Perry Mason, a property practically synonymous with noir-driven detective dramas, has awaken from its dormancy, as evidenced by the first season of HBO’s long-developing reboot series.
Matthew Rhys, the Emmy-winning former co-star of FX’s The Americans, stars as the eponymous protagonist in this 8-episode whodunnit series, which puts author Erle Stanley Gardner’s embattled lawyer (famously played by Raymond Burr across four decades,) through HBO’s peak television lens, producing a stylish small-screen offering rife with class-contrasting aesthetics of the Great Depression. It all comes together to frame the case of a child kidnapping that proves to be dangerously connected to a diverse array of institutional corruption.
Perry Mason Episode Guide
Perry Mason Episode 1: Chapter One
Perry Mason and Pete Strickland are hired by an attorney to solve a perplexing case: the brutal kidnapping of a one-year-old whose parents were targeted for a $100,000 ransom.
air date: 6/21/20
Perry Mason Episode 2: Chapter Two
Following one of her trademark barn-burning sermons, Evangelical preacher Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany) offers the Dodsons the church’s full moral and financial support – much to her mother Birdy’s (Lili Taylor) dismay. During a routine domestic intervention, beat cop Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) is rerouted to a gruesome crime scene, where he follows a confounding trail of evidence. Mason (Matthew Rhys) is left incensed by a jaw-dropping admission from Baggerly (Robert Patrick) and, after pressing Emily (Gayle Rankin) on her husband’s alibi, finds himself confronted by an outraged Della (Juliet Rylance). Detectives Holcomb (Eric Lange) and Ennis (Andrew Howard) use Drake’s (Chris Chalk) findings to their own advantage.
air date: 6/28/20
Perry Mason Episode 3: Chapter Three
In order to gain an advantage over E.B. and team, wily district attorney Maynard Barnes (Stephen Root) goes public with a shocking new development. Mason (Matthew Rhys) and Strickland (Shea Whigham) get unauthorized access to physical evidence with help from Virgil (Jefferson Mays), Mason’s connect at the city morgue. Later, Mason attempts to extract information from a withholding Drake (Chris Chalk), who’s weary of Holcomb (Eric Lange) and Ennis’ (Andrew Howard) watchful eyes. Della (Juliet Rylance) notices a change in E.B. (John Lithgow), who seems uncharacteristically out of sorts.
Written by HBO
air date: 7/5/20
Perry Mason Episode 4: Chapter Four
Mason (Matthew Rhys) and Strickland (Shea Whigham) lean on Virgil (Jefferson Mays), again, for extra-legal assistance. Following Sister Alice’s (Tatiana Maslany) recovery from a frightening episode, Birdy (Lili Taylor) urges her daughter to renounce her claims about baby Charlie. E.B. (John Lithgow) faces the reality of his financial situation and takes his frustrations out on Della (Juliet Rylance).
air date: 7/12/20
Perry Mason Episode 5 Review: Chapter Five
While Mason (Matthew Rhys) and Della (Juliet Rylance) run a solemn errand up north, Strickland (Shea Whigham) tracks down the sergeant originally assigned to the Dodson case. Before returning to L.A., Mason drops in on his ex-wife Linda (Gretchen Mol) and son Teddy (Cooper Friedman), hoping to make amends for his recent shortcomings. Disturbed by Emily’s (Gayle Rankin) blind faith in Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany) and her new lawyer, Frank Dillon (Matt Malloy), Della sets out to find Mrs. Dodson more capable legal representation.
air date: 7/19/20
Perry Mason Episode 6: Chapter Six
As Emily’s (Gayle Rankin) trial begins and a damning witness testimony takes center stage, Mason (Matthew Rhys) attempts to recover from a shaky start. Meanwhile, in their search for clues that might lead to an exoneration, Della (Juliet Rylance) and Strickland (Shea Whigham) investigate a potential connection between Detective Ennis (Andrew Howard) and Charlie’s kidnappers. Later, Mason considers betraying Drake’s (Chris Chalk) trust to give his client an edge in court, and Birdy (Lili Taylor) urges Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany) to scrap her Easter Sunday plan before it’s too late.
air date: 7/26/20
Perry Mason Episode 7: Chapter Seven
Hoping to expose the hidden link between the Radiant Assembly’s staggering debt and Charlie’s ransom, Mason (Matthew Rhys) puts Herman Baggerly (Robert Patrick) on the stand. Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany) faces mounting pressure from the church elders about her promises for a “resurrection.” Strickland loses track of a key witness, while Drake’s (Chris Chalk) detective work opens a new avenue in the case.
air date: 8/2/20
Perry Mason Episode 8: Chapter Eight
After the team receives some unvarnished critique from Hamilton Burger (Justin Kirk), Della (Juliet Rylance) presents an increasingly stubborn Mason (Matthew Rhys) with her case for putting Emily (Gayle Rankin) on the stand. As the sensational trial winds to a close, Mason, Strickland (Shea Whigham), Della, and Drake (Chris Chalk) attempt to tie up loose ends – and set the stage for their futures.
air date: 8/9/20
Perry Mason Trailer
Check out the full trailer for HBO’s Perry Mason just below. The clip showcases more of the insane exploits of Rhys’s version of the gumshoeing lawyer.
“I don’t like it here. Everybody’s up to something, hiding something. Everybody’s got an angle and everybody is guilty.”
The opening lines of Rhys’s Perry Mason in the teaser sets up a retro-noir montage bearing a façade of glitzy glamor that gives way to ominous elements in the City of Angels like gangsters, gunmen, bent cops and, more prominently, the cult-like congregation of Sister Alice (Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany), who appears to be a silver-tongued Svengali with a national radio show on which she pushes the ideology of her organization, the Radiant Assembly of God. Yet, despite navigating a perilous urban miasma, Mason’s moral modus operandi becomes clear when he states, “The way I see it, there’s what’s legal and there’s what’s right.”
Perry Mason Story
As HBO’s official synopsis for Perry Mason further teases of the series:
1931, Los Angeles. While the rest of the country struggles through the Great Depression, this city is booming! Oil! Olympic Games! Talking Pictures! Evangelical Fervor! And a child kidnapping gone very, very wrong. Based on characters created by author Erle Stanley Gardner, this drama series follows the origins of American fiction’s most legendary criminal defense lawyer, Perry Mason. When the case of the decade breaks down his door, Mason’s relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city and just maybe, a pathway to redemption for himself.
Perry Mason Cast
Joining the aforementioned Matthew Rhys and Tatiana Maslany as part of the officially-named Perry Mason cast are John Lithgow, Juliet Rylance, Chris Chalk, Shea Whigham, Stephen Root, Gayle Rankin, Nate Corddry, Veronica Falcon, Jefferson Mays, Lili Taylor, Andrew Howard, Eric Lange and Robert Patrick.
Perry Mason operates under the stewardship of creators/writers/showrunners Ron Fitzgerald and Rolin Jones, who previously teamed on shows such as Friday Night Lights and Weeds. Thee duo also serve as executive producers, joined in that capacity by Amanda Burrell, Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey, Ron Fitzgerald, Joe Horacek, Rolin Jones and Timothy Van Patten (who also directs), and co-executive Aida Rodgers. Additionally, star Matthew Rhys carries a producer credit. Interestingly, Robert Downey Jr.’s executive producer credit is the result of his early involvement with the project, during which he was eyed to star on the series, which, at the time was to be run by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto.