Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Law & Order UK “ Care” Recap & Review

I was lucky enough to get access to the premier showing of the newest addition to the Law & Order Universe – Law & Order UK, which is set in London England. My first impression is that I liked it. Never mind that the episodes are based on US versions that I’ve already seen probably 20 times each. This first episode, “Care,” was based on a Law & Order season 2 episode titled “Cradle to Grave.”

Generally, I liked the cast. Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and Devlin (Jamie Bamber) make a good team, with possibilities of being just like Lenny and Mike. The prosecutors all seem very cool and reserved, and the process just a little too formal, but I find it very interesting to see the law perspective from the UK side. I was impressed with both Daniels and Agyeman, who were very believable in their roles. I will admit there were a few times that I had a hard time understanding some of the dialog, but it wasn’t bothersome. What I found interesting is what seems like their overly formal courtroom setting. It’s not that we’re completely unmannered here, but in one scene where Steele very calmly and respectfully issues a protest to the judge, I chuckled to myself, thinking that someone like Jack McCoy would only last about 1 minute if he couldn’t yell out his objections, giving his eyebrows a much needed workout.

I also am unfamiliar with some of the law titles and terminology, so if anyone reads this recap sees where I don’t have someone’s title or position listed correctly; please let me know so I can learn for the future.

As I am not sure I will have the opportunity to see every episode of Law & Order UK, much less recap it, I will try my best to so do when I have access to the show.

Here’s my recap of “Care”

At the Royal Hope Hospital, alarms are sounding, people are evacuating, and it appears someone left a suspicious bag. One of two security people decides to unzip the bag, and when they looks inside, they seem shocked. Later, DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) arrive on the scene. Devlin tells Brooks that he found that the bag was left sometime after midnight, none of the smokers recalled clocking it before that time. The people that found it thought it was a bomb. As the detectives look down, they see the body of a small baby that was in the bag.

Later at the hospital, the doctor tells them the baby was clean and well cared for, before someone disposed of its corpse. The doctor also tells them the baby was poisoned: gassed.

At the Major Investigations Unit of the Central London Police Force (Bow Street WC2), Brooks and Walsh review the case with DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walters). The baby had toxic levels of carbon monoxide in its system. There are no reports of missing babies, and forensics can find no matches for the prints found on the bag. CCTV said that someone deposited the corpse at 27 minutes past midnight, wearing a thick coat, hood up, and the can’t tell whether it’s a “bird or a bloke.” Chandler asks if they tracked the route, and they tell her they lost the suspect and can’t locate them on any other cameras so far. Chandler doesn’t think the person would have carried the bag with the body in it too far, so they concentrate on the immediate area where it was found, and tells Devlin to get a photo an check all out the nurseries and day care centers. When Devlin gripes about the “old needle-haystack interface”, Brooks tells him to look on the bright side, he might “end up with a yummy mummy.” Chandler quips, “He’s already working for one.”

At the Collier Street Playpark in Kings Cross, the detectives talk to various people asking if they have seen the baby. They aren’t getting anywhere. Devlin suggests trying to source the coat the baby was wearing. Back at their unit, Devlin gets a lead on the coat, which is from a single British wholesaler, and the distributor recently sold what they had left from last year to another distributor. Brooks said four boxes were sold to stores in the area of the hospital.

At Pentonville Place in Kings Cross, they are checking out the stores who received the coats. In one store, Brooks gets annoyed with a woman at the shop, doggedly telling her to actually look at the photo of the coat. She gives him some lip about the facts that the police were not there to help her the three times she was burgled. But another person at the store recalls delivering it to someone on Hallem Street in Kings Cross. They track down the address and speak to the caretaker Daniel Matoukou (Babou Ceesay). Brooks speaks to him in French. Devlin seems surprised at this, and Brooks wonders if Devlin thinks he is some sort of Neanderthal. They arrive at someone’s flat, and it looks like the residents left in a hurry. Devlin opens a door, and calls for Brooks. They enter and find a baby crib, and a picture matching that of the dead baby. Brooks grimly mutters, ‘Lovely.”

