BBC TV Criminal Justice 2009

Last year's series was superb.  Written by former barrister Peter Moffat, it won the BAFTA for Best Drama Serial and Ben Whishaw was nominated for Best Actor as well as taking home the RTS award for Best Actor.  The first of the five consecutive nights' programmes for 2009 started last night and I was gripped.

446matthew_macfadyen Matthew Macfadyen's Joe Miller, a barrister, was initially portrayed as a man we should admire and respect.  Indeed, his clerk said to him 'You are a good man, Sir'.  But all was not well in the Miller household.

446maxine_peake At home, his wife Juliet (Maxine Peake) was a bundle of nervous energy approaching collapse and displaying symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.  But later, when Joe arrives home, we also see him display the same type of behaviour and an ominous cloud hangs over the family.  All is not what it first appears to be in this marriage and later that night, a clearly abused Juliet stabs her husband.

446denis_lawson The cast is made up of the best of British talent.  Peake and Macfadyen were excellent, wonderfully supported by Denis Lawson as DCI Faber, a man who wants to get at the truth.  Steven Mackintosh as DI Sexton is note perfect as a misguided, results-driven Inspector prepared to use underhand and inhumane ways of achieving the result which he anticipates and with no room for discovery of the truth.

After only episode one, we have same course as last year: the good and bad in our criminal justice system, perfectly balanced by Moffat and likely to leave you less confident in its efficacy.  Will true justice be done in this case?

I will be glued for the rest of the week.

If you missed last night's episode, you can catch up on BBC iplayer here.  Press office pack here, from which the pictures were taken.

14 thoughts on “BBC TV Criminal Justice 2009

  1. Norm

    I watched this on i-player on you recommendation and for once we disagree as I thought it was overproduced and the music was rather intrusive and annoying. I agree the acting was brilliant but obviously barristers deal with these matters differently from dentists, who would almost certainly either kill the wife, or just walk out.
    I must admit I will probably watch the rest of the series to see how men have become second class citizens under the law. ;o)

  2. John Wilson

    Gosh, how slowly this was paced! I think the first episode could have been compressed into 10 minutes, without loss of atmosphere and with a gain in dramatic intensity.
    The first episode is all I shall be watching, so if the pace quickens from the second episode, alas I shall miss out.

  3. crimeficreader

    Norm, I think you will find it unfolds in ways unexpected and that you may change your mind. I also think you may have preferred last year’s series where a young man was the charged.
    On the look out tonight after your comment, I didn’t find the music too intrusive in the second epi.

  4. crimeficreader

    John, I think is slower than the first series and more of a slow-burn. Personally, I liked the slow build of ominous atmosphere in the first epi and thought it worked well. There may be some urgency in playing out the series over five consecutive nights, but this more of a cerebral series than action driven. As was the first series, but less so perhaps.

  5. Norm

    I think the reason John felt Criminal Justice was slow paced is probably that recent US and European series crackle with action. The Wire, Mad Men and the French series Spiral have a pace that few British TV series match and yet also concentrate on the characters.
    I just think the producers were trying to be too clever, but I will watch episode two on i-player.
    I have had a stressful week so maybe I was more critical than usual ;o) but I hope it livens up and the stereotypical cockney copper does not feature too much!

  6. Alan

    Perhaps too many stereotypes. No-one is truely ambiguous. We know already what the background plot is going to be and who will need saved from the system. Hopefully I’ll be surprised but I have the growing fear that this will follow the usual weary path.

  7. crimeficreader

    Alan, with the first series we also knew up front who needed to be saved from the system, but the writer threw in some great twists. He tends to introduce a fact that allows one obvious interpretation only to overturn it later. I hope we have more of the same here. Not long to find out, luckily.

  8. Angie

    It may be slower than the first series, but i think it is disgusting how people are treated by the police (if it is true to life) people are judged by one incident by bigots.

  9. Michael Ananins

    This was a superb series. brilliantly written and acted. Utter class and a brief return to great television. Both riveting and compelling

  10. Lorna Lake

    I thoroughly enjoyed this series except one detail has worried me … the defence was that she couldn’t turn the knife on herself because of the baby she knew she was carrying … but surely she’d only conceived it that afternoon? Not that this in any way marred my viewing … but has been niggling away ever since!

  11. cfr

    Lorna, the way I interpreted it was that it was that afternoon she had it confirmed she was pregnant, from her GP and obviously as it came out, the father of her baby.

  12. Lorna Lake

    Aah! You’re probably right there … THANK YOU! But … why would she have taken her watch off? Think it might have been better if she couldn’t have killed herself because of her love for Ella … mmm … it really was good and there’s just no need for me to nitpick any more!

  13. Fi

    I have just watched this on BBCHD and it was compelling watching. I found myself shouting at the TV trying to answer the questions for Juliet. I got divorces 3 years ago and I could somehow relate to her in certain parts! It quite affected me and made me quite upset. Someone at my work told me it was based on a true story! Is this correct?
    The ending didn’t finalise things for me. Did baby Jo’s father take her to live with them until Juliet came out of prison? Dont worry I am not nuts just like programmes with proper endings. Helps with the closure so to speak. Fi

  14. cfr

    Fi, thanks for leaving a comment & don’t worry, I won’t think you’re nutty. I’m really sorry but I watched this so long ago I can’t remember to answer your questions.

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