Perry Mason Season 1 Defendants: Doris Bannister vs. Joseph Harrison
The tournament’s fourth matchup sees a step-daughter face off against a step-father: Doris “Liebchin” Bannister (The Case of the Desperate Daughter) vs. Joseph Harrison (The Case of the Prodigal Parent).
Doris Bannister loves her stepmother and comes to hate her father. Joseph Harrison loves his ex but can’t stand her son.
Pregame Analysis: Beauty and cunning have an edge over age, if Doris can just remember what it is she’s doing this all for.
Was the defendant memorable?
Doris is compelling. From her unexpected love for her stepmother to her romantic fling with Werner Klemperer’s Stefan Riker and feigned amnesia, Doris demands attention. She’s contradictory and rambunctious and impetuous.
Joseph Harrison’s schtick in his post-divorce phase is stoicism. He’s followed his dissolved marriage with time in a sanitarium to get his thoughts together, replacing his anger with calm resolve. As a result, he’s even-keeled and more attractive than ever to his -ex. But stoicism in an episode with an all-time loathsome murder victim and several other shrill characters means that Joseph isn’t particularly memorable. I mean, the guy was married to Fay Wray! I know her. I have to look up John Hoyt’s name.
Advantage: Doris Bannister
Was the defendant the most compelling non-permanent character in the case?
The Case of the Desperate Daughter has its share of memorable characters.
The Val Kilmer-look alike ranch hand
Osa Massen as Lisa Bannister, the German stepmom
Werner Klemperer as the murder victim
The jealous father who murders Riker
But because Doris is so dynamic–and so given to mood swings–she’s as compelling as any of the above. I wish we had a scene where she and Osa Massen slap the daylights out of Gary Marshall, Stefan Riker, and Edward Bannister.
As for The Case of the Prodigal Parent, Joseph isn’t the winner here either. Murderer George Durrell, put upon mom Irene Collaro, the woman who loves her -ex Ethel Harrison, total shnooknik Philip Lark, pretty and mysterious Lorraine Stevens–all outrank Joseph by my reckoning.
Advantage: Doris Bannister
Does Perry respect the defendant?
Perry talks pretty tough to Doris. He calls her on her contradictory passion for her stepmom, rightly pointing out that it’s a pretty odd way to show your support for her by implicitly believing she committed murder! The episode’s finale involves the mystery of Lisa Bannister and the acknowledgment that if Doris was willing to go to the gas chamber to protect Lisa’s secret, it’s best not to pry. Salut, Doris!
As for Joseph, we do get a letter from him in the denouement as Della schools Paul on the hows and wherefores of the case. Joseph seems to have hooked Perry up with some serious cash, and Perry gladly takes Paul and Della out to eat, presumably because Joseph’s given him enough cash for plenty of business expense lunches.
Still, Joseph needed a personal appearance in the final scene to best his desperate rival.
Advantage: Doris Bannister (her margin of victory in this one? A secret!)
Finally, do we have a prior history with the actor or actress?
Gigi Perreau shows up in one more Perry episode, The Case of the Sleep Slayer. John Hoyt, on the other hand, appears in four more episodes of the show, typically as a good or bad father figure.
Advantage: Joseph Harrison
Final Verdict: The judge finds Doris Bannister the victor in this head-to-head matchup.
Congratulations, Dorisl! Your prize is some mother-daughter time with Lisa and the relief of not having to pretend to love Werner Klemperer! Now, let’s see what we can do about firing Gary Marshall, huh?