The 1989 BBC Scotland series The Justice Game written by John Brown opens with star Dennis Lawson as suave Scots/Italian criminal lawyer Dominic Rossi who’s returned to his hometown of Glasgow after a career break in New York.
When an old man who had previous dealings with Rossi is killed at a bus stop this sets up a chain of events that Rossi will involve big business corruption, sex and murder.
The 5 part series directed by Norman Stone (Man Dancin) is an interesting snapshot of what Glasgow from the decade that fashion forgot would become.
He captures the social depravation of the city mixed with the wine bars where the champagne charlie crowd who would throw back glasses of “Bolly”.
The story takes us into a world of Maggie Thatcher’s conservative Britain and the blight she caused across Scotland the rich got richer while the poor up here got the poll tax.
Dennis Lawson plays lead Rossi with so much swagger and assurance in a role that harkens back to his character in Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero and recently in the final series of New Tricks.
The scenes that he has with university friend and now political journalist Gerry Cowan played by Hilton McRae is believable you feel that these men have a rapport and a history together usually over booze or across a ping pong table.
The supporting cast is littered with familiar British/international actors such as Michael Kitchen, Roxanne Hart, Lethal Weapon 2 bad guy Joss Ackland, Celia Imrie mixed with Scottish performers Paul Young, Dorothy Paul, James Cosmo and Ron Donachie who both later pop up in Game of Thrones.
The shorter three part second series is ambitious but unsuccessful. This time Dominic Rossi who’s been on holiday in Sorrento has had his heart captured by Anita Zagarias Francesca a wealthy Italian beauty.
But on his return from Italy he’s at a career crossroads. While trying to decide if he wants to join the law advocacy or carry on running his debt ridden law office with new firm partner played by Barbara Flynn (who’s working on a case that has links to police corruption) and a problem fixer upper that he’s just bought.
When a series of murders in Italy happening that are linked to the new woman in his life who’s fled to Scotland to be with Dominic.They both must return to Italy when her violent political past comes back to haunt her.
The second series directed by TV veteran Moira Armstrong isn’t handled as well the previous outing of Dominic Rossi at times the plotting and script becomes overly complicated slog to sit through.
This release from Simply Media brings to The Justice Game to DVD for the first time while it’s not a perfect transfer it’s great that audiences can rewatch a series that has potential but sadly failed live up to in its second outing.
Dir: Norman Stone,Moira Armstrong
Scr: John Brown
Cast: Dennis Lawson, Diana Quick, Michael Kitchen, Roxanne Hart, Joss Ackland, Celia Imrie, Paul Young, Dorothy Paul, James Cosmo
Prod: Peter Broughan
D.O.P: Alex Scott
Music: Roger Limb
Run time: 200 minutes over two discs
The Justice Game available on DVD now