What is Newton’s Law, or more important who is Newton and what is her law? Tara Ward has the lowdown on Newton’s Law, which you can watch on Lightbox right now.
What’s it about?
Josephine Newton is a brilliant Melbourne lawyer. She spends her days in court as a small-time solicitor, advocating for the suburban underdogs charged with a variety of low key, petty crimes. It’s not a glam or flash career, but Josephine works hard and knows her stuff.
Everything changes when Josephine’s offices are burned down by a disgruntled client. An old university friend tempts her with an offer to join Knox Chambers, a high powered, high profile firm of city barristers. Josephine put her career on hold for the past ten years to raise her daughter, and this could be the perfect chance to reclaim her career at the bar.
Josephine is quickly pulled into the swanky world of Knox Chambers, but she’s also dealing with the collapse of her marriage, a freeloading sister and an unpredictable teenage daughter. She also refuses to give up on her former Newton’s Legal colleagues, and lets them work in secret from a tiny office in the basement carpark of Knox Chambers.
Josephine’s worlds are about to collide, but don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll be absolutely, perfectly fine.
Who’s in it?
Get your Australian TV bingo cards out, because this one’s a full house. The incredible Claudia Karvan (Jack Irish, Puberty Blues, and the brilliant The Secret Life of Us) stars, and it’s Karvan’s charismatic performance as Josephine that makes Newton’s Law work.
The supporting cast is just as impressive, with experienced actors like Brett Tucker (McLeod’s Daughters, The Americans), Miranda Tapsell (Love Child, Doctor Doctor), Toby Schmitz (Black Sails), Andrew McFarlane (Secret City, The Flying Doctors), Georgina Naidu (Playing for Keeps) and Jane Hall (Neighbours).
What’s the vibe?
Relaxed, escapist fun. Newton’s Law isn’t an intense legal drama like Janet King, but an entertaining comedy-drama about a talented lawyer who finds herself living a double life as both a suburban solicitor and a high-powered barrister. It’s a happy mix of Rake and Offspring, as Josephine juggles unusual legal cases while dealing with her messy family and quirky colleagues.
There are no hard edges to Newton’s Law. It’s a warm show with genuine charm, mostly thanks to Karvan’s solid portrayal as the likeable, responsible Josephine. Despite having a high pressure professional life and a chaotic personal one, it never feels like she’s out of control. Josephine has her stuff together.
There’s plenty of dry humour too, especially from the oddball characters who surround Josephine. There’s her ex-car thief legal assistant, her environmental activist ex-husband, a sister who sucks Josephine dry financially, and a daughter who accidentally gets arrested. It’s the relationships between these characters that brings humour and life to the show, and prevents Newton’s Law from heading into the dreaded ‘boring courtroom drama’ territory.
What else do we need to know?
The show was created by the team who made the much loved Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, so they’re skilled at creating intelligent, confident heroines. Josephine is exactly that, and it’s refreshing to see a character like her on our screen. She’s a clever lawyer who rises to every challenge, and is incredibly loyal to her friends and family. Basically, she’s awesome.
Plus, she drives a cool car. Take that, Harvey Specter.
ABC called Newton’s Law the “Upstairs Downstairs of legal dramas”, because Josephine moves between two worlds of the humble suburban solicitors stuck in the basement and the glitzy barristers on the 15th floor. It’d be great to see Newton’s Law lean into this conflict some more, but there’s plenty of enjoyment in watching Josephine meet the challenge of reclaiming her career at the bar.
Where can we find it?
Season 1 is available now on Lightbox. Sadly, only one season was ever made of Newton’s Law, so be sure to treasure these eight episodes for the warm, undemanding show that it is.
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