Television these days has taken to recycling its series, and none have been more successful than Perry Mason.
“The Brady Bunch” was a recycled hit in two TV movies but so far has failed to burn up the Nielsens as a weekly series.
“The Incredible Hulk” made the final sacrifice and died for ratings last month in “The Death of the Incredible Hulk,” which was the fifth most popular made-for-TV movie during the February sweeps.
“The Love Boat” made a Valentine voyage and turned up ninth on the TV movie list for February.
Raymond Burr and his alter ego Perry Mason made their first appearance on CBS as a series on Sept. 21, 1957, but the latter-day adventures of Mason and Della Street and company began on NBC on Dec. 1, 1985, with a two-hour movie aptly titled “Perry Mason Returns.”
The show scored a whopping 27.2 rating and a 39 share. Thirteen Perry Mason films have aired on NBC since then.
Not only has America proved it loves its “PM” TVs, but the show also provides a new kind of TV format--the recurring movie that is not a one-shot venture and not a full-fledged series. CBS has been successful with the same format in the recurring Janek cop series starring Richard Crenna.
The latest in the Mason series is “Perry Mason: The Case of the Desperate Deception,” to air Sunday at 9 p.m..
The show was shot in Paris and has Perry appearing before the bench in a French court, defending a U.S. Marine officer accused of killing a Nazi war criminal. Motive? The Nazi was responsible for the cruel treatment of his mother in a German forced labor camp.
Like many of the earlier Perry Mason films, the flick brings in added interest with some high-caliber guests--in this case Yvette Mimieux, Ian McShane and Academy Award winner Teresa Wright as the wronged mother.
Wright, now 71, called making the Perry Mason film “great fun” and said it was nice to work with Raymond Burr again.