British period legal drama Garrow's Law continues to be thoroughly entertaining in its third series. The characters we've come to know in the first two series grow and change, but still provide all the pathos and insight we've come to expect. The series is made up of four episodes, each approximately an hour long.
The hero of the show is William Garrow (Andrew Buchan), a pioneering barrister determined to make the British legal system more just, often taking on clients seen as seditious, or troublesome or even merely unpopular. His allies are the lovely Lady Sarah Hill (Lyndsey Marshal), who has left her husband Sir Arthur Hill (Rupert Graves) to live in what is known as an "irregular situation" with Garrow, and the indomitable Southouse (Alun Armstrong), Garrow's solicitor and avuncular voice of reason. Garrow is opposed at all times by Lord Hill, who hates Garrow both for their philosophical differences, and for the fact that Garrow has, in his mind anyway, stolen away his wife. Acting out of spite, Hill retains custody of his and Sarah's son, even though he does not love the boy and suspects he is a bastard born out of an illicit liaison between his enemy and his wife. Garrow's other foe is the arrogant Lord Melville (Stephen Boxer), who alternately tries to defeat Garrow's democratic ambitions, and to suborn him to his aristocratic cause.
Our idealistic barrister does not shy away from the controversial cases, defending by turns a man who tries (perhaps in the grip of madness) to assassinate the king, a pair of weavers accused of assault and trying start a union, and a man falsely accused of murder, while crossing swords with an abusive colonial governor and the city's chief constable. Garrow delights in righting wrongs and chasing after his vision of justice as much as he enjoys a bit of rabble rousing. These stories are intertwined throughout the series with Lady Sarah's attempts, halting and at times despairing, to gain custody of her son from the uncaring hands of her husband. In Britain at the time, mothers have essentially no rights to their children, and the struggle to be close to her child seems at times as if it will both ruin her, and destroy her relationship with Garrow.
As in the past, Garrow's Law: Series 3 presents the viewer with fine performances, dazzling sets and costumes, and crackling drama. The tales flow effortlessly as before, if on a few occasions lapsing into preachiness, something of a recurring weakness of the show. Aside from these few moments, the episodes are tightly plotted and effective, never more so than during the courtroom scenes, as Garrow narrows in to break a witness, or dazzle us with the sheer good sense and justice of his cause. As always, Garrow often spars with his opposing counsel Silvester (Aidan McArdle), though they share a strong mutual respect, and act more as best enemies than real opponents, always under the watchful and just eyes of Judge Buller (Michael Culkin).
Below is a list of episodes, as described on the discs:
Garrow is perplexed by his latest client, a man who shot at King George III and missed. Is he a madman or an assassin? Garrow's defense threatens both the state and the king, who has his own mental health problems. Meanwhile, Lady Sarah pines for her son.
Garrow defends two Spitalfield silk weavers accused of destroying looms, an act of industrial sabotage. When one testifies against the other, the case becomes more complicated. Lady Sarah confronts Sir Arthur, and Southouse takes ill.
When the governor of Trinidad is accused of a brutal crime, Garrow sees a chance to expose the whole colonial system. But his nemesis, Lord Melville, has a proposition: if Garrow will limit his prosecution, Melville will help Lady Sarah gain custody of her son.
Garrow is alone and grieving. Lady Sarah has left him, and he can no longer turn to Southouse for counsel. Persuaded by Southouse's nephew George to defend a man falsely accused of murder, Garrow discovers a cover-up and puts himself in great danger.
The third series of Garrow's Law continues the high quality of the show, and gives Lyndsey Marshal particularly a chance to shine in her performance as the mother worried to sickness over the son she cannot have. The actors are all quite excellent, however, from the leads down to the walk ons and extras. The stories are engaging and well paced, and draw us in effortlessly. Highly recommended.
The video is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and generally looks good. There are moments with some grain, and a bit of muddiness, but the colors, though muted, are deep and rich.
The audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and works quite well, though nothing particularly taxing is asked for. The dialogue is always clearly audible, and no hiss or other problem can be heard. English subtitles are included.
A few extras are included. They are:
Garrow's Law: From Dawn to Dusk
Running just over nineteen minutes, this featurette is the longest of the extras, and is a behind the scenes look at one day of production on the show. Interviews are done with Andrew Buchan and Aidan McArdle, as well as such crew as episode director Bryn Higgins, DP Tony Coldwell, props people, extras, carpenters, script supervisors, production managers and producers. All in all, it's quite interesting.
This runs to 1:10, and is exactly what it sounds like, a series of stills and promotional shots from the series.
This is an all text set of filmographies for Alun Armstrong, Andrew Buchan, Rupert Graves, Lyndsey Marshal and Aidan McArdle.
Garrow's Law: Series 3 is a strong continuation of the show. There is heartbreak alongside bravery, betrayal and loyalty, victory and defeat. The writers show a strong insight into humanity, and display it with grace and verve. Andrew Buchan sparkles as the headstrong and idealistic barrister, and we grow to appreciate him more as every episode passes. This is a very good show.