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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Either Of Us Could Be Mad at the New Perry Mason, But Only One of Us Watched It

September 1st, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

At Home at the Castle: Lifestyles at the Medieval Strongholds of Östergötland, AD 1200-1530 (Nonfiction, Martin Rundkvist, 2019) Just what it says in the subtitle, an archaeologically-informed social history of daily life in late-medieval Swedish castles. Attractively presented dig reports and extrapolations join with just enough speculation to spark creative identification; specific treatments of seven strongholds provide both longitudinal data and gameable variety. –KH [Disclosure: Martin Rundkvist is a beloved Patreon backer of our podcast, and provided a copy for review]

Bill & Ted Face the Music (Film, US, Dean Parisot, 2020) Aided by daughters (Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine) who have not fallen far from the tree, middle-aged rockers Bill & Ted (Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves) get one more chance to write the song that prevents time and space from collapsing. Returning writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson preserve the irrepressible positivity of the original flicks as Parisot keeps the affable proceedings on a brisk pace.—RDL

Forever Season 1 (Television, US, Alan Yang & Matthew Hubbard, 2018) As their marriage goes stale, routine-loving Oscar (Fred Armisen) and restless June (Maya Rudolph) die and are reunited in a weirdly quotidian afterlife. Touching, melancholy comedy probes the compromises between marriage and selfhood.—RDL

Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh (Stand-up, HBO, Michael Bonfiglio, 2019) Intersperses interview and older footage with an hour of stand-up on the topic of Gulman’s clinical depression, and on his time in the psych ward (“Electro-convulsive therapy is at best a lateral euphemism”). Along with the personal impact of the story, worth watching for the way Gulman braids and paces two traditions of stand-up: the one-man confessional and his regular serial-gag routine. –KH

Les Misérables (Film, France, Ladj Ly, 2019) Cop transferred in from the provinces (Damien Bonnard) joins a special squad on urban harassment duty as a hot summer day threatens the delicate informal power balance in a marginalized banlieue. French crime films have been vehicles for social realism since the beginning of the sound era, a tradition this tense, fly-on-the-wall police patrol narrative transposes to the present day.—RDL

Good

The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink (Fiction, Erle Stanley Gardner, 1952) A dinner out with Della Street leads crime-solving attorney Perry Mason into a mystery involving a waitress on the run from a hit attempt. Crisp dialogue drives an economical exercise in procedural problem-solving, albeit with a somewhat rushed ultimate revelation.—RDL

Ire-Inspiring

Perry Mason Season 1 (Television, US, Ron Fitzgerald & Rolin Jones, HBO, 2020)  Self-pitying private eye (Matthew Rhys) takes on a larger than expected role in a child murder case defended by his boss and mentor, a declining attorney (John Lithgow.) Gloomy, histrionic reimagining epitomizes today’s endemic misunderstanding of the iconic hero structure, not only portraying Mason as a tantrum-throwing mope, but actively thumbing its nose at his trademark M.O. I almost want to trick Ken into hate-watching this so we can talk about it on the show, but that’s no way to treat a friend.—RDL

2 Responses to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Either Of Us Could Be Mad at the New Perry Mason, But Only One of Us Watched It”

  1. Randy Shipp says:

    Why on earth does it have to be a story about an iconic hero?

  2. Eric Dodd says:

    It’s not a Perry Mason story, and the rest of the show (if it happens) from Season 2 on wards will be very different, but I enjoyed this version of Mason. On TV at the moment they have the black and white originals and the late 80s TV movies so there’s plenty of other Mason to go around.

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