Question: Answer me this: Did Perry Mason ever lose a case? If you use that and are still feeling generous, didn't the same actor star as a cop in a wheelchair? What was the name of that show? Thanks.

Televisionary: Well, yes and no. The celebrated, deeply intense defense attorney (Raymond Burr) never saw a client punished for a crime he or she didn't commit. Over the show's long 1957-66 run on CBS, Mason racked up a near-perfect record against D.A. Hamilton Burger (William Talman), but for one trial he lost for a client unwilling to give him access to the evidence that would exonerate her. Perry being Perry, of course, he went out and got it himself, clearing her name anyway (the device that made the drama more of a mystery series than a legal show).

Given his long string of losses, it's a wonder poor Burger kept getting elected. It was bad enough that he couldn't beat the imposing Mason, but he also pressed case after case against the innocent — and had his mistakes revealed in dramatic fashion in front of everyone. Perry's clients didn't just get off, mind you. They got to sit there while the real culprit, who was inevitably sitting right in the courtroom waiting to break down and confess, spewed tears and copped to his or her crime. Credit is due to Perry and his team, investigator Paul Drake (William Hopper) and secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale), who helped gather the goods on the baddies, of course. But it was our hero who turned up the heat enough to prompt a histrionic mea culpa.

Despite the tough-to-swallow formula, the Mason property enjoyed a remarkably long life, illustrating once again the value of the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it philosophy. Created by writer Erle Stanley Gardner, the character first appeared in the 1933 novel The Case of the Velvet Claws. From there, he moved to a series of movies and a daily CBS afternoon radio show, which ran from 1944-55 as a combination soap opera and detective serial. Oddly enough, once Mason moved to CBS's TV schedule, it kept the name and the sleuth aspects, but left the soap flavor behind. The radio show jumped to TV, too, morphing into The Edge of Night in 1956, keeping the staff and cast but changing the characters' names.

Perry Mason returned to CBS for a short time in 1973, boasting Monte Markham as the title character, Sharon Acker as Della and Albert Stratton as Drake, but it didn't catch on. Burr came back in 1985 for a series of Mason TV movies, cranking out 10 before his death in 1993. The character's name then carried two more TV movies, billed as Perry Mason mysteries, even though he didn't actually appear in them.

As to the second part of your question, Burr also filled the title role in Ironside, which ran on NBC from 1967-75. In it, he played a former chief of detectives who worked with the San Francisco police as a consultant after a bullet to the spine left him confined to a wheelchair.