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Perry Mason, starring Matthew Rhys, has been renewed for a second season on HBO. The network announced that the show has put up strong numbers, with the premiere episode watched by more than 8 million people. “Viewers have relished being transported back in time to 1930s Los Angeles each week, and we are thrilled to welcome the show back for a second season,” said Francesca Orsi, executive vice president of HBO Programming.
It's easy to see why fans loved it—after all, the famed defense lawyer from the novels by Erle Stanley Gardner has appeared in dozens of reboots across TV, film, and radio. (Although this new iteration is, of course, much different than the original.) The HBO series has also garnered critical acclaim, earning 13 Emmy nominations.
Here's everything we know so far about season two.
Season two will debut on HBO in March 2023.
Ever since the first season of Perry Mason wrapped up its run on HBO last summer, fans have been waiting for firm news on when season two is coming. A new teaser trailer from HBO Max showed two extremely fast clips, and shared that the second chapter of Perry Mason will be hitting TV screens in 2023.
We also have a tentative plot synopsis, per Deadline:
Season 2 of Perry Mason takes place months after the end of the Dodson trial. Perry (Matthew Rhys) has moved off the farm, ditched the milk truck, he’s even traded his leather jacket for a pressed suit. It’s the worst year of the Depression, and Perry and Della (Juliet Rylance) have set the firm on a safer path pursuing civil cases instead of the tumultuous work criminal cases entail. Unfortunately, there isn’t much work for Paul (Chris Chalk) in wills and contracts, so he’s been out on his own. An open-and-closed case overtakes the city of Los Angeles, and Perry’s pursuit of justice reveals that not everything is always as it seems.
In the first season, Mason (Matthew Rhys) stars as a low-rent private investigator still haunted by his World War I experiences and a broken marriage, who is hired to investigate a highly publicized kidnapping.
Season two will focus on the murder of the scion of a powerful oil family. According to HBO, "When the DA goes to the city's Hoovervilles to pinpoint the most obvious of suspects, Perry, Della, and Paul find themselves at the center of a case that will uncover far reaching conspiracies and force them to reckon with what it truly means to be guilty." Showrunner Michael Begler told Esquire of the new case,"It really deals with... what does justice look like for the people with the means and the power, versus those who have nothing? It's a murder case, but the circumstances of... I just don't want to give too much away."
The season 2 cast has been confirmed.
After more than a year of almost no news, Christmas came for Perry Mason fans in November of 2021. Per Deadline, a number of cast actors will be joining the ensemble, including new series regular Katherine Waterston. The actress, who's known for her roles in the Fantastic Beasts series and Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice, will play a schoolteacher to Perry's son, Teddy.
A handful of new recurring players are also joining the cast, including Hope Davis, Jon Chaffin, Fabrizio Guido, Peter Mendoza, Onohoua Rodriguez, and Jee Young Han.
The show also features John Lithgow as Elias Birchard “E.B.” Jonathan, an attorney in his twilight years who is a sort of mentor and father figure to Mason; Chris Chalk as Paul Drake, Mason's right-hand man, a Black cop who must also grapple with a racially oppressive police department; Juliet Rylance as Della Street, a legal secretary trying to stake her claim in a man's world; Tatiana Maslany as Sister Alice McKeegan, the leader of the Radiant Assembly of God; and Shea Whigham as Pete Strickland, who is hired by Mason as an extra set of eyes on the kidnapping investigation.
There are plenty of mysteries left to solve, which might inspire the second season.
The character of Perry Mason—a criminal defense lawyer who is usually able to swing a last minute acquittal for his clients, with lots of hijinks along the way—comes from a series of novels written by Erle Stanley Gardner. Gardner certainly created a wide universe of stories to choose from—in his lifetime, he published 80 Perry Mason books between 1933-1969. (Two novels were also published posthumously in 1972 and 1973.) He also wrote four Perry Mason short stories.
"There’s so much great stuff in these books, and in the other pulp fiction we read from the Erle Stanley Gardner universe, knowing we wanted multiple seasons of this show, we tried to take dogmatic ideas about justice and the nature of men and use those as tentpoles to think about how a guy comes around to those ways of seeing things," Rolin Jones, writer and producer, told T&C in June shortly after the premiere.
The original series ran for almost a decade, and there have been dozens of reboots.
Since the first book was published in 1933, the Perry Mason character has been reincarnated on television, film, and radio. Warner Bros. actually released six Perry Mason films concurrently with the books in the 1930s. Four of the films starred popular Broadway and film actor Warren Williams.
The best-known Perry Mason was the eponymous CBS series, which ran from 1957 to 1966, with Raymond Burr as the titular character, and Barbara Hale as his secretary Della Street. Several years after that show was canceled, another series, The New Perry Mason, aired in 1973 featuring Monte Markham, but was cancelled halfway through the season.
Interestingly, after a 20 year hiatus, both Barbara Hale and Raymond Burr reprised their roles in a series of Perry Mason television films for NBC, which aired from 1985-1995 as sequels. Burr starred in 26 out of 30 films— after his death in 1993, the additional four movies continued on and did not feature the Mason character, who was described as being "out of town."
Finally, the Perry Mason character and storylines were also adapted for radio as a 15-minute daily crime serial on CBS Radio that aired from 1943–1955. Clearly, this beloved character finds a way to be reborn with every generation.
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