• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 21, 2020
Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Jun 17, 2020
    100
    “Perry Mason” perfectly and methodically lays out a compelling and expanding mystery (which is, after all, the main attraction in a genre story), while giving remarkable shape to characters whose stories will resonate with a modern audience. ... Not a drop of talent is wasted here.
  2. Reviewed by: Max Winter
    Jun 22, 2020
    91
    The experimentation that Jones and Fitzgerald have done here shows their love for the original but also their desire for expansion and their trust that the solidity of the foundation could hold up a story with more layers. Beyond that, it could be just downright entertaining, too.
  3. Reviewed by: Dave Nemetz
    Jun 16, 2020
    91
    HBO’s reboot somehow feels vitally current, with richly drawn characters, gorgeous visuals, a genuinely compelling central mystery and another terrific lead performance from star Matthew Rhys.
  4. TV Guide Magazine
    Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Jun 19, 2020
    90
    A more realistic and sordidly satisfying [Perry Mason]. ... Rhys is a marvelous Perry. [22 Jun - 5 Jul 2020, p.6]
  5. Reviewed by: Terry Terrones
    Jun 18, 2020
    83
    Despite a slow start, “Perry Mason” is an easy series to become engrossed in. Incredible production design and a first-rate cast will make you feel like you’re in the middle of the action.
  6. Reviewed by: Ben Travers
    Jun 18, 2020
    83
    The show is primed to improve next year. “Perry Mason” is an exquisitely rendered crime noir made for people who appreciate the genre — or simply people who appreciate thoughtful, detailed, and purposeful storytelling in general.
  7. Reviewed by: Joel Keller
    Jun 24, 2020
    80
    Matthew Rhys’ powerful performance is the main reason to watch this reboot of Perry Mason, but the mystery is intriguing enough to justify watching all of the show’s fine performances.
  8. Reviewed by: Ed Cumming
    Jun 22, 2020
    80
    Perry Mason is its own brooding beast. It looks and sounds wonderful, every set and costume furnished in immaculate detail, with enough nudity and violence to let you know this is Telly For Grownups.
  9. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    Jun 19, 2020
    80
    Perry Mason is the ugliest fun-to-watch show (or perhaps the funnest-to-watch ugly show, I don't know) since Showtime's cuddly serial-killer-next-door series Dexter left the air nearly a decade ago, and the cracked side of America's national psyche will be the better for it.
  10. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    Jun 19, 2020
    80
    As the show more or less transforms in flight, each episode becomes a more fitting showcase for Rhys, an actor who projects square decency even when he’s neither square nor decent. ... As Perry becomes his superhero-lawyer self, as he assembles his newly diverse supporting team, the detective show gives way to the more straightforward pleasures of a courtroom drama, where the system can work, even if it’s just barely, because there’s a lawyer to believe in.
  11. Reviewed by: Kristi Turnquist
    Jun 18, 2020
    80
    What makes “Perry Mason” absorbing is how well the show balances the sorrow of the case Mason is investigating – an infant has been kidnapped, and killed – with vintage touches, including a terrific cast.
  12. Reviewed by: Steven Scaife
    Jun 22, 2020
    75
    The series is gory and dour with a bone-deep cynicism, but it’s also optimistic in its own small way, an origin story that chronicles how its characters find a means to fight rather than serving as dejected, disgusted observers.
  13. Reviewed by: Gwen Ihnat
    Jun 11, 2020
    75
    Rhys deftly unfurls the enigmatic character layer by layer, crafting this degenerate into a more recognizable version of the legal icon revered for decades. The mystery of how he’s able to pull that off is far more compelling than the unsavory plot that strings Perry Mason along.
  14. Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    Jun 22, 2020
    70
    The audience for this show – I've no doubt there's a ready one – should feel ably served by the material. To those who know the title, "Perry Mason" is unexpected. Those who don't may well be enamored of its overall execution, fitting of a top title. It's a high grade of fine that left me in want of something entirely new.
  15. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    Jun 22, 2020
    70
    Spread over eight episodes, this “Perry Mason” deserves the time you give it. It lets supporting characters have their moments and it gives Rhys yet another opportunity to display just how fertile his imagination is. If there’s a second season – and that’s quite likely – it’d be nice to see cases closed after two or three episodes.