Later, the forensics team is at the flat, and they find that the heating system was pumping out carbon monoxide, making the place a deathtrap. It appears the tampering was recent, and the carbon monoxide alarm had no batteries. Devlin seems surprised someone would do this to their child, but Brooks is not. They also find that 4 flats in the building are unoccupied. They speak to one of the neighbors, Mike Turner (Tony Maudsley) about the whereabouts of the resident of the flat in question - Dionne Farrah. He said he could hear the baby cry through the floorboards, and doesn’t think the woman has a husband. When they ask about all the vacancies in the building, Turner tells them that the landlady is offering people 5 grand to get out.

At MQW Property LTD., they speak about the property with landlady Maureen Walters (Lorraine Ashbourne) who tells them when she bought the place, there was some fine print that dictated that she honor the existing contracts and rents for 5 years. She tells them in order to motivate people to leave, she has to offer them a buy out. She gives them the information from her file on Dionne Farrah.

Back at the unit, the detectives are working the phones. Brooks finds that Farrah made one call yesterday morning from her mobile phone - 5 hours after the baby’s body was found – to a Leona Collins. Devlin recalls that name, and finds that Collins was Dionne’s referee for the flat. “C’mon, admit it, I am good” Devlin announces. Brooks says he is better, because he says Leona Collin’s maiden name was Farrah – she’s Dionne’s sister.

At the home of Leona Collins, she says she spoke to Dionne a few days ago but hasn’t seen her since. She also admits Dionne has a son, 5 months old, and she looks uncomfortable with the questioning. Brooks asks her if she enjoys being an auntie, and she nods yes. He asks what she will get him for his birthday, and she develops a very somber face. Brooks continues to gently prod her, telling her that she seems to be the kind of person who would protect her own. Devlin shows her the picture of the baby, and asks if this is her nephew. Leona begins to cry openly. When Brooks asks where is her sister, Dionne (Venetia Campbell) comes from behind, saying she does not want to hide anymore. She repeats, “It’s my fault. It’s my fault.”

Later in interrogation, they ask Dionne, her lawyer present, about the batteries in the CO2 alarm, and she says she didn’t remove them and didn’t know she had a detector. She says she had been late for work too many times, was on her last warning, and could not afford to lose her job. Sean’s father had been killed 4 months before Sean was born, in a car accident. On the day Sean died, she phoned the babysitter, Serena, who said she was only three minutes away from the home and said she was on her way, so she left Sean in the flat. When she got home that night, the flat was dark and Serena was not there. She noticed Sean wasn’t moving. She tried to give him mouth to mouth, but she knew he was dead. She took him to the hospital and left him at the entrance. She thought it was the best place, she couldn’t face anyone.

Outside the interrogation, the attorney said Dionne had no intent to kill or cause harm, trying to argue she should not be prosecuted. But Brooks says they need to see what the CPS say, if they play it by the book it is manslaughter by gross negligence.

Later, the Brooks and Devlin talk to Serena, who says she was on the bus when she spoke to Dionne. There was a van in the middle of the road which blocked them and it took her 20 more minutes to get there. She could not get into the flat when she got there, she only had the key for Dionne’s flat, the main locks to the building had been changed and she never got a copy. The caretaker would not let him in, and he said he never saw him before. She tried to get other people to buzz her up with no luck. The caretaker came out and told her he was going to call the police if she did not leave.

Back at the building, they question the caretaker Daniel Matoukou again. He says he never saw Serena. When Devlin points to the CO2 detector and asks Matoukou if he took the batteries out of it, he says he never touched it. Someone is lying, but who? And who is really the guilty party? Is it Dionne for leaving her baby, or the caretaker for not letting Serena in? Outside, they look at the building. It’s half empty, it is not being kept up, gas systems aren’t being checked, and the landlady want to redevelop it. Things seem to point to the landlady.

