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THE TRIALS OF HENRY FARMER
on 30 August 2010
Alan Davies plays the barrister - effective in court, less so out of it.
8 episodes, each 70 minutes. Interesting cases make this worth a watch. They include alleged rape, death after a wild party, a possible killer nurse, rail safety (a careless train driver or negligent management?). Especially moving is the plight of Asperger's Syndrome Dan, accused of killing his mother. (Tom Burke as Dan is excellent.)
Anxious that this be not just another court drama, the makers try too hard to create a central character out of the ordinary. The first glimpse of Henry shows him using his mobile as he cycles erratically through London traffic. Much time is spent trying to stave off bankruptcy because of a gambling addiction. His marriage has collapsed, the little son greatly missed. (The lad has asthma, sleepwalks and, on a visit, tries to steal make-up from a chemist.) Henry's current girlfriend is married - her husband not just an MP but Catholic and gay and dying from cancer. Forever hovering is Henry's estranged father - he a judge and heavy drinker, (Edward Petherbridge entertainingly wispy and waspish). A bit of a clutter really.
Season 2 mercifully simplifies things a bit. Despite reservations, there is much overall to like: Alan Davies, Linda Bassett as the Chambers' secretary, several of the guest stars, the scenes in court. The series has potential but needs greater focus for it to be realized. Recommended nonetheless.