Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Favorite Fictional Character --- Perry Mason
Who doesn't love Perry Mason? If you are one of those strange people who don't love him, I would have to assume that you were born on Mars and have 4 eyes in the middle of your forehead, maybe a tail as well. If that's not the reason, well then you are just plain strange.
Perry starred in a series of novels and short stories by Erle Stanley Gardner, over 80 of them actually, and he has been in the collective memory of us all ever since. Now my memories of him don't come from the books. I'm actually reading my first one right now, The Case Of The Daring Divorcee, and I'm loving it so far. Instead I first grew to know, and yes have a crush on, Perry by watching the TV show that aired from 1957-1966.
Since I'm only 33 years old, I wasn't able to watch the show when it first aired, but every time it would come on in syndication I would gobble the episodes up like Halloween candy. There was something so imposing but attractive about the way Raymond Burr brought the character to life. Perry was an intelligent defense attorney who with the help of his secretary Della Street, and his PI, Paul Drake, would take on those cases that seemed the most dire and undefinable. He would take on for the most part murder cases where the defendant looks extremely guilty. He actually seemed to enjoy the case the most when it was harder than what he had dealt with before.
What really set him apart were his tactics and the way he would play the trial as if it was a board game. He was great at manipulating the evidence and the actual people involved in the case. He would deliberately mislead the police, keep information back, and do whatever else it took to protect his client. Lucky for him he always did it ethically (for the most part) and he could get the real murderer to crack on the witness stand. Those breakdowns on the stand were always the pay off for me. Watching Perry wear down the real culprit and get them to confess under oath was always a pleasure to watch.
I think the other thing I always found fascinating about Perry Mason, was the mystery about who he was outside of work. His personal life was really never explored in the show or in the books for that matter. The reader/viewer, with the help of very, very few random clues, were left to their own devices to fill in the gaps about him as a man. His motivations, his wants, and desires are all left undisclosed, making Perry probably one of the most famous characters that we know very little about. He is a brilliant enigma that I never get tired of being around.
For anyone interested, CBS.com has 39 full episodes of the TV show to watch online.