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Reviews

Perry Mason: The Case of the Howling Dog
(1959)
Episode 23, Season 2

Scary and Unsettling PM Episode
This is one of the scarier Perry Mason episodes I have seen. At first it's merely spooky, the scene at the asylum well done and atmospheric. But as the mystery deepens, the story becomes increasingly unsettling. Then, when Perry uncovers more deaths near the end, the murderer's confession reveals how much of a monster this seemingly nice person really is. Mason's outrage at the killer is eclipsed by the sadness one feels about the senseless deaths that have occurred. The attempt at humor in the ending scene, at Perry's office, can't overcome what is one of PMs darker cases.

Maverick
(1957)

The First Anti-Western
(The nine rating stars refer to the first three seasons of the show, only.)

Of all the Westerns on TV, Maverick's first three seasons stand above and beyond all the rest. True, the series went into decline, once Garner departed, and yes, the early Garner-free episodes weren't necessarily as good, but production values and an emphasis on comedy and mystery kept the show fresh, for much of its run.

One of the more interesting aspects of the show was its willingness to avoid violence when it could rely on wit, humor and deception to move a story along. Maverick's ability to satirize and poke fun at such iconic shows as Bonanza and Gun smoke is a testament to the creative juices flowing through its production and writing staff.

In short, to miss out on the early season is to deprive oneself of one of the great Western comedies of all time. You gotta see it to believe it.

The Prisoner
(1967)

Timeless Show About the Worth of the Soul
The Prisoner has been, and will always be, one of the best TV shows to ever grace the small screen. Though full of action and intrigue, every episode delved into questions about individuality and personal agency: are we ever truly free, or are we being manipulated every minute of our lives? What is truth, and does it matter what we learn, or how we gain that education? Of course, a show is only as successful as its actors and writing- and with Patrick M we had the best there was. A true Renaissance Man, he could act, perform action scenes, and even create episodes, if he wished. Others directed, and contributed stellar scripts as well, so that all in all, the episodes were far and above anything else on TV, at that time. Of all the worthwhile programs that have existed, The Prisoner is the one that most bears repeated viewings and analysis. It has never been more timely and pertinent than it is in today's screwed-up world.

Quincy M.E.
(1976)

Entertaining Mystery Show Morphs into Soapbox
Though Quincy began its run as a great mystery show, it all too soon evolved into a vehicle for discussion of the social issues of the day. Unlike Columbo, which maintained a reputation for sticking to good storytelling and suspense, Quincy started using violent incidents as an excuse to comment on gun control, spousal abuse, religious bigotry, etc. While it's important to be aware of societal ills, it's also important to understand that as soon as a storyteller starts "lecturing," the story suffers, and the audience leaves. And when producers, directors, and actors lose sight of the balance needed between telling a story and discussing the issues of the day, their show goes into decline. Trying to merge story and message is like mixing liver and ice cream; it can be done, but who's going to want the product? When Quincy stuck to storytelling, it was entertaining, but when stories took a backseat to "messages," it jumped the shark every time.

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