Watch Perry Mason

The popular legal television series Perry Mason, which starred Raymond Burr, was based upon the mystery novels written by Erle Stanley Gardner. It concerned the adventures and legal cases of a prominent defense attorney in Los Angeles, California. He almost always ended up defending someone innocent who was accused of murder. While exonerating his client, he discovered the true murderer.

While the show never failed to fall back on that and other cliches, it changed other parts of the formula from Gardner's original novels. Instead of Hamilton Burger, the district attorney, always being the stereotypical antagonistic prosecutor, the television series took Gardner's initial template and evolved it. Hamilton Burger became a very three-dimensional character who gradually developed a friendship with Perry throughout the series. Particularly in later seasons, he was often a willing participant in helping Perry solve the mysteries.

Perry himself changed, both in the television series and in Gardner's later books. While he was more of a shyster in the early novels, and willing to bend the law in many ways for his clients, he became a much more upright figure later on.

There was always one main policeman. Lieutenant Tragg, played by veteran actor Ray Collins, was the first. With his often friendly facade and a whimsical smile, he greeted and traded barbs with Perry, Della and the private detective Paul Drake. Ray Collins remained a regular on the series until his health began to decline. Wesley Lau was then brought in to play Lieutenant Anderson, a younger policeman. When Wesley Lau departed the series in its 9th and final season, he was replaced by Richard Anderson as Lieutenant Drumm.

The characters' personal lives were rarely explored. One consternation for some fans even today is that Perry and his secretary Della Street never officially began a romantic relationship. Gardner did not want the series to go in that direction, feeling that the mystery should always be the central focus. Perry and Della were very close in the television series, but despite possible hints at romantic feelings, they were never outright portrayed as being more than friends.

The series' basic formula never changed. Still, to this day, Perry Mason remains one of the most beloved television series ever made. Reruns are still in high circulation, on stations around the world as well as in America. CBS continues to release DVD sets of each season, to great public acclaim.

CBS
12 Seasons, 301 Episodes - Canceled
September 21, 1957
Drama
8.2/10
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Perry Mason Full Episode Guide

  • Bill McKenzie takes the reins from Perry again in this final entry in the series. In this one, Wild Bill defends his niece who has been framed for murdering a soap opera star.

  • Perry is absent but Wild Bill McKenzie is on the case once again as he defends the daughter of a disgraced politician who is accused of murdering the Governor of the state whom she blamed for her father's suicide.

  • It's Wild Bill McKenzie to the rescue when the slimy host of a lifestyles television program is murdered and a man he had been blackmailing is wrongfully accused.

  • Mark Stratton, a soap opera star, is murdered on set whilst kissing his co-star. When one of the soap cast is accused of murder, Perry comes to her aid, but it seems almost everyone had a reason to kill, but the real answer might be linked to a mysterious man who Ken Malansky is trying to trace. Only there and then can the true killer be exposed.

  • A cosmetics queen announces she's discovered an anti-aging formula. After a robbery attempt, she takes the formula to her home safe. Then she's found murdered and the formula is stolen. Hubby is naturally charged with the crime and it's Perry and Company to the rescue once more.

  • Geraldo Rivera gets gunned down in this episode about a slimy "journalist" who has written a tell all book about all the women he's laid in the past. Naturally, one of them does away with him and the wrong person is blamed. Oh, if only life could imitate art in Geraldo's case.

  • A famous painter fakes his death in order to drive up the value of his paintings. The you know what hits the fan when the artist turns up dead for real.

  • Assistant Kate Ford tells world famous magician David Katz that she's pregnant with his child on the date he's supposed to put on a benefit show for charity. At the show a trick goes wrong and nasty Katie assumes room temperature. The magician is blamed and ---well, you know the rest of the drill by heart.

  • This time Perry takes on a mobster client who's been wrongfully accused of murdering his wife.

  • Nasty TV anchorman Brett Huston is murdered and it seems as though nearly everyone at the TV station where he was employed had a motive. As usual, the wrong person gets charged with the crime, and it's up to Perry, Della, and Ken Malansky to set things straight.

  • David Benson breaks into a Las Vegas poker party being hosted by Richard Stuart. Benson blames Stuart for the death of his brother and attempts to shoot him but is overpowered and tossed out of the room on his ass. Wouldn't you know it--Stuart is shot with Benson's gun later that night.

  • Once again there's a hired killer on the premises as Perry defends the husband of a famous pop singer who was killed soon after the two had a huge argument. This one is as gimmicky as ever. By now I suppose the writers could churn out these Perry Mason TV movies in their sleep.

  • This one is a bit of a change from the norm as Perry and Company travel to France to defend the son of an old friend who is accused of murdering a former SS officer. As is the case in most of the movie entries, a missing witness holds the key to the case.

  • An author who constantly plagiarized the works of others is poisoned to death at a convention. His ex-wife, an old friend of Della's, is charged with the crime.

  • A pro hockey player is charged with murdering the owner of his former team who had reneged on a promise to take care of the player in case of injury.

  • A tyrannical theatre director is murdered and an underling whom he'd recently fired is blamed. Perry, who has been hospitalized for surgery, is the defendant's alibi but his testimony gets discredited because he was under the influence of sedatives at the time. This one's gonna be a hard road.

  • Ken Malansky becomes a regular character on the series and he's in a heap of trouble. While taking a law school class being taught by Perry, a friend informs Ken that his sweetheart was assaulted by a fellow student. Ken impulsively rushes to confront the fellow student in the law school's mock courtroom only to find him stabbed to death. What's even worse is that the murder weapon is Ken's very own knife.

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