I seem to have divided my evenings this week between Authonomy and Criminal Justice being shown on BBC1. So let’s put the two together and see what my critic self makes of CJ.
A quick visit to the website reveals the ‘pitch’.
“Juliet Miller’s life is turned upside down forever after an incident that leaves her family fighting for life, love and survival.”
I think this would leave the average agent distinctly underwhelmed. An incident? She stuck a kitchen knife in her husband, for goodness sake! And how does ‘survival’ add anything to ‘life’? Nuls points there, I’m afraid.
Now to the cast list, which oozes serious class. Never mind Maxine Peake and Matthew McFadyen, I’m a long-time fan of the endlessly versatile Sophie Okonedo (above) and was also really pleased to see the return to the screen of Stephen Mackintosh. (Where has he been hiding for most of his – and my – life?) And do we actually need this amount of talent/money to be chucked at one programme? Probably not, but what the hell, the Beeb is clearly going for the gong.
Production is equally glossy with plenty of lingering camera work in low-lit interiors and a complete refusal to let the thing play out in anything other than its own time. But what about my time? Just how slowly can a conversation between psychologist and patient go? Just how long can Juliet spend staring at her baby’s toes?
I suppose this is the small screen equivalent of literary fiction. Not many people may have watched it. It will win awards for the beauty of its ‘prose’ and for depicting shades of grey (as actually stated by one character) rather than black and white.
Still, it’s a court room drama with two possible conclusions. Guilty or innocent.
Call me a philistine, I think Rumpole would have had it wrapped up by Wednesday.