Perry Mason (TV film series)

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Perry Mason
Perry-Mason-Returns-intertitle.jpg
Based onCharacters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Starring
Theme music composerFred Steiner
Opening theme"Park Avenue Beat"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Jeff Peters
  • Joel Steiger
  • Barry Steinberg
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time95 minutes
Production companies
  • Intermedia Entertainment Company (1985–86)
  • Strathmore Productions (1985–88)
  • The Fred Silverman Company (1987–1995)
  • Dean Hargrove Productions (1988–1995)
  • Viacom Productions (1985–1995)
Release
Original networkNBC
Picture formatNTSC
Audio formatMono (1985–1990)
Stereo (1990–1995)
Original releaseDecember 1, 1985 (1985-12-01) –
April 10, 1995 (1995-04-10)
Chronology
Preceded byPerry Mason (1957–1966)

A series of 30 Perry Mason television films aired on NBC from 1985 to 1995 as sequels to the CBS TV series Perry Mason. After a hiatus of nearly 20 years, Raymond Burr reprised his role as Los Angeles defense attorney Mason in 26 of the television films. Following Burr's death in 1993, Paul Sorvino and Hal Holbrook starred in the remaining four television films that aired from 1993 to 1995, with Sorvino playing lawyer Anthony Caruso in the first of these and Holbrook playing "Wild Bill" McKenzie in the last three.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The original Perry Mason television series was broadcast on CBS television from 1957 to 1966. Raymond Burr starred as Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Perry Mason, a character created by American author and attorney Erle Stanley Gardner. Television producer Dean Hargrove resurrected the Perry Mason character in a series of television films for NBC beginning in 1985.

Casting[edit]

Dean Hargrove was able to bring back the two then-surviving major stars, Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale, reprising their roles as Mason and his private secretary Della Street. In the first telefilm, Perry Mason Returns, Mason resigns his position as an appellate court judge to defend Street on a murder charge. William Katt, Hale's own son, was cast as private investigator Paul Drake, Jr., the son of original series’ private investigator Paul Drake. William Hopper, who played Drake, had died in 1970; his photograph appears on Paul Drake Jr.'s desk. Katt appeared in the first nine movies before being dropped from the series.

In the later TV movies, Mason utilizes the services of Ken Malansky (William R. Moses), an attorney who works with him as a private investigator. Malansky's character is introduced in The Case of the Lethal Lesson (1989), as a law student who is defended by Mason on a murder charge.[1]: 40151 

Among the actors to appear in major recurring roles were David Ogden Stiers as District Attorney Michael Reston (1986–1988), James McEachin as police Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Ed Brock (1986-1995, the run of the series with the exception of the first/"pilot" film), and Alexandra Paul as Ken Malansky's girlfriend Amy Hastings (1989).

Filming[edit]

Budgeted at $3 million, Perry Mason Returns was filmed in Toronto, standing in for Los Angeles to save production costs.[2] Because of lower production costs, many of the later TV movies were filmed and set in Denver, Colorado rather than Mason's traditional locale of Los Angeles. Although located in Colorado, a courtroom wall shown at the end of the opening title sequence bears a Seal of Los Angeles County, California plaque.

Music[edit]

Fred Steiner's theme music was re-recorded by composer Dick DeBenedictis; Steiner himself arranged the theme at DeBenedictis's request.[3]

After Burr's death[edit]

A total of 30 movies were made between 1985 and 1995, with Burr starring in 26. After Burr died in 1993, Paul Sorvino and Hal Holbrook starred in the final four telefilms from 1993 to 1995. These four films were presented as A Perry Mason Mystery, with Sorvino starring as Anthony Caruso in the first film and Holbrook starring as Bill "Wild Bill" McKenzie in the remaining three. Their characters are introduced as both lawyers and close friends of Mason, who is ostensibly out of town. Both Barbara Hale and William R. Moses reprised their roles for all four films, although in the final film in 1995, Hale contributed only a small cameo with Holland Taylor substituting for her.

Hale said that continuing the series was suggested by Burr. "Raymond was so concerned that the crew keep working - we'd been with the same crew for six years. He felt we must keep going as long as the audience was as kind to us as they are. It's the show that will keep going, but not the character. I do think it's a sweet memorial."[4]

Television films[edit]

Raymond Burr films[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1Perry Mason ReturnsRon SatlofDean HargroveDecember 1, 1985 (1985-12-01)

Della Street, who is now the secretary of a wealthy businessman, is framed for her boss' murder. To defend her, Perry Mason resigns from his position as an appellate judge and becomes a defense attorney again. First appearance of William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.

