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REVIEW: Newton’s Law with Claudia Karvan

ReviewNikole Gunn

Lewis (Toby Schmitz), Josephine (Claudia Karvan) and Callum (Brett Tucker)
image - ABCTV

This month see’s acclaimed actor Claudia Karvan return to Australian TV screens with a new legal drama from the ABC, Newton’s Law.

Described as the ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ of legal dramas, this eight-part series focuses on the activities of a Melbourne law firm with Josephine Newton (Karvan) at the heart of it.

Josephine is not your stereotypical uptight lawyer with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She’s strong and matter of fact and seemingly without the character flaws that are often a prerequisite of any legal drama. 

She’s a mum of a teen daughter, newly separated from an activist husband, drives a Charger and is happily working as a suburban solicitor.  Until one of her cases goes south and her pyromaniac client torches her offices.

It leads her back to a high-powered law firm, where she accepts a position as junior barrister on a high profile case.  While she’s working ‘upstairs’ in chambers, her former suburban team is ‘downstairs’ running a solicitor’s firm.

The end credits thank Melbourne’s legal community for its advice, help and guidance and its clear there’s a lot of ‘insider’ information that steers it away from being a Janet King-esque kind of show. 

 There’s humour in Newton’s Law that obviously draws inspiration from the ‘real world’ of the courts and those who work within the legal system.

It’s fairly clear that Karvan actually ‘likes’ Josephine Newton.  She doesn’t play her for the boom-tish laughs, but portrays her as a smart and funny without being a smart-arse. 

The show really comes into its own when we leave the backstory behind and watch Karvan ‘become’ Josephine as she takes up the case of a rather obnoxious and entitled lawyer, accused of killing a colleague.

Newton’s Law boasts an impressive cast that includes Toby Schmitz (Black Sails, Underbelly Files), Andrew McFarlane (Devil’s Playground, Glitch), Jane Hall and Miranda Tapsell (Love Child, Wolf Creek).

Made by the same people behind Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Deb Cox and Fiona Egger), Newton’s Law is a good, solid Aussie production that promises much over the course of the eight episodes. 

Newton’s Law premieres on Thursday, February 9 at 8.30pm on ABC and ABC IVIEW.