Kavanagh Q.C. - The Complete Series 1 [DVD] 
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The entire first series of this television drama starring John Thaw (Inspector Morse, The Sweeney) as one of the country's leading criminal advocates in London, who has worked his way up from a northern working class background. In the opening episode 'Nothing But the Truth' his wife feels neglected because his work keeps him away from the family, so she turns to having an affair with another barrister, causing even more distress to the young family. On top of this, he is involved in a difficult case defending a young student accused of raping a middle aged housewife. In 'Heartland' Kavanagh is asked to prosecute an ex-cop who hospitalised a young tear-away. The mother of the child believes that the ex-cop has turned into a vigilante and that the incident wasn't an accident. Kavanagh is unsure as to whether he will win the case, but the mother's emotional appeals win him over. In 'A Family Affair' Kavanagh decides to take on a family case, even though he usually steers well clear, of a wealthy businessman who takes the law into his own hands by snatching his young son from school. Alongside all his work worries, his young daughter is beginning to grow up, putting even more on his already over-full plate. In 'The Sweetest Thing' he has to defend a prostitute accused of murdering a wealthy client. The evidence points strongly towards her guilt, so Kavanagh must use all his skills to prove her innocence. At the same time, his wife is looking to start a new job that will add even more pressures to their already strained relationship.
The fact that John Thaw was able to make his eponymous character in Kavanagh QC stand out as a unique personality distinct from the superficially similar Inspector Morse says much about his understated skills as an actor. Thaw brought his trademark mixture of curmudgeonly belligerence and gruff sensitivity to Kavanagh, but the barrister--who first appeared on our screens in 1995 while the Oxford detective was still alive and kicking--is no polished-up Morse. He is far worldlier, is married and has a family. And although he is often troubled by his cases, he is never afraid to play the system. He knows that there are devious, even superficial lawyers, some of them in his own chambers, who he must face across the courtroom, but he acknowledges them as an unavoidable aspect of the world in which he works.
The plots are often convoluted, but Kavanagh's wielding of the trusty sword of truth is always irresistible, particularly when the case involves some kind of high-level government aberration. "The End of Law" is a case in point; a particularly nasty tale about an unexceptional businessman framed for a murder which covers up an unpleasant security scandal. It's dark and dirty and full of troubling compromises. In the end, as with most of his cases, Kavanagh's craggy features convey a subtle hint of the sourness which comes with his chosen territory. --Piers Ford
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The soapy domestic scenes are a bit tedious, especially Kavanagh's irritating teenage son.
(They should of provided an alternative bonus DVD with the son edited out - or maybe a scene where he leaves home to join the Foreign Legion.)
However, there are a few good stories in the series with some excellent and thought-provoking court scenes.
Each of the first series episodes resolves around the themes of sex or relationships. Nothing But The Truth involves a rape trial, set against the background of the Kavanaghs' own family troubles. This episode is a textbook example of a legal drama: a clear conflict of evidence; sharp cross-examination uncovering inconsistencies on both sides; a new dimension through a post-trial twist. Ewan McGregor delivers a convincing performance as the accused, but it is Geraldine James's role, as the interrogating prosecutor, which marks out the episode.
Heartland forms a moving tale of the private prosecution of an ex-police officer, set in a crime-run northern town. When a pedestrian is critically injured by a car, his mother refuses to believe that it was just an accident. Jeolousy provides a motive, but can Kavanagh uncover enough evidence to prove the driver's intent?
A Family Affair departs from Kavanagh's criminal workload, as he takes his first family case. Kavanagh represents a father in a custody trial, where both parents resort to unpleasant tactics. Jeremy becomes embroiled in devious tactics too, as he enlists support to be nominated as a Tory candidate.
The Sweetest Thing completes the first series. A prostitute, embittered by years of abuse, is accused of mudering a businessman in a hotel room. The circumstantial evidence against her is compelling, but can Kavanagh cast enough doubt on it to set her free?
Each episode makes compelling viewing. With their cliffhanger plots and superb acting, the first two episodes are probably the strongest, but the series as a whole deserves a five star rating.
John Thaw is impeccable as James Kavanagh, a man of convictions and integrity,juggling with a time-consuming job and his concern for his family. The other cast members are equally good and the stories always interesting with , very often, a subtle twist at the end.
Dealing with people, emotions, prejudice... never lachrymose or overtly sentimental, it makes very good viewing.
Kavanagh QC has received many accolades over the years so although I have not seen any of the episodes before, my expections were fairly high. I was not disappointed. I have greatly enjoyed all the episodes I have seen so far. John Thaw was the consumate actor who is extremely believable. I was completely taken aback as was he at the sting in the tail of the first episode "Nothing but the truth" An excellent series. I am sure I will have great pleasure in catching up with the rest of the series.
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