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.
+He probably smelled marijuana in the air, as the ensuing conversation makes it [vaguely] clear —yelocab 27DEC19
Buzzie takes the cigarette from his mouth, puts it in the ashtray, which Tragg then picks up and sniffs. As he does this, another cigarette has magically appeared in Buzzies’s mouth. DOD 07/19/19
+Nope. That's what I thought, but I rewound and Buzzie has the cigarette in his mouth, takes it out and taps it on the ashtray and then puts it back in his mouth. Tragg picks up a different cigarette in the ashtray and sniff it. —yelocab 27DEC19
Shelia Hayes’s apartment has the same ceiling fixture as in Perry’s office. Love the two shots of Goff under the desk, with one eye staring at us. DOD 08/17/21
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.
+ Bobby Troup also composed "The Girl Can't Help It," fashioned into a hit by Little Richard. Wikipedia tells us Troup wrote it for Fats Domino, but that version didn't happen. JohnK, 10 December 2020
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.
+ Lt. Tragg's Beatnik Slang, at the end, is Priceless! Mike Bedard 6.20.16 MeTV viewing.
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.
++I'm guessing there was also a lot of junk on TV back then that got forgotten, and only the good stuff lasted through the years via reruns. So your opinion might be a bit skewed. But then again, with only 3 networks, budgets were probably higher. —yelocab 27DEC19
The Golden Age of television did indeed have its share of long forgotten clunkers. I think a major difference then was that so many television performers, even into the late 60’s, had decades of experience in theater, radio, movies, and even vaudeville. There was an ease and naturalness to their acting I rarely see in today’s television. I also miss all the wonderful variety shows and music specials. DOD 08/17/21
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.
+The tune -- played three times in "Jaded Joker", once at the beginning, once when Tragg barges in on the Ross apartment, and once at the end at the Purple Wall -- is listed as the "Jaded Joker Theme" by Bobby Troup in the end credits, but to my ear it sounds startlingly like "Ruby, My Dear", a jazz standard by Thelonious Monk. I think Bobby Troup was one of the greats -- this is said with no disrespect. OldDave 8/9/20
++ 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 +++Shows in that era almost always had extras playing instruments they clearly never played and photographers who didn’t know how to hold a camera. Apparently nobody cared.
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
+ The dialogue may have indirectly referenced this relationship. At one point, Perry asks Paul "What's the relationship between Danny and Freddie?". Paul replies "I don't know". I'm quoting from memory, maybe someone can check. Submitted by Bill-W2XOY on 08/15/2013.
++ The dialogue is: Paul: "...before he [Freddie] latched on to Danny Ross"; Perry: "What do you mean by 'latched on'?"; Paul: "I don't know yet." OldDave 8/9/2020
+++ My impression was that Freddie was just a flunky, a hanger-on, like Buzzie. He wasn't quite as detached as the pianist, but I didn't see any sparks flying. That they both came down in bathrobes doesn't mean they'd emerged from the same bedroom. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Submitted by francis, 7/11/14.
+++ Doesn't Freddie mention he talked Frankie out of suicide? That's why Frankie felt obligated/grateful to Freddie. Submitted by JJ, 8/17/21.
+++ I don't believe Danny and Freddie are "a gay couple", I've always presumed Freddie was Danny's gag writer, as well as his friend and confidante. Buzzie was his music writer and arranger and a hanger-on. Submitted by Tragg 07/26/22
+ Why wasn't Buzzie given a name? Submitted by H. Mason 10/17/14 = He was Buzzie! :) Submitted by Tragg 07/26/22
Beer For Breakfast: It's not clear what time Danny is having breakfast (bagels and lox) but beer appears to be the beverage of choice. When Freddie comes down to join him there are four bottles of beer on his side of the table. Two are already open ready to be poured. Submitted by Kilo 4/15/2018.
Sheila Hayes and Perry share a taste in ceiling light fixtures. Walter Burke and HM Wynant will eventually play suspects, killers, and prosecutors in various episodes. Frankie Lane joins Cecil Kellaway in getting a rare solo end credit. In the final scene in the night club, the guitarists fingering has no relation at all to the music heard.
As in the best shows, this one leaves us with an interesting legal question. Freddie claims Goff was already dead when he shot him; Buzzie claims Goff was dead when he stuffed him under the desk. What if both were wrong? If Buzzie were to ask Perry to defend him, Perry would be in the awkward position of trying to show Goff survived Buzzie’s attack and it was indeed the gunshot that killed him. DOD 07/05/18 + Freddie will probably at least be charged with defiling a corpse
At breakfast the next morning after the murder Danny tells Freddie about Goff’s murder he heard about on the radio 10 o’clock news. Later at the murder scene Perry arrives for a meeting he was to have with Goff unaware the he was dead. Paul needs to do a better job of keeping his boss in the loop. BTW, do you think it’s odd that news of the murder is on the radio but the police are still on the scene with the body still under the desk? Kilo 1/1/2022 (Yes, I’m watching PM reruns on new years eve.)