Posted: 01/29/2011


Garrow’s Law Season 1

by Del Harvey

Available February 1, 2011 from Acorn Media

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Garrow’s Law follows the career of young idealistic barrister William Garrow in the late 18th century. This is a riveting new courtroom drama series, originally made for BBC Television. Garrow is an idealist lawyer with a passion for reform and a tempestuous nature. The series is a winner of a Royal Television Society award for best history program and features compelling plots, lavish sets and costumes, and an outstanding cast including Andrew Buchan (Cranford, The Fixer), Alun Armstrong (Little Dorrit, New Tricks), Lyndsey Marshal (Being Human, The Hours), and Rupert Graves (Sherlock, The Forsyte Saga).

In the first episode, Garrow is given his first criminal defense case at the Old Bailey by attorney and mentor John Southouse. He defends Peter Pace, who is accused by renowned thief-taker Edward Forrester of robbing a man at gunpoint. The case is won by Garrow’s nemesis Silvester, but Garrow’s impressive performance in court catches the eye of Lady Sarah Hill. She instructs him to defend a helpless serving girl, Elizabeth Jarvis, who stands accused of murdering her newborn baby. Garrow learns a harsh lesson from his first case, and vows to defend the life of Elizabeth.

In the second episode, we find William Garrow now a celebrated Old Bailey barrister and, encouraged by Southouse, he defends the case of the infamous Monster, a man who carries out a series of stabbings on young ladies across London. As a result, Garrow’s popularity diminishes with the public and the press. However, Renwick Williams, the accused, is described by Garrow as a ‘lecherous libertine’ and his defense is not easy. Garrow’s friendship with Lady Sarah grows closer, a fact which does not go unnoticed by her husband, Sir Arthur.

In episode 3, and after more derision from Silvester, Garrow is spurred on to defend Edgar Cole, a man who is accused of raping a servant girl. Garrow controversially wins and the detestable Edgar Cole is acquitted, much to the disappointment of Lady Sarah. She confronts Garrow but Silvester interrupts and senses the intimacy between them. His insinuation offends Garrow and he challenges Silvester to a duel to defend Lady Sarah’s honor. Garrow’s next case sees him up against his old nemesis, the violent and unscrupulous thief-taker Edward Forrester. Forrester orders petty criminals Tom and Phebe to steal a box of lace from a shop owned by Katharine Stanton. Garrow seeks help from Southouse, but will his close friendship with Lady Sarah cost him his association with his dear mentor?

In episode 4, William Garrow continues to defend the victims of rough justice when he wins the case of a prostitute accused of murdering a client. Garrow and Southouse’s association remains strained until a desperate Mary Hamer arrives at Southouse’s office, begging for Garrow to defend her husband. Joseph Hamer has been languishing in Newgate Prison without charge for many months after being arrested on suspicion of sedition. Joseph’s case is followed closely by the Secretary of State, Viscount Melville, and Sir Arthur Hill, who aides in engineering charges of high treason against him. Lady Sarah admits to a devastated Garrow that they have no future together. After learning of her husband’s role in the plot against Joseph Hamer, she intervenes and the trial takes a surprising turn.

The first season is very strong and each new episode even more exciting and intriguing than the last. It certainly helps that the main character is based upon a real person who actually fought most of his life for legal reform, helping to make both the British and American legal systems what they are today; which is a lot better than what they were before he came along.

BBC is currently at work on a second season and we hope to see that one very soon. Until then, you can check out the series by visiting Acorn Media’s site here, purchase it at Amazon or rent it from one of the numerous online resources.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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