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  • Writer's pictureHannah Pearson

Hold on Mr. Mason, I've Got a Few Questions.

There's a few things left unanswered for this Perry Mason witness.


Spoilers For: Pretty much all the big plot points so turn back now unless you've seen it.

So HBO did a remake of Perry Mason this summer and boy did I devour that thing quick. LA film noirs are one of my guilty pleasures, even the cheesy ones, seriously, I saw Zootopia three times in the theater. I love noir. And I loved the new Perry Mason. Now, I’m much too young to have watched the original but, I knew the gist. Defense lawyer takes on seemingly impossible cases to help the innocent and manage to always save the day in the eleventh hour. I don’t know if the remake stayed true to the O.G. It was the fifties, so I’m guessing the old one didn’t have quite the diverse cast and close up shots of a dead baby, but I know it was a smash hit and the remake definitely stayed true to that.

HBO’s spin came with a sinister plot line that grips at the heartstrings (I mentioned the dead baby, right?), an authentic background of 1930’s Hollywood, and oh my the cast! The casting director gets all the awards for nailing the supporting roles. Shea Whigham and Chris Chalk as Pete Strickland and Officer Paul Drake, was phenomenal. I held my breath each episode, convinced one if not both of them would be killed off, but like a miracle both of them were spared. But let’s talk about the real starts of the show: the women! Juilet Rylance’s Della Street was smart, strong, and often times the real hero. Tatiana Maslany as the charismatic televangelist Sister Alice McKeegan, holy hell where has this woman been on all my life?! Her IMDb page might become my new what to watch next list! And a huuuuge thank you to HBO for introducing me to Veronica Falcon, a huge star in Mexico. Her character, the badass pilot and entrepreneur Lupe Gibbs was my favorite. So refreshing to see an age appropriate love interest for once instead doe eyed child who lets the main character get away with everything.

But Perry Mason wasn’t perfect. I binged it so quickly that some of the flaws didn’t registry in the moment. It wasn’t until I was coming out of the withdraw that happens whenever I finish a good show, that I realized there were some things that didn’t make sense, seemed unfinished, or just lack purpose. So Mr. Mason here is my cross examination, if it pleases the court?

What was the point of those scenes with E.B. Johnson (played by John Lithgow) showing signs of dementia? Maybe I read them wrong, but in episode three it seems to be setting up Perry Mason’s longtime employer, and father-like figure for a something medical lurking in the shadows. He stares off in the distance, he fumbles, and seems disoriented when Della arrives. Was it a red herring to have these scenes so that his actual fate, a suicide ala Sylvia Plath, would be more shocking? It was obvious that E.B. wouldn’t make it to the season finally, Mason needs to fill his shoes and become an attorney or else it’s a pitiful remake that misses a major plot point, but the misdirect seems misdirected. Or maybe I got it wrong. Maybe this behavior is supposed to allude to his depression and fatalistic urges. Either way, it left me confused.

What was the point of giving Perry Mason a son? Is him being a deadbeat father suppose to add to his rogue, lone wolf personae? I think living alone on a derelict dairy farm and being a dirty tricks P.I. was enough to sell that point. Was it to make him more incentivized to find Charlie Dodson’s killer because he is a parent? I think most humans with a beating heart would be fully invested in this case being brought to justice. The whole abandoned son story line just played into a trope I’m sick of seeing. The main character wants to be a better father, but the mean ex wife won’t give him a chance. Sorry, doesn’t work for me. Most women put up with 99% more shit than they should ever have to so if you’re being iced out, you probably deserve it. Also, good for her for moving on and finding a new man. I’ll save my tears for someone else, thank you.

Where the hell did they get that other baby?? At the end of the show Emily Dodson’s character is semi exonerated of her crimes and gets to start over new, with the glamours gig of traveling the country and hocking Birdy McKeegan’s garbage gospel after Alice splits. A benefit of the new job: a brand new baby. But where did they get this baby?! Did Birdy McKeegan steal someone’s baby? Was it adopted? Are we supposed to be happy for Emily, who had motherhood ripped from her and then restored? Or is the message that messed up things like this just happens all the time? Also, is Emily not to be retried? She wasn’t exactly found “not guilty.” How does she get to bop around the country?

Maybe I’m thinking too much or maybe it was by design that not everything made sense and got tied up sweetly with a bow. Our justice system is severely flawed in 2020, how can I not be surprised that it would not make sense in the 1930’s? The rest is more personal taste and I’ll let it go. Season two will be anticipated and I’ll look forward to a new high stakes case, stellar acting performances, and jaw dropping moments (just no more dead babies, okay?) and I’ll save my questions for the end.

Rating: 4 Tentacles

Am I being too picky? Or did these things bother you too?


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