Television: The Escape Artist (Part 1)

I think the slow start and only intermittent action in this mini—being about lawyers, it's necessarily very talky—may work against it for the average American audiences, but after a somewhat slow start, I found The Escape Artist enjoyable, if horrific (which is the point). I won't deny that a large part of my pleasure is derived from David Tennant, whom I always enjoy. But he's almost upstaged by the creepiness of Toby Kebbell.

Tennant stars as Will Burton, a barrister (in American he's a defense lawyer, possibly even a public defender, though I admit my understanding of the nuances of the UK's legal system are beyond me) who has never lost a case. I'll go out on a limb and say I find this a bit over the top as a rule—no one never loses—but Will is young, so maybe he just has the odds in his favor?

Fine, fine. But then Will is given the defense [defence, if you're British] of Liam Foyle, a man accused of the torture and murder of a young woman. Liam is every kind of creepy, and the case against him seems pretty solid (not helped by Liam being the kind of person a jury would like to lock up just on principle), but Will gets Liam off on a technicality. Due process and all that.

But then Will makes the mistake of refusing to shake Liam's hand at the end of it all.

And Liam, being a creep of the first order, takes that personally.

And here's where the plot really kicked in and things began to happen as Liam stalks Will's family and then murders Will's wife. So now we'll have another trial, and yet Liam is being defended by Will's greatest rival Maggie (Sophie Okonedo, doing a fine job as usual), who is tired of being second fiddle to Will's bright and rising star. (Note: Maggie does shake Liam's hand, though she's quick to use hand sanitizer once he's walked away.)

Meanwhile, Will cannot be directly involved with the prosecution and so champs the bit while his firm mounts its case. Will is also dealing with the domestic fallout of his wife's murder as he is now single parent to their son Jamie. Jamie may or may not have seen the killer; he was hiding (or had been locked in?) a hope chest during the murder.

The scariest moment came when Liam was released on bail and Will found out somewhat later and had to race to make sure Jamie made it home from school.

As I mentioned, a slow start, and American sensibilities may find The Escape Artist slower than they're used to. But I'm curious enough to see how it ends—and I enjoy David Tennant enough—that I'll watch the rest.

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