This short-lived series premiered just seven years after the original "Perry Mason" television series went off the air in the spring of 1966 after nine seasons producing an astounding 206 episodes(all were in classic black and white by the way,with the exception of one episode that was telecast in color in February of 1966). However,"Perry Mason" remains one of the all time television greats,but after seven years later,why did CBS bring this show back?
For one CBS,was trying to revive its most famous show,but instead of bringing back the original cast,but when the producers and network executives at CBS decided to bring this series back,but this time around with a all new cast. The reason? The original "Perry Mason" was indeed very successful because of its star Raymond Burr,and the original secretary Della Street(Barbara Hale)not to mention detective Paul Drake(William Hopper),and D.A. Hamilton Burger(William Talman)whom within these four actors had great screen chemistry between them right along with the tremendous acting ability along with the passion and flair for some great riveting drama and suspense.
"The New Perry Mason" didn't work on all levels and the reason why CBS tried to bring back its most successful show proved disastrous beyond belief. Of the 15 episodes that this short-lived series produced from Pisanto Productions/CBS Television for 20th Century-Fox Television,the series ran on the network from September 16,1973 until January 20,1974. The series failed on all levels as to why CBS had this show on Sunday nights opposite "The Wonderful World of Disney"(which was on NBC),and the powerhouse crime drama of Quinn Martin's "The FBI",which was at the time,ABC's most successful show. It got clobbered in the ratings. However,this ended as one of the worst shows for the 1973-1974 season.
The reason why "The New Perry Mason" failed,is because this time around it was revived with an-all new cast(Burr was by that time sleuthing around in a wheelchair solving cases on "Ironside",which was on NBC)by casting stage actor Monte Markham in the title role. Markham was also one of the Quinn Martin regular stockplayers whom was the guest star in several QM Produced series,most notably "The Fugitive", "12 O'Clock High",and "The FBI",not to mention other classic TV shows as well. Markham could play in any role and accomplish a lot of things,but played the title character that was once done by Raymond Burr was not one of them and it shows in some of the episodes. The characters themselves acted stiff and pale,mouthing lines with nary a trace of believability. The mysteries posed a good sign while the rest of it was really pathetic,especially in the courtroom scenes(Harry Guardino's portrayal of D.A. Burger was the worst case of acting ever!) "The New Perry Mason" wasn't part of the scenario program "wheel" of mystery shows that emerged from the 1970's like "McCloud","Columbo","McMillan and Wife",or "Quincy",not to mention others like "Kojak","Baretta",and even "Mannix",were much better. And the results were really awful. CBS canceled this show in early 1974 with the quickness with a family-oriented show that replaced it.
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