Perry Mason: Season 1, Vol. 1
DVD | Box Set
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Perry Mason is an attorney who specializes in defending seemingly indefensible cases. With the aid of his secretary Della Street and investigator Paul Drake, he often finds that by digging deeply into the facts, startling facts can be revealed. Often relying on his outstanding courtroom skills, he often tricks or traps people into unwittingly admitting their guilt. Steps to access the closed-captioning is as follows: 1. Press SETTINGS on your remote. 2. Using the left/right arrow buttons, scroll to Quick Settings. 3. Using the up/down arrow buttons, scroll to Closed Captioning. 4. Press SELECT on your remote. 5. Using the up/down arrow buttons, scroll to highlight On, On with Mute or Off. 6. Press SELECT on your remote.
There was a time when the defense attorney was a heroic everyman, not the butt of bad jokes; think Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, and, of course, Raymond Burr's incomparable Perry Mason. The first season of Perry Mason, which launched in 1957 on CBS, shows just how dramatic a "law and order" show could be. Shot in lush black and white, on film, the episodes have been lovingly restored (including lost minutes hacked from reruns to accommodate commercials). The story arcs and atmosphere feel more like film noir (Perry Mason + Philip Marlowe = separated at birth?) than early TV. The cast was stellar, including Burr's Emmy-winning Perry Mason, the indefatigable lawyer who takes tough cases no one else will touch. Burr's chemistry crackles from episode 1 with his costars, including Barbara Hale as secretary Della, William Hopper as private detective Paul Drake, and William Talman as Hamilton Burger, the well-meaning but overmatched district attorney. While it's true that the last-minute witness-stand confessions strain some credulity, the case-cracking, character development, and dialogue set a high bar for the legal shows that followed. "The Case of the Negligent Nymph," for instance, involves a comely young woman--and murder suspect--fished out of the Pacific; Mason deadpans to Drake, "Call off the search, Paul; we've landed our mermaid." The shows unfold at a leisurely pace, and yet don't rely on the overly expositive dialogue that, say, Law & Order does; the viewer learns a lot about each case simply as it happens. The set contains the first 19 episodes of the first season and will hook you, even if you're not a procedural buff. --A.T. Hurley
- The first 19 episodes from season 1 (1957-58) on five discs
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It is neat spotting future stars and if you're into classic cars, you can have a great time spotting the make and models of the cars on the show.
What makes PM undatable however are the stories themselves. Intelligent, literate, complex mysteries that one must pay attention to. This show is not for people with short attention spans.
Almost all of the first season episodes are based on the Gardner novels. So, in these episodes you get the feel of Gardner's version of his creation: A lawyer/detective who would go to near illegal methods to protect his clients. A few episodes never even make it to a courtroom. Those have a fast-moving pulp fiction style unique to Gardner.
Keep in mind, this is not "court room drama". This is primarily a mystery show that just happens to take place in a courtroom. So, story trumped "realism".
If you love a mystery, PM really needs to be at the top of your list.
Perry will employ any ruse necessary to protect his client or to illustrate a point; of course, homicide detective Lt. Tragg and prosecutor Hamilton Burger frequently complain of Mason's trickery and yet they are not above a little trickery of their own such as sequestering key evidence or witnesses that would benefit the defense.
Most cases end in court with Perry and the prosecutor sparring for advantage, but in the end, in a dramatic turn of events, the identity of the possible murderer can, in a few cases, suddenly pass from suspect to suspect in rapid succession until the final wrenched confession from the real murderer . . . .
Perry's caseload in this season's volume: 19. Total Run Time is about 988 minutes.
Picture: good. Sound volume moderately low, clear. Subtitles: none.