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Tragg Turns Hipster
dougdoepke22 November 2007
Above average episode, thanks to offbeat casting and characters. My real reason for commenting is that this episode may well contain the single funniest 30 seconds in a beloved series not known for its humor. In 1959, the short-lived "beatnik" phenomenon was emerging among artists and would-be artists, especially on the West Coast. Its core was a general disgust with the sterile conformism the beats perceived among the rising suburban prosperity of the period. They gathered in coffee houses and had poetry reading and bongo drums as entertainment, and effected a kind of jazzy slang like "Man, let's split. This place is nowheres-ville". Allan Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Jack Kerouac are probably the best known. Anyway, kudos to the unknown scripter who placed about 30 seconds of this super-slick, jazzy lingo into the mouth of super-straight, 70 year-old Ray Collins as Lieutenant Tragg. It comes out of nowhere during the 60 second epilogue, leaving the audience open-mouthed and wondering if they could possibly have heard correctly-- Tragg as a be-bopping hipster. Wow! That's the living end, man!
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"I thought I smelled tea...."
BigSkyMax5 August 2014
Yes, that is the exact line spoken by Lt. Tragg (Ray Collins) to beatnik "Buzzie" (Bobby Troup) while he pokes at the piano. Tragg lifts up one of Buzzie's discarded cigarettes butts, sniffs it, and drops it back into the tray. Buzzie then offers Tragg a drag on the butt in his mouth. "No!" Tragg says. Buzzie sends a cloud of smoke into Tragg's face, enough to determine that while there is smoke, there is no tea. "Shocked?" Buzzie mumbles, mocking Tragg's disappointment.

One wonders how many of the "squares" watching Perry Mason in 1959 knew that "tea" was a reference to marijuana? That scene alone makes this episode worth watching, but wait, there's more! Ubiquitous TV character actor Walter Burke plays sidekick to the equally ubiquitous 1950s star Frankie Laine, playing not a singer but a comic. But Troup steals the show, at least until the last minute when septuagenarian Collins steals it back, showing that he's no square, Daddy-O. The hidden joke is that Troup, far from being a down-but-unhip-Beatnik, was a talented (and wealthy) light jazz songwriter, penning "Route 66" 12 years before. He and his wife Julie London, also a singer, had a lifelong relationship with her ex, Jack Webb. Perry delivers one of his most sesquipedalian courtroom scenes, quoting verbatim from a forensics textbook, his intellectual gymnastics leaping over poor Prosecutor Burger and leaving him flat on the mat. Good fun all around!
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Perry makes the scene, digs it, gets cooking and solves the case!
chitleenk20 June 2016
I enjoyed this episode very much. The jazz that winds in and out of the story is fabulous! The last 30 seconds, alone, make this episode worth watching. Ray Collins delivers the final line flawlessly and Raymund Burr does appear to actually crack up. Especially notable is the last scene at the coffee house: Perry displays full command of beat lingo (language if you like) and the whole confession sounds like one long performance, punctuated by Perry's syncopated inquires. Who knew such a square could be so cool, so hip? After that immersion in the beat scene, Tragg's final word, "Daddio," is the perfect coda. As the credits ran I found myself snapping my fingers in response and saying "cool man."
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Lt. Tragg ain't no square from Delaware
bkoganbing22 May 2014
Pop singer Frankie Laine who is playing a comedian is the Perry Mason client who retains Raymond Burr to sue ad man Harry Jackson. Laine pitched an idea for a TV show to Jackson who was to sell it to both network and sponsor. Well he sold it all right, just didn't sell Laine as part of it.

But when Jackson is found dead, body stuffed neatly under his desk in his office it's Laine's pal and all around GoFer Walter Burke who is charged with the murder. Burke is playing a variation of his Sugar Boy character from All The King's Men, a little man with a temper and his prints are on a gun found at the scene.

Mutual loyalty between Laine and Burke prevents both prosecution and defense from arriving at the truth, but of course it's Raymond Burr who sees that. And Jackson was a man who double dealt a lot of people in his professional and personal life. The answer lies in the world of the beatniks who were making the scene at that point.

