Posted: 03/10/2012


The Brief - Complete Collection

by Del Harvey

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As broadcast on England’s BBC television in 2004 and 2005, the legal drama series The Brief stars Alan Davies as Henry Farmer, a criminal practice barrier whose life is a mess.

The beloved Alan Davies (Jonathan Creek) stars in the seriocomic misadventures of clever criminal law barrister Henry Farmer. With a mountain of gambling debts, an affair with an important politician’s wife, a distant son and a sharp-tongued father - who’s also a judge - Henry’s life is a symphony of chaos, both inside and outside the courtroom. Working with tough colleague Cleo Steyn (Cherie Lunghi, Excalibur), Henry will need all his wit and charm to secure justice for his clients and a reprieve for himself.

Henry’s relationships with his colleagues vary from straightforward and friendly to most hostile, the latter most often with his ally, Ray (Christopher Fulford); but also with his young protégé, Paul (Steven Alvey); and his coworker and friend, Maureen (Linda Bassett). His most complicated relationship is with fellow barrister, Cleo (Cherie Lunghi), as they have a back and forth dynamic that has them defending clients against each other one episode and confiding personal problems another. She’s as ambitious as he is scattered and the more interesting moments in the series are usually centered on their interactions.

The original program spanned two series and eight episodes, all of which appear in this comprehensive box set.

Disc 1
Episode 1 The Road to Hell
Struggling under tons of gambling and alimony debt, criminal defense attorney Henry Farmer takes on a raft of cases all at the same time. Worse still, he’s up against some tough judges-including his own estranged father.

Episode 2 So Long, Samantha
Henry contends with new money troubles, an increasingly tangled affair, and accusations of misconduct in his latest case. This time he’s helping an angry dad who believes his daughter was raped and murdered at a party overseas, but emerging evidence suggests that things aren’t quite as they seem.

Disc 2
Episode 3 Children
Henry switches over to a prosecution role, but he’s far from happy about it. The defendant is a 12-year-old girl accused of murdering a nine-year-old child, and the trial becomes a choice between one bad verdict and another that could be even worse.

Episode 4 A Sort of Love
Henry works on the appeal for a man convicted of killing his partner in a twisted sexual triangle, while his own love triangle takes on a few new twists of its own. A missing Ferrari, long-hidden secrets, and difficult clients all ferment into one of Henry’s toughest challenges yet.

Disc 3
Episode 1 Blame
Defense attorney Henry Farmer knows all about train wrecks: his love life has derailed, and his financial situation has crashed, leaving him temporarily homeless. Now he must deal with his own father as a witness in the trial of a train driver who may have caused a deadly crash.

Episode 2 Lack of Affect
Henry’s newest client, a sufferer of Asperger’s syndrome accused of murdering his own mother, may be the only habitually honest person involved in the case. Revelations of adultery and a suspicious bruise complicate matters almost as much as Henry’s own personal life.

Disc 4
Episode 3 Forever on the Mind
Henry defends a nurse accused of murdering an elderly patient who added her to his will two days before his death. Unfortunately, she’s determined to speak out and clear her name no matter what Henry says.

Episode 4 The Architect’s Wife
With practically no usable evidence in hand, Henry’s case against an accused rapist falls to pieces, and the civil action he takes up on behalf of the victim tears his own life apart. Couch surfing and fiscally reeling, he feels unprepared to face the fact that his father is now seriously ill.

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

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