Crusading lawyer Perry Mason has been around for simply yonks.

First conceived by American lawyer and crime author Erle Stanley Gardner back in 1933, the big-brained sleuth investigated and argued his way through some 80-odd stories and books, making the leap to both radio drama and television. It’s in the latter format that Mason really flourished. As played by Raymond Burr, Mason solved murders for nine seasons from 1957 to 1966, with Burr reprising the role in a staggering 26 TV movies prior to his death in 1993.

Which is all very well and good but in practical terms and to modern audiences, Mason is basically another Matlock—the sort of cosy crime solver beloved by grandparents and derided by generations raised on The Wire, The Shield, or whatever variety of grim crime procedural you favour. But the new Perry Mason miniseries currently screening on Foxtel and Binge (by way of HBO) is, to borrow an apt phrase, not your grandma’s crime drama. Starring Matthew Rhys in the title role, it’s a grim murder mystery that starts with a dead baby and just spirals further into the darkness from there.

So how did America’s favourite avuncular avatar of justice wind up here? Well, for one thing…


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