Category Archives: American Crime Story

Impeachment: American Crime Story confirmed for BBC Two

Judging by its last two series, American Crime Story is one show you should be watching. In fact, series two – The Assassination Of Gianna Versace – won our Crime Drama Of The Year in 2018.

This time around, the anthology series takes a closer look at the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton in 1998.

The season stars Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, Clive Owen as Bill Clinton, Margo Martindale as Lucianne Goldberg, Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton, and Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones.

Furthermore, it’s just around the corner.

Impeachment: American Crime Story: Tuesday 19th October, 9.15pm, BBC Two

American Crime Story: Who’s playing Hilary Clinton?

One of the better crime anthology series out there is Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story. The second series – The Assassination Of Gianni Versace – won our best crime drama of the year in 2018.

We know that the next instalment will focus on the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair, and is titled Impeachment: American Crime Story.

Now we know who’s going to play Hilary Clinton.

Sopranos actress, Edie Falco is set to play the embattled former First Lady, with Clive Owen playing husband Bill. Elsewhere, Beanie Feldstein plays Lewinsky, Sarah Paulson is playing Linda Tripp, Annaleigh Ashford is Paula Jones, and Billy Eichner is journalist Matt Drudge.

Based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, production on the series was halted last year because of the pandemic. However, reports suggest it’s back on track and will air on US network FX in the autumn. This means that there’s an outside chance it will appear on UK broadcaster – BBC Two – before the year is out.

REVIEW: Perry Mason (S1 E7&8/8)


“Just what kind of man are you, Mr.Mason?”

That question might have been nestled away in the minutiae of these final episodes from series one of HBO’s reboot of Perry Mason, but it speaks to the wider conundrum of what this show wants its titular star to be – and what it might achieve in those aspirations going forward. The character of Mason was certainly unrecognisable in the early opening, and that was almost certainly by design – both to set out the show’s stall as something different in the shadow of its iconic predecessor and in turn, thanks to a little critical pearl-clutching here and there, gain itself some valuable column inches as a result.

But HBO shouldn’t have worried about trying to court controversy in helping the show reach its natural audience – and as it slowly shook off the script jitters from its long gestation in development hell, Perry Mason took a surprising left turn into something approximating the best crime drama of 2020 so far.

That’s not to say it was perfect. Far from it. The main case central to the plot wasn’t really that engaging a mystery in the first place – a needlessly brutal incident that was never likely to be resolved in the traditional sense of how a crime drama usually ties up its loose ends. Likewise, the period setting – while luxuriously sumptuous in its expense – felt a little confused in terms of just what decade it was pitching for, with some rather glaring historic idiosyncrasies muddying the immersion. The show didn’t score on everything it shot for, and was caught fumbling on more than one occasion in trying to catch all those myriad plot topics it in its ambitiously wide net.

And yet, and yet. Despite its flaws, there was something infinitely absorbing about its story –  a story that started slow, sure, but as soon as Mason slotted into his character’s predestination it suddenly took off at full speed. The plot was pretty much sewn up in the previous episode with regards to who did what to whom and when, leaving Mason two hours to show us the slightest glimpse into the lawyer he will eventually become. But still within that, Matthew Rhys works wonders with the combustive mix that prospective archetype and the man we have in front of us now creates.

This was at its most effective in a beautifully directed scene that has Mason stalk a visibly shaken Ennis as he crumbles on the stand. Every which way, Mason delivers rapier-like attacks, dragging the detective ever further down into his own twisted machinations. The evidence piles up, every new piece a smoking gun, a multitude of gotchas, and as the prosecution fades away Mason turns the jury expertly in his hands, victory seemingly just a gavel’s clang away – and we’re with him all the way until it’s revealed to be the fantasy of an egotist. Back to reality, his distinct lack of ability as a lawyer is rightfully shredded to pieces by a disapproving Della and the Assistant District Attorney as he practices his oratory. Mason can no longer rely on the basic skill set that brought him here. Fire and fury aren’t enough anymore. He has to play it smart.

It’s in these final courtroom scenes we see Rhys being to inhabit the real role of Mason as Burr defined him – working withing the slim margin of the law to create something approaching hope when the odds seem overwhelmingly impossible. It’s thrilling to watch but also honest – there is no dramatic victory to be had here, no absolution – just the very real chance of saving a woman from the gallows. The weight of that responsibility resting in Mason’s inexperienced hands is the catalyst to his own redemption and shifts his personal relationships along with it like tectonic plates. Suddenly, he has purpose.

