Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Perry Mason and
Gilbert and Sullivan

I like the last few minutes of Perry Mason episodes, in which we find Mason (Raymond Burr), Della Street (Barbara Hale), and Paul Drake (William Hopper) gathered in at least somewhat lighter circumstances, enjoying a cup of coffee or a cigarette or a meal, sometimes by themselves (three musketeers), sometimes with a client or persons connected to the case. These are minutes in which, it seems, anything goes, including poetry and song. I caught Mason and Drake quoting Keats some time ago. Today, in “The Case of the Skeleton’s Closet” (first aired May 2, 1963), it was Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore.

MASON (to man connected to the case)
    Things are seldom what they seem, Dave.

DRAKE (excited)
    Hey, I know how that one ends!
    “Things are seldom what they seem,
    Skim milk masquerades as cream.”
    How’s that?

STREET (slyly)
You’re right, Perry. Things are seldom what they seem.

DRAKE (says nothing, looks embarrassed)

These exchanges assume that at least many viewers will get the reference (which is left unexplained). Television wasn’t always so dumb. See also Naked City.

comments: 2

Leta said...

How appropriate! William Hopper was also the son of DeWolf Hopper who performed G&S in the 1920s.

I'll have to find that episode.


Michael Leddy said...

No, thank you! I knew that Hedda Hopper was his mother but knew nothing about his father. I wonder whether viewers would have been aware of his father’s Gilbert and Sullivan connection.