Its 1:05 pm
I had the good fortune of being able to make a library run about three weeks ago and having the shelves stocked with some serious goodness. This is what I really like about going to our local branch,people donate some serious film and TV shows. With the summer drawing to a close,there will be a one last burst of donated treasures before the weather will put a crinkle into the flow of donations and there won’t be quite the selection we are seeing now.
Just like with shopping our video stores,sometimes shopping at the library means taking a leap of faith and doing a random blind buy of a movie or TV show you have never heard of. Such as it was when I bought the first season of “Kingdom” on DVD.
But it wasn’t a complete blind buy…because way back in another life,I saw a wonderful film called “Peter’s Friends” which featured an all-star British cast which included Stephen Fry who starred as Peter. It was one of my first experiences of seeing an art house film and Fry’s performance has always stayed with me. Interesting enough is among my film/TV collection,I have nothing featuring Fry,you just don’t run across his films here in the States very often.
So I considered myself very lucky to have found an BBC release of the first of “Kingdom”. I knew it would be good,the only question left to answer was just how good would it be?
Stephen Fry plays Peter Kingdom,a lawyer (called a solicitor in Great Britain) who shares a practice with his brother Roger in Market Shipborough,or used to until Roger walked in the North Sea and killed himself. Peter is left to pick up the pieces and to keep the practice going. He has help in his long time office receptionist Gloria (Celia Imrie) and rookie solicitor Lyle (Karl Davies). In the first episode,Peter’s half-sister Beatrice (Hermione Norris),an mentally unstable head case,checks herself out of rehab and ends up moving in with Peter. I have to credit Norris with an excellent acting job as her Hermione is one of the most unlikable characters ever to grace the small screen.
Each episode sees Peter traveling out to see his extremely wise and sharp witted Aunt Auriel (Phyllida Law) at a retirement home, either to ask about his family’s past or advice on a current case or problem.
While each episode features a stand alone case,there are central arcs as Peter deals with the fallout of Roger’s death,Beatrice either causes chaos or mayhem to Gloria,Lyle or Peter. Peter imparts wisdom to Lyle when dealing with various clients which includes town oddball Sidney Snell (Tony Slattery) who loves to sue but forgets to wash his clothes which causes quite a ruckus in the offices.
The various cases range from Sidney suing the city council over parcels of land in which he has 17 cases but thanks to Lyle’s sharp legal mind,gives him a chance to win the 18th,if his body odor doesn’t wipe out the firm first. Illegal immigrant’s rights,a daughter who is denied entry to Cambridge,a woman wants a divorce because her husband suddenly develops a strange fetish and in the season finale,Lyle and Peter fight for Holocaust survivor who being threatened with eviction. This was my favorite episode by far and featured a great performance by veteran actor Joss Ackland (Lethal Weapon 2).
The cast of Kingdom is quite good….before watching it,I thought the only actor I would know would be Stephen Fry so I was pleasantly surprised to see Celia Imrie as Gloria.
It wasn’t until recently that I had her in the two “Exotic Marigold Hotel” films,in Kingdom,she plays a much nicer character and she is quite good as Peter’s long suffering office manager.
Karl Davies does a fine job as young lawyer Lyle Anderson. Lyle,while not placing very high in law school is retained by Peter because of Lyle’s empathy and he has “It”,the intangibles of becoming a great lawyer. Peter and Lyle’s relationship is explored through out the first season as Peter gently guides him through some rough patches. Davies has went on to do various films and TV shows which includes the hugely popular “Game of Thrones” on HBO.
Stephen Fry as Peter is top drawer,his gentleness and kindness is quite unique for a series about a lawyer. Most shows only highlight the keen and sharp legal mind lawyers while rarely touching on their humanity,this is where “Kingdom” is different. Never once do we see either Peter or Lyle in court making huge hero speeches,we see them outside court and dealing with people on a one on one basis which rather refreshing.
As with most British TV shows,the seasons (called series in the UK) are limited in the number of episodes and thus the first season of “Kingdom” is only 6 episodes long. In fact the show only aired 18 episodes before being cancelled due to it’s network having to cut its budget. But if you get a chance to grab this show,the cheetah and I highly recommend it!
“Kingdom” season one features a nice 40 minute special feature on it’s creation which is quite charming as well.
We enjoyed “Kingdom” and gave it a thumbs/paws straight up.