Review: “Garrow’s Law”, BBC1: three words: I loved it!
Let me introduce you to our new good friend, William Garrow (Andrew Buchan). No matter what your feelings about lawyers might be, I can only recommend that you’ll invite him into your homes on Sunday evenings.
“In an age where the defence counsel acted in the minority of cases the young Garrow championed the underdog and pioneered the rigorous cross-examination of prosecution that paved the way for our modern legal system of today.”
Three words: I loved it. “Garrow’s Law” does an outstanding job at re-creating 18th century London – it’s people, it’s politics, it’s intrigues, it’s life. Great care was put into authenticity, from fashion to language, and I was very happy to see that especially the latter lived up to my expectations. Keeping the language authentic for the time the series is set in yet also make it suitable for today’s audiences is hard work. “Garrow’s Law” chose the right way and didn’t censor every bit of life out of the dialogue.
The Old Bailey is presented as a circus, the law being handled by judges and prosecutors more interested in their own interests and agendas than in justice. Fobs and their ladies attend trials for their amusement, just the same as they would visit the theatre, and the (mostly poor) accused are little more than objects of ridicule or contempt for the upper class. It’s cruel, it’s sick, it’s rather accurate for that time, and if you have a look at today’s tabloids, you’ll notice that not much has changed – bread and circuses.
In the first episode, Garrow fails at saving an innocent man from the gallows. As tragic as it is, the incident leads to Garrow’s acquaintance with Lady Sarah Hill, the wife of influential MP Sir Arthur Hill, a right git. Garrow is neither overly fond of Sir Arthur nor of his equally twattish friends, but it’s obvious he’s rather taken by Lady Sarah (and who could blame him!). In following, Garrow tries to help Elizabeth Jarvis, a young servant girl who is accused of having murdered her newborn child. Lady Sarah offers to pay for Elizabeth’s defence, and so becomes Garrow’s “patron”. The build-up through the episode was very good, there wasn’t one boring moment and the story kept me on the edge of my seat . Though I hoped for one specific outcome, I really wasn’t sure what would finally happen; something I appreciate very much in a series.
With “Garrow’s Law”, the BBC brings us a series which manages to get social history, the history of law, classism in Britain, crime and suspense plus romance under one wig, and the most amazing thing: it actually works! It works wonderfully; there’s a number of interesting characters, some I know I’ll love to hate (here’s me looking at you, Judge Buller!), and with Lady Sarah Hill, we also get a woman who knows what she wants. The 18th century wasn’t the best time for women and their ambitions, so I’m curious to see how her ideas (and her romance) will progress.
And on a more shallow note: Mr. Garrow’s pretty dashing in his velvet coat, if I may say so. This series deserves fantastic ratings and a thriving fandom, period.