Saturday, June 13, 2009
The verdict is in for Perry Mason: Season 4, Volume 1 (CBS DVD, $49.99), and the verdict is: a great DVD set! Perry Mason, of course, is the classic 1950s/1960s TV series that starred Raymond Burr as a defense attorney that would take virtually any case that you would look at and say "nobody could win that case," yet he got a victory in all but one episode. The series was one of the first prominent law dramas to ever air on TV (and the oldest one that we even recognize these days) and aired for nine seasons on CBS. This DVD set presents the first 16 episodes of the 1960-1961 season in a four disc set.
Robert Redford guest stars in "The Case of the Treacherous Toupee," where a hairpiece may help clear a suspected murderer. A woman and her new lover (her husband's nephew) get involved in an extortion scheme gone wrong in "The Case of the Ill-Fated Faker." In "The Case of The Lavender Lipstick," Perry must defend a woman that is accused of killing her boss--and she was to be the heir of his fortune. A clown discovers that his wife is a bigamist in "The Case of the Clumsy Clown," and soon after, she turns up dead. Who else can prove him not guilty?
A girl's family is lost in "The Case of the Nine Dolls," but her family being lost may be the least of her worries. In "The Case of the Loquacious Liar," a man is threatened by his stepfather, but his stepfather is the one that turns up dead. John Hoyt guest stars in "The Case of the Resolute Reformer," where a land purchase deal ends in murder. In "The Case of the Fickle Fortune," a man hires Perry after it is discovered that another man that stole a large amount of money from him has been murdered.
The packaging on the case is the typical cheap CBS DVD movie style case that we all have a love-hate relationship with. They are nice, thin, and seem to "standardize" our collections, but they also scream "cheap" at the same time. As far as disc artwork, there really isn't any aside from the standard gray CBS DVD background with the show logo on each disc. Each disc contains exactly four episodes.
The menus on the set are very, well, basic. The main menu on each disc has a picture of Perry with a listing of episodes next to him, as well as a Play All option. You can't get simpler than that. Chapters are placed in all of the appropriate places.
As the case has been with previous sets, the video and audio quality on this set is excellent. The picture is crystal clear with very little grain (you can't even notice what is there unless you are paying VERY close attention) and the video is presented in pristine black and white. The audio is perfectly fine too, being presented in glorious mono (hey, it was the early 60s) with closed-captioning available for those that require it. The episodes appear to be unedited, as each one runs at almost exactly 52 minutes. That is further backed up by the fact that the set surprisingly does not have the standard CBS DVD disclaimer about episodes being edited. How often does a CBS DVD not have that?
Sadly, despite the fact that these sets always have great video and audio quality, and are always unedited, this set once again lacks in special features. CBS DVD did release a special anniversary set about a year ago that had some very nice special features, but it would be nice to have those on the season sets too. There has to be some old footage with Raymond Burr that they could include somewhere!
CBS DVD is keeping these sets very basic, but I'm still impressed with the quality of the episodes, and the fact that (as far as I can tell) they have yet to put out any truly inferior sets. The only thing that is frustrating about these sets is the half season model. With this model, it'll take 11 more releases to get the entire series out on DVD! But it has been popular with fans everywhere, and I'm sure that fans will support any number of releases. But there is no need to take CBS DVD to trial over this, because this is a set that fans of one of America's greatest defense attorneys (let us not forget about our good friend Matlock, of course) are sure to appreciate.
-- Reviewed by skees53
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Monday, February 20
- Jason Jones (The Detour) - Watch Jason on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
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- Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
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- Louie Anderson (Baskets/The Louie Show/Life with Louie) - Louie is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.