Very suspenseful stuff if you can get over Collymore hollering over everything
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
A couple of Premiership soccer stars are on trial, accused of brutally raping a 19 year old girl they took back to their hotel room. Twelve fairly well known celebrities act as jurors, and spend four nights deliberating over the evidence, with things getting pretty heated as the day of the verdict draws near. They are obviously playing jurors, and the men in the dock are played by actors, but the catch is that the defense/prosecution barristers are real, as is the trial judge, a man with many years of experience behind him.
With celebrities and reality TV making most of the main viewing on the mainstream channels nowadays, The Verdict at first emerges as just another product off the assembly line. But it drew a lot of controversy in the press for the way it appeared to cheapen and trivialize a very serious case and a very serious business, by setting it in a real court-room and having a bunch of celebs a few letters off the A list as the jury. Whether, from this angle, you view it as an intelligent and insightful way of showing how everyone, from the judge/barristers to the jury, would go about their work in such a high profile trial or what the press made it out to be is down to you but I certainly didn't have a problem with it from this POV.
The twelve involved make a very interesting, and certainly very choice, bunch. They include former law lord Jeffrey Archer, who, as we are never allowed to forget, got dealt a very lengthy prison sentence of his own by a jury, and making up the political end is Michael Portillo. Needless to say, these two had a lot in common and made friends very quick. Going back to the real life trial issue, there is also rapper Megaman, from So Solid Crew, recently aquitted of murder at The Old Bailey. His recent trauma makes it all get to him the worst, and his top blows in the closing days of the trial. Certainly the most intriguing member is Sara Payne, mother of murdered child Sarah Payne, who in one scene has the viewer genuinely gripped as she re-counts to some of her fellow jurors the moments before her child was gone. And, determined to be the star of the show at any cost, Stan Collymore, a man who, if ever he is to take part in anything like this again, could do with some serious people management lessons, as he shows he is unable to talk properly with people, constantly interrupting, embarrassing other jurors and hollering his opinionated thoughts over so loudly some younger members, like Jennifer Ellison, are unable to get their points across. She seems to find it all so hard to deal with she may not be taking it as seriously as she should, and Stan has some good points to make, but his way of going about making them makes him charmless and unlikeable.
The series makes a good point of not focusing too much on the celebrities, and veering away sometimes onto the comings and goings of the defense/prosecution barristers, as well as the trial judge himself, who provide some interesting insight into their profession, scenarios that may come up and talking in their complex legal jargon that sets them a world apart from everyone else.
Overall, I liked this a lot. You may find it tacky and cheapening the legal system, but if you see it the right way, it's a very interesting and enlightening show, that genuinely has you on the edge of your seat when the verdict is finally announced (even though the evidence does make it seem pretty obvious.) ****
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