First kill all the critics?
Perry MasonDistributor: CBS/Paramount
Cast: Raymond Burr
US release date: 2012-10-23
PopMatters reviewed the first half of Season 7 of Perry Mason here. This set closes the season with the last 15 episodes, aired from January to May 1964. As legal beagle Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) defends various suckers from charges of murder, the quest for fresh twists leads to a couple of episodes that dispose of the courtroom proceedings early in the show as a kind of appetizer to the main action. The best of these is "The Case of the Nervous Neighbor", about an old lady who doesn't remember that she killed her husband! That one has a rare dramatic role for ventriloquist Paul Winchell.
Writer Jonathan Latimer, who dominated the first half of the season, is here responsible only for "The Case of the Frightened Fisherman", in which he manages once again to introduce an animal character. However, the season's most notable twist is the absence of trusty secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale) from a string of episodes. Instead we're treated to surprise appearances by the bug-eyed receptionist Gertie (Connie Cezon), a figure often referenced but rarely seen. Contrariwise, Ray Collins (as Lt. Tragg) continues to be billed but is never seen at all in this batch.
As usual, some of the livelier episodes deal with show biz as a world of colorful blowhards. "The Case of the Bountiful Beauty" is a Hollywood story about a young woman whose bestseller is optioned by an autocratic director (John Van Dreelen). "The Case of the Garrulous Go-Between" has a stylish fortune-teller (Lori March) who predicts bad mojo for a Nancy Drew-ish heroine (Sue Randall). Both are trumped by "The Case of the Simple Simon", about a troupe of larger-than-life Shakespeareans who include Victor Buono, Tom Conway, and Virginia Field. "Is it really so terrible to kill a critic?" asks the diva. We'll let you know.
Other guests include Joyce Bulifant, Richard Davalos, Dabbs Greer, Ryan O'Neal, Phyllis Coates, David McCallum, Jeanne Cooper, Les Tremayne, Jackie Coogan, Malachi Throne, Mala Powers, Jacques Aubuchon, Anthony Eisley, Jerry Van Dyke, Nancy Gates, Harry Townes, Berry Kroeger, Michael Ansara, Peter Breck, Bek Nelson, Mimsy Farmer, Malcolm Atterbury, Philip Ober, and Constance Towers.