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When Tragg first encounters the bohemian jazz piano player, he dips his finger into the ashtray and smells it. Then the piano player offers Tragg a drag on his cigarette, which Tragg also smells without taking a puff. In this 1959 episode, what does Tragg expect to find in the ashtray and cigarette? Submitted by unknown, 1/31/2009.
I’d say Lt. Tragg was testing for marijuana. While it’s not clear that Tragg actually picks it up, it’s clear he threw a butt back into the ashtray. So rather than smelling his fingers, we’re supposed to think he’s smelling a butt. This probably explains the subsequent interaction between Tragg and the appropriately named “Buzzie” as in “stoned.” Note Tragg says “I thought I smelled ‘tea.‘” Tea would be beat for “marijuana.” “Shamus” would, of course, be “detective/cop.” Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
Buzzie is, of course, Bobby Troup. Troup was a man of parts—composer, musician, etc. There was the Bobby Troup Trio. He composed the hit song, “Route 66.” Watch and listen here. Although I didn’t care for the show, I remember him as Dr. Joe Early on the TV show Emergency. Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
There‘s some great dialogue in this episode; e.g, Perry asks: “What’s the ‘Purple Wall’?” Paul answers: “It’s a beat joint—no liquor, no life, no laughs. Just sitting around hating yourself.” Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
I always liked Frankie Laine and who could forget Rawhide?! Listen here. Of course this reminds me of another great Western and its theme song, The Rifleman. What great themes TV had in those days! It may sound nostalgic, but it’s accurate to say that TV generally was far superior to the junk it is today. That covers the full spectrum—drama, comedy, news, etc. TV is really dumbed down today. I guess it’s the times we live in. Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
The whole image of being “born again and square” and “stuffed into the knee-hole of the desk” is great! Generally, TV shows and movies that are too contemporary or topical don’t age well. This is true of many TV shows, especially those from the 70s on. This was when “message” TV/movies started in earnest. There are many problems with this. The least being it tends to quickly “date” the series or movie. Generally, Perry Mason tended to focus on more basic or archetypal motivations. These tend to be timeless. The late 50s/early 60s fashions are also classic. They look good in any era. So, as a rule, Perry Mason doesn’t really appear dated. Only in the last years of the series when it started to get more topical in story and “look and feel” does it start to feel dated. The instant episode exhibits a bit of this problem with the “beat” context, but because the story, dialogue and acting are strong, it still comes off pretty well. Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
Both “Jaded Joker” and the following episode, “Caretaker’s Cat,” open with a piano tune. In “Jaded Joker,” Bobby Troup seems to be improvising. In “Caretaker’s Cat,” Judy Lewis is playing a finished composition. I may have a tin ear, but it seems to me both these tunes are very similar. I’m guessing they are the same tune. Agree or disagree? Submitted by billp, 2/22/2009.
Bobby Troup, an accomplished musician and songwriter, looks to be playing the piano pieces in the show; this adds to the authenticity of the episode. All the more’s the shame, then, that toward the end the guitar music is so badly faked by a crazed-looking extra who clearly has no idea how to play. Submitted by Ed Zoerner, 2/21/2011
Danny and Freddie are a gay couple living together, though this is not noticed in dialogue. Early in the episode, the pair descend the staircase in bathrobes. Freddy alibis Danny for the night of the murder. We viewers are so busy ogling the beatnik lifestyle, decoding beatnik lingo and puzzling over showbiz Yiddish, that the unusual (for 50s television) household slips right by us. Submitted by DebbieF, 5/7/13