In memory of Larry Hagman......
PAUL GARDNERAS SEEN IN:
"The Adventure Of The Mad Tea Party"
'Adventure Of The Mad Tea Party'
"The Adventures Of Ellery Queen"
(1934 short story collection)
Frederic Dannay & Manfred Lee
Ellery and his agent, Howard Biggers, travel to the estate of the wealthy and eccentric Spencer Lockridge. It seems as though Biggers wants to turn one of Ellery's books into a play and is trying to get Lockridge to provide the financial backing. All goes for naught when Lockridge disappears while wearing a Mad Hatter's costume from the Alice in Wonderland theme party he was throwing.
When the two men arrive at the estate, the butler, Doyle greets them and explains that one of the guests, Paul Gardner, can't find his ears. Ellery soon realizes that Paul and the other guests are playing the part of characters from Alice in Wonderland. Paul is an architect and helped build Spencer's new home. Spencer's wife Laura is the Dormouse and Broadway actress Emmy Reinhart is playing Alice. Emmy claims to be a big fan of Ellery's work and runs over to him. Also present are Paul's wife Diana and Spencer's mother-in-law, Letitia.
"The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party" is, shockingly enough, the only regular episode from the entire series to be based on an actual short story by Ellery Queen. It's also one of the best episodes of the series. Connection? Perhaps. It certainly packs more plot into its runtime than do most of the episodes (compare the twists in this one to, say, those in "Colonel Niven's Memoirs," and you'll see my point). It's also stronger in terms of atmosphere; from the first scene it's almost difficult to believe that this is the same series that gave us the genial-yet-anonymous "12th Floor Express." And--best of all!--this episode represents Jim Hutton's best performance yet as Ellery.
The only series entry based on an actual Queen story, it is the finest of the episodes, and is regarded by many as the best filming of Queen ever. The script is faithful to the original story, and even surpasses it in clearing up a few logical loopholes. A classic plot makes for a classic episode.