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Superman's Pal

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There's a new project, miniseries I think, coming to HBO about the character. Possibly in name only, he appears to be a detective and not a lawyer.

Of course this sparks memories of the classic tv series with Raymond Burr. One of the few memories I have of my grandpa was sitting and watching the show with him. I watched it again later in my teens or 20s and was sort of amused by the formulaic nature if it. Surely in the real world not every client he took on would be innocent; he wouldn't win every case; and every case wouldn't end with him pointing out the true killer in the courtroom who would offer up an immediate confession. Still, I enjoyed the proceedings.

I never looked much deeper into it but now that I do, I see the novel series it was based upon remains the #3 grossing novel series of all time behind Harry Potter and Goosebumps. Apparently the first novel didn't have a courtroom scene either, but all the ones that followed did. Maybe that's what the new show is going for.

I also didn't know there were a series of movies made in the 1930s before the Burr series. I also didn't know another fellow played him on tv between the Burr series and the Burr revival of tv movies in the 80s.

I think there were some comics along the way, too.

Anyone else here familiar with any of the non-Burr stuff? Any recommendations?



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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,357


I knew of Perry Mason’s history but I’ve never looked into it. I love your story of watching it with your Grandpa, this type of stuff should be vital to this board, but I , myself, never had the experience. For me, Raymond Burr is the guy from Godzilla and Rear Window. I do remember that there was a question from Trivial Pursuit about the time Perry Mason lost a case, so the show didn’t completely follow formulaic TV from the era.


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Happy Hogan 

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Location: Northern Virginia
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,171




    Quote:



    Quote:
    There's a new project, miniseries I think, coming to HBO about the character. Possibly in name only, he appears to be a detective and not a lawyer.

There's a link to the HBO series HERE.   It looks more like classic hard boiled film noir than the trend setting courtroom drama, but I expect I'll still check out a few episodes.

    Quote:
    Of course this sparks memories of the classic tv series with Raymond Burr. One of the few memories I have of my grandpa was sitting and watching the show with him. I watched it again later in my teens or 20s and was sort of amused by the formulaic nature if it. Surely in the real world not every client he took on would be innocent; he wouldn't win every case; and every case wouldn't end with him pointing out the true killer in the courtroom who would offer up an immediate confession. Still, I enjoyed the proceedings.

So did I. The TV series comes across as dated now, but still very entertaining for what it was. Its also fun to see who appears in those episodes. One had both Neil Hamilton and Yvonne Craig as I believe father and daughter before they appeared as such in Batman.

    Quote:
    I never looked much deeper into it but now that I do, I see the novel series it was based upon remains the #3 grossing novel series of all time behind Harry Potter and Goosebumps. Apparently the first novel didn't have a courtroom scene either, but all the ones that followed did. Maybe that's what the new show is going for.

I can't imagine Perry Mason without courtroom scenes. Erle Stanley Gardner had himself been a lawyer before writing the books and he often included legal trivia in those novels. He also played the Judge in at least one of the Burr episodes.

    Quote:
    I also didn't know there were a series of movies made in the 1930s before the Burr series. I also didn't know another fellow played him on tv between the Burr series and the Burr revival of tv movies in the 80s.


I saw one of the 1930s films, and it felt more like a 30s screwball comedy than a crime drama. I tried to watch another when I saw it on TCM but it didn't catch my interest long enough to finish it.


    Quote:
    Anyone else here familiar with any of the non-Burr stuff? Any recommendations?


The guy who played the TV Mason in the 70s was Monte Markham. The writers tried to add more humor, but it was weak humor and didn't land. Also Markham lacked Burr's commanding presence. Overall the revival series was forgettable, and only lasted fifteen episodes.

If you want more non-Burr Mason, I suggest reading the books. In the books he comes across as a bit more of a social crusader and has more of a sense of humor. Burr's only weakness as an actor was that he made Mason dry and humorless. That's looked at today as the definitive Mason, but I didn't see Burr's Mason in my head when I read the books.

It's my understanding that Robert Downey Jr. wanted to play Mason, and that's something that I would have liked to see. His blend of humor and drama would have worked well for the character I read.






Superman's Pal

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,313


I really should watch Rear Window again. That's another story that I think has been copied as often as 12 Angry Men (which I just watched).

I mostly remember Burr as Mason but he also appeared in Airplane II, as a judge. I don't think I saw the original Godzilla until a few years ago and then it was a special edition DVD with the original Japanese Gojira so no Burr. I vaguely remember him from Godzilla 1985.

The formula of Perry Mason was so standard that the fact that he actually lost one case became a piece of trivia. I remember my parents telling me about it, but there was some twist like he lost but then found new evidence and won. Or his client turned out to be guilty so he lost on purpose? Something.


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Superman's Pal

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,313



    Quote:
    There's a link to the HBO series HERE.   It looks more like classic hard boiled film noir than the trend setting courtroom drama, but I expect I'll still check out a few episodes.

