It's a challenge to untangle the various relationships in this early, rural episode. Nonetheless, there's one overriding reason to comment on the 60 minutes that otherwise slips by. Lodged somewhat unnoticed in the script is a rather startling development for any series of the time-- an innocent man, Deveraux, has in fact been convicted and executed for a murder he did not commit, even if it did occur 18 years earlier. Now, this is a surprising plot device especially for a series that otherwise exalts our criminal justice system. The tragedy is explained in part by Deveraux's defense lawyer, Don Beddoe, who admits he lacked the ability to mount a proper defense. But however it's sliced, execution of an innocent man remains a supreme injustice that had no chance of being used again once the series established a higher profile.
The entry itself is a good one despite the many complications. At first I thought the drowning duck trick was simply time-filler. Then I realized it serves the purpose of showing that the young defendant, Marv Adams, flirts with a possibly cruel act, thereby strengthening the prosecution's case. The acting, as usual, is quite good. Carol Kelly is affecting as the rather blowzy "other woman", along with Paula Winslowe as the wronged wife. Note Mason's almost truculent courtroom behavior, a long way from his later polished decorum, as he spars with the judge who accuses Mason of big city airs. For fans of the series, these early episodes could still take chances.
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