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Eternal Law

If you were very lucky, you will have missed ITV’s recent attempt at genre drama; supernatural stinker Eternal Law1. The idea is quite a nice one; angels in the form of man take the guise of barristers to defend the innocent, typically fending off similarly disguised demons as they do so. Potentially, this could have been a great mix of court-room drama and supernatural adventure.

What we got was a poorly acted, badly thought out melodrama. It’s almost as if the producers thought that the idea (which though nice, isn’t terribly original) would be strong enough to carry the whole show by itself. The problem wasn’t just one element; this was a potentially brilliant, genre defining TV show let down by a lack of decent stories. Plenty of good ideas and yet not a single one of them was handled well.

The main characters had a lot of potential; the naive and child-like Tom, the bitter yet savvy Zak and the mysterious and capable Mrs Sherringham may have been a bit cliché, but they were strong enough to carry the story. Sadly, instead of letting the viewers getting to know the heroes, we instead got a lot quick fixes and most of the problems in the plot seemed to be resolved either by having the heroes shout at someone, or another character having an inexplicable change of heart.

Great idea, pity about the execution

Eternal Law was filled with some great moments; two angels sitting on top of York Minster having a swift drink talking about saving the world through better legal-aid sold the show to me initially, as did the various one-liners. After all, few shows ever get to have someone say “Hosanna singing ponce”. But nice set scenes do not a story make, and it’s main problem was that it couldn’t decide if it was a low-budget courtroom drama show or a low-budget supernatural thriller. By trying to be too many things, it ended up being nothing.

The real shame here is that not only has the show been cancelled, every botched job like this makes it harder for similar ideas to take their place. Eternal Law wasn’t a bad idea, it was just badly made. It’s tempting to poke fun at the show, but its so poorly put together that I suspect strong language may somehow make it fall apart. I haven’t the heart to be mean, because it’s so naff that I feel sorry for it.

If you want an interesting take on the divine and infernal interfering with the affairs of man, I recommend you check out Chris F Holm’s latest book Dead Harvest instead. Not only is it a better idea, it’d make a cracking bit of telly.

1: Previous efforts to make interesting genre shows have included Primeval and Demons. Whereas the former probably deserves its own post, the latter was the forgotten offspring of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Coronation Street without any of the charm that might imply. Best let sleeping Demons lie.

Categories: Reviews, TV
  1. February 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Although I agree with your analysis for the first couple of episodes, I found that as the series progressed some of the frustrations of the earlier episodes were answered satisfactorily. I did find the “cataclysmic” battle in the cathedral pretty underwhelming but I get the feeling that they were trying to punch too far above their weight effects-wise and should probably have gone with something subtler. The joy of the series for me was watching the angels do things that they knew they shouldn’t and hoping that “Mr Mountjoy” wouldn’t notice. Although I found the concept that the fate of the world was entirely dependent on a couple of angels behaving themselves a bit hard to swallow, I have faith (see what I did there?) that had the show been given a second series that question would have been answered; much as “free will” issue was adeptly demonstrated in (I think) Episode 3.

    • February 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      I liked the Doomsday clock (and in fact, a lot of the little ideas), but it never really improved, it just drifted along in the shallow end. The middle episode was where it peaked but the entire affair was sorely lacking. It needed something, quite possibly an experienced script-editor.

  2. Andy Raff
    February 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Spot on. I watched the first two episodes then gave up in disgust. It could have been a lovely uinderstated In Nomine-style series with plenty of weight and so on and so forth. Instead it made Demons look … well, a pile of crap obviously, but still a slightly nicer pile of crap.

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