When you first saw the trailers for the ITV 5-parter The Jury something in the back of your mind may have stirred. The Jury isn’t new. Well this series is but the premise has been done before. The first series debuted back in 2002 but nearly ten years on, and despite his success in the world of Box Office Movies writer Peter Morgan decided he’d like to do a second series for 2011. Back in 2002, when the world was still reeling from the events of 9/11 the story featured a young Muslim boy on suspicion of killing a classmate in a vicious and brutal attack with a Samaria sword. For those uncertain of what all the fuzz in this review is about let me explain the premise. The story follows the high profile murder trial of Alan Lane, he’s accused of murdering three women he contacted through an online dating site but putting aside the legal case we also meet and interact with the twelve strangers picked to sit on the Jury. These people have complicated, diverse and troubled lives and the only thing that connects them all is the fact they are all sitting next to each other deciding Lane’s fate..
Now to the scheduling. You may think ITV’s decision to air all five episodes over a week seems an odd one but they’ve done it before with 2009’s Collision and more recently Injustice and with two week’s of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here on the horizon its a real treat to have an exciting TV drama for a whole week. It’s an attempt I suppose to make it more of a TV event and in the case of The Jury at least it works wonderfully as this a truly special and memorable piece of TV worthy of the event status the schedulers have given it.
The first thing that should struck me about the series is that it’s a brilliantly executed piece of grown up and adult television. The court case at the centre of the story is modern and interesting and that’s before I even begin to rave about the genius casting of the barristers. Personally I’d be happy to watch Julie Walters stood in a field reading road signs and just as I’d expect playing feisty defense Barrister Emma Watts she doesn’t put a foot wrong. Then there’s Roger Allam for the prosecution, watching Allam and Walters snipe and spa with each other is like being at a joyful tennis match. The brilliance of those tense scenes in the courtroom is that as you watch you feel as if you’re sat with the Jury, changing sides as every argument is presented
If for some reason you should tire of the crime element of the series (which you really shouldn’t as its done so well) then the story breaks away and your instantly drawn into the lives of the jurors. There’s enough intrigue and interest here to last the week trust me. There’s Jodhi May as the school teacher who discovers her fling with an underage pupil has lead to pregnancy, nervous assistant Lucy who is forced into impersonating her boss when she finds she’s too busy to attend court herself and the warm relationship between English Gent Jeffery Livingstone and and immigrant Tahir Takana who is desperate to leave the UK for a life in America.
Its fair to say there’s an awful lot going on in The Jury but the pace of the piece is such that you don’t feel rushed or confused, everything ticks along nicely and nothing seems everything gets its time and nothing feels unnecessary. Its a perfectly crafted piece of storytelling.
Its nice to write a review where I can’t think of anything I didn’t enjoy. Whether you like the fact its staggered over an entire week or not there’s certainly enough to keep me interested till Friday. I just hope that it delivers a conclusion worthy of its strong opening episode.