|Is There Life After
But when CBS closed up shop on "Perry Mason" in May 1966 ("The Garry Moore Show" took its spot that fall), the fun was really just beginning. As The New York Times said in its final review of the show: "The Mason show has just begun the lucrative process of fading away."
How true. By the time the last episode appeared, twenty-five stations had signed up to present the show in syndicated reruns, dumping $3 million into the coffers even before the final fadeout finally faded out. When the show left prime time for good, more local stations quickly lined up to pick up the series. At first, CBS released only 195 of the shows, holding back forty other episodes that had not been repeated by the network over the nine-year run of the show. CBS held on to them for a while, saying that they would be used if a "programming emergency" arose. One never did, and some of these shows were eventually released for syndication. However, even today, the syndication company holds on tight to a number of episodes, including several "classic" shows (one, "The Case of the Twice Told Twist," was the only show filmed in color) to make future rerun packages even more attractive.
And it wasn't just CBS that made all the money. By the time the show was canceled, it was estimated that the Jacksons and Erle Stanley Gardner, the majority shareholders of Paisano (which held 60 percent ownership in the show), had between them made $10 million.
Correctly noting that the show was in for years of reruns, and thereby, huge fortunes in residual payments, The New York Times concluded: "If you've got to go, do it the Mason way."
And how popular was the show after left the air? Very popular.
So the question must be asked: Did CBS kill "Perry Mason" too early?
Seven years after the show left the airwaves, CBS programming vice-president at the time, Peter Lafferty, admitted that the network used the strength of the show to knock off big opposition shows. "We moved it around quite a bit on the schedule. Finally, it began to slip." The matter begs cross-examination. Would the show have lasted longer if CBS hadn't jockeyed it around the schedule? Was "Perry Mason" killed? A good lawyer might well prove he was.
Webmaster's Note: Myron King has pointed out that the "Peter Lafferty" mentioned in the last paragraph is actually Perry Lafferty.
|The Perry Mason TV Show Book Copyright © 1987 by Brian Kelleher and Diana Merrill. All rights reserved. Presented here by permission of the copyright holder. Commercial use prohibited. Web page Copyright © 1998 D. M. Brockman. Last edited 04 Nov 2004.|