Famed fashion photographer David Morrison (Eric Braeden) has fallen on hard times but things are looking up. The American Museum of Art wants to do a retrospective of his work. He just has to get the permission of his current wife, Dee (Kathy Ireland), and his four ex-wives (Shelley Hack, Kim Alexis, Maud Adams, and Beverly Johnson). All of them are super models who owe their careers to David but four of them hate his guts and Dee isn’t happy when she sees evidence that he has been cheating on her. When David turns up dead, Dee is arrested. She claims that she’s innocent but the prosecution is sure that they have an airtight case.
This sounds like a case for Perry Mason!
However, Perry’s out of town so it falls to Perry’s never previously mentioned best friend, Tony Caruso (Paul Sorvino), to solve The Case of the Wicked Wives! With the help of Perry’s tireless associates, Della Street (Barbara Hale) and Ken Malansky (William R. Moses), Caruso works to solve the case and prove the Dee is innocent. He also prepares many pasta dinners and frequently sings.
So, where was Perry? As everyone knows, Raymond Burr played Perry Mason for 9 seasons in the 50s and the 60s. 20 years after the show aired its final episode, Burr returned to the role in a series of highly rated, made for television movies. Unfortunately, Burr died in 1993 with several movies left to be filmed. In his will, Burr specifically requested that production on the remaining films continue so that the cast and crew wouldn’t lose their jobs. Since the role of Mason obviously could not be recast that soon after Burrs’s death, it was decided that the remaining movies would feature guest lawyers. Enter Paul Sorvino.
The Case of the Wicked Wives was the first Perry Mason film to be made after Burr’s death. As his replacement, Tony Caruso has much in common with Mason, including the ability to make the guilty confess in open court. Unlike Mason, Caruso is also obsessed with cooking elaborate spaghetti dinners and singing operatic arias. This movie came out just a year after Sorvino left Law & Order to specifically pursue his opera career. Sorvino sings a lot in The Case of the Wicked Wives, sometimes in court. Unfortunately, a love of singing and pasta are the only two personality traits that are really given to Caruso. Through no fault of Paul Sorvino’s, Caruso is never as compelling a character as the coolly calculating Mason. Mason could trick anyone into confessing through perfectly asked questions. Caruso is more into courtroom stunts that would get most lawyer disbarred.
Because the mystery itself is a dud, the main reason to watch The Case of the Wicked Wives is for the wives. Who wouldn’t want to keep Kathy Ireland from being wrongly convicted? All of the wives get at least one big moment to shine and tear up the scenery. You’ll guess who the murderer is long before anyone else in court.