The Weekend's TV: Garrow's Law, Sun, BBC1
Undercover Boss USA, Sun, Channel 4

Legal eagle's still a guilty pleasure

Break out the tricorne hats! Start up the smoke machines! Rally the street traders and the rhubarbing extras! Garrow's Law is back, pitting that paragon of jurisprudence William Garrow against the Georgian powers-that-be, men with spaniels on their heads and a chip of ice in their hearts.

Also back is Lady Sarah, gliding around the place in a hat big enough to go to sea in, and giving Mr Garrow speaking looks every time she bumps into him. For those of you not up to speed with Garrow's Law there's old history between William and Lady Sarah, a poignant might-have-been that adds a considerable amount of emotional grit to his on-going friction with Lady Sarah's husband, Arthur, a loyal servant of the establishment, and a man never happier than when lurking in a backlit corridor somewhere plotting Mr Garrow's downfall.

William Garrow was real incidentally, an early pioneer of the adversarial cross examination. And in Tony Marchant's series many of the cases are real too, even if, as here, they weren't originally conducted by Garrow himself. For the opening of the second series Marchant had selected a chillingly significant one in the action brought by a Liverpool insurance company against the owners of a cargo vessel called the Zong, after a claim had been made for expensive goods jettisoned when the ship was in trouble. The catch was that the cargo was human – 133 slaves who had been thrown overboard because disease and malnutrition had lowered their likely asking price below the insurance payout. The ship's captain pleaded necessity, because water was running low. The insurers were convinced that he'd made a simple economic calculation to protect his employer's profit.

Part of the point here was that nobody in court was interested in the moral atrocity at the heart of the case, at least officially. Before he takes on the case Garrow – in this version – is visited by Gustavus Vassa, an emancipated slave (also real, and also involved in the Zong trial) who wants to use the incident to put the institution of slavery itself on trial. Garrow, though, insists on prosecuting it as a mere business fraud, confident that sufficient moral outrage can be smuggled in around the edges to make the larger point. "You will inch towards justice and not demand it?" asks the outraged Vassa. "If we go in its direction, then yes," replies Garrow, whose wily negotiation of the gap between what's desirable and what's achievable is a core part of his heroic caricature. It'll be intriguing to see – if the series continues for long enough – whether Marchant will also let audiences in on the fact that when Garrow entered government he turned out to be a stubborn opponent of proposed reforms of the criminal law and its manic dependence on capital punishment. Inside that noble champion there was a power-that-be just waiting to get out.

Undercover Boss USA – in which chief executives head back to the shop floor in disguise to see what it's like to be a small cog in the machine – comes across like a Tea Partier's version of an agit-prop movie. Or at least this week's episode did, in which Michael Rubin, youthful CEO of a company that supplies online retailing services, cast off his tailored suit for a baseball cap and sneakers, to go and pack boxes in one of the firm's ironically named "fulfilment centers". Michael, who opened his first serious business when he was 15 and now travels to the outlying parts of his kingdom in an executive jet, is something of a poster-boy for the American Dream, proof that if you sacrifice pretty much everything else (such as leisure time and a normal family life) you can make it to the top. So it wasn't exactly startling to find that he was something of a booster for a can-do, free-market credo of hard work and reward.

What was surprising, though, was how upbeat most of his employees were, given that they worked in the kind of places (dispatch warehouses and call centres) that are a byword for wage-slavery and soul-erosion. You'd think that Michael might have stumbled across the odd whiny slacker if his return to the bottom rung was just a shake of the dice. But virtually everyone he encountered – barring one slightly snippy call-centre operator – looked as if they were auditioning for a company recruitment video. This may have had something to do with Michael's cover story (that he was the guinea pig for a documentary about seasonal work). They knew they were being filmed, after all, and were likely to put their best face forward. But they also seemed to be in earnest in their glass-half-full bravado -- maintained even when the glass had far less in it than that. Michael, it has to be said, behaved reasonably well, not complaining when he was sacked for incompetence from the packing line and showing what seemed to be a genuine interest in his employees' lives. The programme ended with a hug, learning and rewards for the faithful: Rashelle got a full-time job, Cameron got a promotion and leadership training and Dave got $10,000 towards his wedding. Danielle, the snippy one, got customer service training and – a final title revealed – "is no longer with the company". Did she jump or was she pushed? And how come they didn't reunite Michael with the foreman who gave him the boot? Let's hope he wasn't bobbing in the wake too.

t.sutcliffe@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker