Sad that the marvellous first series of Homeland had come to an end, the only two shows I’ve been regularly tuning into recently are The Bridge and the exceptionally superb Simon Amstell vehicle, Grandma’s House.
I needed something else to distract me from the rigours of everyday life. Then along came the second series of Silk. I’m a sucker for legal dramas, and I’ll watch anything with Phil Davis. Then I saw Frances Barber on Saturday Kitchen Live saying she’d be in the new series. Love that woman.
The three characters at the heart of Silk are Martha Costello (now QC, played by Maxine Peake), fellow barrister, Clive Reader (Rupert Penry-Jones, not QC, and not happy about playing second fiddle) and Senior Clerk at the Shoe Lane Chambers, Billy Lamb (Neil Stuke, last seen, by me, on Celebrity MasterChef). Continue reading
- Ally McWho?
I’ve been watching Home Alone (1990) with my son, and it’s striking how you have to remind yourself that a world of ubiquitous mobile phone usage is relatively new. The plot would fall at the first hurdle if Kevin could have called his (frankly criminally careless) folks on one. I’m also enjoying revisiting Frasier (1993-2004), which is still sharp as a tack and well worth returning to, but Niles’ vast, clunky cellphone with an aerial sticking out of it clearly dates series 2.
And I’ve been re-watching the excellent 2000 legal drama, North Square. The characters do use mobile phones a little, and for exchanges of critical information at times, but you can see that the culture of using them is still in its infancy. Plus the phones are of the boxy Nokia variety we all once used. I could imagine that, if they ever make a second series, the magnificent Machiavellian senior clerk Peter McLeish would be plotting evil schemes and controlling the world with an iPhone. The other thing that’s really noticeable about North Square, and what dates it in an interesting way, is that there is A LOT of smoking inside bars and conference rooms, especially by McLeish.
I believe North Square is coming out on DVD sometime in 2012, but for the moment, the whole terrifically gripping ten episodes can be watched on 4OD and I’d really recommend it. It’s written with great wit and class by Peter Moffat (who also wrote Silk in 2011, another barrister orientated series starring Maxine Peake). Continue reading
As reported by various news sources today, the tenth series of Spooks to be shown this Autumn will be the last.
Because Jo The Hat would kill me if I didn't use a picture of Richard Armitage
The decision was rather unusually taken by the programme makers Kudos rather than by the BBC, on the grounds that they wanted to stop the show whilst it was still “in its prime”. Anybody who watched the most recent season may choose to strongly disagree with this statement, but still.
Despite its dip in form of late, Spooks can easily claim to be one of the most consistently brilliant dramas of the past ten years. This was due to a number of factors. Firstly, its excellent writing. Secondly, its often shocking plots. It speaks volumes that Spooks became something of a victim of its own success in this sense – you ended up expecting the unexpected, which when it happened became, er, totally expected. But the impact of killing one of its major characters in only the first series without any warning is more than most serial dramas ever manage. Although I doubt deep-fat fryer manufacturers were quite so welcoming of this turn of events. Continue reading
Courtroom drama plus lots of ambition, scheming and sex. It’s not surprising there are so many successful TV shows with legal settings. Glenn Close in Damages wins the goddess of deviousness prize for me, and James Spader in Boston Legal pretty much covers sex. I confess to also enjoying quite a lot of Ally McBeal especially when Robert Downey Jnr came on board. The 1995 Steve Bochco series, Murder One, was terrific in its day. And it was the opening ‘fractured screen’ credit sequence of Murder One that came to mind when I first started watching the BBC barrister drama Silk.
Silk’s credits feature images fractured by wafting strands of the pink ‘silk’ that surround barristers’ briefs. But despite being as big a fan of Maxine Peake as the rest of the nation, I was a bit dubious about Silk after the first episode. I really like the Lincolns Inn/Middle Temple setting – I used to walk through those beautiful gardens on my way to work. And I do so enjoy of the apparently posh world of chambers where it’s really the working class clerks, who have to call everyone Sir or Miss, who really have a firm grip on the goolies of everyone and everything that goes on. But, on first viewing, it all seemed a bit too much of a barrister-by-numbers show, and frankly I’ve been sulking ever since the superlative North Square wasn’t recommissioned (which also had Rupert Penry-Jones in it, as well as the wonderful Phil Davies playing the clerk role).
But then I realised they are both written by Steven Moffat and started paying proper attention. The plotting, scheming and general shenanigans, inside chambers and without, are coming along nicely. I’m still adjusting to seeing Neil Stuke out of an apron, since I only knew him from his impressive stint on Celebrity MasterChef. In this, he’s pretty scary as the morally ambivalent head clerk of chambers. What we have at the heart of Silk is two barristers – gritty, northern Martha Costello (Peake) and posh boy Clive (Penry-Jones), both of whom are fiercely competing to make silk, ie become QCs, at an age that would never happen in real life, as I understand it. They need to keep on the right side of the head clerk because it is he who has the power to allocate them the right cases which would give them their best chance. It’s hinted that Penry-Jones’ Harrovian background will do him no harm. And they both have cute pupils of the opposite sex. Oh yes, and Martha is pregnant. I won’t say who the father is, in case you haven’t caught up with this on iPlayer yet.
The law is sort of incidental, but it’s all most enjoyable.
Posted by Inkface