Last night I finally watched episode #2 of HBO’s Perry Mason series. It continued, of course, with that smokey, gunky, grimly desaturated, grimey thing. But I finally figured out what’s really bothering me about this show, and here it is:
Matthew Rhys, who plays the titular lawyer-investigator, is too long of tooth to be playing a World War I veteran in 1931.
Combat soldiers are generally 18, 19 or 20, so let’s bend over backwards and say Mason was 20 when he fought against the Germans in 1918. That would make him 33 in 1931. Except by any biological yardstick Rhys looks at least 12 or 14 years older than that. He’s currently 45, but with his creased Elmer’s Glue-All complexion and facial features starting to sag he might as well be 47 or even 48. (Remember how Cary Grant looked in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House? He was 44 or thereabouts, but he looked 38 or 39 at the oldest.) And if Rhys looks 47 or 48 he might as well be 49 or 50.
It just doesn’t work to watch a guy who’s well into middle-age try to figure out if he wants to be a private-eye bottom-feeder or not. Professional identity crises are something you go through in your mid to late 20s or, at the very latest, your early 30s. I for one don’t want to watch a 45 year-old guy trying to figure out who and what he is. He should handled that shit 15 or 20 years ago. So there it is — my basic problem with Perry Mason.