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Growing up watching PERRY MASON in syndicated reruns, I would always ponder what the defense attorney wasn't put in charge of the police, as he could spot the guilty party well in advance of the actual police. Of course, as I grew older, I came to realize that if they did put Perry Mason in charge of the police, they wouldn't have had a show. And what a show it was. Since PERRY MASON went off the air, there had not been a courtroom drama produced for television that even comes close to its classic stature. Running for a total of nine seasons, PERRY MASON was one of the most dependable pieces of entertainment to air on network television. On a weekly basis, this series combined the elements of the film noir detective movie with heavy melodrama, not to mention slick courtroom theatrics to create one of the most compelling dramas ever produced for television.

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. Every week Perry Mason would take on a new client accused of murder, one who always had a mountain of evidence piled against them. 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. 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 2 ($50) comes to DVD in a five disc set that features the remaining twenty episodes that were aired in the show’s freshman year. The twenty featured episodes are as follows: The Case Of The Lonely Heiress, The Case Of The Green-Eyed Sister, The Case Of The Fugitive Nurse, The Case Of The One-Eyed Witness, The Case Of The Deadly Double, The Case Of The Empty Tin, The Case Of The Half-Wakened Wife, The Case Of The Desperate Daughter, The Case Of The Daring Decoy, The Case Of The Hesitant Hostess, The Case Of The Screaming Woman, The Case Of The Fiery Fingers, The Case Of The Substitute Face, The Case Of The Long-Legged Models, The Case Of The Gilded Lily, The Case Of The Lazy Lover, The Case Of The Prodigal Parent, The Case Of The Black-Eyed Blonde, The Case Of The Terrified Typist and The Case Of The Rolling Bones.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty episodes that comprise PERRY MASON: SEASON 1, VOLUME 2 available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The first nineteen episodes looked really good in the previously released VOLUME 1 and these remaining twenty episodes contained in VOLUME 2 may actually look a bit better. The black and white episodes appear pretty sharp and, in general, rather nicely defined. Blacks are inky, white are crisp and the picture produces smooth contrast and reasonably varied grayscale. The film elements are very well preserved for their age, displaying few blemishes. There is a grain structure that is noticeable across the episodes, but is pretty modest. Digital compression artifacts are nicely camouflaged.

PERRY MASON: SEASON 1, VOLUME 2 comes with crisp sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks. This is good solid monaural, without bells or whistles. 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 sounds fine, but due to the recording technology of the time, it lacks a true top and bottom end. Dialogue is crisp and easy to understand. 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 great classic television classics- one that has yet to be equaled. Paramount’s DVD collection looks and sounds pretty darn good. Recommended.



Perry Mason - Season 1, Vol. 2 (1957)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 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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