HBO’s Perry Mason Season One Review

HBO’s ‘Perry Mason‘ is a reboot of the classic courtroom drama television series from CBS. Team Downey turns the story into a 1932 period drama that explores a possible origin for the Los Angeles attorney. This is your spoiler warning.

Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys) is a private investigator working for LA attorney Elias Birchard “E.B.” Jonathan (John Lithgow) during the Great Depression. EB tasks Perry and his partner Pete Strickland (Shea Whigham) to solve the case of his client Emily Dodson (Gayle Rankin), a married woman whose lover was involved with the kidnapping and murder of her baby boy. District Attorney Maynard Barnes (Stephen Root) is determined to see the woman hanged. Emily’s pastor Sister Alice McKeegan (Tatiana Maslany) takes an interest in the case, paying for her defense. After Barnes threatens to have EB disbarred, the older attorney commits suicide, prompting his assistant Della Street (Juliet Rylance) to stage it so Mason can become a lawyer and take over the defense, but he will need the help of Patrolman Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) to connect the dots of the crime.

Paramount goes woke with Star Trek’s Captain Picard, Disney did it with The Last Jedi, and Warner Bros. joined the party with Birds of Prey. Of course, HBO is joining in with the IP shredding party with all of the intersectional and politically correct talking points mixed into a beloved character. Unnecessarily gory shots, loaded with strong language, gratuitous sex, and giving the SJW treatment is only the beginning.

They get their shots in on Christians. Sister Alice is obviously some sort of amalgam of Aimee Semple McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman. She is shown to be an overzealous fraud. Meanwhile, the men in the church are portrayed as dirtbags and implied to be racist. Not a single one had redeeming qualities. I find that hilarious since Evangelical leaders like Pastor William Seymour and Rev. Billy Graham battled segregation. No nuance here, they are all toxic males and females, one willingly gives her underage daughter to a man for a favor.

As for the plot, it does flow pretty well. It did have this boring subplot where Mason’s landlady, played by Veronica Falcón, is sleeping with him, while also trying to steal his property… his family’s property. Outside of that, the plot is actually pretty interesting and has a lot of intricate facets to it. It keeps your attention and had this not been about Perry Mason, I might have enjoyed it. Sadly, that is where the problem lies.

Gone is the stoic and intelligent legal savant named Perry Mason, played by the late-great Raymond Burr, who could apply enough pressure to make a suspect crack, successfully defending his client. Instead, we get an overly emotional deadbeat dad (yes, that’s a thing). Rhys portrays him as someone who has no problem committing outright criminal acts to attain his means. Sure, Burr’s Perry had no problem thinking outside of the box or even bending the rules, but he never outright flaunted the law to accomplish his goals.

Now, it is true in the early novels by Erle Stanley Gardner, on which the character is based, Mason was not above unethical activity. However, he evolved into a more professional attorney after his shenanigans got a real murderer off and he would later feel guilty about it. Perhaps the show will explore this, but judging by the content and plot, it is unlikely.

The character “restructuring” did not stop with Mason. Paul Drake, originally played by William Hopper, was a suave and charismatic, but gentlemanly lady’s man with a keen eye for looking for clues. While he is still a smart detective, HBO’s Paul Drake is race swapped, of course, but now he is bitter and jaded because of how he was treated during his time as a LA cop (yes, that’s a thing). I do not understand why they did not make him an original character. It would have made it far more interesting than making such annoying changes to Paul Drake.

Hamilton Burger was originally played by William Talman. In that show, he was smart, crafty, but always wanted justice to be served. He was Perry’s most frequent adversary and though Mason usually won their legal battles, they never underestimated each other’s legal skills. HBO’s Hamilton Burger, portrayed by Justin Kirk, is now a closeted gay man who is ethically dubious, helping Perry to cheat in order to pass the bar. He did not enter the show until the end of the season, but it became clear right away that he had more political ambitions than those of justice.

The most egregious change comes to Della Street. When played by Barbara Hale, she was a powerhouse voice of reason, common sense, and devotion. Her honesty and dedication got Perry out of many jams. HBO’s Della Street, who is gay by the way, is a hypocritical scold who commits several crimes in order to get her way. Della, who is gay by the way, forges documents, commits insurance fraud, and tries to justify their client’s abhorrent actions by attacking all of the men involved in the case. Della, who is gay by the way, has some of the most cringe-worthy dialogue and sequences in the series, especially in the final episode. Bossy, obtuse, and nowhere near the strong character played by Hale.

Honestly, this restructuring of our favorite novels, TV shows, comic books, movies, and more will only continue to get worse. The creatively bankrupt wokescolds in Hollywood know the only success they can have is if they steal. Attempts at originality on their part have mostly ended in disaster and now it has infected Perry Mason.

Check out the trailer below:


What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews of Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia and Vindication. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

You can find me everywhere on social media! Facebook: Author Jacob Airey | Instagram: realjacobairey| Twitter: @realJacobAirey | Parler: RealJacobAirey | YouTube: StudioJake


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