The newest Perry Mason interpretation stands out for several reasons. One is its reputation as a darker take on the original series. Another thing that seems to have stood out for audiences is the rare camera that Matthew Rhys uses in season 1, episode 2.
The camera in question is a Kodak Duo Six-20 – a model that launched in 1933, one year after the events in the show begin. The 620 film is no longer in production but camera enthusiasts can replace it easily with a 120 film. The only difference is in the size of the spool.
Who Is Sister Alice?
Fans who’ve watched the revival will be familiar with Sister Alice, played by Tatiana Maslany. What’s her story, and is it based on true events? The character depicts controversial evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. Sister Aimee rose to fame during the 1920s for leveraging the radio to expand her evangelical mission.
Her weekly sermons were also performances – complete with drama, speeches, and music. In 1926, Sister Aimee mysteriously disappeared for five weeks. When she resurfaced in Mexico, she claimed she was kidnapped, but investigations indicate she may have gone willingly with a man who used to work for her.
The HBO Revival Features a Jury
The 2020 HBO revival of Perry Mason introduces a jury – yet another significant departure from the original series. And not just any jury, but one with women jurors. Critics and self-professed historians have jumped to attack the show for its inaccuracy.
They claim that it was illegal for women jurors to serve in 1932 when the series begins but this is factually incorrect. California governor William Stephens signed the Women Jury’s Bill as far back as 1917. By 1932, the law was already well-established and firmly embedded into legal proceedings.
The Show Outlived Production Venues
It’s worth remembering that the show ran for nearly a decade, and most elements stayed constant during that time. All but one element, that is.
The show utilized three different studios. The early seasons were filmed at the William Fox Studios, which closed in the 60s. Production shifted to General Service studios before moving to the old Chaplin Studios, where production remained until the final season. That's what happens when a show outlives its studios.
Need a Mason-Street Romance? Read the Novels, Will You?
Fans of the show could tell there was romance brewing between Perry and Della. They just knew. Meanwhile, those who read the novels knew even better. The Perry Mason novels have much more romance between the two than the show did.
In "The Case of the Substitute Face," Mason and Street return home on a cruise ship. On the show, they come back from a business trip. But in the novels, the two return after a vacation cruise around the world. Separate cabins, of course, but a vacation together nonetheless!