Saturday, November 28, 2009
The verdict is in for Perry Mason: Season 4, Volume 2 (CBS DVD, $39.98) puts a true meaning into the phrase "innocent until proven guilty," as defense attorney Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) successfully takes on twelve more cases and proves that those who appear to be guilty and headed for a life in prison (or worse) are in fact not guilty of the serious crimes that they are accused of committing. The defendants appear to have no hope of proving their innocence, but for the right price, Perry Mason can take on the woefully incompetent district attorney, Hamilton Burger (William Talman), and prove any defendant to be not guilty. It is classic courtroom drama that has an all-too-predictable ending for each and every episode.
Season 4, Volume 2 brings the final twelve episodes of the fourth season together in a three-disc set, beginning with the February 18, 1961 episode, "The Case of the Wintry Wife," where a woman maliciously destroys an invention that could make her husband millions, then mysteriously ends up dead. And you know who the top suspect is going to be. In "The Case of the Angry Dead Man," a man almost dies, but later realizes how lucrative the life insurance payout would be if he really does die. In an ironic twist of fate, he really DOES die, so who will be suspect number one? A jewel thief goes horribly wrong when the perfectly planned scheme ends with the thief getting murdered himself in "The Case of the Blind Man's Bluff." A contractor is furious when he finds he has been swindled in "The Case of the Difficult Detour," and when the man who cheated him ends up dead, the contractor finds he has one big problem: he had a motive. In "The Case of the Cowardly Lion," some bizarre happenings at the San Diego Zoo may just help Perry defend a client.
In "The Case of the Violent Vest," a man is killed after paying off his wife's debts when he agrees to do so in order to leave town with a more attractive woman, and the circumstances of the murder are definitely a little bizarre. Perry has to prove that he has what it takes to defend an old war buddy in a court-martial proceeding at an Air Force base in "The Case of the Misguided Missile." A daughter fleeing the scene where her own father was murdered makes the daughter a prime suspect, as we learn in "The Case of the Duplicate Daughter." A man gets involved in the affairs of a female in "The Case of the Grumbling Grandfather," and it proves to be a bad choice when he is accused of murdering her estranged husband. The season ends with "The Case of the Guilty Clients," where a pilot in a test aircraft dies and it just so happens to be that the ex-wife of the designer of the aircraft is also the new girlfriend of the pilot. It sounds like we have a suspect.
The set is packaged in a standard DVD case much like every other CBS DVD releases, and really does not add much to be excited about. It is just too standard and basic. The front of the case has a picture of Perry Mason on an orange background with several color courtroom photos at the top of the cover. Inside, there is a listing of all of the episodes, and a listing of where each episode can be found on each disc. There is a brief synopsis as well as the original airdate for each episode. There are three discs in the set, all having the basic gray CBS DVD artwork (with the series logo on each disc), and each disc contains exactly four episodes. The menus, similarly, are rather dull and much like other CBS DVD releases, simply listing each episode and giving a Play All option. Each episode contains chapters at all of the appropriate places.
The video and audio quality on the set is, to say the least, superb. I have never found any problems at all regarding video and audio on any of these sets, and it really goes to show that a series can be very well preserved nearly fifty years after originally airing. The picture is a clean, crisp black-and-white picture with very minimal grain and debris, and the mono audio is very loud and clear. Each episode is closed-captioned. The episodes are all unedited, running at 52 minutes each, and the set doesn't even have the standard CBS DVD disclaimer warning of potentially edited episodes. That is very nice to not have glaring at you on the packaging. Unfortunately, there are no special features on the set.
It is difficult to complain about these sets, with the great video and audio quality, but it really would be nice to see some special features and a move to full season releases. I think that is the only real issue that I even have with the set. It is clear that fans are really enjoying this series, as this is the eighth release of the series (ninth if you include the special 50th anniversary release) on DVD, and it appears that CBS DVD will continue with the series. But with a series with a fan base like this, CBS DVD really should give fans more to appreciate on DVD. Still, I think the verdict on this set is pretty clear, and it didn't even need the services of the Honorable Mr. Mason to prove it: not guilty!
-- Reviewed by skees53
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