Today, we are going to talk about legal shows, as if they were within the books of a law library — because, like bookends, there is a beginning and an ending — “Perry Mason” and “Law and Order”.
But there is so much of the latter we will save that for the next column.
“Perry Mason’ brought to life the wonderful writing of Erle Stanley Gardner, and Raymond Burr did the part so well.
The series, on the CBS network from 1957 to 1965, is still on MeTV twice a day — because the story lines have stood up so well.
“Perry Mason” had all the ingredients for success — a great supporting cast, good-looking women against the backdrop of Los Angeles and its mild Mediterranean climate.
The series is so popular they tried twice to rekindle it with different players — but could not recapture the magic of the original cast.
The only reboot that worked was when they brought Burr back for a series of TV movies in the ’80s and ’90s. The first was when Della Street was accused of murder, and Mason resigned a judgeship to defend her. Then Della, the same Barbara Hale, became his secretary again.
Since William Hopper — the original Mason private eye Paul Drake — died shortly after the original series wrapped, this time it was Paul Drake Jr.
Even the names of the characters were well thought out. Did anyone ever realize the plays on words? The district attorney was Hamilton Burger. Was that because, is almost every episode — Mason lost only one case — he made “hamburger” out of the DA? Or how about the original police lieutenant,Tragg. Lt. Tragg, what a drag!.
Even Della Street, because people come in off the street to see Mason.
Burr was such a presence that after Mason left the air — the series’ only color episode was its last — Burr resurfaced immediately on NBC as Ironside, the tough-as-nails San Francisco PD chief of detectives who is shot and ends up in a wheelchair, but continues to function. Burr did nine TV seasons as Mason, and another seven as Ironside.
Like law books in between bookends, there were series like “LA Law”, “The Practice” and its spin-off, “Boston Legal”.
“LA Law” did seven seasons on NBC, and its theme song made the Top 40. This series featured the real-life and on-screen husband and wife duo of Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker, and also featured Corbin Bernsen, and Susan Dey as deputy DA Grace Owen. The series also gave rise to actors like Jimmy Smits, Blair Underwood, and Harry Hamlin.
“Boston Legal” ended up really being a continuation of “The Practice” since it continued two of its characters — Denny Crane, played by soon-to-be 89 year-old William Shatner — and James Spader’s character, Alan Shore.
This series had some other big names — Candace Bergen, in her post-“Murphy Brown” role; John Larroquette, in his post-Dan Fielding from “Night Court” role; Rene Auberjonois, Clayton Runnymede Endicott III, the pompous member of the governor’s team on “Benson”; three characters in “Star Trek Deep Space Nine” from 1993 to 1999, plus a ton of voices for animated characters.
Now we come to the other bookend, “Law and Order.”
This TV franchise is a tree with many branches — so many branches we will deal with it in the next installment.
You can also find “TV’s Greatest Hits” on accessnepa.com, under “Featured Content” and “Screen Time.”
Next: The “Law and Order” franchises.

TRIVIA QUESTIONS FROM LAST TIME:
QUESTION: There were two actors who played Dr. Rudy Wells, the bionic doc in both series. Who were they?
ANSWER: — Martin E. Brooks played Dr. Rudy Wells in 45 episodes. But Alan Oppenheimer, one of my Unsung Heroes of TV, played the original Dr. Rudy Wells nine times before.
Q. Did “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman” ever get back together?
A. Yes.
Q. What other TV series did Lee Majors star in?
A. His first series was “The Big Valley” as the youngest of the Barkley brothers, who was actually a half-brother, the product of an affair by his late father, but embraced by the mother of his half-sister and two half-brothers. He also starred in “Owen Marshall, Counselor At Law”, which was ABC trying to capitalize on the success of “Marcus Welby, M.D.” with a lawyer version
Q. What famous actress was born on the same day as Wagner, June 22, 1949?
A. Wagner was born on the same date as Oscar-winner Meryl Streep.
Q. What other TV series did Richard Anderson star in as a regular?
A. Anderson, who had a long and distinguished career as an actor, spanning 70 years from 1947 to his death at age 91 in 2017, was Lt. Steve Drumm, the prime detective in the last two seasons of “Perry Mason”, and was Chief Dan Untermeyer in a like number of episodes, 26, on “Dan August,” Burt Reynolds as a detective. Anderson was also District Attorney Glenn Wagner in “Bus Stop” in 1961-62.
Q. Is Anderson the only actor/actress to play the same character on two TV series simultaneously?
A. No. There are a handful of others, but Anderson is the only actor to play the same character on two series on two networks simultaneously, when “The Bionic Woman” switched to NBC for its last season.

TRIVIA QUESTIONS THIS TIME:
QUESTION: Who played Paul Drake Jr. in the “Perry Mason” movies? Why him?
Q. Who acted in “The New Perry Mason” in 1973?
Q. Who played the detectives in “Perry Mason”?
Q. What “Perry Mason” judge was a regular in “Three Stooges” short films?
You can also find “TV’s Greatest Hits” on accessnepa.com, under “Featured Content” and “Screen Time.”
Q. What famous characters did Corbin Bernsen and Susay Dey also play?

ANSWER” “Greatest American Hero” William Katt played the younger Drake. Katt is the real-life son of Barbara Hale, Della Street.
A. They used a lot of actors who were known faces, but I’ll bet you couldn’t name them — my Unsung Heroes of TV. Monte Markham played Mason. Sharon Acker played Della Street. “Dirty Harry” actor Harry Guardino played DA Hamilton Burger, and Dane Clark played Lt. Tragg.
A. Ray Collins played LA homicide Lt. Arthur Tragg in 241 episodes. Wesley Lau played Lt. Andy Anderson in 82 episodes from 1961 on, and Richard Anderson, Ocsar Goldman from “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman”, played Lt. Steve Drumm in 26 episodes in the last two seasons.
A. Kenneth MacDonald, who appeared the second-most of any actor as a judge –32 times — often played a bad guy or an authority figure of some kind in the old Stooges shorts. S. John Lautner played a judge 33 times, the most. He is recognizable from “Dragnet” 1967-70 as a police chief or defense attorney.
A. Bernsen was high-priced free agent Roger Dorn from the “Major League” movie franchise, and Dey was one of my favorites — Laurie Partridge, who my friends and I used to like – on “The Partridge Family” the family that played music together.
Next: The Law and Order tree.

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