I admit that I have a mostly casual relationship with the long running Perry Mason
TV series. This association was so informal, in fact, that the only guest star I could rattle off the top of my head was Bert Convy, which is a surprise to no one, I’m sure. However, when MeTV began re-airing the Mason
movies in 2013, I fell hard for the telefilms (and a handsome bearded Burr), even though I think they may be a bit like the 90s Columbo
reboot in terms of being considered a step down in quality. But
, there was drama, mystery and intrigue, William Katt and
William Moses, and a whole lot of Raymond Burr commanding the screen. In short, I couldn’t get enough!
There’s been a few books on the Perry Mason
television series, but to the best of my knowledge, there is little writing about the run of telefilms that graced our small screens from 1985-1995. C’mon, that’s ten years of courtroom shenanigans, and oodles of amazing guest stars. I’m still working through those TVMs, but was thrilled when I saw that someone had included them in their Mason
book. And spoiler free, no less, so I could sit down and read about a TVM without worrying about it taking away from what I had not seen yet. This awesome tome is titled The Case of the Alliterative Attorney: A Guide to the Perry Mason TV Series and TV Movies
. When I recently acquired my copy, I couldn’t wait to dive in. But then, like any good Perry Mason
mystery, there was a twist – I could barely turn myself away from the section about the original series, even though it was originally of secondary interest to me.
OK, not the most suspenseful twist, but work with me.
|Perry Mason and Hamilton Burger working with me.|
That’s just a long way of saying The Case of the Alliterative Attorney
is an immensely enjoyable, page-turning read. The amount of research that co-authors Bill Sullivan and Ed Robertson put into this book is head spinning! There is not only lots and lots
of fantastic trivia, but there’s quotes from those who were there to help make the series and films a success, including the incomparable Barbara Hale, and actress turned producer Gail Patrick (an intriguing woman who deserves her own book!), as well as a fairly in-depth look at how the show was put together, while also working as a tribute to the profound friendship Hale and Burr enjoyed until his passing in 1993.
|These are my people.|
And, for the record, this book is huge
! At well over 600 pages, the authors incorporate as much as they can into each episode synopsis, spotlighting guest stars, important dialog quotes, and pieces of interviews with some of the people who worked on that episode. And, as mentioned earlier, all spoiler free.
|Monte Markham > Not a terribly great idea for a series|
Also, working like a good commercial break, there are sections titled Exhibits located throughout the book, highlighting interesting aspects or themes from the show. For instance, there is a list of episodes featuring jury trials, as well as a compilation of episodes where the court meets in a non-traditional location.
In short, you are bound to be a Mason
expert by the time you finish the book. Despite the fact that it’s throwing loads of info in the reader’s direction, Sullivan and Robertson's style is casual, energetic and breezy. The authors really go the extra mile too, and Mason
gets his full small screen due, so expect a section on The New Perry Mason Mysteries
too! Go Monte!
|Hal Holbrook, the badass.|
As a newbie to the main content of the book, I can say that it has a little something for everyone, and may well bring in new fans (i.e. me).
My one minor nitpick is that the four Perry Mason Mysteries
, filmed after Burr’s passing in 1993, deserve more attention. They can be looked at as a simple novelty to keep a brand going, but they are also entertaining in their own right and wonderfully preserve Mason
and Burr while attempting to develop their own cozy mystery niche. Also, seeing a pushing-70 Hal Holbrook riding a Harley is just the best. True story.
|The verdict is in: The Case of the Alliterative Attorney wins! |
But as I said, that’s just a TV movie freak being a bit fussy, and perhaps that just comes from wanting the book (and the Mason
telefilms) to go on forever. I highly recommend The Case of the Alliterative Attorney
to anyone with even a passing interest in the show who is also drawn to getting a deeper behind the scenes perspective on a golden age of television.
Available through Amazon
|PS: Raymond Burr is everything. |