2 May 2001 | griersson
A competent, albeit pretentious, costume crime-drama
Written by Richard Cooper, this competently made, albeit pretentious Edwardian court-room drama series, from the late 1980's, charts eight true-life cases taken by one of Britain's most successful and show-man-like barristers : Edward Marshall-Hall. Commencing with Marshall-Hall's defence of a German prostitute, charged with the murder of an elderly pimp, the series shows, via this instance, the proficient Hyde ("Jumanji" / "Titanic" / "The Mummy") replicating the dramatic court-room hyperbole, social magnetism and integrity, that enthralled the public, arguably via the then burgeoning popular press - and made the barrister a celebrity. With eyes glazed and arms waving, Hyde rants, in said episode, "I almost dare you to find a guilty verdict". In a career, that spanned to the 1920's, for which the barrister used early forensic evidence, Marshall-Hall accepted briefs for an ensemble of clients (that included aristocratic homosexuals, suspected spies and nearly Crippen), therefore allowing for a range, of mainly unknown actors - including the then ill-famed David Rintoul and Peter Capaldi - to contribute. Yet, this seemingly polished BBC production, lacks the character-driven intensity of its' counterpart - Jeremy Brett's 'Sherlock Holmes' series - and relies on its' status as a costume drama and systemic 'realism', as illustrated by the usage of unknown actors - leaving the show seeming contrived.