Top positive review
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A review for the defence
on 16 February 2006
John Mortimer and Leo McKern are a match made in television heaven- the perfect collaborative force of writer and actor. So it’s not too significant that the episodes of this third series (first broadcast in 1983) are not the best examples of 'Rumpole' on DVD so far. To say Rumpole is a bigger-than-life character would be like labelling a glass of châteaux Fleet Street from Pommeroids wine bar slightly alcoholic. It’s amazing how Leo McKern can do with just one raised eyebrow, or furrowed brow what many comedians can only achieve with joke upon joke upon joke, and combined with such legally insightful and innately funny material provided by Mortimer, I personally think it likely that in the future Rumpole will be remembered first and foremost in television and only secondly in the written word. Not only is McKern’s timing impeccable, but he very obviously revels in the character he’s playing and consequently, becomes inseparable from him.
But having said that- this DVD has stirred in me the desire to discover all of these stories anew with Mortimer’s novels, which I can only hope will be as brilliantly observed, thoroughly absorbing and comical as these televised offerings. As Rumpole’s clerk observes in one of the episodes- it’s the sex and murder cases where Rumpole really flourishes and therefore it’s the lack of such cases here and the favouring of those lesser crimes such as forgery, blackmail and robbery that makes this series the least thrilling so far, but the standard is still consistently higher than any other legal drama of its kind. So, despite not quite comparing to series one and two there is still an abundance of twists in the various legal tales, Shakespearean quotes by our old darling and red, double-decker buses dotting the landscape to satisfy any ‘Rumpole’ fan. And more than 20 years after its making it only makes you wish they still made TV like it nowadays. Plus, the DVD menus are clear and easy to use, and the extras, while limited are informative and entertaining (I especially enjoyed the interview with the author), so in my view this is one series that definitely has to be added to your collection.
'Rumpole and the Genuine Article' - 8/10
'Rumpole and the Golden Thread' - 6/10
'Rumpole and the Old Boy Network' - 8/10
'Rumpole and the Female Species' - 8/10
'Rumpole and the Sporting Life' - 7/10
'Rumpole and the Last Resort' - 9/10