NBC brings another of its dependable Perry Mason entries to market in yet another puzzle designed to baffle viewers. Vital evidence is dismayingly withheld, characters are props for the action, and Raymond Burr’s Mason remains unruffled, if not becalmed, throughout; it’s a formula that invariably works.
Case involves successful cosmetics queen Alana (Morgan Fairchild), who’s chalked up a load of enemies on her road to success. Husband Arthur (Patrick O’Neal in a nicely restrained interp), her CEO Barbara (Polly Bergen in a little-to-do part), gossiper Griswold (David Warner), chemist Dr. Shell (Jonathan Banks), exec assistant Collins (Scott Thompson Baker) and detective Lauren Kent (Lauren Lane) are the suspects when Alana bites the dust.
Dependable Barbara Hale is back as dependable Della Street, but she and Burr leave most of the work up to Mason’s investigator Ken Malansky, played spiritedly by William R. Moses in the William Hopper/William Katt Paul Drake style. James McEachin gets a good shot at showing his authority as Lt. Brock, Carmen Argenziano’s the luckless d.a. confronting Mason.
Robert Schlitt’s script is satisfying. Robert Seaman’s lensing is clear-cut and to the point, and Tom Pryor’s editing, including cuts back and forth between Fairchild getting ready for bed and the killer assembling a weapon, is creative.
As is customary, “Perry Mason” is in the hands of solid pros. Christian I. Nyby II’s direction is straightforward, and the action’s impelling.