I have a new post up at The Criminal Element today, titled Dynamic Duos: Wimsey and Vane.

I recently finished watching Garrow’s Law, Series One.

The series is a little bit like Law and Order: Georgian England, with Andrew Buchan in the lead role. It’s about William Garrow, a real historical figure, and how he changed how the accused were defended in court. He’s best known because he first introduced “innocent until proven guilty.” The cases used were drawn from real cases tried at the Old Bailey. The crimes themselves are very similar to crimes of today; the difference is in the way the trials are argued, and the severe punishments meted out for what, to us, are minor crimes. For example, thievery can be punished by hanging, while assault was a misdemeanor.

I enjoy the plots but I’m really in it for the costumes, costumes, costumes. Wigs! Men in heels!

My favorite character is Sir Arthur, played by Rupert Graves (pictured, in wig). Sir Arthur has things he wants that he isn’t getting, and he demonstrates regrets and petty triumphs and, well, he’s complex; I want to know what he will do next. His relationship with his wife, Lady Sarah (Lyndsey Marshall), has a lot of intriguing angles; he appears to love her, but does not entirely trust her all the time in a way that seems part jealousy of Garrow and her other interests (court cases) and part “Why are you against my ideals (such as they are)?”

I am not terribly into the (platonic, so far) romance between Lady Sarah and Garrow, which gets more screen time than anything else she does. I think I would like Sarah more if she wasn’t interested in Garrow romantically at all. Why must there always be romance, or thwarted romance? Why can’t the female lead have other needs and desires?

Garrow (Andrew Buchan) is the protagonist, but he’s also young and arrogant. Though I find him entertaining, he’s less interesting to me. We know he’s ultimately going to win; even when he loses, he learns valuable lessons that he will later apply to winning. For that reason, his mistakes draw me in less than Sir Arthur’s.

I could watch Alun Armstrong as Southouse, Garrow’s mentor, all day. What a splendid actor.

I also like Silvester (Aidan McArdle), generally Garrow’s opponent in court. Their relationship is all pointed banter, and they even have a duel! I can’t fault the character for being snarky at Garrow because the things he’s snarky about are generally true. Garrow’s going to win in the end, but he doesn’t have to be quite so annoying about it, does he?

I’m looking forward to series two. I know it’s based on historical events, but no spoilers for second series in comments, please – I know it bothers some people, and I’d like to be nice about it.