Review: “Garrow’s Law”, BBC1: three words: I loved it!

2 November, 2009 at 7:15 pm 6 comments

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.


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Entry filed under: 18th century, garrow's law, resource, tv. Tags: , , , , , , .

TV Tip: “Garrow’s Law”, BBC1, 9pm: programme information! Review: “Garrow’s Law”, BBC1: Episode 2 – Could the Real Monster please stand up?

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. garrowslaw  |  2 November, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    HI Molly,

    Glad you liked it! We put a lot of effort in, so I’m happy to see that it’s gone down well. As I said on my blog this evening, lots of the language was taken directly from the transcripts – so you can’t get much more authentic than that!!

    Enjoy episode two!

    with best wishes

    Mark

    Reply
    • 2. joyfulmolly  |  11 November, 2009 at 10:36 pm

      Your efforts definitely pay off. I enjoy the series a lot, and I’m not the only one. People are already asking for the DVD! I’m very glad that the language wasn’t changed; modern language in a historic setting is one of my pet peeves. I also enjoy your blog entries a lot; it’s a history geek’s paradise. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • 3. J.Fulcher  |  23 November, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    There is no need for a long, historical review of either or both of the main characters in this most gripping of series; the events which It portrayed and the characters in it. It was throughout, the most powerful acting and script that I have seen and heard for as long as I can remember and am not ashamed to say that I had tears of emotion dimming my viewing ability as it culminated. Even though we must all have believed that surely, there would be a happy ending, how it was scripted and acted was of the highest quality and held me in rapt attention to the end. To all those who brought this about, I offer my sincerest thanks, leaving me in amazement that though we all know of Thomas Paine, my memory has no recollection of the name of Mr Garrod and his telling effect on of (?)liberal society of the present.
    If only certain other programmes relied on quality rather than intrusive, distractive and completely unnecessary overloud music to pad out the story.

    Reply
    • 4. joyfulmolly  |  24 November, 2009 at 11:01 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comments, and of course, I fully agree with you. This was excellent drama, and I want more. It’s been years since I last followed a programme with equal fascination as I did with “Garrow’s Law”, and I hope that comment like yours will convince the BBC that there is an audience for quality.

      Molly

      Reply
  • […] Episode 1 –  Episode 2 –  Episode 3 –  Episode 4 […]

    Reply
  • […] Episode 1: Untitled […]

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