Perry Mason is as much a part of American culture as apple pie and mom. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone of any age who doesn't at least recognize the name. Erle Stanley Gardner's books have millions of devoted fans. The television show it spawned was fabulous as entertainment, and today is widely regarded as one of the best shows television ever produced. Perry was the attorney you wanted on your side in a jam.
It was Gardner himself who picked Raymond Burr, even though the studio only agreed to let him test for Perry if he would test for Burger too! Barbara Hale was his pretty secretary, Della Street, who kept Perry human and was in love with him. William Hopper was the dapper detective, Paul Drake. He had a playful and flirtatious relationship with Della but every viewer knew that secretly her heart belonged to Perry. And we liked it that way.
William Talman as D.A. Hamilton Burger would almost be ready to gloat, Lt. Tragg (Ray Collins) not far behind, when Perry would spring his client by revealing the real killer on the witness stand. There has never been anything close to it in genre on television since. Its mix of drama, noir, and humor, and its truly likable central cast of characters, made for terrific viewing.
Season four was terrific. Releasing them in half seasons, the first half on volume one, the second on volume two now, is indeed an effective but annoying marketing scheme. I agree the price should be lowered, but at the same time agree that as entertainment, this is an incredible value. So, much like gasoline and food, you pay what you have to. Hopefully at some point, Amazon or Paramount will make an effort to still make a profit with a sure-fire hit, while giving fans a better purchase price.
Season four episodes, beginning in September of 1960 and ending in June of 1961, are as follows: The Case of the Treacherous Toupee--The Case of the Credulous Quarry--The Case of the Ill-Fated Faker--The Case of the Singular Double--The Case of the Lavender Lipstick--The Case of the Wandering Widow--The Case of the Clumsy Clown-- The Case of the Provocative Protege--The Case of the Nine Dolls--The Case of the Loquacious Liar--The Case of the Red Riding Boots--The Case of the Larcenous Lady--The Case of the Envious Editor--The Case of the Resolute Reformer--The Case of the Fickle Fortune--The Case of the Waylaid Wolf--The Case of the Wintry Wife --The Case of the Angry Dead Man--The Case of the Blind Man's Bluff--The Case of the Barefaced Witness--The Case of the Difficult Detour--The Case of the Cowardly Lion--The Case of the Torrid Tapestry--The Case of the Violent Vest--The Case of the Misguided Missile--The Case of the Duplicate Daughter--The Case of the Grumbling Grandfather--The Case of the Guilty Clients
This was one of the best dramas ever to hit the air. Seeing it today reminds us just how good television can be, but is often not. It's a bit of nostalgia and a lot of entertainment for TV fans. Fred Steiner's "Park Avenue Beat" remains one of the most recognizable themes ever heard. A must for fans of Perry Mason.