TV Review: Eternal Law

Despite a strong lead cast, 2012’s Eternal Law proves that fantasy drama and legal procedural is a difficult mix in a TV show

“I promise you this, you’ll never be bored”

The above is a bold claim for a TV show to make, even if in-universe, in its first episode. And whilst 2012 ITV fantasy/legal procedural hybrid Eternal Law isn’t terrible, it is – too often – really rather boring. You have to wonder what the underlying inspiration was for creators Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham, to beget a show about angels sent to Earth to try court cases in York with the wider aim of helping humanity at large.

So what we get is a series of variably interesting legal cases which are taken on by angels Zak and Tom (Samuel West and Ukweli Roach) under the watchful eye of Mrs Sheringham (Orla Brady), who was an angel but became mortal to marry a guy who promptly died. They’re usually up against Richard (Tobias Menzies) batting for the prosecution, who happens to be a fallen angel, and so their tussles over free will for humans are coloured by a backwash of celestial intrigue.

It is all OK but just frequently odd rather than awesome. The notion that humans cannot see angels’ wings unless in exceptional circumstances is randomly deployed as suits the plot, Tom being a newcomer to human ways ends up being a awkward way to shoehorn in pratfall-ish humour, and the romantic subplots weigh down far too much of the storyline, particularly since it assumes a much greater engagement with these characters than can possibly be expected.

The experienced Zak is a case in point – grimly sanguine and coldly confident, he’s a hard angel to root for. Thus the grand romance that is meant to carry us across the whole series, with Hattie Morahan’s Hannah with whom he fell in love in a previous visit but who does not remember him, rarely ignites to the point that you care at all about them. Menzies is much more interesting as the nominal bad guy, but we don’t quite get enough character development for him in this single series. One to skip.

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