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Life, Love, and Legalities in ‘Newton’s Law’
September 11, 2017  | By David Hinckley

The TV version of Newton’s Law doesn’t offer anything as profound as Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. Just a good story.

Newton’s Law, an eight-part Australian series, debuts Monday on the streaming service Acorn.

Claudia Karvan (top and bottom left) stars and shines as Josephine Newton, a brilliant attorney who, by choice for the last decade, has been underemployed as a solicitor helping low-level clients with seemingly small matters that are nonetheless critical to those clients’ lives.

One of those clients, dissatisfied with inept representation by an incompetent solicitor Newton had been forced to use at the last minute, races out of the courtroom and blows up her office. Did we mention he had been charged with arson? 

Since Newton is also working her way through a prickly marital split, and having all the normal exasperations with her teenage son, she decides maybe this would be a good time to resume her former career as a major league barrister.

So she yields to the entreaties of Lewis Hughes (Toby Schmitz, left), an old friend who also has a deep crush on her, and joins his high-end legal firm, Knox Chambers.

Now she’s back playing with the big boys. The white wig and everything.

Except she isn’t giving up on the solicitor business. She opens a new office, though it barely merits that name, quite literally in the basement of the building occupied by Knox Chambers. 

This enables her to feel she’s doing something with socially redeeming value, not just something that earns her a bunch of money.

It also requires a juggling act. While she must match wits with the top barristers in the business, and a lot of skeptical judges, she also has to help guide her two-person solicitor team through their lower-profile, but often equally challenging cases.

That team, while a little off-center, can get the job done. The legal person is Helena Chatterjee (Georgina Naidu), while Johnny Albright (Sean Keenan) does a lot of the legwork.

They’re dedicated if sometimes a bit nervous about the stability of the operation. After their first office is destroyed, for instance, Helena takes a job as the hostess at an Indian restaurant.

Karvan plays Newton just right.

For professional purposes, she can be so authoritative and intimidating that she could be the overconfident, arrogant lawyer who shows up in all legal dramas as the adversary of the lawyer we really want to win.

Between those moments we get to see how hard she’s working to maintain that professional confidence while several of the edges in her life are fraying.

We like her a lot. We also like Lewis as we enjoy the start of a “will they / won’t they / could they ever?” dance.

Truth is, her estranged husband doesn’t seem awful.

We also get a number of comic scenes, which underscore how Newton’s Law doesn’t rely on violence and lethal tension to sell its story.

It relies on people we like falling into situations we would like resolved in their favor.

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