The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio The great ones are back in action.

11Jan/120

EP0578: Let George Do It: White Elephant

Bob Bailey

George is contacted by a woman in a large and expensive house who informs him that she's left him $1,000 in her will-if he solves her murder.

Original Air Date: September 11, 1950

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10Jan/120

EP0577: Candy Matson: The Movie Company

Natalie Masters

Candy goes to visit an old friend at a movie company filming in San Francisco and runs into a string of murders.

Original Air Date: August 29, 1950

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9Jan/120

EP0576: Barrie Craig: The Lonely Corner

William Gargan

Barrie finds a jewel thief dead in his office.

Original Air Date: November 3, 1953

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8Jan/120

Video Theater 024: Nancy Drew, Reporter

Nancy Drew (Bonita Granville) tries to clear a woman accused of murder in her effort to win a prize for her efforts as a junior reporter.

Release Date: February 18, 1939

8Jan/120

Book Review: D.R.T.

This week, we take a look at a more modern detective novel, that's actually set in my backyard, the Treasure Valley.

In D.R.T. (Dead Right There)  by Ray Ellis, a serial killer targets registered sex offenders living in the Treasure Valley.  The killer has a list of victims and a deadline to get his killing done.  Detective Nate Richards is assigned to the case and when he and his partner thwart the killer's first attempt on the only female on the list, the killer becomes desperate to finish the job and the list.

Ellis is a police veteran and gives D.R.T. a sense of authenticity. At the same time, D.R.T. is a well-crafted and suspenseful story. While, the identity of the killer is revealed early, Ellis introduces two other characters that kept me guessing as to what their role in this is.

The nature of the crimes at the heart of DRT are emotionally charged as we're dealing with the perpetrators of horrendous crimes against children. Ellis avoids extremes and handles this aspect of the story with great sensitivity.

In addition to the crime story, Richards personal life provides a well-developed subplot as he deals with the return of his love interest from the first novel after a year and a half of her not contacting him.

Overall, the novel is a well-done and suspenseful story that captures both the ups and downs of a policeman's life, but also the attention of readers.

Rating: 4.5 stars

D.R.T.  is available as an ebook in Amazon Kindle Store and also for the Nook. The book is published by Stonehouse Ink.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchaser.

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7Jan/120

Perry Mason’s Final TV Cases

With the impending departure of Starz programming including the 1980s and 1990s Perry Mason Telefilms, I've been watching all 26 of these last films with the aging Raymond Burr. My thoughts on the first 9 films (i.e. the Paul Drake, Jr. era) are here.

After the 1988  Movie, "The Lady in the Lake," William Katt departed the cast and Paul Drake, Jr. was replaced by lawyer Ken Malansky, played by William Moses. The Ken Malansky era was the one I grew up watching, but Malansky wasn't all these other films had to offer.

Ken MalanskyKen Malansky: The change from Drake to Malansky seemed to recapture some of the old Perry Mason Magic. The way that Perry Mason had worked in the 1950s was in establishing a family atmosphere on the team between Perry, Della, and Paul Drake. With Raymond Burr and Della Street much older, they needed a dutiful son-type rather than a brother-type as the original Paul Drake had been  For me, Ken Malansky gelled better in that capacity.  This, despite the fact that Katt was actually Barbara Hale's real life son.

Unlike Drake, Malansky wasn't a detective. He was a fully licensed member of the bar (after his first appearance when he was a law student accused of murder) who did the work of a private investigator. While he struggled with cases, and finding his man he was far more competent than Drake, Jr.

It did take them a while to get the Malansky character just right. The first three movies with Malansky in 1989 featured Alexandra Paul as his eccentric on-again/off-again fiancee'. They took the quirky character and tried to make her into a detective in training. It didn't work and by the next season she'd disappeared into the memory hole that had swallowed TV characters such as Chuck Cunningham. From then on, Malansky was paired with a different (usually female) sidekick each movie, often against his will.

