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.
Perry Mason and Portland’s Affection
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.
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 80s Remake
Fans today know and even expect remakes of shows. But during the ‘80s, it wasn’t common for old shows to make comebacks. Perry Mason did return, and with a bang – expectedly. Twenty years after the show stopped airing, NBC created a series of Perry Mason films made for TV. The concept was similar to how "The Incredible Hulk" ran on television during the time.
Original stars Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale picked up where they left off decades ago. William Hopper had died by then, but the show grew with a new cast – William Katt (Barbara Hale’s son) among them.
A Glaring Lack of Diversity
A universal critique of Perry Mason is the show’s lack of diversity. In that regard, the show had little to no impact. It’s surprising for a series that ran during the socio-political upheaval of the ‘60s when considerations of race took center stage.
Perry Mason has zero depictions of diversity. Representations of African-Americans, if any, are relegated to the background. Like most of us in real life, Perry Mason chose to remain oblivious.