If you’re fed up with the inanity of fake news, the depressing facts in real news, and the stupidity of modern pop culture, may I recommend Perry Mason?
I’ve always enjoyed knitting to classic television. I’ve knit my way through I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, Carol Burnett, and a host of other shows that I classify as “mental comfort food.’ My latest knitting show is Perry Mason, which ran from 1957 through 1966.
I actually have very vague memories of watching Perry Mason with the family when I was still a very little girl. Raymond Burr frightened me, for he was a big man, with big eyebrows, and represented AUTHORITY. He was an uber-Daddy figure, seeming to me to be much more stern than my real Daddy, who was usually a jovial man who left most disciplining to my mother (who nevertheless would say things such as, “Wait until your father hears about this”). The result was that I didn’t come away with very good memories of Perry Mason, which I remembered as a scary show.
My distaste for Raymond Burr wasn’t helped when, in my 20s, I saw him in Rear Window. I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I say that he fulfilled perfect his actorly responsibility to play an unappealing character.
Last week, though, when I picked up my knitting, I went hunting for some classic TV and found Perry Mason just sitting there, waiting to be watched. I sampled an episode, liked it, and kept going. I’ve now watched brilliant criminal defense attorney Perry Mason, Della Street (his insanely loyal, hardworking secretary), Paul Drake (his private investigator), Lieutenant Tragg (the primary police investigator), and Hamilton Burger (the District Attorney) through two hats, a scarf, and a pair of socks. Aside from my knitting accomplishments, which are a pleasure on their own, it’s been enjoyable catching up with this show.
To begin with, watching the show with adult eyes — not just adult eyes, but lawyer eyes — I can see that Perry Mason is anything but scary. Instead, as Raymond Burr plays him, he is the “perfect gentleman.” Mason is learned, brave, ethical, generous, kind and, of course, remarkably intelligent. The face that I once thought overwhelming I now see has an almost hound dog appeal to it. [Read more…]