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Thursday, October 10, 2013

'Kavanagh Q.C.' Complete Collection: Part Two of Three Part Homage to a Great British Courtroom Drama

Kavanagh Q.C. Complete Collection DVD
As part one of this three-part review of  the complete collection DVD set of the spectacularly awesome British courtroom drama"Kavanagh Q.C." promises, this review focuses on episodes from middle sets in this incredible release.

Please refer to the earlier review to acquaint yourself with the exceptional aspects of the presentation of the set and more specifics regarding this appropriately understated program about a well-skilled London barrister, his typical upper-middle-class family, and his very human professional colleagues. One spoiler is that this set makes the PERFECT holiday gift for anyone who likes any form of U.S. or U.K. drama.

This series of reviews will wrap up with a look at the final episode of "Kavanagh."

Although watching 7 of "Kavanagh's" 27 roughly 90-minute episodes provided a good sense of this program, watching another seven for this segment greatly enhanced understanding what makes this series and its titular character click. It is unsurprising that fully understanding this character study requires knowing its subject better; a nice part of this is that this further increases both an appreciation and enjoyment of the program.

The range of Kavanagh's legal knowledge, courtroom skill, and willingness to literally go well beyond the extra mile for a client validates a belief of wanting him in your corner if you ever require a barrister.

The viewer also becomes increasingly aware that "Kavanagh" very sparingly uses the technique of playing background music to set a mood and has a perfect instinct regarding the appropriate length of a scene.

As part one of this review mentions, each of the nine DVD sets in the "Kavanagh" set collection cleverly focuses on a theme as opposed to a series (my people call them seasons) from the show. In true British style, these theme titles often possess multiple meanings.

The DVD set titled "Bearing Witness" may well be the best of a truly desert island quality group of sets.

The first episode in the "Witness" set has Kavanagh, who has recently undergone a major life transition, establishing a not inappropriately close relationship with his client. Said client is a Jehovah's Witness who faces a legal challenge to her decision to not allow a hospital to administer her 13 year-old son  a life-saving blood transfusion when we first meet her. Said witness then faces another courtroom proceeding related to the initial dispute. Kavanagh's involvement in the case leads to him ending up in a figurative hot seat.

Like every other Kavanagh episode and most good dramas, this episode educates viewers and makes them think without sacrificing any of the entertainment value of the show.

The second "Witness" episode pulls off the neat trick of presenting a plot that would be appropriate for a Lifetime Channel movie starring Valerie Bertinelli in a manner that meets "Kavanagh's" high standards. It also provides an interesting look at an alternate form of court.

Similar to the first episode in "Witness," this one begins with Kavanagh agreeing to appear in an Anglican ecclesiastical court to defend a priest who is facing being ousted from the church based on evidence of an affair with a married woman. This aspect of the story ends in a surprising manner only to have the woman face charges. In true "Kavanagh" style, the evidence regarding both intertwined legal matters is very circumstantial and ambiguous.

The third episode in this set evokes thoughts of a similar episode in the equally awesome but much more lighthearted British dramedy "Kingdom," which Unreal TV reviewed a few months ago. Both episodes revolve around suspicions related to the sinking of a commercial fishing boat that is based in a small coastal English community.

The Kavanagh story centers around a claim against the owner of a semi-dilapidated trawler on which all but one hands are lost when it sinks. The twists include the entire town  (including the relatives of the drowned fishermen) standing behind the boat owner and openly showing their contempt of the visiting Kavanagh, who is prosecuting the claim. For his part, Kavanagh is following his unwavering commitment to discovering the truth.

An attempted government coverup, which is a theme in many "Kavanagh" episodes, adds to the drama.

"Hannibal's" Hugh Dancy guest-stars in the best episode in "Kavanagh's" "Previous Convictions" set. Dancy's perfect performance as a very scruffy but sincere and caring 20 year-old provides a sense of the star that he becomes.

In the case of Dancy's character, his previous conviction for arson is one indication of his guilt regarding a second fire a few years later in which his long-term girlfriend perishes. In true "Kavanagh" style, the evidence is circumstantial and the ultimate truths illustrate the harm related to reaching conclusions without knowing all the facts.

Another especially strong episode from "Previous Convictions" centers around reasonable doubt regarding the guilt of a now-government minister, played by Penelope Wilton of many productions that include "Downton Abbey" and "Doctor Who," for coercing a vulnerable 15 year-old boy to whom she owes a fiduciary duty to have sex roughly 15 years earlier. The dual convictions relate to the boy's criminal history and the minister's ideals.

The alleged victim regularly changing significant aspects of his story, the strong possibility that the police are using the evidence of the crime as a means to ruin the minister's career in retaliation for her prior investigations of improper police activity, and the impact of all the related courtroom activity make for a very strong story.

The best way to convey the superb quality of "Kavanagh" is to share that the intense glee on the arrival of the sturdy pinewood box containing that set has only intensified on watching the majority of that program's episodes. It truly is a "can't miss" collection.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Kavanagh" is highly encouraged to email me. You can also find me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.