Scott D. Pierce: It was worth waiting 2½ years for more ‘Perry Mason,’ but not 22 years for ‘History of the World, Part 2′

‘Perry’ is dark and disturbing; Mel Brooks’ comedy is only occasionally funny.

(Merrick Morton | HBO) Juliet Rylance as Della Street and Matthew Rhys as Perry Mason.

You’re forgiven if you don’t remember how Season 1 of HBO’s “Perry Mason” reboot ended. Heck, you’re forgiven if you forgot that HBO aired an excellent reboot of “Perry Mason” — the Season 1 finale premiered on Aug. 9, 2020.

So, a mere 937 days — more than 2½ years — have passed between Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 in the series. To be honest, I had to think for a couple minutes to remember how Season 1 ended. And then look it up for the details.

I have to admit that I didn’t immediately climb aboard the “Perry Mason” reboot bandwagon back in 2020. This version of the title character (played by Matthew Rhys of “The Americans”) is a morose guy who drinks too much and appears to suffer from PTSD after serving in WWI.

He’s an idealist about justice, but that manifests in his disgust that the legal system in Depression-era Los Angeles is unfair and corrupt. In the Season 2 premiere (Monday, 7, 8:30, 10 and 11:30 p.m., HBO), Perry snaps at his friend, District Attorney Hamilton Burger (Justin Kirk).

“Does everyone feel Mason hates them?” Burger asks Perry’s law partner, Della Street (Juliet Rylance). “Or just his friends?”

This is most definitely not the Perry Mason that Raymond Burr played in the 1957-66 series or the 30 TV movies that aired from 1985-95. Calling the HBO series “dark” is a serious understatement.

My hesitation with Season 1 was that it revolved around the killing of an infant, and there were some very disturbing images of the dead baby. Non-spoiler alert: There are some very disturbing images in Season 2, but the murder victim is an adult.

Season 2 picks up a few months after the events of Season 1. It’s 1933, and Perry and Della are concentrating on civil law to pay the bills. But Perry is sucked into a high-profile murder case, agreeing to represent two young Mexican-Americans he is convinced are not guilty of the crime.

(Merrick Morton | HBO) Matthew Rhys as Perry Mason, Chris Chalk as Paul Drake, and Juliet Rylance as Della Street in "Perry Mason."

As with the previous incarnations of Perry Mason — including Earle Stanley Gardner’s 82 novels and four short stories; six 1930s theatrical films; and “The New Perry Mason” (1973-74) — the HBO series revolves around a murder case. Actually, Season 2 is more about the case, no doubt because the Season 1 showrunners exited the series, replaced by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler (“The Knick”).

But in both seasons, the characters are what makes it so engrossing. And both Della and investigator Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) have more to do this time around.

Plus, the whole look and feel of the episodes — the re-creation of 1933 Los Angeles — is astonishing.

Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait 2½ years for Season 3.

(Hulu) "The History of the World, Part 2" starts streaming Tuesday on Hulu.

“History of the World, Part 2″

If 937 days seems like a long time to wait, well, 15,242 days is staggering. That’s the number of days between the theatrical release of Mel Brooks’ “History of the World, Part 1″ on June 12, 1981, and the streaming premiere of “The History of the World, Part 2″ on Monday. Not quite 42 years.

(Episodes 1-2 start streaming on Monday; 3-4 on Tuesday; 5-6 on Wednesday; and 7-8 on Thursday.)

Unfortunately, Hulu’s eight-part sequel wasn’t worth the wait. If you’ve seen the film, you won’t be surprised. As was the case with “Part 1,” the new series is filled with absurd comedy sketches very loosely based on historical events. To say that both parts are hit and miss is an understatement. And, honestly, a pretty polite way to describe them.

I’m a big Mel Brooks fan, but even fans have to admit that’s pretty much always been the case with his comedy. It’s just that his batting average was particularly low in “Part 1.” And it’s even lower in “Part 2.”

Brooks, 96, is an executive producer/writer on “Part 2.” He doesn’t appear on screen, but he narrates. Brooks reached out to Nick Kroll about making “Part 2,” and Kroll brought Wanda Sykes and Ike Barinholtz on board as writer/producers. And casting the show wasn’t hard, Kroll said. “As soon as the show was announced, people reached out saying, like, ‘I would love to be a part of this. Mel Brooks is a huge influence on me.’”

The cast is enormous and amazing, including Pamela Adlon, Jason Alexander, Fred Armisen, Jack Black, Dove Cameron, Ronny Chieng, Margaret Cho, Andy Cohen, Rob Corddry, Danny DeVito, David Duchovny, Josh Gad, Marla Gibbs, Richard Kind, Johnny Knoxville, Ken Marino, Jack McBrayer, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kumail Nanjiani, Andrew Rannells, Rob Riggle, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, J.B. Smoove, Taika Waititi, Reggie Watts, George Wallace and Tyler James Williams — just to name a few.

“It’s just a murderers’ row of talent,” Kroll said.

Talent that is largely wasted. Most of “Part 2″ is just plain terrible. If Hulu cut this from eight episodes to four, it would still be way too long.

(Stewart Cook | Hulu) Nick Kroll takes questions from members of the Television Critics Association.

There are some gems in there. Maybe someday somebody will string them together, and that would run maybe 90 minutes. I don’t expect every sketch to work, but that’s an abysmal batting average.

Love Brooks. Don’t love “History of the World, Part 2.”

Editor’s note • This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.