Over the course of the seventeen films, Moses grew increasingly comfortable in the role and his role in Perry's office grew. In early episodes, Perry declined to have the green young attorney as co-counsel, but later he was introduced as Perry's associate and in one of the final movies as his partner.

Overall, the family dynamic had gelled very well by the time the last few Mason films would air.

Lt. Brock: The latter films featured a lot more of James McEachin as Lieutenant Brock. McEachin had appeared in the second Perry Mason film as Sergeant Brock in The Case of the Notorious Nun. McEachin returned in another role, In the Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel in 1987, before finding his way back for 13 more episodes as Sergeant and later Lieutenant Brock including 12 of the Malansky era Masons.  McEachin had a folksy and convicing manner that almost sold you on whatever slim circumstantial case he'd gotten against Perry's clients. As I watched a lot of these movies in a row, one thing that did begin unbelievable is his extreme confidence that there was just no way, Perry Mason was going to get his client out of this one. "Unlike the last eleven times I said this, Mr. Mason, there's no way your client will ever be acquitted."

Yeah, right. See you in court.

The Prosecutors: After the departure of David Ogden Stiers in 1988, the prosecution table became a smorgasboard of forgettable performances. The prosecution was so inconsequential that in one episode, the writers didn't bother to name her, having the judge address her only as, "Madam prosecutor."

One exception to this was, "Perry Mason and the Case of the Fatal Fashion" which featured Scott Baio as the opposing counsel. This was actually Baio's first role since the end of Charles in Charge and he acquitted himself well as a hotshot young attorney who admires Perry Mason and dreams of besting the great man in court.  While he doesn't end up doing it, he probably came closer than anyone else, and made a nice bright spot in these bleak catalog of unworthy prosecutors.

A Little Padding: Some of the Perry Mason films came off as padded to fit timeslots. Perhaps, the worst example of this is the obligatory scene where the prosecutor asks the arresting officer about finding the murder weapon. When Mason cross-examines, this makes sense. When he says, "No questions," as he does a few times, it seems like a waste of the audience's time as it reveals no new information.

Exit Raymond Burr: Of course, these are minor points. Whatever flaws or logical inconsistencies can be found in Perry Mason's TV movies, over the course of 26 films, the highlight is still the opportunity to see Raymond Burr in his most memorable role just one more time. While some other parts of the show disappointed in terms of acting, writing, or pacing, Burr remained the consumate professional and delivered solid performances to the end, including his last performance before his 1993 deat in, "Perry Mason and the Case of the Killer Kiss." Lawyers had long been a joke and despised, but Burr succeeded in creating an attorney who was beloved for his pursit of justice.

Burr's death left the network on the hook to produce 4 new Perry Mason films, but without the definitive Perry Mason. Rather than trying to cast another actor as Mason, the Network opted to bring in Paul Sorvino and then Hal Holbrooke as friends of Perry filling in. I may watch those films before they disappear from Netflix. I barely remember them from when they aired. The main thing I remember about Sorvino and Holbrooke is that they were no Raymond Burr.

Then again who was?

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6Jan/120

EP0575: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Jeanne Maxwell Matter

John Lund

Johnny has to find out whether the death of an insured young woman was murder or suicide.

Original Air Date: March 6, 1953

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5Jan/120

EP0574: Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Lucky Shilling

Sherlock Holmes is asked by the Lady Monooth to help find her son. While she's talking to Holmes, her son comes in and hangs himself

Original Air Date: January 18, 1948

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4Jan/120

EP0573: Let George Do It: Second Degree Affection

Bob Bailey

The sister of a man on trial for murder asks George to get her brother to reveal information that could spare his life.

Original Air Date: September 4, 1950

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3Jan/120

EP0572: Candy Matson: Symphony of Death

Natalie Masters

Candy is hired by the sister of a brilliant composer who is losing his mind.

Original Air Date: June 20, 1950

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