Gene Gajewski

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The case of the hard-boiled binge watcher

I’ve been dutifully watching a couple of Perry Mason episodes every evening for a bit now. I’m still on season one, but I’m in the twenties. You can watch these for free on You might think it odd to be watching such an old television series, but there’s a lot of mid-century goodness to be had if you but pay attention. Of course, it’s in black and white and there’s nothing that can be done about that, but you do get an idea of what California was like in the late 1950’s. The first thing that jumps out at you is that everyone’s a four pack-a-day smoker, even Perry. I think Della Street might be the only regular that isn’t seen smoking on screen. You also find that the modern architecture of the time isn’t much different than today, even though it’s some 60 plus years since the series released. You do notice those cars though. Great big behemoths, land yachts that wallow over the road and roll when they make a corner. All those late 50’s cars that I remember as a child in the 1960’s. Perry often drives a 58 Eldorado convertible, Paul Drake drives an early Corvette, there are 56, 57, Chevrolets in sedan and station wagon, Ford Fairlane’s, Mercury’s, Buicks. Wow! Of course, Perry Mason is the whodunit tv series, the one that predates them all. It’s fun to see the world through the eyes of a late 50’s show. Some of the episodes I’ve seen still have their original product endorsements showing during the closing titles. Awesome! You also tend to note the production aesthetics of the tv shows of the time. The sets were realistic compared to some of the dreck from the later 1960’s, but you do tend to notice where certain stage elements were reused. The same arched door, a cut shot (static scene) from three episodes ago, stuff like that. It wouldn’t have been noticeable to an audience from the series time, but since I am feasting on the series and its visual looks, I can’t help but notice. We’ll see how long I can keep this up. These are great shows.

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