Perry Mason: Season 1 (2020)

SEASON:

Season 1
Perry Mason

Critics Consensus

Brimming with top notch performances and dripping in style, Perry Mason's compelling mystery mostly makes up for its messy storytelling.

76%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 82

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 295

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Episodes

Air date: Jun 21, 2020

In 1931 Los Angeles, PI Perry Mason is hired by attorney E.B. Jonathan to solve a perplexing case involving the brutal kidnapping of 1-year-old Charlie Dodson, whose parents Matthew and Emily were targeted for a $100,000 ransom. After meeting with Herman Baggerly, a millionaire elder at the Dodsons' church, Perry, E.B., and E.B.'s legal secretary Della Street ponder why a family of unmistakably modest means would be extorted for such a steep price. Series premiere.

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Air date: Jun 28, 2020

Following one of her trademark barn-burning sermons, Evangelical preacher Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany) offers the Dodsons the church's full moral and financial support -- much to her mother Birdy's (Lili Taylor) dismay. During a routine domestic intervention, beat cop Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) is rerouted to a gruesome crime scene, where he follows a confounding trail of evidence. Mason (Matthew Rhys) is left incensed by a jaw-dropping admission from Baggerly (Robert Patrick) and, after pressing Emily (Gayle Rankin) on her husband's alibi, finds himself confronted by an outraged Della (Juliet Rylance). Detectives Holcomb (Eric Lange) and Ennis (Andrew Howard) use Drake's (Chris Chalk) findings to their own advantage.

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Air date: Jul 5, 2020

In order to gain an advantage over E.B. and team, wily district attorney Maynard Barnes (Stephen Root) goes public with a shocking new development. Mason (Matthew Rhys) and Strickland (Shea Whigham) get unauthorized access to physical evidence with help from Virgil (Jefferson Mays), Mason's connect at the city morgue. Later, Mason attempts to extract information from a withholding Drake (Chris Chalk), who's weary of Holcomb (Eric Lange) and Ennis' (Andrew Howard) watchful eyes. Della (Juliet Rylance) notices a change in E.B. (John Lithgow), who seems uncharacteristically out of sorts.

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Air date: Jul 12, 2020

Mason (Matthew Rhys) and Strickland (Shea Whigham) lean on Virgil (Jefferson Mays), again, for extra-legal assistance. Following Sister Alice's (Tatiana Maslany) recovery from a frightening episode, Birdy (Lili Taylor) urges her daughter to renounce her claims about baby Charlie. E.B. (John Lithgow) faces the reality of his financial situation and takes his frustrations out on Della (Juliet Rylance).

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Air date: Jul 19, 2020

Mason and Della run a solemn errand up north, while Strickland tracks down the sergeant originally assigned to the Dodson case. Before returning to L.A., Mason drops in on his ex-wife Linda and son Teddy, hoping to make amends for his recent shortcomings. Disturbed by Emily's blind faith in Sister Alice and her new lawyer, Frank Dillon, Della sets out to find Mrs. Dodson more capable legal representation.

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Air date: Jul 26, 2020

Emily's trial begins and a damning witness testimony takes center stage, while Mason attempts to recover from a shaky start. Meanwhile, in their search for clues that might lead to an exoneration, Della and Strickland investigate a potential connection between Detective Ennis and Charlie's kidnappers. Later, Mason considers betraying Drake's trust to give his client an edge in court, and Birdy urges Sister Alice to scrap her Easter Sunday plan before it's too late.

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Air date: Aug 2, 2020

Mason puts Herman Baggerly on the stand in an attempt to expose the hidden link between the Radiant Assembly's staggering debt and Charlie's ransom. Sister Alice faces mounting pressure from the church elders about her promises for a "resurrection." Strickland loses track of a key witness, while Drake's detective work opens a new avenue in the case.

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Air date: Aug 9, 2020

In the Season 1 finale, the team receives some unvarnished critique from Hamilton Burger, while Della presents an increasingly stubborn Mason with her case for putting Emily on the stand. As the sensational trial winds to a close, Mason, Strickland, Della and Drake attempt to tie up loose ends—and set the stage for their futures.

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Critic Reviews for Perry Mason Season 1

All Critics (82) | Top Critics (29)

I don't think you'll be bored or outraged watching "Perry Mason." The cast is filled with big, broad scene-stealers, with Lithgow's moving turn at the top of that list... Just don't get too caught up in trying to tie all those moments together.

Jun 18, 2020 | Full Review…

A dull slough through L.A. noir.

Jun 17, 2020 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Matthew Rhys plays both extremes of his Perry Mason perfectly - the brooding, nonconformist of so many film noirs, as well as the emotional orator of those stirring summations to the jury.

Jun 18, 2020 | Full Review…
NPR
Top Critic

From the pilot to the final episode, "Perry Mason" knows itself: This Perry Mason is a rebel, and he's bringing everyone along for the ride.

Jun 18, 2020 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
Top Critic

A gorgeous show in terms of production design and the cast is strong from top to bottom, but writers Rolin Jones & Ron Fitzgerald struggle to find a story worth investing in for at least the first half of the eight-episode season.

Jun 19, 2020 | Full Review…

Strained at times, wandering at others, "Perry Mason" finds its footing eventually and by its end you may want to watch a second season even as you hope it's better than the first.

