Criminal Justice Series 2
It's now just over a week since the final episode of Criminal Justice 2 was broadcast on BBC1, and, one of my reasons for writing this review is simply to get it out of my head. You may take this as a good or a bad sign, but how long is it since a TV drama kept you awake for the best part of 2 nights and led to an hour long discussion with your brother?
I'll agree with every other reviewer who has, or will, express the opinion that there's some high class acting here, but that doesn't seem to be the point to me. I'll also endorse the view that suspension of disbelief is essential at times and admit that getting my husband to watch the second episode took persuasion. However, I think the messiness of loose ends, whether intentional or not, made the drama greater than its parts. Life is messy after all.
There's so much outside the frame. For instance, I couldn't help wondering why Juliet hadn't left her husband before he turned her into a nervous wreck, but more pertinent questions arose at the end. How many other marriages would break up on account of the case and how many police careers laid on the line? Above all, what on earth was going to happen to the 13 year old daughter, Ella?
One of the things you can do when flummoxed by a drama is to put the characters in order according to the sympathy they engender. But here again things are tricky because the characters are in the main flawed, a mixture of good and bad. Added to that, the straits are dire. There is no baddie to get caught so we can go to bed assured everything's fine. That being said, I would challenge anyone not to take to Jack, the eccentric solicitor, played by Sophie Okonedo. Also the idealistic junior social worker and Ange, Juliet's cellmate, who wants to do a stretch as a break from her abusive partner and sees to it that Juliet is "done up" for her daughter's visit. In addition, there's goodish cop, played by Denis Lawson.
This drama is a slow burn right but to the end, when it becomes electric, but it's obviously not just about Juliet's fate and the fallout for others swept up in her case. It's called Criminal Justice and that's what it's about: an individual up against the massy wheel of the state. Personally, I don't think it's a polemic against the imprisonment of mothers with children. Indeed, considering the attitude - my child first - displayed by the doctor's wife, the grass and Juliet herself, I can imagine feminist feathers being ruffled. Like the bad cop and the good cop, the senior social worker and the judge, the mothers in the play also had their priorities set when push came to shove.