I do so love that coda after the case is solved when Lieutenant Tragg shows himself in command of the hipster lingo of the era. Ray Collins is one cool dude, Daddy-O.
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One of My Favorite Episodes
jqdoe26 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
There is so much going on in this episode. Indeed, so much that the murder itself and the process of identifying the killer is almost secondary.

Bobby Troup (Emergency) does an outstanding job playing a late 50s Beatnik musician (Troup was an accomplished musician and composer who wrote some of the music we hear in the episode). There is a memorable scene between Troup's beatnik and Lt. Tragg, played out over a piano with suggestions of the presence of marijuana. How rare would that have been on TV in 1959? This scene could have been the highlight of many other episodes. Speaking of rare subject matter for late 50s TV, there are a few hints subtly sprinkled here and there that a relationship between two male characters perhaps extends beyond just friendship.

There is also a memorable courtroom scene where Mason invokes some complicated legal reasoning to convince the judge to allow a cross-examination which on first blush appears to be improper. In the same scene, Mason displays an impressive level of knowledge in the field of forensic medicine. It really is vintage Mason. Again, this scene could have been the highlight of many other episodes.

Then there is the confession scene, with some terrific, well- written, dialog.

And finally, in the last minute, as if depositing a cherry on the ice cream sundae which is this episode, Lt. Tragg treats us to a hilarious and unexpected display of his proficiency in the hipster lingo of the day. This is the highlight of the episode to me, and makes watching this episode worthwhile all by itself.

A very entertaining episode. Highly recommended.
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a possible record for the number of suspects
grizzledgeezer6 May 2013
This episode is worth seeing simply because it's off-beat (no joke intended).

There's Bobby Troup (Dr Early in "Emergency!) as a bearded beatnik who plays cool piano and smokes pot. (Yes, really.) Then there's Frankie Laine as comic Danny Ross -- who looks remarkably like Danny Thomas. He doesn't sing "Mule Train" or crack a whip, though. And we learn that Della isn't familiar with Yiddish slang -- amazing for someone who lives in Los Angeles.

Perhaps the best moment in the entire series occurs in the courtroom when Mason argues with Burger over a point of testimony. Mason says something like "Mr Burger's taste for the obvious leads him to confuse my desire to protect my client's interests with arguing over technicalities." (That isn't exact, but it expresses the thought.) Burger is not happy, and murmurs sotto voce.
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The best thing about this episode is the last one minute
kfo94946 May 2013
With a usual mystery this episode took a turn to the beatnik world where we get a confession worthy of finger-snap applause from any coffee house location in the world. It was just too bad that the show seemed to move like molasses in winter or we could have seen a nice program.

When a out-of-work comedian, Danny Ross, is promised a job by the slick talking agent named Charles Goff, that fails when Goff signs another person, the viewer knows that it will just be a matter of time before Goff gets knocked off by some form of violence. But it is not Ross that is accused of the murder but his side-kick Freddie Green.

Even with some sketchy evidence, Hamilton Burger's office issues a murder warrant prompting Perry Mason to come to the aide of the widely known comedian's friend. There will be plenty of people that are considered suspects as most of the cast would not be shedding tears for Goff's death but Perry will find the true murderer by means of translation some groovy talk produced by one person in the show.

Perhaps I was expecting too much from the title of the episode but this show just was not that interesting. When we do get the confession it was difficult to understand before Perry Della and Lt Tragg inform the viewers of just exactly was said. The best part of the show is the last one minute. Lt Tragg leaves us with a line that real heavy man or should I say Lt Daddy-O.
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Low Beat
darbski26 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The Previous reviewers have it pretty much nailed down, so I won't touch what they've commented on. Except to say that Bobby Troup should have gotten an Emmy for getting Julie London to marry him. There are so many great performers in this episode, that I'm gonna give the spotlight to Walter Burke. One of a group of character actors and actresses that are always a treasure that the S.A.G. had in store for shows just like this and movies, too when they needed a rock-solid performer who could carry the part with high skill and class. In this case, the other actors stand in the formidable shadow of one of the very best cameo and supporting actors we've been lucky enough to watch ply his trade. (R.I.P. Mr Burke, and thank you).

