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Judge John Deed is a series about a High Court Judge, seen in both his
private life (mostly: sleeping with the women he meets in court) and in
his court life. The protagonist is nicely played by Martin Shaw, whose
pronunciation of English is a wonder to behold, but most of the other
characters are one-dimensional cardboard types.
Even more, a court presided by a judge where his ex-wife, his daughter and his mistress plead, accompanied by sinister government schemes in every episode is wholly unrealistic, alas. The earlier seasons where a bit better in this review, but season five and six are horrible. Perhaps the writers ran out of stories.
Having been bought up in Australia with a father who was a barrister
and once offered a Supreme Court judicial appointment - I have to say
that this program goes a long way to showing the true imperialism of
the judicial system.
My father rejected the overtures for his own reasons but having watched Deeds I have to say I have seen it all. A judge is a mentor, a guardian, an executioner but most of all a human being. The politics that goes with the position is common.
Look at your own life! Change Deeds into the counselor at school, the mediator in a dispute, the local parish priest, the HR officer at work and somewhere there is a Deeds in it.
To look upon the law and see the stupidity of it is a gift most lack because there is no law just politics and Judge John Deed highlights that more than any law and order program now or in the past. I believe this is the intention of the program. Entertain - definitely - educate on how the system is and can be twisted more than likely.
Watch Deeds and say to yourself "Why is it so =- how can this happen - and how many times has it happened?". Watch again the next week and ask the same question.
Be prepared to think
There have been two series so far of this programme. It seems
deliberately to set out to contradict the impression of the British
legal system portrayed by the excellent "Rumpole of the Bailey", of
senile judges and smug arch-conservative barristers.
Here, the main character has radical leanings, a messy private life and a very active libido. Much of the sub-plot is involved with side-swipes at the (Labour) government of the day, although the implication is that power corrupts; the political complexion of the office holders doesn't affect their greed or ambition.
The one common factor with other screen portrayals of the British legal system is the very precise diction and grammar used by barristers and judges. The courtroom scenes are well worth watching.
Some elements of the plot rather strain belief, but the series is quite enjoyable.
I have definite rules for all television series. Do they hold my
attention? Are they well written? Are they well acted? In the case of
this series, the answers are yes, yes and yes.
Starting with the writer, nobody seems to mention him. The stories are well crafted, the different strands of each episode are seamless. I assume that Newman either has some knowledge of the law or access to those that do as the words of John Deed make sense to the viewer.
The cast is attractive with a large number of regulars who have stuck with it for some years, always a good sign of their belief in the project. Martin Shaw is always good value for money. The beautiful Jenny Seagrove, (what did she see in Michael Winner), Sir Donald Sinden doing his Donald Sinden act, Christopher Cazenove et als, all turn in quality performances.
Some have seen fit to compare this unfavourably with Rumpole of the Bailey, I cannot see the comparison. This is not played for laughs though there is humour a-plenty. This does not have the "clever" endings. This is a good attempt to portray English justice. At 90 minutes an episode, true things have to be tidied a little. A sub-plot is added and we see the human side of the characters' private lives. Each episode I have watched has held my attention, wholly and completely, to the credit titles at the end.
A better comparison than Rumpole is probably the late, great John Thaw in Kavanagh QC. This, I know, was based on a real character, latterly elevated to the bench before his untimely death, the real Kavanagh was a friend of mine. I do not know if Deed is based on a real judge, or judges, but I would guess at "probably".
I have seen some of the episodes more than once and they do not suffer from repetition. Yes I am a fan, long may Judge John Deed sit on the bench. And at only a handful of episodes a year, this viewer always yearns for his return.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This series is unbelievably potty. What are the writers on? Judge JD is
a lecher with his brains in ... well, let's just say, not in his head.
He will jump in bed with virtually any attractive woman, even if she is
a terrorist out to blow him to smithereens (yes, this really happens in
one episode), and he completely disdains security measures intended to
keep him alive. So, he's an idiot without the intelligence to hold down
a job as a toilet attendant, right? But wait -- he is also our hero,
the learned judge who sagely dispenses justice in each week's episode,
all the while beating off the cardboard-cutout pantomime villains that
the script pits against him, chief among them Sir Ian Rochester.
