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Featured TV on DVD Review: Perry Mason: Season Five, Volume Two

November 15th, 2010

Perry Mason: Season Five, Volume Two - Buy from Amazon

The last half of the fifth season of Perry Mason hits the home market this week, which means we are officially entering the second half of the show's run. Aside from the usual complaints associated with split-season DVD releases, how strong are the episodes on this four-disc set? And it is worth picking up?

The Show

Perry Mason is in very many ways the prototypical courtroom drama and set many of the standards of the genre. This makes it historically important, it also means some parts of the show have been re-used so many times they feel cliché, or have been parodied so often that they are hard to take seriously. That said, this is still an excellent show, even 40 plus years after it first aired, while there are a number of highlight episodes.

The four-disc set gets off to a great start with The Case of the Shapely Shadow. In this episode a secretary follows a series of strange orders from her boss, including placing a suitcase full of cash in a bus station locker. But when her boss winds up dead, it appears to the police that she stole that money and murdered him. In The Case of the Glamorous Ghost, Perry Mason defends a woman who was found in a park, suffering from amnesia. But when a body is later discovered in said park, a body of someone murdered at the same time she was found, she's the lead suspect. The Case of the Poison Pen Pal is equally strong with a very complicated crime involving insider trading, stolen industrial secrets, and a little girl and her pen-pal. The number of twists involved in this episode meant that suspension of disbelief could have been broken, but each twist is handled very well. Another secretary is in trouble in The Case of the Mystified Miner. Here a lady working for Corning Company suspects her boss might be embezzling, using a company mine that went bust to do so. However, when the owner of the company, Amelia Corning, arrives, she demands to see all of the confidential books. ... Then the real Amelia Corning shows up and the real mystery begins.

The Case of the Melancholy Marksman has a man contemplating killing his current wife, because he thinks she murdered his first wife. However, he can't bring himself to do it. Unfortunately for her, someone else doesn't have the same problem. After she's murdered, her husband is the prime suspect, but we quickly find out practically everyone on the show had a reason to kill her. In The Case of the Borrowed Baby, someone leaves a baby in Perry Mason's office. ... "Someone left a baby! Ignore me!" It's a good episode, but I couldn't help quoting The Venture Bros. In The Case of the Counterfeit Crank, an old client of Perry Mason's has gone a little soft in the head, or maybe it's an act to delay a business deal while he tries to figure out which of his partners is trying to rip him off. Not one of the best episodes on the DVD, as the big reveal feels somewhat undeserved and a bit of a cheat. On the other hand, the episode does feature a guest appearance by Burt Reynolds. The season ends with The Case of the Lonely Eloper in which Paul Drake is hired by the guardians of 21-year old woman who is about to inherit a fortune. They are worried that the woman's fiancee is a scam artist, and for good reason.

Compared with the previous release, the overall quality of these episodes is better, with no real misses and several excellent ones. Even the weakest in the set, which is arguably The Case of the Tarnished Trademark, is still worth checking out.

The Extras

The are no extras on the DVD. It does have the usual DVD authoring: play all buttons, proper chapter placements, and subtitles.

The Verdict

Great show, weak DVD release. I really wish Perry Mason would be given the treatment it deserves on DVD, but at least Season Five, Volume Two has a hit to miss ratio that most shows would be envious of, even if the split-season release has no extras.

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