Saturday, January 12, 2008

Order in the Courtroom Dramas

It would’ve been especially cool if the Perry Mason--50th Anniversary Edition DVD set had been released last September 21, which was exactly half a century after that Emmy Award-winning series debuted on CBS-TV. Instead, this four-disc, 12-episode collection will be available on April 8 of this year. A full list of episodes to be included is available from the Web site TV Shows on DVD.

According to that site, this set will also include a wide variety of featurettes, such as screen tests for Raymond Burr and William Hopper (both of whom auditioned for the series’ title role); an interview with Barbara Hale, who played secretary Della Street; and the 1985 movie revival Perry Mason Returns. What would’ve made this 50th anniversary edition even more collectible, to my mind, would have been including in the box at least one episode of the 1973-1974 series The New Adventures of Perry Mason, which starred Monte Markham as Mason and the outstanding Harry Guardino as his failure-prone adversary, Los Angeles District Attorney Hamilton Burger. Sure, that resurrected CBS series didn’t measure up to its predecessor, but it hasn’t been seen in 30 years, and deserves to be rediscovered. Maybe next time ...

Speaking of small-screen lawyers--both of whom at one time fell under the direction of producer Dean Hargrove (who was responsible for bringing Mason back for a series of television movies)--TV Shows on DVD also carries word that the premiere season of the charming Andy Griffith series Matlock (1986-1995) will reach stores on April 8, as well. This was actually my favorite season of that show, since in addition to Griffith it featured both the sweet-smilin’ Linda Purl, playing Matlock’s lawyer-daughter Charlene (she left the program after its first year), and Kene Holliday, who portrayed his sharp-dressing private investigator associate, Tyler Hudson.

If the Hollywood writers strike still isn’t over by the spring, at least we can rest assured there will be something worth watching.

READ MORE:The Defense Never Rests,” by J. Kingston Pierce (The Rap Sheet).

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