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 the medium ever produced. Perry was the attorney you wanted on your side in a jam.
Raymond Burr had some good roles in films, but will always be remembered as Perry Mason. It was Gardner himself who picked 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.
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 characters, made for terrific viewing.
Season three had some great episodes, including a case where Paul was the accused, in a twisty tail of blackmail and murder. Releasing them in half seasons, the first half on volume one, the second on volume two, may indeed be an effective but annoying marketing scheme, but with all the junk out there we're lucky to actually have a few worthy releases such as Perry Mason even available.
Season three, beginning in October of 1959 and ending in June of 1960, is as follows: The Case of the Watery Witness--The Case of the Garrulous Gambler--The Case of the Blushing Pearls--The Case of the Startled Stallion--The Case of Paul Drake's Dilemma--The Case of the Golden Fraud--The Case of the Bartered Bikini-- The Case of the Artful Dodger--The Case of the Lucky Legs--The Case of the Violent Village--The Case of the Frantic Flyer--The Case of the Wayward Wife--The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor--The Case of the Gallant Grafter--The Case of the Wary Wildcatter--The Case of the Mythical Monkeys--The Case of the Singing Skirt--The Case of the Bashful Burro--The Case of the Crying Cherub--The Case of the Nimble Nephew--The Case of the Madcap Modiste--The Case of the Slandered Submarine--The Case of the Ominous Outcast--The Case of the Irate Inventor--The Case of the Flighty Father
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 any serious collector.