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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Mystery > Legal > TV > Perry Mason – Season Four, Volume One (1960 – 1961/CBS DVD)

Perry Mason – Season Four, Volume One (1960 – 1961/CBS DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C     Extras: D     Episodes: B-



It is hard to believe, but Earl Stanley Gardner created the attorney/detective Perry Mason back in 1891!  Heading for a 120 years anniversary, the character has been a hit in almost every medium staring with novels and magazine serializations at the turn of the previous century.  Warner Bros. tried launching a movie series in the 1930s, but after six films and three actors playing the part, they dropped it.  A radio drama version was a bigger hit, but it was the TV series with successful feature film actor Raymond Burr that remains the biggest Perry Mason to date.


Burr nailed the role as much as Roger Moore did The Saint after RKO failed to launch a successful movie series based on those novels at the same time Warner’s Mason died.  For nine seasons starting in 1957 to a final TV movie in a series of TV movie revivals, Burr was Mason for 34 years (save a failed 1973 TV revival with Monte Markham).  Now, Burr’s Mason has conquered DVD, selling well enough to reach this Season Four, Volume One set that is our first look at the show.


Over a half-century later and counting, the show obviously is going to show some wear, but I must admit that the show holds up very well considering after all this time and looking this good and more enjoyable than it ever was on TV.  No, the show is not the hard boiled Mason of the early books and is limited by TV standards and practices, but it is a top rate, Grade-A TV production built to last and at the time showed TV early on could produce high quality TV drama.  Barbara Hale played Della Street, Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg, William Hopper as Paul Drake and William Tailman as Hamilton Burger.


Guest stars from the 16 hour-long cases included in this set include Robert Redford, Bert Freed, Lindsay Workman, Nan Peterson, Arch Johnson, Whit Bissell, Paul Langston, Coleen Gray, Casey Adams, Robert Cornthwaite, Stephen Talbot, Kenneth Tobey, Ken Curtis, Virginia Field, Barry Cahill, Kathie Browne, Jeanette Nolan, Francis X. Bushman, Lurene Tuttle, Regis Toomey, Corey Allen, Richard Deacon, Arthur Franz, Louise Fletcher, Edward Platt, Byron Murrow, James Coburn, Richard Eastham, Barry Atwater, Robert Carnes and Benson Fong.  As you can see from that list, it was the show to be on.


Of course, the title of every episode began with The Case Of… and there was enough of a mystery in each show for mason to unravel and neatly end at the end of each episode and of course, in court where it is considered the safe space of justice that is unstoppable.  That is why people tuned in every week, thought Burr was totally credible as the man who solved everything in less than an hour and a TV classic was born.  At this point, the show was still in its prime.


The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on all the episodes are from great film copies of the show and the show has never looked this good, yet this is only DVD.  Grey scale is as fine as the detail and will surprise many who have not seen the shows looking this good before.  Can’t wait for the Blu-ray.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound may be clean, but it is transferred at too low a volume and you should be careful at what volumes you play this back, plus when switching to other sources.  There are no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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