Notes on Perry Mason

Being an “old fart” I enjoy watching old television programs. Rockford Files was a favorite growing up, and I watched it not long ago on Netflix. Lately, I have been programming my Tivo to capture the old Perry Mason episodes from MeTV. It is a classic, and enjoyable, but there are some attributes from its “era”.

First, unlike Columbo, you don’t know whodunnit up front. Of course, human nature causes you to speculate, but one thing is certain, the person charged is NEVER guilty, regardless of how bad it looks for them.

Second, the show ran for 9 seasons, and you can see some very distinct changes. In the early episodes, you would often see Raymond Burr lighting up a cigarette, and then in later episodes, he abstained from the weed. Of course, throughout the run, there was plenty of smoking from the cast and guests. Also, it seemed very common that there was heavy drinking, lots and lots of bottles of alcohol being tippled into tumblers.

Third, the episodes (with commercials) were an hour, and it is a pretty predictable cadence. An intro, a murder (always a murder), at about the 30 minute mark, you are in court, things look bleak for the defendant, with the prosecuting attorney, Hamilton Burger, zeroing in, and then the “twist”. Paul Drake or Della Street brings in a critical piece of information, and BANG Perry gets the guilty party to confess or act out.

Fourth, even as adversarial as Mason and the prosecutor, Burger are, they seem to have a jovial, relationship outside the courtroom. I suspect that in real life, there isn’t so much clubishness between prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Even with this formulaic structure, this snapshot of life in the late 50’s and early-mid 60’s, is amusing, and I enjoy watching.

The X-Files

X-Files

I remember watching the X-Files in the 1990’s when it was first ran, and enjoyed it. The premise was interesting, an FBI agent who believes in UFO’s, extra terrestrials, and other spooky conspiracy things.

Agent ScullyStarring Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, the early episodes are rapid fire, entertaining, and engaging, even if, implausible. Written by Chris Carter, the production was outstanding.

During the original run, I was a dutiful follower, but sometime in the 3rd season I wandered off. Still, I had fond memories.

Then I found it on Netflix, so I started watching it again. My early, fond memories of the show were validated, and reinforced, and let’s face it, an early 1990’s Gillian Anderson? Rawr!

But with the miracle of Netflix, come the ability to binge watch. I raced through season 1 and 2 gleefully, then starting in season 3, it starts to alter direction. The stories are less entertaining, the darker turn to more government conspiracies, the more fabulous the setups, the uh, less enjoyable it became.

Agent MulderBy the time I got into the 4th season, I was completely turned off. Not even the “are they screwing yet” question could keep me watching the show.

I can’t help but wonder if they completely jumped the shark, and were on life support long beyond the sell-by date.

Oh well, one more of my enjoyable splurges is ruined forever.

(I am typing this watching the episode where they encounter the fetishist who has abducted Scully and is going to harvest her hair and fingernails. Creepy, and part of the “good times”)

Jurassic Park III

Last night, while scrolling through Netflix, one of their “Recently Added” titles was Jurassic Park III. Since I had re-watched Jurassic Park, and then the less enjoyable sequel, The Lost World, my thumb tapped the play button.

Ugh, what have I done.

It starts with a boy and a man (presumed to be his father) going parasailing on Isla Sola, the “Second” JP island that we learnt so much about in The Lost World.

Of course, this goes horribly wrong and they detach from the tether and glide inland where the Dinosaurs are.

of course, parasailing doesn’t get you high enough to go in as far as they were int he early filming, but hey, let’s completely suspend belief…

The next eon is a very slow setup. You see Professor Alan Grant with (whoever Laura Dern played – yeah, that memorable) and kids. You assume that they are married, and it is their family, but oops, her husband comes in. It was just a visit.

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Jurassic Park

On the train with Netflix viewing again, Friday night I fired up “Jurassic Park” on Netflix. Released originally in 1993, it was the first movie I recall with this much immersive CGI effects. I did see it originally in the theaters, and I recall being wowed by the cinematography.

The Premise

InGen LogoA wealthy “Showman”, John Hammond (played by the amazing Sir Richard Attenborough) undertakes a massive program to bring the dinosaurs back to life for a modern safari park on an island off the coast of Costa Rica (in reality, the filming was done on Kauai). By extracting DNA from fossilized mosquitos in amber, enough DNA was recovered to allow the genetic engineers of the fictional InGen corporation to piece together whole DNA strands to then create the embryos of the recreated dinosaurs (more on this later in the review).

From there the embryos were implanted in ostrich or emu eggs, and carefully hatched.

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Netflix Binging – Battlestar Galactica

For some reason, Netflix “recommended” the Battlestar Galactica series to me. Having vague memories of it as a kid, I thought why not, and put it on.

Star Wars logoThe Pilot is long. I mean, REALLY REALLY long. It is three 1 hour episodes (part 1, part 2, and part 3). Originally broadcast in 1978, it was about a year after the first Star Wars movie, and clearly it was influenced by the blockbuster hit that preceded it. A space opera, with action and special effects to captivate the audience.

The premise is that an ancient race of cyborgs (the Cylons) are ostensibly engaging with humans to negotiate a long term peace. Of course, they really are planning on wiping out the humans, to cleanse the universe of these pesky life forms.

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