Criminal Justice (BBC Season 2)

091224090947_l4 Kernels

Streaming on Acorn TV is a former series entitled Criminal Justice.  I tuned into Season 2, which ran five consecutive nights in October of 2009. It’s a series where the audience travels through an individual’s life from the beginning of the crime to final decision of the justice system.   It’s an interesting story that focuses on the victim, the individual who committed the crime, the results of that crime upon family members and acquaintances, the police investigation, the defense solicitor and barrister, and, of course, the individual on trial.

Season 2 focuses on a woman by the name of Juliet Miller (played by Maxine Peake), the wife of a successful barrister Joe Miller (played by Matthew Macfadyen).  In the opening scenes Juliet is the focus as a nervous and depressed individual sitting in a car who eventually returns home to take a shower.  Joe, on the other hand, has been trying to reach her by telephone multiple times but she ignores his calls.

Joe later comes home, obviously suspicious over his wife’s behavior.  She is sullen, nervous, forgetful, and avoids him. After dinner with their teenage daughter in the household, everyone retires to bed. Joe wants to initiate sex but Juliet pulls away. She leaves the bed to retrieve something (which I cannot tell you since it’s a spoiler) and then stops in the kitchen. Her thoughts turn toward the knives on the kitchen counter. She chooses three, lines them up, and picks the large six-inch wide blade and carries it back to bed.

After hiding the weapon under the pillow, Joe re-initiates the sexual encounter. Their daughter hears groaning noises from their bedroom and goes to investigate. As she peeks around the corner, her father is on her mother groaning but then rolls off with a knife sticking out of his belly.  Hence the crime has been committed, and the underlying causes of the tragedy take five episodes to unfold one by one until the final verdict.

It’s an interesting, albeit extremely slow unfolding story. If you like action, this is not the series for you. You witness prejudices and preconceived ideas among the police. Joe ends up in intensive care, while the investigation begins. Along comes the solicitor, with her own agenda to get her client off by immediately painting Joe as an evil abusive husband. She nurses a vindictive goal, while one police investigator wants to see justice served regardless of the circumstances since Juliet did stab him in the gut. Everyone has their opinion – everyone is emotionally affected by the case.

To discover the ins and outs of this emotional series and the outcome, you’ll have to watch it yourself. If I say anything further, I’ll be writing SPOILER all over this post. Frankly, be prepared to watch many minutes of silent brooding from the actors and painful reflection. You could probably chalk up an entire hour of merely watching the characters say nothing except crying and staring off into the distance. It will be a bore or you will be sucked into the emotional aspect of this story as the writers have obviously intended. Their goal is to drag you through the emotions of their characters.

Maxine Peake’s heart-wrenching performance deserved accolades, but you are quite torn between giving her sympathy or wishing that the United Kingdom still used hanging for punishment.  It was shocking to see she did not win an award but instead, Matthew MacFadyen won supporting actor at the British Academy Television Awards 2009.  His screen time is minimal, to say the least.

As far as Season 1 of Criminal Justice, I’ve yet to watch those episodes.  Frankly, I need to wind down after this slow and painful journey of Juliet Miller before I take on another British crime show.

 

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