Perry Mason is no ordinary lawyer. Unlike other attorneys, Mason doesn’t leave investigations to the police. He prefers to do a little sleuthing alongside the detectives since he’s certain they will arrive at the wrong conclusion – which they always do.
While ideal for television, it raises questions about the general perception of law enforcement around the time, which as you can guess from the show, wasn’t great. We bet the show didn’t help cops regain a good reputation.
The Politics Behind Every Perry Mason Remake
If you look closely you'll see that each and every time a remake of the show was created, it was as a response to existing political tentions between citizens and cops. In 1985, Raymond Burr’s Perry Mason returned on air nearly 20 years after CBS canceled the show.
The newer Perry Mason arrived at a time when public opinion of the law was unfavorable. The 2020 HBO’s Perry Mason arrived against the backdrop of similar mistrust in the police.
Mason and Lt. Tragg — Best Friends, Worst Enemies
The show’s main policeman, Lt. Tragg often butted heads with Perry Mason on the show. As a homicide detective, Lt. Tragg isn’t inept. He’s just far less creative in approaching cases and solving them. In contrast, Mason’s ability to think outside the box gives him an edge over Tragg.
Despite being on opposite sides of a case, Tragg and Mason have more in common than they realize. Both characters find official procedures and systems restrictive — more roadblocks to justice than serving it. The two also share a common, frustrating enemy in the District Attorney.
A Formula You Can Rely on
While the storylines in each episode are different, the Perry Mason formula remains constant. Every episode follows a two-part structure, with the initial sections depicting a crime — usually a murder. The story continues when Mason agrees to defend the innocent person from the police. What follows after is a thrilling investigation.
The courtroom scene is tense with emotion and drama, building up to the ultimate crescendo – a dramatic confession or revelation. The show’s compelling and reliable formula scripted television history. Still, it would be woefully reductive to assume that one "Perry Mason" episode is like every other.
The Revival Was Supposed to Be a Limited Series
Despite the promotions and marketing clout, HBO reportedly never had high hopes for the show’s performance. One of the most telling indicators is how the network decided to call the Perry Mason reboot a miniseries – not a drama series.
It was a way out in case things went south. Should the show fail to bring viewers or executives cancel it, everyone could walk away without losing face. The apprehension was understandable but ultimately proved unnecessary. The first episode of the Perry Mason reboot on HBO brought in 1.7 million viewers — HBO’s biggest debut in two years.