Hold on to your britches! Here comes Judge John Deed

“Judge John Deed” is one of the best shows on TV at the moment. Not that that is saying very much since television programmes are pretty abysmal. I should know because I was a TV critic for our main newspaper; so I was exposed to quite a lot of rubbish. Since I was in the enviable position of choosing what I wanted to review, however, I usually chose British programmes. But even British programmes have declined in quality nowadays.

Whereas British TV as well as the movie industry were elitist in the past, the rest of the United Kingdom caught up and now there are programmes based all over the U.K. This is a good thing, of course, since it’s more representative of the entire country. We may have trouble understanding what the Northerners and the Irish are saying, but it’s great to have fresh inspiration.

Sadly, though, some of the dramas are very miserable. Gritty, drug-addicted, porno, sleaze. Realistic, no doubt, but depressing. I always feel like I want to have a purging shower after watching one of those programmes.

But somebody must be enjoying watching all this misery or they wouldn’t be produced.

I used to love wandering around Oxford with Inspector Morse, having a cup of tea with Inspector Wexford, counting the bodies in “Midsomer Murders” and knitting with Miss Marple. Then there is a favourite, “Foyle’s War.” I know the world is safe in Michael Kitchen’s hands. Best of all, of course, was “A Touch of Frost.” Wow!

It’s been a long time since a good courtroom series has come to our sets and “Judge John Deed” is certainly absorbing. The points of law, the courtroom scenes, the conflicts of interest, all make for exciting viewing.

If the producers had left it at that it would have been brilliant. But the good old judge has one flaw. He is a satyr, so when it comes to sex he just goes crazy. He simply can’t help sniffing around every female, be she a psychiatrist, witness, a barrister, a defendant. He’s ready and raring to go. I suppose the producers had to cater for the plebs and an episode without the ubiquitous shagging would have lost ratings.

He’s having an “on and off” affair with a barrister, the erratic Mrs Mills portrayed by Jenny Seagrove. She apparently disapproves of the fact that Deed is also having it off with anything that moves. The legal establishment is trying to catch him at it so that they can get rid of Deed and this is the thread in the series. There are government spies who spend most of their day walking up and down corridors discussing the foibles of Deed.

Frankly, I wish that the entire series would concentrate on the court cases and leave the rest to Big Brother or something. Whilst not a fan of Martin Shaw, I think he does fairly well in pulling off the role of judge. He certainly looks more impressive in his judge’s robes than out of them.

I think the series is intelligent and dramatic and well worth watching. I now record the show and fast forward the tedious bits about Deed’s private life. Mind you, I did that with the British hospital series called “Bodies” and found there was hardly anything left to watch.


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