The grainy aspect may merely be a quality issue with this set of CD's.

I will hope for the best and forge ahead!
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