Perry Mason: A super origin story on HBO


In Indian mythology, Hindu God Krishna teaches a lesson to the dreaded child killer Kamsa, and announces his arrival as the incarnation of Supreme God. Perry Mason’s legend begins the moment he solves the crime involving a child killing and when justice is delivered both in and out of the court room.

Image Courtesy: HBO

Perry Mason (HBO) Season 1 springs several surprises during the course of its eight episodes, by toying with the pace of narration, as in the super fast transformation of Perry Mason into a lawyer. But the writers keep the best for the last. (Spoilers ahead)

In Episode 8, showing the actual perpetration of the crime while Perry Mason struggles to weave a coherent and convincing argument sets up the emotional build-up very nicely. It gives a reason to his outburst, as someone who knows for sure what the truth is and the innocence of his client, yet has to find a way to get it across to the jury. In one masterstroke, the writers managed not only to create the drama in the court room but also help Perry Mason understand what lawyering (with a profanity for emphasis), is all about. And in the process also bring out the key differentiator in the characterization of Perry Mason, as someone who is a crusader, and takes everything very personal. A case is always a more than just a case for our detective turned lawyer, and hence a hero with a mission.

What’s really terrific about the series is the lavish scale on which it is mounted and the effort in bringing out the racial and gender prejudices that are relevant even today.  And it warms your heart when Ms.Della Street announces her intentions to be a lawyer without a modifier and his detective having no inhibitions in haggling for his fee. Differences apart, they make one heck of a team.

Season 1 of Perry Mason succeeds in creating the legend of how it all began and now the audience is ready for his exploits. It would be interesting to see how Season 2 is handled, if it would be one big case again or a series of small ones set for a big finale.

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