EXCLUSIVE: Perry Mason has tried his last case — at least for now. HBO has opted not to renew the prequel to the classic series, starring Matthew Rhys and executive produced by Team Downey’s Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey, for a third season. The news comes a month and a half after the Season 2 finale debuted April 24.
“We are tremendously grateful for the remarkable work of Matthew Rhys and the unrivaled cast and crew of Perry Mason for their reimagining of such a treasured and storied franchise,” HBO said in a statement to Deadline. “While we won’t be moving forward with another season of the series, we are excited to continue working with the brilliant creatives at Team Downey on future projects.”
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Speaking ahead of the Season 2 finale, Downey Jr. addressed the prospect for a third season. “I mean wouldn’t that be nice?,” he told Deadline. “I think that Matthew and all the other people populating it in front of the screen, all our people behind the scenes, have built this incredible world that I know we could continue to tell really interesting stories about. We would be lying if we didn’t say we’ve certainly been talking to Michael a ton about a third season, but our fate rests in the hands of others.”
HBO’s head of drama Francesca Orsi a couple of weeks ago spoke to Deadline about the ongoing “viewership relative to budget” review of several sophomore series, including Perry Mason.
“Each show has a job to do, given the price tag that we give to it, and there’s a viewership. component, and there’s a critical response element to it and of course, the buzz nature of a show. It’s those elements that we are always keeping in mind and discussing relative to whether or not a show will continue,” she said. “That factors in for Perry Mason, for Winning Time, for instance, for Gilded Age, so we have to play everything out and see how well they do.”
Perry Mason remains an awards contender for HBO this year. Its first season earned four Emmy nominations, including Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Rhys.
In Season 2, set in the worst year of the Depression, Perry (Rhys) and Della (Juliet Rylance) pursue civil cases instead of the tumultuous work that criminal law entails. 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. The Season 2 finale ended on a cliffhanger, with Perry in prison.
Jack Amiel and Michael Begler were writers and co-showrunners. The series is based on the characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner.
“We’re really proud of Perry Mason and loved working with Team Downey and Michael Begler this season on the show,” Orsi said. “I’m really proud of what we delivered for Season 2.”
Team Downey’s HBO projects include the upcoming series The Sympathizer, in which Downey Jr. plays four characters.
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