So as we reach the final verdict, the resulting hung jury and mistrial are the best Mason can dream for, and in some small, quiet way a vindication for his mentor E.B. The chaos that enveloped the Dodson case slowly evaporates in pursuit of other salacious headlines and the players in this loser’s game eventually embrace their fates by fair means or foul. And in the final moments of the season, a new case and a nod to the past – but also future adventures – in a reference to Erle Stanley Gardner’s first Mason story, The Case of the Velvet Claws. Perry Mason, it seems, is just getting started.

Andy D

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.







Perry Mason is currently showing on Sky Atlantic/Now TV

REVIEW: Perry Mason (S1 E6/8)


Well, who would have thought it? You put a character back into the correct environment for their canonical vocation, and suddenly HBO’s Perry Mason is a whole different show altogether – an engrossing courtroom drama that’s really firing on all plot cylinders. The show started out admirably enough dancing to its own narrative rhythm, and that’s fine – but by carefully bringing those steps into a beat we’re all a little more familiar with, this season has dramatically shifted up a gear.

The court case opens with Barnes grandstanding in as oily manner as only he can, bringing the jury quickly on side with his tales of adulterous lust and absent mothers. Mason on the other hand, isn’t quite as capable in his delivery – literally choking on his words as he tries to establish his opening statement. It’s a deft juxtaposition, not only to have the audience root for this plucky underdog, but also to show just how quickly he comes up short in this brand new world he’s inhabiting. Rhys makes these scenes very much his own – adapting, evolving, ducking and diving as he learns on his feet how to twist and jab in his verbal sparring with the prosecution.

And do you know what? It’s a whole lot of fun to watch.

Not only is the tone and pace a lot different to the slow burn of the opening half of the season, but by drawing the focus directly into just the case itself as it’s presented in court (alongside some clever little flashbacks with each witness), it revives the viewer’s interest in the circumstances again – something which had largely been lost in the milieu of character building away from Mason for most of the first five episodes.

Equally enjoyable is when the trio that makes up this new (barely) legal firm – Mason, Della and Pete – get to share a scene together, and it absolutely sings. Rhys, Rylance and Whigham have all the requisite chemistry together to make that confirmed second season really sparkle in the long run, and within their witty repartee with each other there’s the nucleus of what will make this show go from good to great – if it’s given enough time.

While the case flounders for Mason in court, elsewhere the plot takes a rocket this week as a lot of threads come together. When Della is able to place Ennis in 1920s Denver as a corrupt Pinkerton who came into contact with Charlie’s future kidnappers working as strikebreakers, the pieces start to finally fit – not just in terms of his complicity in the current case, but also who his paymaster was – who turns out to be Eric Seidel, the Radiant Assembly of God’s supposedly mild-mannered chief accountant. But what’s the connection in why he chose Charlie?

Barnes wisely suspects foul play among the police and sweats Ennis on his involvement in the murder when Mason connects him as the officer first on scene at all the crimes involved in this case, leading a raging Holcomb (who it turns out is as dirty as his second in command, just not murder dirty) to tell him to tie up any loose ends – the loosest being Drake, who wisely sends his wife off out of harm’s way as he knows full well a hard rain is soon going to fall.

With two episodes to go it’s clear that Mason will take a few more knocks before he can deliver that final blow for justice himself. What started out as a show a little unclear on how best to reactivate its roots – but still enjoyable on its own terms –  has finally grown into something that looks to end this debut season on a high. It just took the character being what he does best to get there.

Andy D

Rating: 5 out of 5.






Perry Mason is currently showing on Sky Atlantic/Now TV

REVIEW: Perry Mason (S1 E5/8)


One of the major aspects of HBO’s reboot of Perry Mason was its positioning as a re-imagining of the character’s origin story. If the last few weeks hadn’t made it clear, this version of the beloved lawman wasn’t in any kind of close proximity to his previous screen outings – for better or worse. But as this debut season begins to run into its closing quarter, that changed – and pivoted the story dramatically. Suddenly, it became evident the Mason we all know and love may well be emerging in this story after all.