One thing I liked was the part played by Mary LaRoche was named Liza (with a "Z")- not Lisa. Paul had a great line in describing the beatnik club "No food, No drink, No laughs; they just sit around hating themselves". Bobby Troup's testimony/poetry is just lame, and I wonder why they didn't let him write his own lines, there. Della, as usual, made the other girls in this episode look like ALF. Makeup/wardrobe could have done better with Martha.
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I don't dig slick chicks trying to goof me off Daddy-O
sol121822 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Thre are two major things that happen in this hip Perry Mason, Raymond Burr, episode. One with Perry's personal secretary Della Street, Barbara Hale, almost out of thin air asking Perry to explain to her what the word Snook, a helpless dope in Yiddish, means? And last but not least the straight laced Lt. Tragg, Ray Collins, going native or hipster as he lets his hair down in telling off Della that he won't let a slick chick like her goof him off in that despite he's now pushing 70 has become one of the "Cool Ones" of the hip 1950's Beat Generation.

Ther's nothing cool about what happened in promoter Charles Goff, Harry Jackson , being found murdered in his office by his secretary Isa Hiller,Mary LaRoche, with his skull fractured and shot for good measures. Goff had screwed comedian Danny Ross played by country & western singer Frankie Laine out of staring in his upcoming TV show that Danny broke his back in promoting for him. As it turned out it wasn't Danny who was arrested in Goff's murder but his good friend the jockey size, 4 foot 10 inch and 95 pound, Freddie Green played by Walter Blake who's fingerprints were found on the murder weapon. In him being a big fan of Danny Ross Perry commits himself to defend his friend Freddie even though he admits to him, with a jail guard listening in, that he in fact did murdered Goff. Perry seeing right through Green's fake confession finds out that Goff wasn't killed by the bullet that came from Freddie's gun he was already dead. But was murdered some time earlier with a tire iron that split him skull open!

****SPOILERS**** There was no courtroom scene here with the killer breaking down under Perry's cross-examination and admitting his guilt. That took place in the hip and with it beatnik espresso bar the "Purple Wall" where Groff's murderer in beatnik lingo laid out the reasons why he offed Goff in him being too square to be fit in a round world! The only way his murdered explained to Perry how he could be able to fit in is by being whacked and then reborn gain. It took some time with Perry later explaining what all this hipster talk was all about for anyone to figure out just what Goff's killer in plain English meant!
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The jaded joker has very loyal friends!
Jim McCann8 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Several people have mentioned the 'beatnik' elements to the episode, however there are other features that make this a very interesting addition to the Perry Mason canon. Another reviewer had drawn the connection of the Danny Ross character with Danny Thomas, a comic venturing into a new sitcom. The loyal sidekick, Freddie, is like "Charlie Halper' in Danny Thomas's Make Room for Daddy. But there seems to be a very interesting and affectionate relationship between the two men. One scene shows them descending the stairs in their shared apartment in their dressing gowns. Hmm, pretty odd for a 1959 TV show! And the scene has each suspect confirming each other's alibi, there were together "all night".

Another odd plot twist was the challenge to the coroner's testimony, who for some reason can't tell whether the cause of death was a gunshot to the head or blunt force trauma(?!).

Instead of the usual courtroom confession, we show Perry wrangle the truth with Lt. Tragg in tow. Even though during the first season, Tragg tries to get Perry disbarred or arrested, by this time, he has learned to respect and trust him.

The episode is enjoyable to watch, but as with some of the better episodes, there seems to be too much story for the hour, two hours would have been more suitable. The whole segment with the murdered agent's partner and secretary seems to be from another episode.
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Funniest Scene
jaylandry8 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
OK, first, the 30 seconds they save time compressing the open and credits on the Hallmark Channel is lame, but I get it. Showing it once and a while wont bounce the check for the electric.

Spoiler Below:

This is one of the better ones that must have been pushed through while the Standards and Practices people were busy.

The funniest scene is Tragg and Buzzie at the piano. I rewound it a few times and laughed every time. Open use of weed on TV in 1959, as Buzzie would say, "Man, this is the wildest". Buzzie is funny as heck i the courtroom. Also, catch Raymond Burr breaking up at the end and Bobby Troup getting screen cred for the "Jaded Joker Theme".

The legal parts are pretty good, dropping in "contra-coup injuries" had me back in evidence class.
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