‘Garrow's Law' — The Complete Collection
More than just a courtroom procedural uniquely set in Georgian London in the late 1700s, “Garrow's Law” is also a deeply compelling, reality-based legal drama of historical significance that explores startling social injustices in law during this period.
Based on the work of real-life barrister William Garrow (1760-1840) to fight for the rights of the women, the poor and the illiterate, the BBC series, starring Andrew Buchan as the maverick Garrow, drew its stories from real cases recorded in “Old Bailey Proceedings,” and concerned Garrow's often unwelcomed efforts to move British courts toward reform.
Blessed with the usual high quality of acting and production values that viewers expect from BBC shows, this period drama collects 12 hourlong episodes from the series' three seasons.
The fiery neophyte Garrow, working under the steady supervision of veteran barrister John Southouse (Alun Armstrong), is assigned some of the Old Bailey's least promising (real-life) cases — from defending the “London Monster,” accused of stabbing a series of young women, to advocating for James Hadfield, charged with attempting to assassinate King George III.
Garrow often finds himself appearing before judge Sir Francis Buller (Michael Culkin), a controversial and prejudicial figure whose ruling that a husband could beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb was said to be the basis for the term “rule of thumb.”
It was Garrow's work that helped establish the widespread legal concept of “presumed innocent until proven guilty.” Bonus extras in the three-disc collection include three featurettes — “William Garrow: Fact and Fiction,” “Garrow's Law: From Dawn to Dusk” and a behind-the-scenes promotional short — plus a text biography of the real Garrow and filmographies of the cast.
— Dennis King