Friday, April 8, 2011

Retro TV Friday

Perry Mason was probably the greatest lawyer series in the history of television, and for my money this was the best of the many opening title sequences the series used during its nine seasons.

What makes it best? Well, aside from the theme (which James Lileks once famoulsy said every lawyer secretly wanted played at his funeral), there's the stark imagry present in the stylish graphics: the attorney, alone before the bar, in solitary defense of his client. That's not just a powerful image, but it's the imbodiment of what every client hopes for in a courtroom: his attorney, in single warrior combat, defending him to teh death. Wouldn't we all want that?

In addition, you have the granite features of Mason, which morph into the flesh-and-blood of Raymond Burr himself. Not only is this really sophisticated for the time, but the underlying premise is of Mason as icon. Is it a statue of Perry himself, in honor of his work? Or are our thoughts supposed to be drawn to the famous statue of justice, blind, as representative of Mason's singular quest for justice for his client? (Erle Stanley Gardner's books, even more than the series, make it clear that Mason isn't above bending the law and the rules to ensure that justice for his client).

Whatever you read into it, this is a memorable opening sequence for a memorable series.
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