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Maxine Peake is refreshingly unglamorous, with her crunchy Northern accent, and projects a wonderful intensity as one such barrister; Rupert Penry-Jones is well matched as a cynical, corner-cutting rival. This series does office politics extremely well; the first time we watched, I was blown away by a couple of brilliant scenes in which Neil Stuke, as Billy, the hard-nosed senior clerk, fights off a coup attempt and turns one of his big earners who's trying to defect. Apart from the climactic murder trial, court cases are a lot less flashy than you'd find in a show like "The Good Wife," but story lines are brisk, engaging, sometime surprising (Colombian drug mule explains why she's better off in prison); interesting that in the UK it's a criminal offense to own (or be) a pitbull. Supporting honors go to GoT's Natalie Dormer as a "spoony" (born with a silver one in her mouth, i.e.) pupil, Tom Hughes as a not-so-spoony pupil and Nina Sosanya as a mutinous junior barrister.
Here's hoping that the next few seasons will turn up before long on PBS and eventually on Netflix.
Now I do agree about some parts of the drama being on the unrealistic side, the episode with the racist police officer wasn't as solid in the legal details as the rest of the episodes and I didn't completely buy how quickly Martha Castello came back to work after her miscarriage. In fairness though, I did find some aspects of Judge John Deed unrealistic.
That said, Silk is a great programme that ranks among my favourite TV series airing so far this year. Visually, Silk is quite stylish with skillful camera work and striking location shooting. I quite like the music too, the main theme is very driven and does stick in your head for a long time after, decide for yourself whether that is a good thing or not, I personally loved the main theme while my brother found it annoying. And the background scoring is beautiful, haunting and does a credible enough job to bring some flavour to the scene it features in without intruding too much.
I was quite impressed with the series' writing. It is often thoughtful and intelligent with the odd spot of wry humour, such as how Maxine Peake uttered some of her lines in the first episode. It is even better though in the courtroom scenes which are really quite tense sometimes yet always compelling, some of the verbal sparring and observations between Castello and the witnesses are a real joy. The stories are constantly interesting, well-structured and well-paced, the direction throughout is taut and the characters are at least credible and not too sketchy.
The acting also helps lift. I especially want to praise Maxine Peake, who is just wonderful here. Her facial expressions and gestures are wonderfully judged and her delivery of lines is a joy to behold in that she especially made some of the weaker dialogue of the first episode in particular seem credible! It was also great seeing Rupert Penry Jones playing a complete ass while also showing a somewhat sympathetic side. There were also some enjoyable supporting performances, with old favourite Adrian Dunbar in the final episode standing out amongst others.
All in all, a great series even with the lack of realism. I also hope there is another series, as this showed so much promise, though unlike some of the gems of last year like Garrow's Law and Sherlock, Silk doesn't fall into the trap of being too short. 9/10 Bethany Cox
This happened in the first episode of the second season. The first season was very enjoyable.
Like House, the fun of Silk lies mostly in its dialogs and, to some extent, non verbal communication and narcissistic characters (in and out of the court). Note I agree Silk lacks building of the characters. We only learn about Martha. We are becoming almost obsessed with her, as the camera frequently stays on her face for loooong time. Thus, not much place left for others or to put in some more of a story. However, I need to disagree with the previous reviewer about Clive Reader character. The comment about him was: "When he is not being a jackass, he's as nice and loyal as a puppy." Emmm .... This sounds like a stereotype of a successful alpha man and I definitely know a few like him (unfortunately not that cute to be worth making use of it).
I am a bit puzzled how some characters (Kate Brockman? - I thought she was allowed to stay?) disappear completely out of series as new ones get introduced. We miss the old ones, too. Am very puzzled over John Bright character as well. We are allowed to glance at his stunning and gorgeous appearance in almost every chapter, never to touch under surface - I wonder about his work and why is he sitting in the office ... Acting is good, but many times slightly exaggerated (theater style) - an example would be Jake Milner character. Pushing it a bit too far (but cute anyway).
