1. Sam West's face. This is reason enough to watch this show. But, actually, in more detail: Samuel West can act and he plays the lead character, Zak. West can shift from subtle to loud in a second flat and he does it beautifully in this show. Zak is a conflicted character, who is 9 parts curmudgeon and 1 part love. He can be grouchy, and a bit insufferably smug, and he can be a romantic, and he's amusing. Also, he has a habit of quoting Larkin and many, many other amazing writers. Plus, he is incapable of ironing his own shirts.
2. Not only is it wonderful having a lead character who is black (this still doesn't happen nearly enough, which is why I am mentioning it), Ukweli Roach's depiction of Tom is a glorious ball of wonderful. To paraphrase taurenova, Tom is a fantastic combination of too curious and not curious enough. He is sweet, guys. He is adorable. His utter confusion with humanity is endearing.
3. The main big bad is amazingly hilarious. Tobias Menzies' Richard is also reason alone to watch this show. I described him thusly in the last episode: there is just the right kind of ambiguity and subtlety to him that he isn't unbearably one-dimensional, but also great degrees of over-the-topness that I enjoy immensely. He also clearly ships his character with everyone, but especially Zak. Concepts of personal space? No. Shamelessness? Yes. Oral fixation? Indeed!
4. Zak's love interest --- the reason he almost fell from grace --- is a well-constructed character, not merely a love interest. This storyline is tired and hackneyed, BUT, I love Hannah and can totally see why Zak would love her madly. She's intelligent and compassionate and just this side of fierce. They have awesome chemistry together and their scenes always make me happy.
5. There is yet another excellent female character in Mrs Sheringham, and I sincerely hope we get scenes later this series that help Eternal Law pass the Bechdel test. Orla Brady brings such depth and warmth to a character that I am so glad got expanded in the second episode of the show.
6. So! In many, many ways, it's the characters and their interactions. There are some fascinating and excellent dynamics going on between them all --- things you don't see in all television shows --- the kinds of chemistry that spark inspiration in wannabe writers. To name but a few, the one the show pushes: Zak & Hannah, the one of my heart: Zak & Tom, one that the rest of fandom will love: Zak & Richard, and the one that Matthew Graham dreams about: Zak & Richard & Mrs Sheringham.
7. The dialogue, for the most part, is really good. There's some lovely banter that offsets the 'whuh?' of the weekly plot. There were a couple of shady lines and readings in the first episode, but it was the first episode. You also get lines like "What happens if we get shot in this world?"/"Hurts to buggery.", and "Please don't make the mistake of thinking I give a rat's fart what you think, you pompous little singing twat."
8. This show doesn't take itself seriously at all. It knows it is ridiculous. It's not trying to be Drama. The angel lawyers have gigantic wings that suddenly appear in scenes, with very little rhyme or reason. There are scenes in which angel lawyers smoke cigars on top of York Minster with their wings unfurled! But, and this is important, whilst the cheese is strong with this one, there are also a lot of balancing scenes. There are some good, tasty water crackers being used as a base for the cheese (with maybe a bit of pepper, if that's your thing) so that the taste isn't all boursin.
9. There is so much potential. There are hints that the end of the Earth as we know it may be nigh, so who knows, we may get awesome apocalyptic stuff coming our way. There's the whole angel mythology that could be gone into. There's all the different paths the individual characters could take. From any given episode it can focus more on fantasy or on the everyday. The show could go anywhere!
10. Eternal Law's entire ethos seems to be: "Sometimes you will be sickened, sometimes you will be enraptured, but --- and I give you my word on this --- you will never be bored." And so far, this has held true. I've never once been distracted by anything but that which is going on in the show (Sam West shirtless, what.) The plots may bamboozle me, I may shake my head at the handwaving, but then there will be another golden character moment, or a funny line, and I'll forget about that entirely.
In conclusion: as long as you don't expect anything more than a relatively light-hearted ridiculous show about lawyers who are angels, this is extraordinarily entertaining. It's not even that it's so bad it's good (though it can be, of course. Some of it is, I admit it. Some of the joy is in mocking the show, mid-watch.) But no! It has a lot of good in it, all on its own. It has well-developed characters played well. Apart from the so-called special effects, it's actually made fantastically, with interesting, but not jarring camera-work. It has many wonderful shots of York. And it's charming. Very charming. It's charmed me and I am exactly the 9 parts curmudgeon Zak embodies.
This entry was posted on both LJ and DW. This post has DW comments, \o/