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Unquestionably, PERRY MASON is the greatest television courtroom drama to ever grace the airwaves and remains the archetype that subsequent television shows of this ilk still follow… even fifty years later. Based upon the seemingly endless series of novels by Erle Stanley Gardner, PERRY MASON stars Raymond Burr as the title character, a tenacious defense attorney, who rarely lost a case. On a weekly basis Mason, would take on a new client accused of murder. Assisted by his secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale) and private investigator Paul Drake (William Hopper), Mason would prove his client innocent in the courtroom, unusually by eliciting confessions from the real guilty party under heavy cross examination. With its stark black and white cinematography, PERRY MASON is one part noir-ish detective show and one part melodrama- en exceedingly successful combination that kept the series on the air for nine years. The season one regular cast of PERRY MASON also features William Tallman as district attorney Hamilton Burger, who almost always loses to Mason, as well as Ray Collins as police lieutenant Arthur Tragg.

PERRY MASON: SEASON 1, VOLUME 1 ($50) comes to DVD in a five disc set that features the first nineteen episodes that were aired in the show’s freshman year (another twenty from the first season are yet to come). The nineteen featured episodes are as follows: The Case Of The Restless Redhead, The Case Of The Sleepwalker's Niece, The Case Of The Nervous Accomplice, The Case Of The Drowning Duck, The Case Of The Sulky Girl, The Case Of The Silent Partner, The Case Of The Angry Mourner, The Case Of The Crimson Kiss, The Case Of The Vagabond Vixen, The Case Of The Runaway Corpse, The Case Of The Crooked Candle, The Case Of The Negligent Nymph, The Case Of The Moth-Eaten Mink, The Case Of The Baited Hook, The Case Of The Fan-Dancer's Horse, The Case Of The Demure Defendant, The Case Of The Sun Bather's Diary, The Case Of The Cautious Coquette and The Case Of The Haunted Husband.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made all nineteen episodes that comprise PERRY MASON: SEASON 1, VOLUME 1 available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Considering that the series is nearly fifty years old, these first nineteen season one episodes look really good on DVD. The black and white episodes appear fairly crisp and offer more than respectable definition. Blacks are deep, white are pretty clean and the picture produces good contrast and grayscale. The film elements are if great shape for their age, with relatively few blemishes creeping up. A grain structure is noticeable, but never excessive. Digital compression artifacts are always well concealed.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks for the episodes are just fine. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a respectable sonic quality. The unforgettable theme music is well rendered, but a tiny bit thin sounding due to the recording technology available a half century ago. Dialogue is clean and always totally understandable. No other language tracks or subtitle options have been included on the DVD. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection feature, but no supplemental content has been provided.

PERRY MASON is indeed one of the great classic television series of all time and its arrival on DVD is more than welcome, if not overdue. Paramount’s DVD collection looks and sounds just fine. Recommended.



Perry Mason - Season 1, Vol. 1 (1957)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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