In some ways, that might have been clear in the closing segments of the previous episode, when E.B chose to meet his maker on his own terms, and in doing so, pass the proverbial baton on to Mason. But that wasn’t before poor Della had to make the gruesome discovery of E.B’s body, nor when she called upon Perry to exercise his specific set of skills to re-assemble the scene from a suicide to one of natural causes – so as not to complicate the insurance process. It was with a genuine sadness we saw John Lithgow’s character leave the stage so early in proceedings, but such a dominant performance was stealing some of the limelight from Matthew Rhys’s occupation of the titular role.

Despite Mason’s late leap into legality this week, it was absolutely Della’s episode to enjoy, and Juliet Rylance continues to shine brightly in the role as a woman way ahead of the decade in front of her. It was also an episode firmly about family this week, and especially fathers, not just when the pair of grieving friends take a trip to San Francisco in order to return E.B’s belongings to his estranged family (for all the good that does them), but also in Mason awkwardly visiting his equally distant ex-wife and son as an outlier in the lives of his own loved ones. In that absence of Mason’s own father, or Della’s own issues with hers, there is a definitive bond between them in how E.B performed that paternal role for them both, and with his death the realisation of what he meant to them in that capacity.

Family was central to the Radiant Assembly of God this week too, as a revitalized Alice sought to make good on her donations from fervent supporters to release Emily Dodson on bail and into her home – much to her mother’s dismay. With her tales of resurrecting little Charlie Dodson captivating Emily’s heart, Alice returned to her roots with a tent revival-style set of questionable miracles, and it all points to not ending well for either woman in this complex and toxic co-dependency they have created. Quite where the show is taking them in their storyline is anybody’s guess, but both Tatiana Maslany and Gayle Rankin continue to be equally mesmerizing in their roles so it’s a pleasure to watch regardless.

Elsewhere, little happens on the case itself. With E.B dead, the court appoints Frank Dillon as Emily’s lawyer – who is clearly in cahoots with Maynard Barnes to tank the case. Pete gets made by Ennis as he tries to tail him, only to be told Holcomb is the main villain he should be looking at – which hardly convinces the ex-Vice cop. Drake has a realization of how little power he wields in the real world, and commits to changing that situation with a little support from his wife. The main focus of the episode for most, however, will be of course how Mason comes to be a lawyer – and it’s not how you might imagine (or indeed was previously ever written). Enraged by the clear injustices of Emily’s case and the cronyism destroying her chances, his impassioned speech to Della flicks a light switch on in her mind and compels her to forge a letter of apprenticeship from E.B to place Mason in the running as Emily’s counsel. With a little help on the bar exam (e.g the answers) from a disgruntled Assistant District Attorney, our hapless gumshoe is now a qualified (sort of) lawyer.

Was it believable? It certainly felt a little shoehorned into the general running of the episode, and the kind of epiphany that leads Della to the idea of creating this lawman seemed lifted from some other style of show. That said, it’s arguably what we’ve been waiting for – if not coming a little sooner than anticipated. But with the change comes the opportunity to see Mason in another light, and that will be the interesting thing to witness in the closing episodes – and whether Rhys can make the iconic role his own.

Andy D

Rating: 4 out of 5.





Perry Mason is currently showing on Sky Atlantic/Now TV

REVIEW: Perry Mason (S1 E4/8)


HBO’s reboot of Perry Mason continues to fascinate as we reach the halfway point of the season, if not for any relevance to its namesake, then definitely for it’s meticulously built world of Depression-era gumshoe shenanigans. There’s a larger question to be asked of the series when it ends if it ever squares the circle on evolving this character into anything even remotely close to its source, but for now with that put to one side the story continues to slowly burn through each episode as Mason begins to piece together the case in front of him.

The main focus in this episode was largely E.B’s faltering sense of his own place in the modern world; a man of stature in another time, now shunned by his peers and desperate for relevance in his parry of words with the thoroughly unpleasant Barnes. Blinded to the severity of his situation, he’s more inclined to disregard Della’s impassioned pleas to pursue Holcomb and Ennis’s assault on Emily in favour of transfiguring that act into some imaginary leverage against the DA’s office – leverage he finds which is ultimately worthless when Barnes reveals he has twisted Matthew Dodson to the prosecution’s side as a key witness.

