First, to clear up the error in a prior review…this set will be captioned. The official announcement stated this.
For years PM has only been seen in butchered syndicated versions with 6 minutes or more missing from each episode. These DVDs will be mastered from the original elements and will be the complete 52 minute versions. PM was filmed, not videotaped, which will result in very high quality DVDs.
Although all 9 seasons were excellent, the first season is remarkable in that the cast found their stride immediately and delivered 39 noir-like episodes that are as suspenseful as any Hollywood movie. 19 of these episodes will be in the set with 20 to be included in Volume 2.
Paramount has an excellent record in fast tracking releases of their classic shows, hopefully PM will be as well.
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From the stirring music to the brilliant acting, Perry Mason remains one of the best courtroom dramas ever produced, even though it was one of TV’s earliest.
Based on the successful books by Erle Stanley Gardner, the production quality of the series was so high that the many of the episodes have the feeling of a movie, or as some reviewers have noted, true film noir.
Debuting in 1957, Perry Mason ran for nine seasons and became a part of popular culture. It propelled its star, Raymond Burr, into the status of an icon, even though he already had a distinguished career as a movie actor, ironically primarily playing bad guys. In Mason, Burr brought incredible depth, quick intelligence and an amazing robust energy that remains as fresh today as it was almost 50 years ago!
The first season had 39 episodes, 19 of which are being released in this DVD boxed set, while the remaining 20 will be released in Season One, Volume 2.
In addition to Burr, the stellar cast includes Barbara Hale, who portrays Mason’s devoted secretary, Della Street; William Hopper as Mason’s private investigator Paul Drake; William Talman as the perennially losing District Attorney Hamilton Burger; and Ray Collins, as the acerbic but honest Lt. Arthur Tragg.
Although Mason often acted as an investigator, won all but one of his cases, and he managed to evoke witness stand confessions from the majority of the guilty parties, the show still managed to convey a courtroom realism seldom seen, and is still often sadly missing in modern TV series dealing with crime and punishment.
The crimes were believable because they were drawn from the realistic fodder of real life conflicts and temptations, not the twisted and often sadistic crimes that are too often shown on TV today on current courtroom dramas.
Even though the series began in the 50′s, it hinted at a more-than-platonic relationship between Mason and Street. The bantering that the two actors brought to their roles heightened the tension between them on the show and is still wonderful to watch. In real life, the two were very close friends and remained so until his untimely death from cancer. Burr, a nationally renowned amateur horticulturist, named a specific type of orchid that he had developed after Hale. Hale’s son, William Katt, joined the series as Paul Drake Jr. when the show was reprised in the late 80′s as a series of successful recurring made-for-TV-movies.
This series fully deserves the full-season box set release that it is finally receiving, and represents the first time the entire first season of the landmark show has been available on DVD.
The episodes included here are: The Case of the Restless Redhead; The Case of the Sleepwalker’s Niece; The Case of the Nervous Accomplice; The Case of the Drowning Duck; The Case of the Sulky Girl; The Case of the Silent Partner; The Case of the Angry Mourner; The Case of the Crimson Kiss; The Case of the Vagabond Vixen; The Case of the Runaway Corpse; The Case of the Crooked Candle; The Case of the Negligent Nymph; The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink; The Case of the Baited Hook; The Case of the Fan Dancer’s Horse; The Case of the Demure Defendant; The Case of the Sunbather’s Diary; The Case of the Cautious Coquette; and The Case of the Haunted Husband.
Let us hope the remaining half of the first season as well as the entire run of this incredible series are released on DVD quickly. The jury has spoken!
It’s been a long wait. The best courtroom drama (witness stand confessions and Perry’s theatrics included) of all time finally comes to season-by-season DVD box sets. Once more, we’ll hear Paul’s signature shave-and-a-haircut knock at Perry’s door (just in case Tragg happens to be visiting). We’ll see the knowing smiles and sidelong glances shared between Perry and Della. We’ll watch Hamilton Burger get served up like, well, hamburger once he’s well-cooked by Perry’s sometimes questionable but always satisfyingly clever tactics. I can’t wait until July! Can you?