Perry Mason has been around for a long time. Created by Erle Stanley Gardner, the character was first introduced in Gardner’s 1933 novel ‘The Case of the Velvet Claws’, and went on to feature in a total of eighty two novels between the 1930s and early 1970s. It’s also, I was surprised to discover, the third best-selling novel series of all time, right after J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and R. L. Stines’ Goosebumps.
Mason’s also appeared in radio shows, comics, and most famously the award-winning original TV series that ran for nine seasons between 1957 and 1966 and starred Raymond Burr. There was a short-lived reboot starring Monte Markham in the early 1970s following Gardner’s death, before Burr returned to the role for a series of thirty TV movies between 1985 and 1995 – the last four of which starred Paul Sorvino and Hal Holbrook in the role following Burr’s death in 1993.
Twenty five years later, Mason’s heading back to the small screen once more thanks to an upcoming HBO miniseries from Ron Fitzgerald and Rolin Jones (Weeds). Matthew Rhys (The Americans) steps into the role in the series, which features an impressive supporting cast that includes Tatiana Maslany, John Lithgow, Chris Chalk, Shea Whigham, Juliet Rylance, Nate Corddry, Veronica Falcon, Jefferson Mays, Gayle Rankin, Lili Taylor, Andrew Howard, Robert Patrick, and Stephen Root.
The official synopsis is as follows:
Set in 1932 Los Angeles, the series will focus on the origin story of famed defense lawyer Perry Mason, based on characters from Erle Stanley Gardner’s novels. Living check-to-check as a low-rent private investigator, Mason is haunted by his wartime experiences in France and suffering the effects of a broken marriage. L.A. is booming while the rest of the country recovers from the Great Depression — but a kidnapping gone very wrong leads to Mason exposing a fractured city as he uncovers the truth of the crime.
Let’s take a look:
Do you know what really stood out to me after a few seconds? The dialogue. I can’t express how much I appreciate that they’ve modernised the way the characters talk and haven’t resorted to hokey, old-timey phrases and expressions – there are no dames and the like here. I also have to say that this looks superb – it has a fantastic cast, it looks and feels authentic, it’s certainly well directed by Timothy Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos), and there’s an intriguing case to solve.
What do you think?
Perry Mason will premiere on HBO on 21 June.
Last Updated: June 1, 2020