What a joy this show is and how grateful we all are for the HBO series finding a new home in JioCinema! It still does not have Vinyl though (sigh). Season 2 of Perry Mason, based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner, is more like the novels, in that there is a central mystery, wrongfully accused people and magnificent courtroom battles to propel the story forward, ensuring the nearly-hour long episodes slip by in a flash.
Perry Mason season 2 (English)
Creators: Rolin Jones, Ron Fitzgerald
Runtime: 48–56 minutes
Cast: Matthew Rhys, Juliet Rylance, Chris Chalk, Shea Whigham, Justin Kirk, Diarra Kilpatrick, Eric Lange, Katherine Waterston
Storyline: When the scion of an oil family is brutally murdered and two Mexicans are arrested, it is time for Perry Mason and Associates to open the mandatory can of worms
However, where Perry Mason rises above Gardner’s thoroughly enjoyable page-turners is by including details and fleshing out the characters. Even the minor characters have story arcs that we invest in: like the trial judge (Tom Amandes) who enjoys Pearl S Buck’s The Good Earth. Obviously, literary detective, Thursday Next will never go on a vacation as any of these characters!
While private investigator-turned-lawyer Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys) is reeling under the consequence of the truth in the kidnapping and death of one-year-old Charlie Dodson, Della Street (Juliet Rylance), his mentor’s legal secretary, and Mason’s business associate is holding things together.
After the Charlie Dodson case, Mason has been steering clear of criminal law, working on civil cases instead. Even there his sense of justice comes under strain when he sees the little guys being exploited. When his client, the supermarket owner, Sunny (Sean Astin) wants to run his ex-employee out of business, Mason wonders if there is a way to get around it. That Mason gets his sweet revenge later is one more of those perfect pay-offs in the show.
When Brooks McCutcheon (Tommy Dewey), the son and heir apparent of wealthy oil man, Lydell (Paul Raci) is found shot dead, the city of Angels is in uproar. Looking for a quick resolution, two Mexicans, 18-year-old Rafael (Fabrizio Guido) and his 20-year-old brother, Mateo, (Peter Mendoza) who were seen around the area where Brooks was shot, are arrested. Though when the boys’ aunt, Luisa (Onohoua Rodriguez) and Mateo’s wife Sofia (Stephanie Hoston) ask Mason to take the case, he refuses, Mason reconsiders when he sees an obvious miscarriage of justice.
Team Mason includes Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) who is struggling to find work after quitting the police force and Pete Strickland (Shea Whigham), Mason’s partner from his PI days. Mason’s new secretary, Marion (Jee Young Han) also provides a vital insight. Della consults Hamilton Burger (Justin Kirk), the assistant district attorney, who she considers a friend, from time to time. This is something Burger’s deputy, Thomas Milligan (Mark O’Brien) is not too happy about.
Mason and Della are up against the rich and powerful including a rival oil tycoon, the sweetly tough grand dame, Camilla Nygaard (Hope Davis) who kills everyone who crosses her path with kindness including her attorney, Phipps (Wallace Langham). Phipps’ wife, the pianist, Constance (Andrea Gabriel) was once taught by Camilla and might be a relevant cog in the giant wheel of true lies. LAPD homicide detective Gene Holcomb (Eric Lange) might have crucial information to share.
Both Della and Mason find a special someone they probably might ride into the sunset with — sassy screenwriter Anita (Jen Tullock) for the former and Ginny (Katherine Waterston), an idealistic school teacher, who does not do small talk, for the latter. Drake’s wife, Clara (Diarra Kilpatrick) like Della, is keeping things together as Drake finds his feet, while the family stays with Clara’s brother, Morris (Jon Chaffin).
The acting led by Rhys is soul-searing and the cinematography is to die for. All those shots of that golden light seeping through the slats make for pretty pictures while the wide, panoramic shots of early 1930s Los Angeles (when the earliest books were set) framing intimate, weighty conversations throw you off-kilter. It is a perfect realisation of a city that Ginny describes as “not what was, only what can be.”
Terence Blanchard’s moody, mysterious, smooth jazz compositions form an exquisite backdrop to this not-so-golden age. Now if only Mason were to thunder ‘objection’ to things that are incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial, all book nerds will be happy campers.
Season 2 of Perry Mason is currently streaming on JioCinema
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