Order In The Court! (Ham on rye, please!) #JusJoJan


William Talman (l) as DA Hamilton Burger and Raymond Burr as Perry Mason (source: VoiceOfBaltimore.org)

Mary and I watch Perry Mason almost every weeknight (11:30 PM weeknights on MeTV). Okay, I watch it until I get tired, Mary usually sleeps through it. I used to watch it with Grandma Holton when I was in high school. It was her favorite show. (Ayn Rand’s, too.) One of the things that we like to do is look for actors we know from other shows. Among others, we’ve seen George Takei (Star Trek), Werner Klemperer and John Banner (Hogan’s Heroes), William Schallert (The Patty Duke Show, among others), Adam West (Batman). and occasionally we see Harry Holcombe as one of the judges. I know what you’re thinking: who’s Harry Holcombe? He’s Grandpa from the Country Time Lemonade commercials.

(Godzilla fans also remember him as a scientist in the spectacular King Kong vs. Godzilla. Come to think of it, Raymond Burr was in the original Godzilla, playing a reporter named Steve Martin, only without the arrow through his head.)

I have one complaint: they never cite anyone for contempt of court. That’s the “offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful towards a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice, and dignity of the court.” (Wikipedia tells me so.) The trials on the show are full of contempt of court, from people bouncing to their feet to declare that it was (or wasn’t) them who did the dastardly deed, to Hamilton Burger’s exasperated monologues when the judge overrules his objections to some of Perry’s outlandish gambits to prove his clients’ innocence. I guess the judge feels sorry for him. I mean, how would you like to go through life with a name like Ham Burger?

I’d love to see Mason and Burger argue a case in front of Pigmeat Markham.

Today’s word for Just Jot It January is “contempt,” sent in to us by Rosemary Carlson, Freelance Writer, who can be found here. Judy from Edwina’s Episodes is guest-hosting today for Linda.

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

28 thoughts on “Order In The Court! (Ham on rye, please!) #JusJoJan”

  1. HaHA! There are quite a few of these types of shows where they have outbursts in the courtroom and the judge lets it go without threatening them with contempt! What a fabulous name, ‘Ham Burger.’ That would suit me perfectly although these days it is more likely to be ‘Lettuce Leaf!’ 🙂

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  2. Oh, John, not holding anyone in contempt of court is the least difference between Perry Mason and a real court. To be fair, though, Perry Mason is no more unbelievable than Law and Order when it comes to courtroom scenes and it is a lot more fun. And both are much more true to what happens in a real courtroom than, say, Judge Judy.

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    1. Exactly. It’s entertainment, from a day when entertainment was the key. Grandma read all the Erle Stanley Gardner books and loved the show because they folllowed the plots pretty closely. But you never made the mistake of mentioning the Monte Markham series to her…

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  3. Used to watch Perry Mason faithfully in my youth. I really liked the mystery aspect of it. Trying to figure out who was really guilty and I liked the regular characters like Della Street and Paul Drake.

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        1. They’re on twice a day on MeTV, once at 9AM and once at 11:30 PM Monday-Friday (times are Eastern; metv.com has the schedules for east & west of the Mississippi, and check with your cable company where they carry MeTV). Hope that helps.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Fictional outbursts are fantastic, and I agree with you, real life courts are much more punitive. People are fined daily for contempt in actual court, and there are many, many warrants for Failure to Appear — but I guess those aren’t as useful to the writers 😉

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    1. The legal process is also a lot slower and involves pushing a lot more paper, and the shows don’t do anything with discovery or show little if any of the bargaining between the lawyers. And, to be honest, lawyers are nowhere near as contemptuous of each other as they are on TV.

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  5. I remember watching Perry Mason. It was on TV forever. The mysteries were interesting and the courtroom scenes were predictable, but entertaining. There’s nothing like a tearful confession on the witness stand to add a bit of drama into the TV courtroom.

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  6. My father was a Harvard law grad, Montana and Chicago-area attorney, and law professor. He never missed an episode of Perry Mason – it was definitely his favorite show. The lack of contempt citations, occasional hearsay, and other breaches of normal jurisprudence didn’t faze him.

    It was always about the entertainment value.

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    1. It was well-written and the regular characters were likable, even Hamilton Burger and Lt. Tragg. It was also a show where a lot of actors got their start. I like the fact that the episodes don’t always follow a strict formula, like “Law & Order” or “Murder She Wrote,” where you can practically set your watch by when the dead body makes its appearance. The new shows aren’t as much fun to watch.

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    1. Some people never miss it. Like “The Andy Griffith Show” and other classic shows from that era, it’s a fixture. Grandma Holton saw all the shows at least a hundred times, and still hated to miss it. That’s more than a TV show, it’s an institution.

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