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Perry Mason - Season 1, Volume 1



DVD Release Date: July 11, 2006 (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment)
B&W / 1957-1958
MSRP: $49.99
Number of Discs: 5 Running Time: 1000 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: Closed-captioned
Special Features: None


You've been charged with one of the most horrific crimes ever--murder--and all of the evidence points in your direction. With nothing else to do, you've given up all hope and expect to be convicted and spending the rest of your life in prison, or worse, right? Not if you have Perry Mason as your attorney!

And now the first half (19 episodes) of the first season of the classic courtroom drama, where the seemingly guilty are actually innocent, is available on DVD from CBS DVD! Perry Mason: Season 1/Volume 1 includes the first 19 episodes of the classic series where Perry Mason (Raymond Burr), aided by his own secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale) and private eye Paul Drake (William Hopper), defends the citizens that are very clearly guilty of murder, even though they didn't do it. And he always (well, almost always, there is an exception to this rule) helps the defendant get off the hook for the crime that they didn't commit, often by causing a third party to incriminate themselves. All of that is frustrating for the district attorney, Hamilton Burger (William Talman), who always seems to think he can beat Perry Mason in court--and always comes out a loser.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The series begins with "The Case of the Restless Redhead," where a woman claims she is being stalked by a hooded man in a car. But when he suddenly shows up dead, who will be charged with his murder? And how will Perry Mason help her?

In "The Case of the Sulky Girl," a girl wants to get married and to have her trust fund to be released from her uncle and wants Perry's help--but her boyfriend may need Perry's help when the girl's uncle is murdered. Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie) and Sylvia Field (Dennis the Menace) play a daughter and mother (respectively, of course) in "The Case of the Angry Mourner," where Field's character is accused of murdering a man that just won't leave Eden's character alone. Francis Bavier (The Andy Griffith Show) guest stars in "The Case of the Crimson Kiss," where she plays an aunt of a woman that is accused of murder.

In "The Case of the Runaway Corpse," a man has decided to fake his own death and create evidence that would accuse his wife of doing it. But when he really IS murdered and the evidence that she did it still exists, how can she defend herself? In "The Case of the Crooked Candle," two women show up at a beauty parlor and realize they have the same last name, address, and husband! And when the husband dies, you know one of them will be accused of the murder!

A woman admits that she killed her uncle and gives a taped confession in "The Case of the Demure Defendant," but did she really kill him, and with evidence like that, how can Perry prove she was wrong? A woman comes to Perry wanting help finding a trailer that was stolen from her in "The Case of the Sun Bather's Diary," but she may need even more help from Perry.


The packaging is very simple, with a blue outer box featuring Perry and smaller color pictures along the top with other cast members of the show. The back of the box has a brief description of the series, as well as some black and white photos from the show. Inside the box, there are three slim cases: two double slim cases and one single slim case. The front of each slim case is white, with different pictures of Perry on each one and the back of each slim case has descriptions of each of the episodes on the discs inside that particular slim case.

The disc art is pretty basic, with each disc being white and having the same Perry Mason logo that is on the box art (which, by the way, is nothing like the plain logo that actually appears on the series), and each disc has a listing of the episodes on that disc. Discs 1-4 each have four episodes on them, while Disc 5 has 3 episodes.

Menu Design and Navigation:

Just like the packaging, this is pretty simple too. When you put the disc in, you get a menu that lists the episodes on the disc, with a picture of Perry on the right side of the screen and the theme music playing in the background. And that is really all there is to the menus. Nothing else. You select the episode you want, and it plays right away, without any scene selection menus or anything like that. The simplicity is actually pretty nice. There is no Play All option on the menu. And even though there are no scene selection menus, there are plenty of appropriately placed chapters within the episodes, with each episode containing 7 or 8 (it varies by episode).

Video and Audio Quality:

I don't review these old shows very often, but I remember a few months ago when I reviewed Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I was very disappointed in the video and audio quality, and assumed it had a lot to do with the age of the show. However, this set kind of throws that theory out of the window--because the video quality on this set is EXCELLENT, much better than I expected. You'll find some grain here and there, but it is very minor, and seems to be about the only video problem. Clearly, this show was well preserved. The audio is pretty good too, although the audio level does vary slightly from episode to episode. It is nothing of major concern, however. There aren't any subtitles, but each episode is closed-captioned.

The episodes themselves look to be unedited, running at roughly 52-53 minutes per episode! That means (although I'm sure the networks are probably speeding them up some), about 8 or 9 minutes are missing per episode--by the 44 minute standard, which is longer than things are in syndication now! So I'm guessing that in syndication, you are only getting about 80% of the episodes--which makes these DVDs even more valuable to have. And if that isn't enough, some (though not most, in fact, not even half) have the original sponsorship logos on the closing credits, although most of the products on there don't even seem to exist anymore!

Special Features:

Not a single special feature is included on this set--a little disappointing! I'm not sure exactly what they could include considering how old the show is, but surely they can dig up something, because this show is a true classic. Of course, there are still MANY more sets that will need to be released to complete the series, so maybe some of those will have special features.

Final Comments:

This really is the greatest legal drama of all time, no matter what anybody says, and the show is just such a classic that it is hard to pass up. Buying these sets would be setting yourself up for a HUGE commitment (if they continue doing half seasons like this, and I assume they will, we are talking about 17 more sets to go!), but for those into the true television classics, this show is one of the most important ones. Hopefully they'll release these at a fast rate (I'm hoping for about 4 sets per year, it would still take over 4 years to finish up the series at that rate though!) They really do need to offer some special features on future sets though. So if you're a fan of legal dramas or just these older shows from the 50s, this is the show for you!

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 07/12/06

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