Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mystery*File Again: Mike Nevins Muses on TV Detective Dramas

First You Read, Then You Write, by Francis M. Nevins.: "The first 19 episodes of the Perry Mason TV series (1957-66) came out on DVD last month. In recent decades millions have seen this old series on WTBS, but every episode was cut to shreds to accommodate far more commercials than were the norm back in the Fifties. These DVD copies are complete and re-mastered and lovely to look at.

Whether the series stands up well after almost half a century is another question entirely. All the early episodes were supposedly based on Erle Stanley Gardner’s novels but – as I’ve confirmed by rereading several of the books after watching their TV incarnations – it would be more accurate to describe most of them as using parts of Gardner’s plots and some of his characters in new and much simpler stories, completely lacking the breakneck pace and dynamism of the novels. "


Anonymous said...

I have quite a few episodes of the Kent Taylor "Boston Blackie" episodes and Mike is so right...this series is a fantastic record of what Los Angeles looked like in the early 50's. There's a number of fantastic action set pieces as well as a chance to see a lot of great character actors of the '30s and '40s in some of their last roles. In one episode titled "Trailer Park Shootout", you can see the RKO water tower in the background of a shot ... another one titled "The Big H" features a fight around and up and down the "H" in the Hollywood sign.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because I read the Perry Mason books after seeing the tv series but I have to differ with Mike Nevins. Raymond Burr is Perry Mason! No other actor can touch him. I've seen the 30's films on Turner and none of the actors who played him are nearly as good. Nor was Monte Markham in that later series.

Anonymous said...

Hey there jhall. I'm trying to find a copy of the Trailer Park Shootout episode and I can't seem to find it anywhere. Is that the exact title? I'm trying to procure a copy for a birthday gift next month.

My e-mail is if that's easier to respond to.