BUY IT AT
STUDIO: Koch Vision
RATED: NR [TV]
RUNNING TIME: 466 Minutes
It’s Boston Legal, but with wigs! Trust me, the wigs make all the difference.
John Hannah, Paul Freeman, John Thompson, Lisa Faulkner
Ok- this is the first and last time I’m going to mention the wigs. So: What are the wigs made of? Do the solicitors need to buy the wigs themselves, or do they have to purchase them out of pocket? If so, is there a wig store somewhere with a variety of wigs from which to choose? Finally, what if you’re a chemo patient and you’re already wearing a wig, would you wear the curly wig on top of your existing wig (in effect, ‘double wiggin’ it’), or would you just say “oh, for pity’s sake!” and wear the curly wig on top of your bald head? So many questions!
In New Street Law, scrappy Manchester solicitor Jack Roper and his band of merry litigators face long odds as they go up against an established firm led by a veteran lawyer (Paul Freeman- yeah, he was Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark, you uncultured slobs. Get over it). Egos and personalities clash as Jack and company wage war in the English courts while struggling to pay bills and stay afloat.
The honorable Edwin Von Nostrel.
I’m not a fan of legal dramas. Not one bit. I squeeze some enjoyment out of Boston Legal, but I don’t really see that as a legal drama, since it’s pretty much a wildly fantastical sounding board for the writers to play around with topics of the week (and it gets serious points for including James Spader, and I love the Shat when he’s doing anything but TekWar). I find most legal dramas uninteresting and predictable.
New Street Law didn’t completely change my mind. It’s an exceptionally dry, well-presented legal drama with some great performances by talented actors, but I probably won’t watch the second and final season. However, it’s a great snapshot of the British legal system that, for someone as unfamiliar with it as I am, held my interest if only because the environment of the system is so different from the American one.
Ostensibly, one great thing about New Street Law is its firm grounding in reality. The cases aren’t over-the-top, there are no overwrought showdowns in the courtroom, and there are no ridiculous “surprise witnesses” or last minute developments to make the more level-headed viewers groan. The solicitors are often seen pouring over documents and practicing speeches, and most of the “critical developments” are reached through back room deals, rather than showy courtroom confrontations.
Unsurprisingly, the acting is stellar. Johns Hannah and Thompson do great work, and are always fun to watch. There are no weak links here whatsoever.
And that’s when I found the body, right after I opened the… Wait… Wait a second. Oh my god! My hand, it smells just like chocolate! Dude, you gotta check this out! Hey, Judge- smell my hand! Doesn’t it smell like chocolate?
New Street Law is also decidedly unglamorous. You won’t find any late-night penthouse chats, and you certainly won’t be watching this for the fashion. It’s a very detailed look at the British legal system, and I found parts of it fascinating. Unlike American courtroom dramas, the characters are multi-layered and subtle. Even the show’s ‘hero’ lawyer makes unethical decisions, and the villains of the piece are portrayed rather fairly.
Unfortunately, its biggest strength is also one of its weaknesses. Let me just say this outright: New Street Law isn’t exciting. It’s clever, well written, and well performed, but it’s also very dry. You won’t be racing to the DVD player to insert the next disc after you finish the first, since the characters develop so slowly and the overarching story (which follows the interrelationships of Roper’s legal team, including a husky, charismatic solicitor who woos a married woman, as well as a cocky newbie who yearns for a higher status in the team) isn’t very compelling. It’s like watching a Soap Opera while on Soma.
Fans of legal dramas shouldn’t let this deter them. If you’re at all interested in the inner workings of foreign legal systems, you’ll enjoy New Street Law on some level. If you’re expecting a loud, exciting, or brainless legal drama, you’ll be very disappointed.
In one of the more dramatic moments in the series, this lady nearly bumps into the guy behind her.
There isn’t much here, other than what I can only describe as the most English “Outtakes!” feature I’ve ever seen. There are a handful of outtakes on the last disc, and they’re literally four or five minutes of subtle dialogue, followed by a usually innocent flub. One of them goes something like this:
“I propose that the kind gentleman from Scotland retract his earlier statement, as it was in bad taste and was therefore improper. I’ve seen his kind at the pubs and at the football games, and I don’t think he’s the kind of person who need be concerned with the manifestations of the inner workings of the systems. I mean system. Oh dear! I meant “system!” Oh, my!”
It’s surreal, but kind of fun. At least they’re not fakes.
The Box art looks cheap and uninteresting. The video’s good, and the audio is a respectable if uninspired Dolby 2/0.
On a final note, New Street Law was produced by Koch Vision, which I believe is also one of superman’s lesser-known abilities.
6.8 out of 10