As I recall the formula of the Burr show was that he takes on the case of someone convicted of murder with a mountain of evidence against them. He and his team do a bunch of detective footwork to come up with more evidence in their favor before heading into court. I guess in the first novel he finds enough evidence to throw out the case before it reaches court. Gardner must have decided the courtroom was a better setting. But Mason always did the footwork so I guess that's what the new show is focusing on?


    Quote:
    So did I. The TV series comes across as dated now, but still very entertaining for what it was. Its also fun to see who appears in those episodes. One had both Neil Hamilton and Yvonne Craig as I believe father and daughter before they appeared as such in Batman.

It ran for something like 9 seasons, I'm sure the guest stars make up a who's who of the day's tv stars. The same can be said of Law & Order.


    Quote:
    I can't imagine Perry Mason without courtroom scenes. Erle Stanley Gardner had himself been a lawyer before writing the books and he often included legal trivia in those novels. He also played the Judge in at least one of the Burr episodes.

That's the kind of cameo I like.


    Quote:
    I saw one of the 1930s films, and it felt more like a 30s screwball comedy than a crime drama. I tried to watch another when I saw it on TCM but it didn't catch my interest long enough to finish it.

Like a Blondie & Dagwood movie?


    Quote:
    If you want more non-Burr Mason, I suggest reading the books. In the books he comes across as a bit more of a social crusader and has more of a sense of humor. Burr's only weakness as an actor was that he made Mason dry and humorless. That's looked at today as the definitive Mason, but I didn't see Burr's Mason in my head when I read the books.

Burr's version was tenacious and aggressive. I read a review of the novels that said Gardner was more interested in the intricate machinations of the legal world and forgot about adding much character. I don't know how true that is.


    Quote:
    It's my understanding that Robert Downey Jr. wanted to play Mason, and that's something that I would have liked to see. His blend of humor and drama would have worked well for the character I read.

I wonder why he decided to just produce and not star? Maybe he thought he was too old if the series ends up running for years? I agree he would be good. Maybe he can star in an Ironside revival.


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Happy Hogan 

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Location: Northern Virginia
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,171




    Quote:
    As I recall the formula of the Burr show was that he takes on the case of someone convicted of murder with a mountain of evidence against them. He and his team do a bunch of detective footwork to come up with more evidence in their favor before heading into court. I guess in the first novel he finds enough evidence to throw out the case before it reaches court. Gardner must have decided the courtroom was a better setting. But Mason always did the footwork so I guess that's what the new show is focusing on?

I guess we'll see.


    Quote:

      Quote:
      I can't imagine Perry Mason without courtroom scenes. Erle Stanley Gardner had himself been a lawyer before writing the books and he often included legal trivia in those novels. He also played the Judge in at least one of the Burr episodes.
    That's the kind of cameo I like.

I like to think that Stan Lee watched the show, or at least learned of Gardner's cameo role and said to himself "that's a good idea!" As a matter of fact, Stan's first ever cameo was as a jury foreman in a courtroom scene.


    Quote:

      Quote:
      I saw one of the 1930s films, and it felt more like a 30s screwball comedy than a crime drama. I tried to watch another when I saw it on TCM but it didn't catch my interest long enough to finish it.
    Like a Blondie & Dagwood movie?


LOL! Well I tended to finish the Blondie & Dagwood movies when I watched them. Maybe like that, except instead of Perry, Paul Drake was the bumbling one in the one 30s Perry Mason film I can recall. In fact now that I think about it, Stan might have modeled Matt Murdoch, Karen Page, and Foggy Nelson on that version of Perry, Della Street, and Paul Drake respectively.


    Quote:
    Burr's version was tenacious and aggressive. I read a review of the novels that said Gardner was more interested in the intricate machinations of the legal world and forgot about adding much character. I don't know how true that is.

Tenacious and aggressive sure, but in the books there was occasional humor that I found rare while watching the Burr TV series. In fact in the books, Gardner wasn't above sometimes making the joke be on Perry himself in some subtle way. I don't know of the network didn't want that, or Raymond Burr just wasn't comfortable with that.
But I do remember that Burr once guest starred on Jack Benny's TV show playing a non-cannon funnier version of Perry Mason.

BTW, one other difference between the Burr series and novels: I seem to remember that the books had an occasional brief nude scene. It was all printed of course, and there was nothing shown, but certainly things HBO has never been uncomfortable doing.

Oh, and just one more thing.   For one more non Burr version of  Perry Mason, you might want to check out the radio program.









Dakota


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 438



    Quote:


      Quote:
      There's a new project, miniseries I think, coming to HBO about the character. Possibly in name only, he appears to be a detective and not a lawyer.

    There's a link to the HBO series HERE.   It looks more like classic hard boiled film noir than the trend setting courtroom drama, but I expect I'll still check out a few episodes.


The concept for the HBO show is that it is Perry Mason BEFORE he became a lawyer, when he was a detective in the 1930s. (I assume they are literally using the 50s/60s and beyond as the timeframe when he was a lawyer). So it will be a completely different feel than the original TV show.




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