After nine years the Perry Mason franchise needed a rest. When the series began in the fifties, few shows were in color and the TV movie had yet to be invented. The earliest episodes of the series were often based on actual Earle Stanley Gardner titles, mostly pulp fiction mostly written in the thirties, forties and fifties.
By the time the television series ended there were seventy seven Gardner novels and two hundred seventy one television episodes. Each case required Mason, but virtue of courtroom theatrics as Hamilton Burger often put it, not only to get his client off but also to serve the interests of justice by revealing the identity of the true killer who confesses in open court. Gardner had over thirty years to produce his seventy seven novels, the scriptwriters were churning out about thirty episodes a season, three quarters of them original screenplays.
Those kind of demands take tolls on the writers, actors and directors. As time went by, the film noir grit and glamour of LA murders presented in grainy black and white began be stretched too far. And so, the final season of this iconic courtroom drama lacks some of the punch that hooked us so thoroughly during the Eisenhower Administration.
But this season is the last of the real Perry Mason. Paisanos Productions offered us Monte Markham in the title role of the "New Perry Mason" for a season in 1973. That fifteen episode dud, proved to be like "new Coke" and swelled the demand for the real thing. Burr and Barbara Hale, as Della Street, returned to make twenty five TV movies between 1986 and 1993. These were two hour jobs ( no original show was ever even a two parter), filmed in color (so much for film noir) and set in Denver. Gardner had died in 1970, and so it is safe to assume that the bankers, transactional lawyers and studio execs, didn't have the pesky creator around to scream bloody murder at the nightmare the franchise became in the eighties.
So let's face it, this is not the best season of the series that steered a lot of impressionable kids like me to a career before the bar. But it is lovingly restored and will complete your personal collection of the trials of the greatest and luckiest lawyer ever to grace the small screen. So good is the restoration of this entire collection is that it looks great on a 55 inch LCD.