  16. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jun 19, 2020
    70
    "This is not your grandma's Perry Mason" isn't much of a marketing pitch. A better description for this sort-of origin story, however, is "Chinatown" meets "Boardwalk Empire," in a slick, gritty period crime drama that's good enough to make an argument for watching, if not quite an open-and-shut case.
  17. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    Jun 18, 2020
    70
    A simultaneously gorgeous, gritty, and sometimes downright gory period piece filled with fine performances, but also overloaded a little with B and C storylines that could have been streamlined or cut. The excess fat in Perry Mason is a flaw, but not enough of one to detract from what is, overall, a fine and absorbing season of television.
  18. Reviewed by: Jacob Oller
    Jun 17, 2020
    70
    I vaguely enjoyed what I watched, and there’s a pull to keep going. It’s a mild pull, more echo than shout, and one whose call I probably won’t answer right away, but it’s there regardless.
  19. Reviewed by: Judy Berman
    Jun 16, 2020
    70
    From a narrative standpoint, Perry Mason isn’t quite top-shelf HBO. In the spirit of the endearingly contrived original series, where Mason regularly got culprits to confess under oath, there are plot holes, unbelievable twists, speeches that sound great but raise more questions than they answer. Fans of the original’s case-of-the-week format may not be the only viewers frustrated by the slow pace of this serialized reboot. But Rhys leads a stellar cast.
  20. Reviewed by: Sonia Saraiya
    Jun 16, 2020
    70
    Strictly speaking, it works better than it should. There’s so much sunk into the production that the world of the show really comes alive, and the mystery is engrossing and unpredictable. ... . But the story doesn’t let us into [Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany) and her controlling mother's] interior lives quite enough. It’s a glaringly deficiency, because the series spends altogether too much time wading in the shallows of the men’s feelings—be it Perry, E.B., or one of the dozen-odd suits that end up holding significant information.
  21. Reviewed by: Dan Fienberg
    Jun 16, 2020
    70
    With a strong lead performance by Matthew Rhys, an ensemble to die for and impeccable Depression era production values, the show makes a solid case for itself without ever exactly giving a compelling answer as to why, of all the available IP in the world, this was the brand anybody wanted to mine. ... Perry Mason generally avoids feeling like an assembly line Cable Anti-Hero: Great Depression Edition. Much of the credit goes to Rhys.
  22. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Jun 16, 2020
    66
    Over the course of eight episodes, the show delves into Mason's past while redefining him for a new age of television driven by complex characters, richly detailed worlds, and season-long storylines. It manages those first two elements so well that it's a shame it keeps tripping over the third.
  23. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Jun 18, 2020
    65
    HBO’s remake of “Perry Mason” pulls together great elements, casting and period production design in particular, but it takes a full five episodes to get to the courtroom drama viewers familiar with the character expect.
  24. Reviewed by: Rebecca Nicholson
    Jun 22, 2020
    60
    While well-executed and gripping enough, largely thanks to a cast that also includes John Lithgow as Mason’s mentor, EB Jonathan, and Juliet Rylance as his assistant, Della Street, it does not yet feel particularly comfortable in its own skin.
  25. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    Jun 19, 2020
    60
    The series, which ultimately feels like the very long pilot for what could make a fine series yet to come, is easily enjoyable, nicely played and smartly designed, with some well-executed big set pieces; it is also occasionally unpleasant, a little nutty toward the end and too long and too busy for the material.
  26. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Jun 19, 2020
    60
    It is 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. The back half is much stronger, and the performances elevate the production throughout, but with attention spans diminished by the state of the world in 2020, “Perry Mason” could struggle to hold viewers this summer. ... The jury is still out on that one.
  27. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Jun 18, 2020
    60
    There are very solid performances in “Perry Mason”—Mr. Rhys grows on you; Steven Root is palpably dangerous as the D.A. Maynard Barnes; Lili Taylor brings a level of seasoned control to a cast in which many have adopted director Tim Van Patten’s evident policy of stylized overstatement. The series, which begins to feel like an eight-episode pilot in the way it slowly introduces characters who seem destined to reappear elsewhere. ... If there were less ruminative wheel-spinning and more dramatic substance to this “Perry Mason,” the overkill might not be so distracting.