Jun 19, 2020 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
Top Critic

But goodness gracious was this show SLOW. While I appreciated the noir feel in theory, in practice it made me rather sleepy.

Sep 30, 2020 | Full Review…

There is something thrilling in wondering what new stories we need to tell about institutions of public life when we no longer trust that they are inherently just or righteous.

Sep 3, 2020 | Full Review…

It may have been set so many years ago, but it speaks to the world today - race, discrimination, religion, moral turpitude, different sexual orientation, feminism, all wrapped up in a cracking mystery.

Aug 24, 2020 | Full Review…

Perry Mason has so many delicious ingredients... I'm looking forward to watching more.

Aug 18, 2020 | Full Review…

In addition to its thoughtful politics, Perry Mason is engaging and unpredictable and looks stylish as hell.

Aug 12, 2020 | Full Review…

...over-the-top violent, over-the-top gratuitously titillating and it also fails, somehow, to be gripping...

Aug 7, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Perry Mason: Season 1

  • 6d ago
    HBO's Perry Mason reboot is smart and inclusive without EVER being heavy. It's done with finesse, naturally... like it should be!
  • Sep 19, 2020
    This is what Erle Stanley Gardner had in mind for Perry Mason when he wrote the books. It's classic noir in all it gritty glory. I'm ready for season 2.
  • Sep 15, 2020
    Matthew Rhys' eternally blank expression is a drag. Rhys was miscast, and the directorial tone is mundane and Depressing with a capital D. They make the worst mistake by giving away the mystery early on and killing the majority of any hope for tantalizing suspense. Thanks to Perry Mason's permanently miserable look, both he and the viewers wonder why they're sitting through this show in the first place.
  • Sep 14, 2020
    I'm not usually a fan of alternative takes on classics, but something about this reimagined Perry Mason works for me. Pretend it's alternative universe noir fan fiction!
  • Sep 14, 2020
    It has absolutely nothing to do with the successful original Perry Mason series. Scenes and language are continuously replete of vulgarity and cheap, offensive dialogues. What a waste of time !! Netflix is becoming more and more the National Enquire of tv entertainment......but even more tasteless and gross.
  • Sep 10, 2020
    Gritty and captivating take on the origin story of Perry Mason. Hope to have many more seasons.
  • Sep 10, 2020
    This had such potential but its a hot sad mess of bloviated character development and no real reason to not just fall asleep. They should have been more true to the original character and not try to reinvent the wheel. Its s if someone said.. hey lets do perry mason but name only and add some carnival and band of brothers, oh and make it feel a bit like board walk empire and have tons of nudity like game of thrones lol
  • Aug 28, 2020
    I knew nothing about Perry Mason books or previous adaptations. The story and its characters were all fresh for me personally. And I did like it a lot. Not the best series, not even close to the depths of Twin Peaks or 1st season of the True Detective. It's not provoking, not metaphorical or poetic, it's just a really good straight-forward detective-judicial story. Racism and feminism themes here and there, but nothing surprising. There were no twists in the spirit of Sherlock Holmes. However, in general, the intrigue lasted until the end. It was immersive, the time of the 30s was portraited nicely. Characters are complex multi-layered with imperfections and interesting to be followed. It was the first time I saw Matthew Rhys and he was a discovery I'd say; a bit monotonous with his always displeased grimace but charismatic. Shea Whigham as Pete Strickland is one of my favourites for a long time, one of the best supporting actors of our times. Veronica Falcon as Lupe Gibbs is my favourite here; the sex scene with the fall between the wall and the bed will I remember for the rest of my days. Such a passion! Chris Chalk as Paul Drake was a shine, a true hidden gem of this show/series. All in all very much recommended for thriller/detective genre fans.
  • Aug 26, 2020
    The only thing good is the acting, the show is a mess with a disappointing and unsatisfying conclusion that has no pay off. The characters are unrelatable, uninteresting, none of them captivate you, you don't feel any connection to them. Nothing memorable at all, no exciting scenes, no high emotion drama, its dull. You don't care about any of the characters, theres a lot of plot lines that you dont care about plus they dont go anywhere. The show can't seem to find its way, its all over the place. The ending will have you saying, "really? thats it?" You're waiting and hoping for him to finally get his hoorah moment where he turns everything around proving the accused innocence but it never happens. I was hoping maybe in the last episode Perry would get his moment to shine or there would be some major thrill at the end paying everything off but instead its a cliche ending where he changes becoming a better person, a changed man although nothing really significant happens for him to make such a drastic change to the person hes been the entire show. It doesn't make much sense. Main character is not likable, hes just another typical drunk loser type with his life all in a mess and he hates everyone and everyone hates him blah blah blah, basically everything youve see 100 times on other shows. Don't be fooled because RDJ is the producer, I love RDJ but man this show sucks. I feel like i wasted 8 hours of my life waiting for something that never happens.
  • Aug 25, 2020
    Phenomenal. Gritty and enthralling with excellent casting. I saw complaints of it being "slow". I think for some folks I could see it not being as exciting as The Fast and the Furious. As for those that appreciate some complexity and depth, you might just love this show. Eagerly awaiting season 2.

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