Bringing Chandler up to speed, they tell her the building’s heating hasn’t had a maintenance request in 15 months, the maintenance people tried to do an annual check but could not get access. Chandler tells them to check with the tenants’ ombudsman to find out if Maureen Walters has a record of driving out tenants. But Devlin asks what about Dionne, as she’s the one who left the kid alone. Chandler tells him she wants to explore every avenue before they accuse a mother of the death of her child.

At the tenants’ ombudsman, while Brooks shoves a sandwich into his mouth, the ombudsman tells them that they used to call Walters the “Wicked Witch of the West” and they should have had a filing cabinet just for her. Brooks drops some food on the file, much to the dismay of the ombudsman. There are many complaintsm about Walters, but the ombudsman says he really does not have jurisdiction. Brooks flat out asks if he thinks Walters is trying to empty the place, and the ombudsman balks at answering but says he couldn’t exclude the possibility. Devlin asks for records of the former tenants.

They speak to one of the tenants, who outlines problems with the locks in her place, and the caretaker didn’t fix it. One night her door was being held closed by a chair propped against it, and it was broken off its hinges, with the “mad git Turner” in her lounge. He was acting like he was drunk. He didn’t smell of booze, more like mouthwash. She said Turner is a thug and he got what he wanted – she moved out.

Back at the unit, Devlin tells Chandler that Mike Turner has been on Walter’s payroll for this and other properties, and Brooks says he has two previous convictions tied to tenant harassment. Chandler says this makes him a thug, but not a killer. Brooks reminds Chandler that Dionne said she didn’t mess with the heating system, but the scene of crime office said it clearly had been tampered with. Devlin adds that the maintenance crew was barred access to the flat by someone matching Turner’s description. It looks like Turner sabotages the heating systems in order to drive tenants out – and ends up killing the baby. Chandler decides to talk to James Steele from the CPS to see if they have enough to arrest Turner.

In the office of James Steel (Ben Daniels), Senior Crown Prosecutor for the City of London, he says it’s clear Turner was harassing tenants to get them out, but they have to show proof that he is responsible for Sean’s death. Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) seems to back up this stance. Brooks argues the point with Steele, but he doesn’t think this is enough in order to prosecute. He needs direct evidence. Phillips asks about the caretaker Daniel Matoukou and what he has to say about the maintenance, and Brooks states that Matoukou barely speaks English. But Devlin seems to be thinking, and Chandler prompts him – she can “hear his brain worrying from here.” Devlin recalls that Serena said the caretaker threatened to call the police when she tried to gain access, but he said he never saw her before. He wonders how much French Serena speaks – implying it wasn’t the caretaker that blocked her access. In a phone call to Serena, he confirms that it wasn’t the caretaker that refused her access - it was likely Mike Turner. This seems to link Mike Turner to everything. Steele thinks now they have a case. As they come to arrest Turner, Brooks and Steele come upon a woman shouting at Turner. Devlin slams him against the wall and cuffs him.

Later, Dionne is advised that Turner had been arrested, and Brooks tells her it appears that Turner sabotaged the heating, resulting in the death of her son.

At the offices of George Castle (Bill Paterson), Director, CPS, London, Castle is reviewing the case with Steele and Phillips. He says they have to convince him of intent, that Turner knew what he was doing was unlawful. Steele argues a pattern with Turner. Castle wants direct evidence, and Phillips suggest they turn the caretaker, Daniel Matoukou . Phillips later questions Matoukou with his attorney, who asks to scale down his charge to withholding services to a tenant and then he will talk. Steele asks who tampered with the gas system, and Matoukou says Mike Turner.

At another time with Mike Turner and his attorney Robert Ridley QC (Patrick Malahide), Ridley argues the caretaker is just trying to shift blame. Steele mentions Turner’s past record, but Ridley says the judge won’t allow that, and he and Turner leave.