Cast: Patrick O'Neal, Holland Taylor, Richard Anderson, Kerrie Keane, Al Freeman, Jr., David McIlwraith, Roberta Weiss, Cassie Yates[5][1]: 39603 
2Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious NunRon SatlofJoel SteigerMay 25, 1986 (1986-05-25)

A young priest, brought in by the archbishop to look for signs of embezzlement in the archdiocese, is found stabbed in his hotel room. Sister Margaret, a young nun who has been assisting him, is accused of the murder. The archbishop asks old friend Perry Mason, already secretly assisting in the financial investigation, to defend Sister Margaret.

Cast: Arthur Hill, Tom Bosley, Barbara Parkins, Michele Greene, Timothy Bottoms, Jon Cypher, Edward Winter; James McEachin, Gerald S. O'Laughlin; William Prince, David Ogden Stiers[5][1]: 39678 
3Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting StarRon SatlofAnne C. CollinsNovember 9, 1986 (1986-11-09)

Actor/Director Robert McCay is jealous of the time actress Kate Huntley is spending with talk-show host Steve Carr. He decides to "prank" Carr by shooting at him on his show on live television with a gun loaded with blanks. However, the gun is loaded with live ammo and he unwittingly kills Carr. Producer Sidney (last name not given) recruits old law school friend Perry Mason to defend McCay, but Mason, a personal friend of Carr's wife, is worried about conflict of interest.

Cast: Jennifer O'Neill, Joe Penny, Ron Glass, Alan Thicke, Ivan Dixon, Wendy Crewson, David Ogden Stiers[5][1]: 39730 
4Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost LoveRon SatlofAnne CollinsFebruary 23, 1987 (1987-02-23)

An old flame of Mason's is to fill a vacated government position. Her husband is approached by a man who says he knows his wife had a nervous breakdown seven years prior. The husband, believing mental illness is something to be stigmatized, foolishly allows himself to be blackmailed, believing if his wife's former medical condition should ever be released, her appointment will not go through. When the husband goes to the man with the blackmail money, the husband finds him dead, and he is arrested for the crime and tried.

Cast: Jean Simmons, Gene Barry, Robert Mandan, Robert Walden, Stephen Elliot, Robert F. Lyons, Gordon Jump, Jonathan Banks, Stephanie Dunnam, Leslie Wing, David Ogden Stiers[5][1]: 39783 
5Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister SpiritRichard LangAnne CollinsMay 24, 1987 (1987-05-24)

Cast: Robert Stack, Dwight Schultz, Kim Delaney, Dennis Lipscomb, Jack Bannon, Leigh Taylor-Young, Matthew Faison, David Ogden Stiers[5][1]: 39844 
6Perry Mason: The Case of the Murdered MadamRon SatlofPatricia GreenOctober 4, 1987 (1987-10-04)

Cast: Daphne Ashbrook, Vincent Baggetta, Jason Bernard, Anthony Geary, Bill Macy, James Noble, John Rhys-Davies, Ann Jillian, David Ogden Stiers[5][1]: 39903 
Note: Beginning with this movie, due to his poor health, Raymond Burr's physical activity became limited to sitting, standing while holding onto something, or taking a few steps with the assistance of crutches.
7Perry Mason: The Case of the Scandalous ScoundrelChristian I. Nyby IIAnthony SpinnerNovember 15, 1987 (1987-11-15)

Cast: Robert Guillaume, Morgan Brittany, Eugene Butler, René Enríquez, George Grizzard, Wings Hauser, Yaphet Kotto, Susan Wilder, David Ogden Stiers[5][1]: 39952 
8Perry Mason: The Case of the Avenging AceChristian I. Nyby IILee David ZlotoffFebruary 28, 1988 (1988-02-28)

Cast: Patty Duke, Erin Gray, Larry Wilcox, Charles Siebert, James Sutorius, Arthur Taxier, James McEachin, Don Galloway, Richard Sanders, Gary Hershberger, David Ogden Stiers[5][1]: 40008 
9Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the LakeRon SatlofShel WillensMay 15, 1988 (1988-05-15)

Cast: David Hasselhoff, John Beck, Doran Clark, George Deloy, John Ireland, Audra Lindley, Darrell Larson, Liane Langland, David Ogden Stiers[5][1]: 40068 
10Perry Mason: The Case of the Lethal LessonChristian I. Nyby IIRobert HamiltonFebruary 12, 1989 (1989-02-12)

Cast: Brian Keith, Alexandra Paul, Leslie Ackerman, Richard Allen, John DeMita, Brian Backer, Karen Kopins, John LaMotta, Charley Lang, John Allen Nelson, Mark Rolston, Raye Birk, Marlene Warfield[5][1]: 40119 
11Perry Mason: The Case of the Musical MurderChristian I. Nyby IIGeorge EcksteinApril 9, 1989 (1989-04-09)

