A McKenzie Murder Mystery
When his niece, Ivy (Susan Diol), is accused of having an affair with her boss, the husband of sitcom star Josie Joplin (Dyan Cannon), lawyer Bill McKenzie (Hal Holbrook) flies in to try to get to the bottom of things, popping in to see dear friend Della Street (Barbara Hale) and her new assistant Janice (Holland Taylor) whilst in town. But when Josie is found murdered Ivy finds herself the prime suspect despite the whole affair thing being part of a publicity stunt. Now uncle Bill is going to find a way of proving Ivy innocent with Ken (William R. Moses) helping with the case by trying to find out who was driving a jeep which nearly ran Ivy over as it sped away from the scene of the crime.
When it comes to TV movie franchises one of the joys is that due to their nature of being more like extended episodes of a TV show often allows you to watch them in what ever order you like. And that is the case when it comes to "A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Jealous Jokester" although for those who are unaware may find it a bit of a surprise when after the famous Perry Mason music there is no Raymond Burr and instead there is Hal Holbrook as lawyer Bill McKenzie. Of course those in the know will be aware that after Raymond Burr died in 1993 they made 4 more movies under "A Perry Mason Mystery" banner either to use up stories or to capitalize on the series' popularity.
Now I will admit that with "A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Jealous Jokester" being only the 2nd Perry Mason movie I watched it caught me a little off guard but not to the point of being disappointed. I say that because this uses that same formula of an innocent person charged with a crime and then in this case we have the uncle proving them innocent. The familiarity of this with Ken doing some investigative work and of course ending up at the end of a punch or two from someone who doesn't like him snooping around makes it easy to watch in a pleasant afternoon time waster sort of way.
But of course we have the obvious differences with Hal Holbrook in the driving seat and delivering this entertaining performance of a cowboy lawyer, straight talking, courteous with just a touch of the sly about him which means every time he chats to someone you get a sense he already has further questions to throw at them when he sees them in court. In truth they could have done a spin-off series with Holbrook and it would have worked for one season. Of course there is also William R. Moses who delivers the solid investigative side-kick performance with some old fashioned charm. But sadly due to health issues Barbara Hale was barely in this TV movie with Holland Taylor in the assistant role.
What this all boils down to is that "A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Jealous Jokester" is another entertaining afternoon style murder mystery movie. It may not have the same level of entertainment as those which featured Raymond Burr but Hal Holbrook brings his own style to the movie which keeps it entertaining.