At the Crown v Turner pre-trial review, they argue the issue about Turner’s past record. The judge seems to be leaning toward the Crown’s position, and Ridley is stunned, asking if she is going to allow it. She says, “Do you know I think I am?” She allows Turner’s previous convictions into evidence.

At Crown v Turner, Day 2, Serena is on the stand, talking about how she was denied entry, and she identifies Mike Turner. Ridley then questions how she didn’t know Turner was the caretaker, and maybe she didn’t know ho he was, maybe HE didn’t know who SHE was?

Matoukou is then being questioned, with a French translator. He says he was trying to Dionne’s gas system, and he was told to leave it and pulled away by Turner, who then gave it a thump with a hammer. A Mr. Stanton is later called to testify about the carbon monoxide poisoning, saying that the leak came from the gas system and that Turner’s attack on the system would have contributed.

Outside the courtroom, Dionne is worried that she can do this, with all the people looking at her. Phillips tells her this is her chance to tell everyone the truth. But she goes ahead and offers her testimony about the day Sean died. She noticed the air was bad in the room and opened the window before she saw Sean. But Ridley asks her why she didn’t phone home to Serena to see if everything was alright, but she answers she was not allowed to call home at work. She went to her locker to get her phone on break, but her battery was dead. She could not use the phone box outside as it wasn’t working. Her ten minute break was up and she had no more time to call, but Ridley presses her, saying that her job was more important to her child. The Crown offers a protest, and the judge chastises Ridley, asking for compassion. But he continues to press, making her feel that she was the one responsible for Sean’s death.

Outside the courtroom, Steele remarks to Castle that this is why they call Ridley “limbo” because there is nothing he won’t stoop to. Phillips approaches and tells them there is a note from the jury, apparently one of the jurors speaks fluent French, and he is questioning some of Matoukou’s testimony and the translation. Ridley may seek to discharge the jury, meaning that Turner could go free. Later, the juror tells them that he just told the jury what he heard, he’d lived in France for 20 years and said that Matoukou said “ordered” not “pulled”. The judge also says that other jurors said this juror corrected three other words that he considered mistranslations. He said he just told them what Matoukou said, he was not trying to be difficult. Ridley questions the rest of what was translated, and the judge says it is a mess, and states the trial is aborted, much to the Crown’s dismay. Turner gloats.

Later, Steele tells Ridley his client can’t get out of this indefinitely. Ridley says he needs therapy, and Steele asks how sleeps at night. He indicates he sleeps very well on a nice imported bed, of course, he doesn’t have to make do on a CPS salary.

Steele tells Castle they have to retry Turner, but Castle isn’t confident. Philips enters, and said in a previous case, Turner went to prison rather than take a deal and give up his boss, Maureen Walters. But Walters is not really his boss, Turner is her silent partner in the whole company. Steele thinks she knew what Turner was doing and she is also culpable. Castle thinks they should get them to plead to a lesser charge, bit Phillips pushes for a trial, seeing this involved a child’s death. But Steele thinks Castle is right, and tells her to bring Turner and Walters in and see if they will take a deal.

Later, Walters is stunned that they are asking her to plead guilty, and Steele says if she doesn’t, he’ll take Turner back to trial. She says she has nothing to do with the baby’s death. She begins to get argumentative and talkative, and Ridley seems to want her to shut up, but she goes on. Ridley announces they are leaving, Walters goes on and Turner seems happy over the matter, and as they storm out, Steele tells Ridley what Walters said is on the record. Ridley said none of this happened and they were never there.

Back with Castle, they review where they stand, and Phillips brings in information that Turner served 15 months for assault charges. During that time, there were 49 complaints from tenants to Walters. The moment Turner is released, the complaints drop. Nine months ago the environmental heat inspector changed and the new inspector is generous, of the 27 complaints that were made against Walters since then, every single one has been resolved in her favor. Castle says “I love the smell of bribery in the evening.” Steele tells Phillips to see what she can prove – and adds, “Brilliant work."

