Reviews of new US TV programmes from 2020
In the US: Sundays, 9pm, HBO
In the UK: Mondays, 2am, Sky Atlantic
The peak of Perry Mason’s fame has long passed. From his origination in the stories and movies of the 1930s, through the radio series of the 40s/50s and 50s/60s TV series with Raymond Burr to the 80s/90s TV movie revival of said series with Raymond Burr, the public’s familiarity with the dazzling defence lawyer is diminishing, as old age claims those who loved him when they were younger.
So to a certain extent, the makers of this prequel mini-series could do what they wanted – who remembers enough about Mason that they’ll quibble (or at least care about) the lack of faithfulness to the source material?
Even more so, the books at least are very unspecific about Mason and his background. There are a couple of references here and there, but for the most part, Mason is a cipher, an idea – he’s a lawyer on the side of good who’ll defend the innocent, investigate the truth and win all his cases, with the assistance of secretary Della Street and detective Paul Drake.
But given that those are the core ideas of Mason that those who know Mason will remember, you have to wonder why for this prequel Perry Mason mini-series, the show’s producers have opted to portray Mason as a Depression era, down-at-heel, hard-boiled, largely conscienceless private eye who exploits the weak and innocent and only shows up in a court room as a witness or defendant.
Couldn’t they just have adapted something by Dashiell Hammett instead? It’s not like they were stumped for optionsContinue reading “Review: Perry Mason (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)”