John Lithgow’s performance as E.B is simply outstanding, informing the character with a mixture of pathos and pomp as he wrestles with his own morality, fluctuating between preening his own pride and crestfallen at his own shortcomings – sometimes in the same scene. If Della is the soul of his practice, then her departure in disgust at his actions leaves him rudderless, slowly spiraling toward the inevitability of professional disgrace as Barnes weaponizes his less than legal dealings with past clients as a path toward disbarment – unless he forces Emily to plead out the case.

Emily again is represented as the locus for everybody else’s personal redemption here, languishing in prison and manipulated by all who cross her path. Whilst E.B woefully prevaricates with her about accepting the plea (“you’ll only have to do twenty years” he explains, helpfully), elsewhere Sister Alice is convalescing but still adamant she will resurrect Emily’s child.  There’s a wonderful scene where she eavesdrops on Mother’s embattled meeting with the Elders, who are losing their faith in Alice’s appeal – they weren’t above utilising her as a tent revival miraclist in the past of course, but now they are a ‘respectable’ organisation – and one rapidly losing financial support thanks to the Sister’s heresy. Herman Baggerly tells them he will defund the church unless Alice publicly renounces Emily, but when the time comes she is emboldened by her congregation to double down on her commitment – and promise Charlie’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Detective work was light on the ground this week, with Mason and Pete playing hide the body as they attempted to secure George Gannon a second, proper autopsy. Mason’s (correct) theory about their being a fourth man involved in the kidnapping is vague enough to have Barnes swat away E.B’s accusations but worrisome enough for him to put Holcomb and Ennis on blast. It’s still unclear how deep Holcomb is in the dirt with Ennis on this specific case, but he’s not above beating a woman to a pulp so there’s no moral code he’s following anyway. When Mason and Pete re-trace the kidnappers steps back at the crime scene, they uncover the Elks Lodge next door that was used as the escape route – and Mason (unwisely) braces Ennis at his daughter’s recital to remind him he’s closing in.

It’s fair to say Perry Mason isn’t asking a lot of its audience in terms of following complex plot-lines here; the case is straight-forward (so far) and the show seems more interested in developing its characters and how they operate in the world around them. What’s a little more mysterious is where all this is going. Unless EB’s final scenes this week are a poor attempt at a double-bluff cliffhanger, we must assume at some point Mason begins to transfer his moral tenacity into the legal realm in honour of his mentor (because as a detective, frankly, he stinks), otherwise the show is Mason in name only.  One would wager audience figures might have something to say about the longevity of that plan, but when you’re not pulling in your character’s core fanbase, whilst neither appealing to noir fans due to that same namesake, it does leave you wondering just who this show is tailored for, regardless of how enjoyable it is.

Andy D

Rating: 4 out of 5.




Perry Mason is currently showing on Sky Atlantic/Now TV

REVIEW: Perry Mason (S1 E3/8)


There’s a curious mystery developing at the heart of this ongoing reboot of Perry Mason, and it’s less about its titular protagonist than the story itself – wherein the erstwhile detective isn’t really the main focus for his own show anymore. Instead, HBO’s reboot is (perhaps wisely) spending increasing time tangentially exploring the talents of its formidably deep roster of character actors as they navigate the societal dichotomy of 1930s Los Angeles – through the lens of race, gender and class. As such, it’s becoming a fascinating show in its own right, away from the weighty expectations of its namesake.

This episode was, broadly speaking, quite a step forward in terms of narrative from the rather drowsy feel of its predecessor. EB and Maynard Barnes joust at each other through the press in a wonderfully directed back and forth to open proceedings, which might be high times for the distinguished lawyers – but it’s at the expense of Emily, forlorn in jail after being arrested at the funeral of her own child. It’s interesting how Emily has become a lodestar for so many characters so swiftly, with her promised salvation meaning different things for different people – for EB it is the hope of resurrecting his failing career through her redemption, for Sister Alice something deeply entwined in her past but also her present grift as an evangelist. For Mason, she represents something more intangible but compelling – “it’s got its hooks in me” he complains about the case, but it could be just as much about Emily’s maddening inscrutability.

