Raymond Burr didn't like when people called Perry Mason a ''whodunnit''

"Oh no — not that." Find out why Burr says you can't compare TV detectives to Perry Mason.

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Perry Mason kicked off with a murder plot so complicated, even the most logical viewer got lost in the mystery. "The Case of the Restless Redhead" wasn't just the premiere episode of a new series, but the rollout of a brand-new kind of TV show. Perry Mason star Raymond Burr said that it borrowed the fascination of detective shows without the gimmicks.

In an interview with The St. Louis Globe-Democrat in 1957 when Perry Mason premiered, Burr said he wasn't a fan of when folks called the plot-driven legal drama a "whodunnit."

"Oh no – not that," Burr said.

"Mason, foremost, is a trial lawyer and attorney," he explained. "Our stories are different because the final solution of all cases comes in the courtroom."

For Burr, the distinction was simple: His show was in a class of its own.

"I feel there is no show like it, and therefore no competition," Burr boasted. "You can't compare it with the detective shows on TV. We don't rely just on action or multiplicity of corpses. We have a little more plot in Perry Mason than the types of shows that when the action gets dull someone opens a closet door and another body falls out."

Burr said what made the show special were the riveting mystery books the episodes were based on, as well as the production quality — which was an aspect of the show he absolutely insisted upon should he agree to join on.

"CBS is going all-out in every phase of production," Burr bragged to The Globe-Democrat. "In fact, one of the reasons I agreed to do Perry Mason is because they convinced me from the start that there would be no letdown in the quality of production later in the season."

Even as early as 1957, Burr found himself using legal jargon — and a detective's eye — around the house he shared with his nephew in Malibu Beach, about an hour from the studio.

Often his niece came to visit, and Burr said both she and his nephew became suspects when his "Perry Mason ways" started coming home with him. His sudden eagle eye for items out of place at home caught his niece and nephew off-guard.

"Quite often when I go home, I ask my niece or nephew if anything had happened during the day," Burr told Detroit Free Press. "They'll say 'Nothing.' Then I come up with 'Then why is there a black streak in the drive as if a truck was parked there.' They are goggle-eyed."

Burr eventually decided to move into his trailer at the studio to cut out the commute, but in 1957 when the show had just begun, he already knew that would be his near future. He was already just too attached to the character to not give each performance his all.

"I'll be living in my dressing room before long," Burr said.

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stephaniestavr5 16 days ago
I was just on Amazon ordering groceries. After doing so, I decided to go and check out the Americana Pop Culture books. While doing so, I ran across a book that I believe came out 6 or so years ago, but I thought there might be some PM fans who don't know about it: "The Case of The Alliterative Attorney." is an extensive, behind the scenes look at the series and the ten years worth of movies. In the description, I think it mentioned that they interviewed some of the guest stars, like David McCallum. {His is the only name I can remember.} Even though I have not seen every episode, {I think the majority of the ones I have seen have not been whole episodes, but the last half,} I thought I would like to read this, so I ordered it. So, if any of you out there have any burning questions that need answering, (and of course if your budget allows,) I recommend this book.
StrayCat 17 days ago
"Perry Mason kicked off with a murder plot so complicated, even the most logical viewer got lost in the mystery."

Add this to the fact that around 10 minutes of each episode was cut to make room for commercials leaving the viewer even more lost. There have been more than a few episodes where certain conclusions and characters made no sense, likely because of the cut footage.

BTW, cutting 10 minutes represents losing about 20% of the episode.
Pacificsun StrayCat 17 days ago
I'd like to know who does the cutting, and how is the decision made. I've seen them do it with ST:TOS so much it's ridiculous. But Heroes & Icons makes a good effort to show most of an episode. I'd forgotten some of the scenes (or bits & pieces) that I hadn't seen on for such a long time. City on the Edge of Forever was cut mercilessly. Only a decent fan could watch around those bad edits and still enjoy the story!
StrayCat Pacificsun 15 days ago
As is my understanding, when a network/channel decides to air one of these older series, the syndicator provides them with two choices: They can have the version edited for modern commercial requirements or they can have the full uncut version. Most opt for the edited version because they want to air the version that allows for the commercials and still fit in their allotted time slot.

BBC America once showed Star Trek TOS uncut but with all the commercials. The end result being that each episode ran for an hour and around 11 minutes. Unacceptable for most other channels.
Pacificsun StrayCat 15 days ago
That explains what H & I is doing then (uncut). They show the entire ST TV franchise 6 nights a week which accounts for the network's popularity, plus all the stellar daytime action/adventure series too! Come to think of it, there aren't very many advertisements during the ST block 8pm to midnight. Maybe as many as the original run had.
MrsPhilHarris 17 days ago
The first episode of Perry Mason is airing Monday at 9. Love early ones.
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Wiseguy Pilaf 15 days ago
To refuse an entire service because of one series is childish. Besides, Mom is one of the best live-action comedies on the air. Unlike the many stupid comedies on the air (where the characters say and do stupid things for half an hour) Mom is actually funny and can be quite serious at times. Your boycott of Paramount+ will go unnoticed.
Wiseguy Lacey 15 days ago
It would be interesting to see what stupid comedies you like if you don't like one that's actually funny.
StrayCat Pilaf 13 days ago
Actually, most of what Paramount+ has is garbage and i only subscribed to it because of the new Star Trek series. When I'm done watching them and a very few other shows of interest I intend to cancel. Even their movie porfolio is pathetically small.
Pilaf Wiseguy 4 days ago
I gather you find the jokes about Cocaine quite hilarious. I am guessing you've never lost a loved one to drugs.
ncadams27 18 days ago
Any type of detective show was fairly rare in 1957 - only Dragnet and Lineup come to mind. But on Perry Mason, we always knew who DIDN’T do it.
Pacificsun ncadams27 17 days ago
Weren't Dragnet and Lineup about the police force (the Sgts. and Detectives involved). But it never had much to do with connecting that evidence to the courtroom. For a courtroom drama (of the day) I do believe PM was unique.

I just saw an episode last night where I didn't know who did it until a very, last minute confession. So I can't say I've suspected the guilty too early in the story.
Pacificsun 18 days ago
I read these stories about RB and wonder if I can believe any of them.
Pacificsun WandaBaker 17 days ago
Because the wounded in Viet Nam story wasn't true. Because he didn't have a son. On and on ... there were many.
Pilaf Pacificsun 17 days ago
Aren't you glad we live in a time when actors and others don't have to be afraid of being found out?
Pacificsun Pilaf 17 days ago
Absolutely.
He and Robert Reed suffered very much with their secrets.
Sad.
Wiseguy Pacificsun 15 days ago
Add to that Richard Deacon of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Don't recall hearing about him before.
Pacificsun Wiseguy 15 days ago
I did not know that.
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