Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Monte Markham as Perry Mason
THE NEW PERRY MASON. 1973 TV series.

Monte Markham had the unenviable task of stepping into the inestimable shoes of Raymond Burr when he took on the role of Erle Stanley Gardner's famous criminal lawyer in The New Perry Mason. Markham didn't try to do the role exactly as Burr did, which is wise, and he isn't bad, but he lacks authority, something you could never say about Burr. The other casting choices are interesting, with Dane Clark [Whiplash] as Lt. Tragg, Albert Stratton as Paul Drake, and Harry Guardino [Jigsaw] as Hamilton Berger, although Sharon Acker [Happy Birthday to Me] makes virtually no impression as Della Street. Most of the episodes are fairly mediocre, but some of the better ones include: "Jailed Justice," in which a judge is accused of poisoning his hated son-in-law; "Tortured Titan," in which a woman allegedly murders the man who put her wealthy brother in an institution; "Murdered Murderer," in which the inventor of a new type of camera is accused of murder even as the contract killer who did the deed is himself murdered [with good performances from Paul Burke and Sharon Farrell]; and the best episode, "Telltale Trunk," in which a greedy, back-stabbing businessman winds up dead in a trunk after his victims plan a playful revenge [with a notable Richard Anderson and Keenan Wynn].

Verdict: Has its moments, some good guest performances, but stick with Burr.


Neil A Russell said...

I remember wanting to like this when it came out but it just never delivered the momentum of the original.
Burr's shoes were pretty big for Markham to fill, and that's not to say there's anything wrong with Markham's performance. Heck I even liked "Second Hundred Years".
I never realized until now that each episode's title was a form of alliteration.

William said...

I saw all but two of the episodes and don't have any real need to track down the on es that remain. It wasn't awful, but the original show was so excellent, everyone so well cast, that it was almost a given that this would fail.

Thanks for the comments, Neil!