The series seems underrated to me at IMDb. I promise it wont insult your intellect if you understand the concerns I raised above and have no expectations of any realism. It will give you an interesting drama, tension and sublime interactions. I love it, even though it looses its way at times. I think it is very enjoyable, much more than any other series I have seen.
What the series does well is show the lives and stories of the lawyers as well as the cases they are working on. However, one the flaws is that they are nearly always defending someone who is innocent or not as guilty as you who think they are. Even though in the first episode Martha states 85% of their clients will be guilty. They are constantly defending someone whose being "fitted up" by the coppers rather than be outright guilty. The writers make an effort not to have clients that are too guilty or "bad/evil" as so to not turn the audience off.
They don't know what to do with the Clive Reader character. When he is not being a jackass, he's as nice and loyal as a puppy. The lawyers are too young and attractive to reflect anything near real life. Tom Hughes is ridiculous to look at; he's too good looking to take seriously without thinking he is there to be obvious eye candy. There are lots of contrived moments.
This isn't a topical legal show. Not many hot button issues. The critics are right about the flaws. Nevertheless I like it, but I like Garrow's Law better.
I almost bailed in the first 10 minutes of the first episode however when Martha visits her client in the cells and asks him "tell me straight now, did you do it?"
As every viewer of Rumpole of the Bailey knows, you NEVER ask the client if he did it. Why? In case he tells you he did. As an officer of the court you cannot stand up and present your client as innocent if you know that he is guilty. You must withdraw from the case and thus lose your fee.
The main story of Series 1 is Martha and Clive working towards becoming Silks and in the last episode they learn that Martha has been accepted but Clive hasn't. Unfortunately, Series 2 didn't seem to have a theme! So I didn't feel like I had achieved anything by getting to the end of the series. Martha and Clive were working on separate cases for most of the series, so the banter and dialogue that made Series 1 entertaining just wasn't there. But I did like the introduction of the character of Caroline Warwick. Overall, Series 1 was fantastic, but Series 2 dragged on a bit. I hope Series 3 is an improvement.
This had everything, from criminal trials to highs and lows that you would probably see in a real life practice.
The acting from the cast was fantastic throughout, and Costello (Peak) was sublime. In a Male dominated chambers, she ensured that equality meant equality.
Billy (Stuke) the Clark played a wonderful part too. He was mischievous and funny, whilst Barber, Penry-Jones, Davies and Jones all played their individual roles to a tee.
When Sosanyana came into the fold, she added a spiteful dimension which gave the chambers a bit of a shake-up.
It's a crying shame that it ended in just a handful of series, as I would love to have continued watching.
I throughly enjoyed this, and for me it was just above Kavanagh QC in quality, despite John Thaw playing an epic QC in his series.
North Square is similar, but I was unimpressed by the single series - it needed more than that.
This show, however, is let down by the outdated episodic/procedural format that TV is moving away from.
The problem is that every episode becomes a formula, a case introduced, slight intertwining of case with personal life, twist and ending. Rinse and repeat.
This formula was fine for Law and Order back in the 90's, but it gets boring very quickly. That's why many shows are moving away from that. Luther started with episodic and then went on to do to season-long cases (you guys call it series-long). Over in France, Engrenages (Spiral) is a season-long case. Denmark the same with the Killing, The Bridge and Follow the Money. Line of Duty is season-long cases. Justified also moved from episodic to season-long. Over in the law world, Suits also moved from procedural to season-long arcs and cases. A more serious show, The Night Of, also is a season-long story. Same with Better Call Saul.
Procedurals have short stories of short threads that always end by the end of the episode. There's no suspense, no reason to tune in week-in week-out or to binge. You watch one, enjoy it and then you don't care anymore.
Procedurals are now left behind for sitcoms or other weak dramas.
Procedurals let you cover more cases, but you get less of them. You get flashes of a courtroom, quick decisions, it's like watching speed chess.
There is no reason why this show couldn't do a major case every 3 - 4 episodes. Season 1 could've had 2 major cases, and have the multitude of small cases intertwine with the bigger ones, being a distraction or a chance to discover something.
I've watched a few episodes now but the formulaic nature got me bored. I write this in hope that producers making shows stop with procedurals.