Law & Order: UK 1.05 “Buried” Review

Finding a dead body in a fireplace is not my idea of fun, but if it means I get to spend some time with my favorite Detective-Sergeants and Crown Prosecutors, I’m all for it. Thus begins “Buried,” an adaptation of 1991’s “…In Memory Of.”

The body is that of a young boy named Tommy Keegan, who went missing twenty-five years earlier. Brooks and Devlin reopen the case to find out who murdered him. Unfortunately for them, the original investigation was more like a vendetta against the openly gay neighbor, Edward Connor. It’s up to Ronnie and Matt to cut through the bias of the times and find the truth. I particularly adore Matt’s verbal sparring with the original investigator while Ronnie tries to be diplomatic. Both of them can see the bigotry and aren’t going to let it slide.

Their investigation leads them to Tommy’s childhood friend Julia Mortimer (former Waking The Dead star Holly Aird), whose parents are among those still insistent that Connor did the deed. For his part, Connor is still bitter at the physical abuse he suffered at the hands of the previous lead investigator, even as Ronnie tries his best to assure him that times have changed. Something is buried under all that hate, and Matt finds it: he realizes that the statement Julia gave in 1983 is practically word for word with the one she gave them in the present day. She’s holding something back, and they’re eventually able to persuade her to undergo regression hypnosis to see what even she doesn’t want to know. It’s a bombshell: she fingers her father Vernon for the crime.

As Steel points out, any court cases hinges on whether Julia will be considered as a credible witness. Taking a tack that Michael Cutter would have been proud of, he badgers her to see if she’ll stick to her story, and she does. Unfortunately for him and Alesha, Julia decides to call her father and gloat about what she’s done. A meeting between the CPS and Julia’s parents proves to Steel that the whole Mortimer family is dysfunctional. The only good thing about this is that we’re treated to the appearance of the wonderful Colin Salmon (who will always be Superintendent Johnson from Keen Eddie to me). Alesha uncovers another boy Vernon made a pass at years earlier, and Julia recalls being molested by her father. With each skeleton they dig out of Vernon’s past, Steel and Alesha become more determined to prosecute him, even if Castle thinks it’s not worth the trouble. I have to say that I also adore how Steel is completely fearless. He’s the lawyer I’d want on my side.

It’s good that Steel has that capacity, because the defense attorney tears Julia apart when she testifies. He has no choice but to try and get Vernon to confess. This is Ben Daniels at his best, launching a calculated attack without falling into the TV trap of becoming overly dramatic. His voice hardly rises, but you can hear the conviction in every word. It’s no surprise that Steel gets the confession he’s after, in front of all the people who have suffered for the last twenty-five years, including Edward Connor, who gets his overdue vindication. It’s one of those TV moments that provokes a satisfied smile.

If I can give Law & Order: UK one compliment, it’s that this show is so good, it reminds me of who I almost was. Let me explain: when the original Law & Order was on, it sparked a lifelong interest in criminal justice. I was on the verge of going to law school, ready to become an Assistant District Attorney. I settled for a degree in Administration of Justice. I’ve never really regretted changing careers until now. This show reminds me of how much I love the law, the investigation, the achievement of justice. It makes me wish that I was a part of it. I won’t ever be, but at least I can watch these great characters and enjoy their part of it.

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