Cue that bluesy saxophone because we’re going back in time to the 1930s! It’s been a few months since we’ve heard anything about HBO’s reboot of the 1950s legal drama but the first trailer has dropped — and this Perry Mason certainly looks different.
For the uninitiated, “Perry Mason” was a courtroom drama that ran from 1957-1966. The titular character, played by Raymond Burr, would defend the wrongly accused, showing how the legal system got it wrong and releasing the defendant by episode’s end. This new incarnation, created by “Friday Night Lights” producers Ron Fitzgerald and Rolin Jones, appears to upend much of that original plotline and situate Mason, now played by “The Americans” star Matthew Rhys, as a more noirish gumshoe walking the streets of Los Angeles.
As the trailer lays out, Mason is a character who believes “everyone is guilty” — and it’s not surprising considering the hedonism and corruption running through the city at the time. When a child goes missing Mason is the one tasked with finding out what happened. It takes him down dark alleys and the vaunted world of City Hall. And there’s also a connection to a popular evangelist, played by “Orphan Black’s” Tatiana Maslany.
There’s less a sense of plot as there is an atmosphere of the gritty world this Perry Mason inhabits. As he says, everyone has secrets and unlike the original series, which featured a different case each episode, this appears to have one central narrative set to run throughout the entire season.
The desire to reboot “Perry Mason” has been around for awhile, going back to 2011 when Robert Downey Jr. was prepping to star as the lawyer for a big screen adaptation that never got off the ground.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the series fares considering how many other shows are using the past to tell a story, whether that’s HBO’s other period drama “The Plot Against America” or Showtime’s upcoming spin-off series “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.” That series is especially relevant considering it, too, focuses on corruption in 1930s Los Angeles and also has a heavy plot involving radio evangelism. Will audiences start to think there’s too much 1930s L.A. to go around?
“Perry Mason” airs June 21st on HBO.