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Perry Mason and the Case of the Careless Remake

Den­nis Broe, not­ed film crit­ic from New York and now in Paris, reviews the new Per­ry Mason HBO series set in 1930s Los Angeles

A special presentation with Dennis Broe

Presented by The Marxist Education Project and Institute for the Radical Imagination

Via Zoom

It’s the third most pop­u­lar book series of all time, a show that ran in some form for over 35 years and is now the flag­ship pro­duc­tion for HBO’s sum­mer lineup.

Per­ry Mason, the inde­fati­ga­ble defend­er of hope­less cas­es that the police have seem­ing­ly wrapped up, has been rein­vent­ed as a no-account Jake Gittes from Chi­na­town, a two-bit black­mail­er and lost gen­er­a­tion PTSD war casu­al­ty nav­i­gat­ing the streets of 1932 Los Ange­les at the height of the depres­sion. Hoovervilles, the Bonus March, and the rich in tuxe­dos with the poor at their feet form the back­ground of the series and sug­gest our own era where Trumpvilles flour­ish and will soon expand when unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits are exhausted.

We’ll take a crit­i­cal look at this refash­ion­ing of the crim­i­nal defense attor­ney, with a Del­la Street who wants equal pay in the law office and an African-Amer­i­can inves­ti­ga­tor, the refur­bished Paul Drake, who aban­dons the very low ceil­ing of a black beat cop on the LAPD to work else­where. Also addressed will be ques­tions of how HBO, now owned and under the tute­lage of AT&T, the con­ser­v­a­tive tele­com com­pa­ny from Dal­las, may be chang­ing as it becomes the cen­ter­piece of the AT&T/Time Warn­er stream­ing ser­vice. As well as how the Amer­i­can “peri­od fetish” and faith­ful­ness to the let­ter but not the spir­it of the law of the orig­i­nal plays out in this remake.

For those who are able, the Per­ry Mason series is avail­able every Sun­day from 9 to 10 pm EST for new episodes, and is avail­able on demand for stream­ing with many local cable / satel­lite providers of tele­vised content.

Den­nis Broe taught Tele­vi­sion Stud­ies at the Sor­bonne. He is the author of Birth of the Binge: Ser­i­al TV and The End of Leisure, Mav­er­ick or How The West Was Lostand the soon-to-be-pub­lished Diary of a Dig­i­tal Plague Year: Coro­n­avirus, Ser­i­al TV and The Rise of the Stream­ing Ser­vices. His TV crit­i­cism appears at Bro on the Glob­al Tele­vi­sion Beat. His tele­vi­sion, film, art and lit­er­ary crit­i­cism also appears in the British news­pa­per Morn­ing Star and on People’s World and Crime Time. He is an asso­ciate edi­tor of Cul­ture Mat­ters. His radio broad­casts on his show Break­ing Glass appear on Art Dis­trict Radio in Paris and on Arts Express in New York on WBAI and across the Paci­fi­ca Network.

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