So far, it’s been a very traumatic year in my TV viewing life. First came the news that my daily lunchtime fix, the courtroom show Judge Alex, was ending; then Harvey Specter found himself a girlfriend in Suits (she will, quite simply, have to go); and, last week, The Good Wife killed off Will Gardner. That’s three of the men in my life suddenly out of reach.
Tears were shed over Judge Alex; spitting blood was more the case with Harvey; while with Will, I have entered a depression so deep, we are talking coma.
How the cast and crew kept Will’s death (I can hardly bear to write those words) a secret for a year is, in itself, a small miracle. Josh Charles, who plays him (utterly brilliantly) . . . I should say played now, I suppose . . . will undoubtedly go on to do other great things; but that doesn’t lessen the devastation on the part of fans of this terrific show.
You will notice a common theme here – all the above-mentioned shows relate to the law in some way. I have always been, and am, fascinated by the law. At one stage in my life, I was going to train as a barrister, but on reflection I think I would rather play a lawyer than be one: fewer exams – and you may get to see Gabriel Macht (Harvey Specter) with his kit off.
I put it all down to doing The Merchant of Venice at a very early age. Durham Road Junior School in Newport started its kids young with Shakespeare – I was eight, to be precise. I recall the horror when the money lender Shylock set the bond of a pound of flesh, should Antonio fail to repay his loan (I was, and remain in adulthood, happier about the idea of borrowing money you will never be able to afford to pay back).
But then I was even more horrified when Antonio got out of the deal on the grounds that Shylock could have his pound of flesh, provided that he did not shed a drop of Antonio’s blood when taking it. Even aged eight, I knew that this was some smart defense lawyer (apologies to British readers for my having adopted US spelling; I am an attorney now, you know), but I felt that it was a very unfair loophole. Call yourself a Christian, Antonio? At least Jesus took death on the chin like a real man.
I’ve always thought that being a defense lawyer must be a lot tougher than being a prosecutor. If they’re in court in the first place, they must be guilty, that’s my instant reaction (Guilty until proven more guilty, in other words). In defense, you have to come up with so many more ridiculous excuses. Take the televised trial of Oscar Pistorius case going on in South Africa at the moment. He claims that he accidentally shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, mistaking her for a burglar on the other side of the bathroom door. Neighbours claim to have heard her terrified screams; Pistorius’s defense lawyer is arguing that the athlete screams like a girl.
Frighteningly, I think the judge (there is no jury in the case – how weird is that?) might go for it, not least because the defense lawyer, Gene Hackman lookalike Barry Roux, has cut a rather impressive figure. “Teeeellll me,” he says, in his thick South African accent, “how keeeen eeeet beeee. . . ?” And off he goes with his absurd, unbelievable concoction of stories about cricket bats and gunshots and men who scream like girls when they’ve just committed murder. “Eeeeet keeeennnnnnnot beeeee!” he insists, at every turn; and, for a moment, you sort of believe him.
Then, reality hits home, and, quite frankly, I’m not buying into the girlie screaming defense. If you can win an Olympic medal with a couple of blades strapped to the leg stumps you’ve had from birth, I imagine you done all the girlie screaming you’ll ever need in one lifetime. Let’s get Oscar on the stand, poke him with a very hot stick, and let’s test that screaming is what I say.
Alas, the case has been halted because one of the two assessors who accompany the judge has been taken ill. If she can’t return, the whole case will have to start again from scratch; I suspect Barry is already clearing a space on his mantelpiece for that Oscar he undoubtedly deserves – in both senses of the word.
Anyway, back to the lovely Will Gardner. Will is – or, rather, was – a very good defense lawyer. In fact, it was defending his client that got him shot, when the man grabbed a police officer’s gun and went berserk in the courtroom. I still haven’t quite worked out why one of Will’s shoes came off in the fracas, but then I haven’t seen Sunday’s flashback episode yet, which might explain why a man so fastidious in his work can’t tie his shoelaces properly.
I’m going to have to wait a few weeks before seeing it, too, as I’m off traveling again (or travelling, as they say in the UK). I'll be going back to LA via New York, where I would love to meet Joey Jackson, the defense lawyer expert who regularly appears on Vinnie Politan’s On the Case show on HLN (Vinnie’s another hot lawyer, by the way – again, in both senses of the word; and he’s a prosecutor, to boot). With Judge Alex, Harvey Specter and Will Gardner out of my life, it’s my new fix.
I tell you: Joey could get Judas off on the grounds that he thought the 30 pieces of silver were chocolate coins. I’ve told him that if I’m ever in trouble, I want him heading up my team.
And if he fails in his duty, let’s just hope it’ll be Judge Alex, Harvey Specter or Will Gardner putting me in the handcuffs.