At another location, Phillips is talking to the previous environmental inspector, and asked what had changed. He said a new manager came in an reorganized, with Charlie Dias taking over. She asks if he takes bribes, and he said he didn’t hear that. He says Walters hinted at a bribe with him but he never took it. When she presses for mote info on Charlie, he says her five minutes are up, and he walks off.

Back at the office, Phillips reviews the financial file on Charlie Dias but no real proof. She suggests that someone set up a scenario to bribe Dias to establish that he is someone who would take bribes. They get Brooks to act as the person offering the bribe, and he’s wired so they can hear the transaction. Brooks goes out and meets with Charlie, and he gets Dias to solicit a bribe. Devlin runs out and arrests him.

Later, Dias’ attorney claims it was entrapment. But Steele wants Dias to resign his job and give the names of everyone that bribed him. Dias (Rupert Farley) asks who he wants first. Later, Steele and Phillips face Turner and Ridley again, saying that they have Walters for 16 counts of bribing a public official, and Walter claims it was Turner’s idea. Ridley tells Turner to be silent, but Steele says they are now going after them for manslaughter by gross negligence – 15 years. Ridley asks what they have in mind, and Steele say Walters is turning on him. If he gives evidence against her, he could get a lesser charge, or be back in the docket beside her.

At Crown v Walters, Trail Day 12, Steele addresses the jury, and is offering his summation of the trial against Walters, saying she allowed the gas systems to fail to get tenants to leave, and bribed officials. He pointed to her greed, putting her want for money over the value of human life. The jury returns the verdict of guilty. Walters faces the glaring eyes of Dionne after the verdict is read.

Outside the courtroom, Castle praises Steele for a job well done, and tell him to go home and have a drink, that “it’s over.” As Steele watches Dionne walk away with her sister, he answers “For us, maybe.”

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Cuffmasters said...

I am a big Law and Order fan and I loved it. I was a bit wary of Bradley Walsh's role but I thought it worked.

I am also happy they didn't mess too much with the format.

Jane said...

I unfortunately think they could of done better, and also told us who was who ( although we knew the ranks of the two policemen-we didn't get the rank of their Guvn'or are we supposed to guess she is a DI ( also DI's go out in the field they aren't usually heads of department, better if she was a Superintendent or Chief Superintendent)and Bill as well are we supposed to guess what he is in the scheme of things? the CPS aren't barristers or QC's either they are their advisers they are like a bureau if you like but I will ahve to check on that, I think it should of been called Law and Order:London as the Scottish system is very different to the English one, they need to slow the pace a bit more ( the donks came in a bit fast)Bradley is a bit cockney, if an American was watching that on holiday would they understand it? needs severe padding, not saying it was bad but it needs some work. Did you notice the titles were similar to the Conviction ones?

Anonymous said...

Pilot was pretty much a word for word ripoff of Law and Order Season 2 Episode 18. Check it out.

All Things Law and Order said...

Jane, the titles DO look similar to Conviction - good catch!

Anonymous, they were very open about the fact that this episode was based on 'Cradle to Grave" from season 2, they even listed that fact in the opening credits and it was mentioned in many press releases. I was far from a word for work rip off, though.

All their episodes - at least for now - will be based on US stories already aired.

jhjenn said...

Just watched tonight... really enjoyed it. I'm an American living in Europe, and have always been curious about the differences in law and procedure. So, cool, in the UK the lawyers can set up stings!

Brandon Irvine said...

That baby was so obviously a doll though...

Anonymous said...

The Royal Hope Hospital is a Doctor Who reference. Martha Jones (played by L&O:UK's Freema Agyeman) first appeared as a medical student at the Royal Hope.