Most pottily of all, the legal system is so short of barristers that one of them, Mrs Mills, appears in almost every case he ever presides over. She lets him kiss her, or more, then pushes him away again. The authorities sometimes challenge him on his blindingly obvious and unethical involvement with her, but he gets away with it every time. Week in, week out.
In a sitcom, all this might be mildly amusing, but the show is supposedly a series of tense dramas with cutting-edge social and political commentary. Yeah, right.
I did actually work in the judicial sector many moons ago in an
administrative role and I saw the day to day workings of the British
judicial system. Judge John Deed is an extremely realistic
Martin Shaw can play any part and is the perfect choice to play the conservative judge. Each show has focused on Deed's courtroom antics and his private life along with the politics that go hand in hand with the judicial system.
Having worked for the judicial sector, I can tell you that this show is realistic on so many fronts. One thing that Deed has to put up with in this show is bureaucracy and politics from the powers that be and I know that is how the judiciary works. Deed is his own man and interested only in seeing justice served. He isn't interested in politics and advancing his career and will not compromise his principles to get ahead. In each show, he usually has to contend with Sir Ian Rochester, a squirmy little bureaucrat from the Lord Chancellors Department.
The courtroom scenes are fantastic and Deed does everything he can to get to the truth. He does seem to take on the roles of the barristers from time to time but he believes in the truth only.
Deed is a very conservative judge whereas a lot of real life judges in the UK are more liberal than conservative. Deed has no hesitation in punishing those who are guilty but if there are extenuating circumstances, then he will consider the options. Deed realises that the law is not black and white and that there are very grey areas in between.
All in all, a realistic portrayal of life as a senior judge. Check it out.
I am rather disappointed as the series unfolds. What started as something very special and believable, is turning into a total farce. When I say "what started" I mean when I started to watch it, I have no idea what episode it was, actually I did only watch one or two episodes at first, and much latter got involved more regularly with it. But the last episode I watched was a case against animal right protest people who seemed to have maliciously planted a bomb in some animal lab resulting in someone's death. The problem with accepting so many side stories with the case is that eventually the case seems secondary to the stories. And the whole show seems bogged in a lot of superficial gossip material that does very little to entertain me. Just try this for evaluation. A judge has in his court for a murder trial his inexperienced and not really qualified daughter left in charge of the defense, occasionally helped by HIS deserting mistress - and here we're supposed to be talking about a Conservative judge! This is rather worrying - are we going to end up with judge john Days-of-our-life? There is no doubt about Martin Shaw's charisma. He is very good. I imagine, with series, directors and writers have to stretch beyond themselves and their talent for the show to go on. What a pity!
I saw Judge John Deed as I like legal dramas and I love Martin Shaw. Judge John Deed is not bad, but it is not perfect. And I admit I prefer Rumpole of the Bailey and Kavanagh QC. Judge John Deed is wonderfully photographed and the locations and scenery are stunning, and the music is great. In the first four seasons or so, the writing has in general been excellent and the stories are engrossing, with exception of the baby episode which is easily one of the weaker episodes for me. And the acting is fine, Martin Shaw is brilliant in the title role, and he has a good chemistry with the lovely Jenny Seagrove who plays Jo, while the direction is pretty solid and the courtroom scenes on the whole compelling. However, I do have to agree that some parts of Judge John Deed is unrealistic such as the sinister government schemes, making Deed a womaniser and such. Also the pacing can be a little slow at times, and in seasons 5 and 6 the writing and story lines sadly aren't as strong, with the writing lacking the intelligence of the earlier seasons and the stories becoming a tad unoriginal and repetitive. And there were some characters that came across as cardboard, on occasions Judge John Deed and Jo are the only well-developed characters. To conclude, it is good thanks to Shaw, but it has lost its quality. 6/10 Bethany Cox
I find myself somewhat astonished at the BBC's recent production of
Judge John Deed. And it is a feeling I have not been subject to in a
very long time where British television productions are concerned.
