The show found the most special place in the heart of Portland, Oregon. Local station KPTV started airing old Perry Mason episodes at night. The show gained so much traction that the station moved it to noon. For over 40 years, the people of Portland dropped whatever they were doing at noon every day to watch the show.
Perry Mason was untouchable. But when ratings eventually began to plummet, it was case closed for the show in Oregon. Portland was beside itself.
Basing the Show on a Terrifying Real-Life Event
HBO’s Perry Mason bears few resemblances to the original 1957 CBS series. Perry is a bitter, impoverished private detective in this version. A broken man after World War II, his demons continue to haunt him.
Mason investigates the murder of an infant boy, a case based on a real-life event in the 1930s, often dubbed the trial of the century. In 1927, American aviator Charles Lindbergh had flown solo across the Atlantic, making him a celebrity overnight. In 1932, Lindbergh’s infant son went missing – presumably kidnapped for ransom. Investigators later found the boy deceased.
Matthew Rhys Didn't Want to Play Mason
When Rhys received a message about a Perry Mason remake, he wasn’t enthused. It had nothing to do with the role and he didn't like thinking about the weight and legacy behind it. He wondered why anyone would want to remake such a classic and risk ruining it.
Was it even possible to do? It was only later upon receiving more background to the proposed storyline that Rhys became intrigued. They would be leaving the classic Perry Mason well alone, much to Rhys’ happiness. This was a darker take on the show, reimagined for the modern world.
The Show's Amazing Ensemble
Our man receives much of the credit for the show’s success. But the show wouldn’t be the same without its ensemble - Barbara Hale, William Hopper, (Paul Drake), William Talman, and Ray Collins. Each one shines in their respective roles, despite the show being called "Perry Mason."
You’ll also find that the first half of every episode doesn’t feature much of Mason, if at all. Screen time usually goes to Mason’s possible clients and their stories instead — a format also prevalent in Law & Order. Mason and his legal team would come on screen in the second half to save the day.
The Perry Mason Revival on HBO
Attempting a reboot of an iconic show is always ambitious, but you can count on a network like HBO to never refuse a challenge. Fans were wondering who would play the titular role. Which Hollywood talent would try to fill Raymond Burr’s imposing shoes? The part of Perry Mason went to Matthew Rhys.
The revival traces Perry Mason’s time as a private investigator before becoming a high-flying lawyer. For a while, rumors about Robert Downey Jr. playing Perry Mason were making the rounds. Eventually, Downey Jr. decided to remain a producer instead.