Monday, February 07, 2011

"Della, get Paul Drake on the phone."

For the past couple of weeks, I've been lost in Perry Mason-land, thanks to Netflix. It's a world light-years away from our own Law & Order universe, which is what makes the trip so interesting. The stories and styles of the black-and-white 1950s are highly entertaining. No blood, no guts, and everybody's covered up, except for the occasional show-girl. And though things get a little racy once in a while and innuendo abounds, there's no embarrassing sex.

Episode titles like The Case of the Crimson Kiss and The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife (catching the innuendo, hm?) are cleverly corny, and the writers must've had a ball creating them. The iconic theme music, the men's hats and women's shirtwaist dresses, and the whopping great boat-cars nail the series' place in time. I think you can learn more about mid-1950s life and culture from shows like Perry Mason than from history books or newsreels.

The characters of modern day lawyer-cop shows must be green with envy. Perry, Della, and Paul get away with stuff that Jack, Olivia, and Lennie could never slide by the DA or Police Chief. Perry does some pretty outrageous things, like man-handling evidence, breaking and entering, and tricking witnesses. (Objection! Sustained.) Lt. Tragg and DA Burger don't stand a chance, because they're always two steps behind.

My mother loved Perry Mason, but as a kid I found it kind of boring. Now, I find the show interesting, entertaining. All sorts of soon-to-be-famous actors troop through. The stories are solid, albeit the legal angles are often laughable (which adds to the entertainment value). Plus, I can never quite figure out what's up between Della and Paul. As I said, much more interesting now.

I'll let you know if I come to any firm conclusion about Miss Street and Mr. Drake. But now it's time for The Case of the Black-eyed Blonde. No objection.


jcb said...

It's even more interesting if you consider:in the 1980s-era Perry Mason 'movies' for TV where "Paul Drake, Jr." is played by William Katt,..Barbara Hale's son.

MaryB said...

I remember that! Oooh - wink, wink! - Della and Paul. BTW, the Black-Eyed Blonde in last night's episode was none other than Whitney Blake of Hazel fame and mom of Meredith Baxter. (She was innocent. In this episode, at least.)