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New and Noteworthy: LA Law meets Rumpole.

New Street Law: The complete first season[DVD]. London: BBC One, 2006 [PN 1997 .N49 2006 – Circ. Desk].

Television shows set in American courtrooms have been a staple on television since the days of Perry Mason (PN1997 .P4779 2006.) Besides the classic Raymond Burr series, the library has several other “first seasons” of television series with a legal theme (LA Law PN 1997 .L2 1988, Night Court PN 1997 .N52 1984, Law & Order PN 1992.8.D48 L393 1999, Boston Legal PN1997 .B67866 2006; all available at the Circulation Desk.)

To that list we can now add the first season of the British legal drama New Street Law (PN 1997 .N49 2006, Circ. Desk). Set in the chambers of two competing barristers (conveniently located in the same building on New Street in Manchester), the show is the creation of former criminal barrister Paul Freeman. Scotsman John Hannah takes the lead role as Jack Roper, a thirty-something barrister from a working class background. Roper has recently opened his own, defense only, chambers in the basement of the building where his mentor, Laurence Scammel, QC, operates a much more successful chamber with his wife and daughter. The basement vs. upper floor offices pretty much define the series; Jack and his young associates struggle to the pay the bills as they campaign for justice for the downtrodden, while the Scammel family seems to always represent the wealthy interests that apply the pressure on Jack’s clients.

Several case stories are told in each episode, involving all the members of Jack’s chamber. Intertwined in serial format are several stories about the lives of all the characters. All in all, the show is pretty formulaic and the constant battle between the two competing chambers seems a bit contrived. Still, it is an entertaining show and it is interesting to see the British legal system portrayed on television. The first season aired in 2006 (BBC One) and a second season followed, but the show’s official web site notes that the show has “finished.”



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