Cast: Debbie Reynolds, Jerry Orbach, Dwight Schultz, Alexandra Paul, Luis Ávalos, Mary Cadorette, Lori Petty[5][1]: 40168 
12Perry Mason: The Case of the All-Star AssassinChristian I. Nyby IIRobert HamiltonNovember 19, 1989 (1989-11-19)

Cast: Deidre Hall, Bruce Greenwood, Shari Belafonte, Pernell Roberts, Alexandra Paul, Jason Beghe[5][1]: 40237 
13Perry Mason: The Case of the Poisoned PenChristian I. Nyby IIGeorge EcksteinJanuary 21, 1990 (1990-01-21)

Cast: Cindy Williams, Barbara Babcock, Kiel Martin, Tony Lo Bianco, David Warner[5][1]: 40296 
14Perry Mason: The Case of the Desperate DeceptionChristian I. Nyby IIGeorge EcksteinMarch 11, 1990 (1990-03-11)

Cast: Ian Bannen, Ian McShane, Yvette Mimieux, Terry O'Quinn, Marcy Walker, Teresa Wright, Paul Freeman[5][1]: 40354 
15Perry Mason: The Case of the Silenced SingerRon SatlofAnne CollinsMay 20, 1990 (1990-05-20)

Cast: Tim Reid, Alan Rachins, Vanessa Williams, Angela Bassett, Alice Ghostley, Kene Holliday, Nia Peeples[5][1]: 40422 
16Perry Mason: The Case of the Defiant DaughterChristian I. Nyby IIAnne CollinsSeptember 30, 1990 (1990-09-30)

Cast: Jere Burns, Robert Culp, Ken Kercheval, Kevin Tighe, Robert Vaughn, Don Galloway, Jenny Lewis[5][1]: 40504 
17Perry Mason: The Case of the Ruthless ReporterChristian I. Nyby IISean CholodenkoJanuary 6, 1991 (1991-01-06)

Cast: John James, Jerry Orbach, Susan Sullivan, Philip Michael Thomas, Kerrie Keane, Mary Page Keller[5][1]: 40575 
18Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned MobsterRon SatlofSean CholodenkoFebruary 11, 1991 (1991-02-11)

Cast: Mason Adams, Paul Anka, Michael Nader, Anne Schedeen, Pamela Bowen, Stephen Tobolowsky[5][1]: 40658 
19Perry Mason: The Case of the Glass CoffinChristian I. Nyby IIBrian ClemensMay 14, 1991 (1991-05-14)

Cast: Peter Scolari, Nancy Lee Grahn, John Karlen, Dennis Lipscomb, Julie Sommars, Kim Braden, Bob Gunton, Kate Vernon[5][1]: 40721 
20Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal FashionChristian I. Nyby IIRobert JanesSeptember 24, 1991 (1991-09-24)

Cast: Valerie Harper, Diana Muldaur, Scott Baio, Robert Clohessy, George DiCenzo[5][1]: 40792 
21Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal FramingChristian I. Nyby IISean CholodenkoMarch 1, 1992 (1992-03-01)

Cast: Jane Carr, Maureen Mueller, John Rhys-Davies, Scott Valentine, David Soul[5][1]: 40860 
22Perry Mason: The Case of the Reckless RomeoChristian I. Nyby IIBrian ClemensMay 5, 1992 (1992-05-05)

Cast: Geraldo Rivera, Tracy Nelson, Priscilla Barnes, Anjanette Comer, Vonetta McGee, Amy Steel, Robin Tunney[5][1]: 40920 
23Perry Mason: The Case of the Heartbroken BrideChristian I. Nyby IIBrian ClemensOctober 30, 1992 (1992-10-30)

Cast: Ronny Cox, Linda Blair, Paul Dooley, Diane Baker, Brian MacNamara, Stephen Stills[5][1]: 41004 
24Perry Mason: The Case of the Skin-Deep ScandalChristian I. Nyby IIRobert SchlittFebruary 19, 1993 (1993-02-19)

Cast: Carmen Argenziano, Scott Thompson Baker, Jonathan Banks, Polly Bergen, Morgan Fairchild, Michael Halsey, Tippi Hedren, David Warner, Patrick O'Neal[5][1]: 41071 
25Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show HostChristian I. Nyby IIJoyce BurdittMay 21, 1993 (1993-05-21)

Cast: Regis Philbin, Mariette Hartley, Fritz Coleman, Cristina Ferrare, G. Gordon Liddy, Fred Roggin, Montel Williams[5][1]: 41146 
26Perry Mason: The Case of the Killer KissChristian I. Nyby IIGerry ConwayNovember 29, 1993 (1993-11-29)

Cast: Stuart Damon, Linda Dano, Genie Francis[5][1]: 41218 
Note: This was the last to be filmed with Raymond Burr prior to his death; it was aired posthumously two and a half months after his passing. An in-memory note for Raymond Burr appeared at the end of the film.

