Tag Archives: Legal Drama

The Escape Artist

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I had mentioned The Escape Artist after seeing the first episode a little while ago. The three-parter delivered a gripping story and battle of wills between its three main characters.

Tennant (The Politician’s Husband) and Kebbell (The East) really make this series sing, while the others flesh it out nicely. And Okenodo (Mayday, Silk) has a thankless role that is necessary, but not comfortable to watch.

The plot manages to remain very firmly planted in the gray, rather than the black & white, when it comes to morality. That aspect makes it all the more interesting and another good example of titles and their uses. The meaning of the title keeps shifting and is multi-layered.

The Escape Artist was a nice gift to audiences. I hope they let the series end here, as a sort of one-shot, extended movie. The situation was unique and to replicate it would defy believability for these characters. Given that Broadchurch is coming back, dropping Tennant in another legal drama might be a little too much anyway. And in some ways the interplay echos The Fall, which is also returning, but with a story to complete, so why try and compete?

In the meantime, make room on your dance card for this one, if you fancy British legal drama/suspense/thrilers.

Another crop of TV imports

Spent some time catching up on series this weekend. As it turns out, they were all imports. Some I’ve talked about in the past and a few are new.

New series

The Escape Artist

Currently in process and starring Tennant (The Politician’s Husband) and Okenodo (Mayday) together again. This is a high powered suspense thriller with great writing and an excellent cast, including Toby Kebbell (The East) and Ashley Jensen. It is also more than a little shocking and creepy thanks to blunt characterizations. Watching Silk before this will give you a huge leg up on how and what the heck is going on if you are unfamiliar with the British legal system around court representation.

Atlantis

As long as you can get past what you know to be the existing myths (Greek, Roman, and otherwise), this Hercules-like series has a good deal of humor and action. Also some nice star-power to get it going with Juliette Stevenson (Place of Execution), Alexander Siddig (Deep Space 9, Syriana), and an additional personal favorite, Jemima Rooper (HexKinky Boots). Sure it is cheesy and, sure, they are loose with their references and conflation of cultures, but it is diverting, and sometimes that’s enough.

By Any Means

Imagine Leverage meets Hustle but working for the London Met. No surprise on this combination of ideas as one of the main creators is Toby Jordan, who created and/or wrote for Hustle and Life on Mars. Brown (Luther, Good Cop), Conn (Party Animals, Terra Nova), and Potts (Primeval: New World, get to have fun, get to be snarky, and always get their target. It is only marginally believable, but you love it for the sheer inventiveness and near magic-trick approach to their problems. Silly fun with actors I’ve enjoyed for a while, so why not waste an hour?

Returning

The Paradise (series 2)

The first series really had a full arc and completion, so opening it up for a second run was going to have some pain. Especially given its competitor, Mr Selfridge, which is following a similar storyline. While there are some attempts to break the show out of its origins, it is still the romance novel created by Zola despite all of the cultural and political fin de siecle that are rocking their world. That type of story either enchants or not, depending on your preferences.

Ripper Street (series 2)

Having Ripper Street back is a treat, and it starts the new series with a nice bang, if feeling a bit like a Kung-Fu episode. The characters continue their stories in believable ways and the issues of the world continue to march forward. It isn’t an easy hour’s entertainment, but it continues to be an intriguing hour. As a companion series to Whitechapple, it builds some odd resonances.

Imports to watch for (or not)

A number of new series and shows are on the way or running now. I’ve put together some quick impressions. Some may have longer discussions down the road, but wanted to capture what I could before they slipped my mind.

Vera (series 4)

There is nothing spectacularly new in series 4, other than some cast updates and the paths to get there. It continues to do what it does wonderfully. Either it is the type of mystery series you crave or it bores you. I happen to like the character-driven procedural format. And the acting and writing tend to be very engaging. There was a loose attempt to continue to tie-in Vera’s history, but it was mostly unsatisfied and unsatisfying. Frankly, they could have left it out unless they’re planning on capitalizing on the thread next season.

Whitechapel (series 4)

I came late to this series and, honestly, picked it up without going back to the previous years. Penry-Jones clearly has some kind of history I need to explore at some point. The fact that that history is obvious, but it simply colors the current series and adds to the depth, is a great indicator of the show-runner’s capabilities. The world is engaging regardless of when you enter it, though each series requires you to start at the beginning since they appear to cover individual manhunts.

Peaky Blinders (series 1)

I may never forgive BBC for the now-cancelled Copper and the mind-set that has taken hold. I understand it is a well received and that they need to make money, but the the HBO-ness of it and how it is affecting their other decisions, such as this show, concerns me as the BBC are losing what made them unique.

Peaky Blinders, much like Copper, is violent and full of disreputable and despicable characters. Fortunately, though, it has better plots and more engaging actors for my point of view. Headlined by Murphy (Red Lights, In Time) and Neill (Daybreakers, Alcatraz), we get a wonderful look into the social and political pivot point between the great wars in Birmingham. Whether you can care about any of these folks given their choices and actions… well, that will be up to you.

New Tricks (series 10)

While the mysteries have remained at a fairly consistent quality, this newest run of the series also has some well handled surprises for the audience and the characters. As a whole, the series really is a great deal of fun while still meeting the mystery needs it is structured around.

Silk

Amusingly, another Penry-Jones vehicle. Fun, but baffling to anyone not familiar with the justice system in England. You’ll spend as much time wanting to stop and do research as you will enjoying the court and behind-the-scenes battles of wits. A tad on the soap-opera side of drama, but with some good Boston Legal-type days in court.

Last Tango in Halifax

A modern, and slightly more serious take, on the As Time Goes By plot. However, rather than Dame Judy and Mr. Palmer, we have Derek Jacobi (Vicious) and Anne Reid to root for. For my money and time, the addition of Nicola Walker (Inside Men), is a huge plus as well. It swings between drama and broad comedy, but somehow manages to feel real throughout. Even Lancashire’s (The Paradise) bound-too-tight, independent woman exposes enough vulnerabilities to seem like a person rather than a cliche.

Anticipated returning:

Sherlock (series 3)
Ripper Street (series 2)
Vicious (series 2)