  28. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Jun 17, 2020
    60
    Both engaging in its acting and period setting and frustrating in its story and pacing. Yup, it’s a classic mixed bag, a show that manages to be both a textured noir and a flat “Dick Tracy”-like cartoon whose villains are defined by only one characteristic.
  29. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Jun 11, 2020
    60
    This new Perry Mason is filled with great performances (albeit not all of them belonging on the same show). It looks incredible (though also occasionally much more gory than it needs to be). But the story’s a mess — at once convoluted and a bit too dull to fill eight hours — and the idea of giving Mason the origin story he never had ultimately proves more trouble than it’s worth.
  30. Reviewed by: Dave Trumbore
    Jun 18, 2020
    58
    HBO’s got its signature stamp all over this thing for better or worse. The result is something that’s only briefly connected to what you know as Perry Mason, and something so bleak as to make it hard to recommend.
  31. Reviewed by: Sophie Gilbert
    Jun 25, 2020
    50
    So much attention is paid to establishing Mason as a complicated and sufficiently pained male protagonist (and Rhys, to his credit, has a greater range with watchable mournfulness than anyone else on television) that the other elements of the story can get lost. ... The stylistic self-indulgence and narrative nebulousness are more of a shame because when Mason finally finds himself in court, all the pieces of the show fall into place.
  32. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Jun 19, 2020
    50
    Despite the first-rate production values and the stellar cast, the plot is like a gleaming 1932 Packard Roadster with serious engine problems: It’s impressive and gorgeous and appointed with all sorts of shiny distractions, but eventually we can’t ignore how it’s weaving all over the road, jerking us around and sputtering this way and that.
  33. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    Jun 19, 2020
    50
    Many of the subplots can feel wheel-spinning — Maslany is so alive in her scenes that it can be easy to lose oneself in their endless whirl, forgetting that not that much is happening in episodes exceeding an hour of length. Too much of this show, a punishing eight installments, feels like yet another iteration of what we’ve seen already, elsewhere and often superior.
  34. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Jun 18, 2020
    50
    As a detective story, the eight-episode season is middling, and by its end, the reason to revive this particular franchise remains, well, a mystery.
  35. Reviewed by: Kelly Lawler
    Jun 18, 2020
    50
    No matter how appealing Rhys is as a down-and-out private eye in search of truth, "Mason" is too funereal. There might be a time for a macabre mystery (especially if it picked up the pace), but it's certainly not now.
  36. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Jun 17, 2020
    50
    A dull slog through L.A. noir.
  37. Reviewed by: Anita Singh
    Jun 22, 2020
    40
    It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, Perry Mason. ... There is very little to like about him, but Rhys is an excellent actor who imbues the character with a sorrow that makes us – just – want to root for him. It is hard to take this drama on its own terms, because its creators clearly don’t want us to; they’ve hitched their wagon to the Perry Mason name, and have thrown in re-imagined versions of familiar characters.
User Score
5.9

Mixed or average reviews- based on 46 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 46
  2. Negative: 15 out of 46
  1. Jun 22, 2020
    3
    Plagued by modern television defaults: - Confuses slow pace with gravitas (i.e. pompous)
    - Mixes modern tropes while trying to achieve
    Plagued by modern television defaults: - Confuses slow pace with gravitas (i.e. pompous)
    - Mixes modern tropes while trying to achieve historical realism in its decors, costumes etc (i.e. rewriting history)
    - Actors reprising and recycling past roles (here Rhys playing the same tortured soul with the superior moral compass he's done in the Americans)
    - ultimately, trying to hide a very empty boring core with all of the above

    A bit like a very expensive consumer product or toy whose packaging is far more intricate amd pleasing than the product itself....marketing in short!
    Full Review »
  2. Jun 22, 2020
    2
    It’s just to woke. I wish it stuck more to a true crime/legal drama rather than a woke agenda.
  3. Jun 24, 2020
    0
    Even 2 separate scenes of cunnilingus can't save this slow , depressing show that makes the original Perry Mason emmy material