A Perry Mason Mystery[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
27A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked WivesChristian I. Nyby IIJoyce BurdittDecember 17, 1993 (1993-12-17)

Note: To address the death of Raymond Burr, Perry Mason is addressed as being out of town for the remaining films.

After a photo shoot featuring his exes, a fashion photographer Eric Braeden is blinded by camera flashes and stabbed with a sword. Past secrets of his marriages make the exes all prime suspects.
Starring Paul Sorvino as Anthony Caruso
Cast: Shelley Hack, Kathy Ireland, Maud Adams, Beverly Johnson, Kim Alexis, Paula Marshall, Eric Braeden[5][1]: 41280 

28A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Lethal LifestyleHelaine HeadBruce Franklin Singer, Joyce BurditMay 10, 1994 (1994-05-10)

Starring Hal Holbrook as "Wild Bill" McKenzie
Cast: Robin Leach, Dixie Carter, Diahann Carroll, Robert Englund, James Stephens[5][1]: 41369 
29A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Grimacing GovernorMax TashRobert SchlittNovember 9, 1994 (1994-11-09)

Starring Hal Holbrook as "Wild Bill" McKenzie
Cast: Tony Curtis, Ken Kercheval, James Brolin, Deborah Raffin, John Spencer[5][1]: 41425 
30A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Jealous JokesterVincent McEveetyGerry ConwayApril 10, 1995 (1995-04-10)

Starring Hal Holbrook as "Wild Bill" McKenzie
Cast: Tony Roberts, Victoria Jackson, David Rasche, Dyan Cannon, Holland Taylor, Tina Yothers[5][1]: 41497 

Reception[edit]

Perry Mason Returns, the first television film in the series, was the second-highest-rated TV movie in American television during the 1985–86 season.[6]

Awards[edit]

  • 1988: Perry Mason: The Case of the Avenging Ace received a nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Miniseries or a Special (Dramatic Underscore) at the 40th Primetime Emmy Awards. The composer was Dick DeBenedictis.[7]
  • 1990: Perry Mason: The Case of the Silenced Singer was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics at the 42nd Primetime Emmy Awards, for a song composed by Dick DeBenedictis.[7]

Home media[edit]

All 30 Perry Mason television films are available on Region 1 DVD. They were released in five six-film sets that were initially available exclusively through Amazon.com. On June 7, 2016, the first four movie collections were given general retail release.[8]

DVD set TV movies Release date Notes
Volume 1 1–6 December 31, 2013 [9]
Volume 2 7–12 May 13, 2014 [10]
Volume 3 13–18 August 5, 2014 [11]
Volume 4 19–24 October 7, 2014 [12]
Volume 5 25–30 March 22, 2016 [13]
Complete Movie Collection 1–30 August 9, 2016 [14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Davidson, Jim (2014). "Perry Mason TV-Movies". The Perry Mason Book: A Comprehensive Guide to America's Favorite Defender of Justice (e-book). ASIN B00OOELV1K.
  2. ^ Kelly, Deirdre (August 17, 1985). "Back on the Case". The Globe and Mail.
  3. ^ Bond, Jeff (1999). The Music of Star Trek. Los Angeles: Lone Eagle Publishing Company. ISBN 1-58065-012-0.
  4. ^ Brennan, Patricia (November 28, 1993). "Barbara Hale; Her Long Friendship with Raymond Burr". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad "Perry Mason (1985–1993), The Perry Mason Mystery (1993–1995)". The Classic TV Archive. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  6. ^ Grimes, William (September 14, 1993). "Raymond Burr, Actor, 76, Dies; Played Perry Mason and Ironside". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Awards Search". Emmys. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  8. ^ "Perry Mason – Wide Releases for Movie Collections 1–4, and for Double Features 13–15". TV Shows on DVD.com. TV Guide Online. April 5, 2016. Archived from the original on May 10, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  9. ^ "Perry Mason – Movie Collection Volume 1". TV Shows on DVD.com. TV Guide Online. Archived from the original on June 30, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  10. ^ "Perry Mason – Movie Collection Volume 2". TV Shows on DVD.com. TV Guide Online. Archived from the original on June 30, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "Perry Mason – Movie Collection Volume 3". TV Shows on DVD.com. TV Guide Online. Archived from the original on June 30, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  12. ^ "Perry Mason – Movie Collection Volume 4". TV Shows on DVD.com. TV Guide Online. Archived from the original on June 30, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  13. ^ "Perry Mason – Movie Collection Volume 5". TV Shows on DVD.com. TV Guide Online. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  14. ^ "Perry Mason: The Complete Movie Collection". TCM Shop. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on February 7, 2019. Retrieved February 7, 2019.

External links[edit]