Emily’s treatment is also a sobering microcosm of the way women are perceived and treated in this world. Cast down as an adulterer and child killer, her fate is played off for the benefit of the men around her – in saving Matthew from the noose, in Barnes’ grandstanding misogynist hyperbole, in Ennis and Holcomb’s back-handed violence behind closed doors as they beat the confession from her. It’s no wonder she sighs “guilty” when faced with her charges in court, exhausted from the constant circus around her. Even with Della (Juliet Rylance on great form) and Sister Alice as her supposed saviors, they cannot truly help her beyond providing comforting words. Emily – and it feels the Radiant Assembly of God for reasons unspoken – know her fate is sealed. The question is, who is she becoming the scapegoat for?

Mason might be getting closer to that question, as he provides the catalyst for the main plot developments this episode. When it transpires George Gannon worked for the church when he met Emily, Mason enlists Pete Strickland to dig up his past and see what’s shaking. Turns out Gannon had a former life as a mob accountant, working out of the Lucky Lagoon casino across the border. This doesn’t really go anywhere (other than to provide us with another wonderful scene with the fantastic Lupe, played with pure electricity by Veronica Falcon), but it does serve to get Ennis increasingly worried that Mason is getting too close to his extracurricular activities.

With Gannon’s case ruled a suicide and the remaining bodies in the case neatly squared away as victims of a criminal conspiracy gone wrong, Mason has to turn to Drake for the real truth about what went down in the tenement slum. Problem is, Ennis has got to Drake beforehand with some well-placed threats – so all Mason gets for his trouble is a beatdown, and a reminder of his place in the pecking order of life. Drake’s own conscience clearly weighs heavily on him, despite his wife Clara’s insistence they toe the line to survive their precarious position between two worlds. Clara’s understanding of the situation seems more realistic than Drake’s, who eventually risks everything to give Mason his real account of the crime scene – and provide him with the remaining quarter of Gannon’s dentures.

Despite Mason and Pete’s best (comedic) efforts to fit the dentures to Gannon’s corpse and therefore place him at the scene of the crime, Baggerly has had enough of them all and subsequently fires E.B and his team. It feels heavily implied that E.B is not long for this world, and maybe this awareness of his own impending mortality has inspired him to represent Emily purely for the sake of finding her justice rather than seeking himself notoriety. There’s a similar notion here with Sister Alice, afflicted by visions and voices, awakening from a petit mal to prophecise the resurrection of Charlie Dodson. Quite what strange secrets entangle her heart is a mystery, not least her true motivation in supporting Emily. The show is spending a lot of time focusing on her character (and why not when Tatiana Maslany is so exceptional in the role) but it also portents some greater – darker – involvement in this case, yet to be discovered.

Perry Mason continues to delight, even though the story might be lightweight at best. The core enjoyment from the show remains the ensemble of actors gathered for it, and its incredible world-building around them.

Andy D

Rating: 4 out of 5.



Perry Mason is currently showing on Sky Atlantic/Now TV

BBC Two confirms American Crime Story 3 acquisition

A few days ago we brought you confirmation that the third instalment of American Crime Story would feature the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair as its base.

The first two series of the anthology show appeared on BBC Two, and now we know that the channel has acquired series three for broadcast in the UK, too.

Written by Sarah Burgess, Impeachment: American Crime Story unravels the national scandal that swept up Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp as principal characters in the country’s first impeachment proceedings in over a century.

Impeachment: American Crime Story features a stellar cast starring Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, Beanie Feldstein (pictured) as Monica Lewinsky, and Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones.

Expect this next year.

Third series of American Crime Story to tackle Monica Lewinsky affair and Clinton impeachment

As far back as two years ago, we were hearing of debates about where showrunner Ryan Murphy was going to take his American Crime Story anthology series after the OJ Simpson retelling.

The true-crime drama series – which specialises in telling the story of the highest-profile crimes – eventually returned with a winning look at the Gianni Versace murder. It was so good it won last year’s crime drama of the year award last year on this site.

Once upon a time a series about Katrina, and a look at the hurricane in New Orleans, the devastation it caused and the almost Wild West criminal environment was mooted. Now we know what series three is going to be about.

And we also know when it’s going to be on.

Impeachment: American Crime Story will explore the overlooked dimensions of the women who found themselves caught up in the scandal and political war that cast a long shadow over the Clinton Presidency.

It’s set to star Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, while Sarah Paulson will play Linda Tripp and Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones. There’s no word on who will be playing the Clintons. Le

Furthermore, the series will start on Showtime in the US on 27th September.

Here in the UK, BBC Two broadcast the first two series but there’s no word yet from the network whether it will be carrying this third series.