For the first few episodes of HBO’s gritty, captivating and exceptionally crafted Perry Mason reboot, there’s a question hanging in the air.
Why is this a Perry Mason reboot at all? Why isn’t it just the story of another character entirely or even the next instalment of anthology series True Detective?
The 2020 revival of Erle Stanley Gardner’s criminal defence lawyer couldn’t be more different to the character’s most famous screen version, the unflappable and respected lawyer played by Raymond Burr in 270 episodes in the classic 1950s TV series.
But as the miniseries, starting tonight on Foxtel*, goes on, exploring corruption and law over its eight-episode run, it’s clear that this version and its precedents have something in common, a deep commitment to justice.
Played with nuance and vulnerability by Emmy-winning Welsh actor Matthew Rhys (The Americans, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood), the Perry Mason we meet in 1932 is far from the confident lawyer he would become.
Still haunted by the memories of trenches in World War I, estranged from his wife and young son and desperately trying to hold onto his parents’ Van Nuys dairy farm,