to my mailbox. The current weather conditions are just perfect for curling up on the sofa, so I suggest you'll do just that - if your postie is as dedicated as mine, that is!
Cast: Andrew Buchan (William Garrow), Alun Armstrong (John Southouse), Lyndsey Marshal (Lady Sarah Hill), Rupert Graves (Sir Arthur Hill), Aidan McArdle (John Silvester), Michael Culkin (Judge Buller)
Written by: Tony Marchant (S01E01 + S01E02), Stephen Russell (S01E03), Damian Wayling (S01E04)
Directed by: Peter Lydon
You can find my previous detailed reviews of the individual episodes (with many screencaps) here:
Episode 1 - Episode 2 - Episode 3 - Episode 4
The series is fantastic, and I can only highly recommend this wonderful piece of courtroom period drama. Excellent actors and great stories make "Garrow's Law" one of the most outstanding productions in 2009. However, as far as the extras on the DVD are concerned, it's 50p Goodie Bag rather than Horn of Plenty - picture gallery and actors' filmographies aren't much to write home about.
"Behind the scenes of Garrow's Law" is an entertaining 19 minutes documentation, though. Featuring short interviews with production crew and cast, it gives an interesting insight into the creation of the series. Producer Dominic Barlow introduces the concept of the series while Make-Up and Hair-Designer Irene Napier takes everybody under her wigs. Not Andrew Buchan (William Garrow), though - he got extensions (and yes, now I can see how that must have made for fun nights out at the pub!)
Production Designer Brian Sykes shows the development of the sets from draft to model to finished product, and mentions that he was inspired by Hogarth's work. By keeping the set and the background muted and dark, the brightly dressed characters were emphasised (personally, I think you can see this effect best when it comes to scenes involving Lady Sarah or the jury). A bit like an old painting coming to life.
This aspect is also discussed by Director of Photography Lukas Strebel (if that man isn't Swiss, I'll eat Garrow's hat. There's no escape, we're everywhere!).
Director Peter Lydon praises writers and cast and explains that they aimed for a gritty, modern style (which probably explains the lack of dirt), despite the 18th century setting. I think "Garrow's Law" absolutely succeeded in keeping past and present in balance.
The short interviews with the cast are neat. Alun Armstrong (John Southouse) talks about his character, the draconian laws and punishments of the 18th century and that the miscarriage of "justice" of that time can still be found today, all over the world. He also finds the time to fanboy Glasgow!
Aidan Mc Ardle, who plays Garrow's courtroom-nemesis John Silvester, obviously had a lot of fun diving into the world of the 18th century and finding the Georgians not at all prudish and stiff like the Victorians, but people who enjoyed a drink and a romp. He also touches the class differences between Garrow and Silvester, a man he describes as one who was born with a silverspoon in his mouth.
Lyndsey Marshal (Lady Sarah Hill) is the next up for an interview, and she's lovely. She manages to sum up the reasons why "Garrow's Law" is so popular in two sentences: captivating stories and characters the audience can relate to. The series was filmed in summer, and it was hot, so she suffered a lot in her beautiful, but heavy costumes. Obligatory mention of corsets! That's a point brought up by all actors, actually (the heat, not the corsets), and I was delighted to hear that Lyndsey Marshal loves the style of the Georgian period and thinks that the men looked gorgeous back then. Go you, girl, you're one of us!
Which leads us to the costumes and Costume Designer Andrea Galer. Just like many other costume dramas and period pieces, "Garrow's Law" is not only entertainment, but also a resource for those of us who are interested in the 18th century, be it society, art or fashion. Mrs. Galer explains how she approached the challenge of fitting out so many people; one of the dresses Lady Sarah wears is actually a replica of an orignal dress Mrs. Galer bought at an auction, and she always promised herself that, if she should ever get the chance to work on a show set in the 18th century, she'd make a copy of that dress.
Last but not least comes the interview with Andrew Buchan, "William Garrow" himself. He's very enthusiastic about his role and liked that Garrow was a "real guy, a real chap" (you could say so, yes), who pioneered in his field and paved the way for law as we know it today. He, too, points out how hard the work was, especially considering the heat, and mentions how incredible the supporting actors were. Rightly so; there were some stellar performances by "minor" characters, which added to the overall quality of "Garrow's Law". Andrew Buchan is a really talented actor, he's young and still has the enthusiasm and excitement for his work that other actors have lost during the years. Also, he really rocks ruffled shirt, waistcoat and pigtail. Consider yourself wolfwhistled, Mr. Garrow.
The documentary ends with Editor Steve Singleton talking about the editing process. While I enjoyed the bonus documentary, I'd have expected something about the real William Garrow; after all the series was based on his life and achievements. Nobody would have complained about a blooper real, either. But as the series itself is fantastic, the lack of bells and whistles in terms of extras doesn't minimise the entertainment value of the DVD at all. A highly recommended "must-have" for anybody who enjoys good drama.
And now commission season 2 already, BBC!
The peasants are getting restless!
On 15 February, 2010, co-creator and writer of "Garrow's Law" Tony Marchant will answer questions and discuss his work at the University of Herfordshire. Please go here for details.
You made it all through the review? Congratulations! This means that you can
WIN THE "GARROW'S LAW" DVD!
You are cordially invited to participate in this contest and hopefully win the DVD of the BBC's excellent 18th century courtroom-drama.
What do you have to do?
Just send an email to
joyful_molly at yahoo.co.uk
and answer the following question:
"What is the name of Mr. Garrow's courtroom nemesis?”
Deadline: 4 February, 2010, midnight GMT.
Please read the following rules before you send off your mail.
1. By participating in this contest, you confirm that you have read, understood and accepted the rules.
2. You have to be at least 18 years old to participate.
3. Please be fair: only send in one mail per person.
4. No cash pay-out of your prize.
5. No correspondence will be held over the outcome of the contest.
6. If you are the winner, you’ll have to provide us with your name and address.
7. We’ll send your prize out asap, but have no influence on the speed of your local postal services.
8. Should, for any reason beyond our control, one of the prizes not be available, we’ll replace it with a different prize of the same value.
Good luck with the contest! :)