11 September 2013 | GMJames
The Case of Terrible Timing
In May 1966, the original "Perry Mason" series ended on CBS after 9 successful seasons. Seven years later, an ill-advised remake was produced by some of the people associated with the original series.
Veteran TV actor Monte Markham won the role Raymond Burr made famous to the point that no one can ever associate the role of Perry Mason with anyone other than Burr. As far as I'm concerned, Markham did a credible job with the material given to him. I thought Harry Guardino as Hamilton Burger and Dane Clark as Lt. Arthur Tragg were OK in their roles as well. The less said about Sharon Acker as Della Street and Albert Stratton as Paul Drake, the better.
Brett Somers appeared in a few episodes as receptionist Gertie Lade and was a well-needed comic relief to some not-so-exciting mysteries.
This will probably be the only review which will acknowledge liking the theme music and who composed it, Earle Hagen (Andy Griffith Show, The Mod Squad, I Spy, among many others). As with Burr, Fred Steiner's Park Avenue Beat/Perry Mason theme will always be iconic. Hagen's stand-alone underscore serves its purpose and does not overwhelm the story lines.
So, why did the show flop? According to a New York Times article (September 26, 1973) no new shows appeared in the top 20 Nielsen ratings the week The New Perry Mason debuted. In addition, the original Perry Mason was in daily syndication in many television markets and Burr's other series, Ironside, was starting its 6th season. Considering that Burr would return to play Perry Mason in 1985, a decade after the failed remake, maybe the remake was just a case of terrible timing.
At least one YouTube user uploaded several episodes from the remake. Despite my agreement with many Perry Mason fans lambasting the remake, I thought it had potential but was painted in an unfortunate corner and was slated for a quick death.
Who did it? In my opinion, it was network executives who thought a remake was needed despite dedicated fans saying no.