Simply put, this is a work of pure genius, and there it is. This coming
from a man with the utmost suspicion of our judicial system and the
officers set up on high to enforce such an institution, and yet, I am
in constant agreement, albeit to my own amazement, with the antics both
of the judge and his underlings, and the way in which the court system
is so succinctly depicted in this on-going series. Having happened
across the DVD's by mistake, and eventually taken the time to view the
contents, despite my reservations of having an age old storyline
supporting the injustices of our political bodies, their avaricious
motives, and the long standing old-school nepotist constitution forced
upon me yet again, I instead found myself almost instantly engrossed by
the in-depth characters, the surprisingly believable story lines, and
the outright exceptional scripting.
Unlike many of the mainstream drama's that the BBC have a tendency of vomiting into unsuspecting audiences sitting rooms, without any concern for the damage they might be doing to our sense of rectal restraint and gag reflexes, Judge John Deed is without doubt a complete and utter reprieve for the British Broadcasting Company. Not only does this exquisitely crafted drama give the concept of a truly fair and just British legal system, doing it's utmost to defend the rights and privileges of victims and criminals alike, but it is not afraid to show how the Executive, i.e. the presiding governments long arm of political interference, the British police force, and the CPS (Criminal Prosecution Service) allow their personal departmental agendas and blinkered drive to gain convictions at any price, and indirectly perverting the course of justice.
As a complete layman, I have little insight into what really goes on in our courts of law, other than what I find regurgitated in the local press, of which most I am well aware, is dramatised for the sole purpose of selling yet more over-inflated tabloid drivel, or accompanying propagandist putrescence. Yet, in spite of my long standing cynicism for the pretence we all commonly refer to as 'The Authorities', I suddenly find myself comprehending the inconceivably difficult and complex responsibilities our high court judges must face, and deal with on a day to day basis. Of course this is only a drama, and yes it is played up for obvious entertainment value, however I hate to admit it, but I have learned more about how our legal system works and operates through the contents of the first fifteen episodes of Judge John Deed, than I have throughout my entire life living and working in the United Kingdom. I am shocked to say it, in fact I would go as far as to say I am entirely astonished, that a simple television program could sway my tainted opinions quite so much, and with such compelling dynamism, that I have actually begun to have some real faith, however small, in our British judiciary.
I have to hand it to G.F. Newman, and the production team of One-Eyed Dog. Between them they have smashed through the monotony of drab, mind numbingly inept, and the endlessly anal-retentive montage of legal drama's, we as an audience have had to endure from so many other would- be purveyors of truth, and actually delivered an honestly frank and genuinely sincere rendition of reality, without compromising the real meaning of entertainment in the process. This series should be presented as a part of every law school curriculum, a core module and de-facto benchmark of what is expected of every lawyer, solicitor, barrister and judge in the United Kingdom, not to mention our somewhat errant ministers of parliament at present. This drama's stark acceptance that people, no matter their redoubtable positions, are still human beings, and can still make mistakes in their private lives, but making little difference in the court room while common sense, an unbiased conviction to seek out the real truth, and still offer up authentic, honest-to-god verdicts and sound justice, is a joy to behold. No one is above the law in Judge John Deed's courtroom, CEO's, MP's, even other judges; they all come under the hammer of John Deeds (Martin Shaw), insurmountable intellect and fair minded ethics.
Suffice to say, I love this series and endeavour to get my hands on the rest of the episodes thus far unseen. Congratulations to the BBC, and the entire cast of Judge John Deed. You have made this unbeliever think twice before speaking out against the 'system' without first thinking about what I really do know, and what I don't. You have dared to stand out from the crowd on this one, and I applaud you for it. Ignore the criticisms, the winging companies, who even now seek to curtail the truths and facts of the products this series has openly exposed to the light of day, and long may you continue to reveal the notorious sabre rattling of our ruling political bodies, to put money before the citizens who have given them such misguided trust.
Martin Shaw is once again excellent in an excellent production. I have never been to court, but can imagine that this is a particularly precise example of the British legal system. I have followed Martin Shaw's career over the years, since he was in The Professionals, and whether through chance or good judgement, he seems to choose roles that fit his stature. The writing in this show is excellent, the actors, almost without exception, extremely professional, and the sly humour just leavens the gravity of the courtroom proceedings.
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