Street Legal (2000)
|Created by||Chris Hampson
|Country of origin||New Zealand|
|Running time||60 Minutes|
|Original run||2000 – 2005|
Street Legal is a New Zealand drama focused on the lives of a small group of lawyers. A total of 52 episodes were aired and reruns currently can be seen around the world. The show was produced by Screenworks.
ScreenWorks was formed by producer Chris Hampson, director Chris Bailey and writer Greg McGee in 1998 to produce Street Legal, which they had been developing since 1993. The pilot aired in 1998 and the first series in 2000.
The company has to date produced four series (51 episodes) of their flagship prime time drama Street Legal, plus the new 13-episode children’s series, Hard Out, both for TV2 and the short film, Tick, written and directed by Rebecca Hobbs, which opened the New York Film Festival, with the premiere of Jack Nicholson’s About Schmidt.
It is a niche production company, concentrating on feature films and high production value film drama for television. The founders see the company as a vehicle which allows them to keep their hands directly on the creative process and do better and more satisfying work.
The show focused mainly on the lives of the partners of the law firm Wyeth & Associates located in Auckland, New Zealand. The characters include Peter Wyeth (Series 1-3), David Silesi, Joni Collins, Tim O'Connor (Series 1 and 2) and James Peabody (Series 3 and 4). Also seen were Judge Adriana Saunders, Yalena (the goofy secretary), Kees Van Dam, Ange Watson (Series 4), Sadie O'Neil (Series 2 and 3) and Matt Urlich (Series 3 and 4).
The main character David Silesi (Jay Laga'aia) is a maverick lawyer who pushes the limits of the law. He will do anything for his clients and his friends. He also spends most of the show pining for his law partner Joni Collins. Joni Collins is a level-headed female lawyer at Wyeth & Associates. In the 3rd Series, David and Joni join together and buy out the firm to save it after Peter dies in unfortunate circumstances.
- Jay Laga'aia as David Silesi
- Katherine Kennard as Joni Collins
- Charles Mesure as Kees Van Dam
- Dwayne Cameron as James Peabody
- Louise Wallace as Adriana Saunders
- Ingrid Park as Maddy McGuire
- Manu Bennett as Matt Urlich
- Tandi Wright as Ange Watson
- Cal Wilson as Yalena
David Silesi is an unconventional lawyer. Ambitious, and hot-headed, he's a man with a passion for winning and he's not afraid to bend the rules to get a result.He is the central character in Street Legal and was specifically created with actor, Jay Laga'aia, in mind.
Joni Collins is a colleague of David Silesi’s at Wyeth and Associates. Her cool restrained English Rose quality is the very opposite of David’s braggadocio. This worked well when they were lovers but now that they have to run the business between them, it creates a lot of conflict.
Detective Senior Sergeant Kees Van Dam sees himself as an honest cop relentlessly pursuing the course of justice. And most of the time he is. Bit he can also be uncompromising and single-minded to the exclusion of all else, including his love for Joni Collins.
A 1944 Ford Jailbar was also seen in just about every episode of the first three seasons. It is David Silesi's main companion. Early in the first series, David's Ute was stolen, so his brother seeing his reaction to the truck decided to buy it for him. In the middle of the third season, the truck broke down, and was never seen again, replaced by a brand new Holden Ute.
Street Legal Won 6 NZ TV Awards in 2003:
- Best Episode of a Drama Serial: "No Silver Bullet"
- Best Drama Series or Serial
- Best Actress: Katherine Kennard
- Best Supporting Actor: Charles Mesure
- Best Camera, Drama: Fred Renata
- Best Original Music: Don McGlashan
- The Pilot and Episode One can be found here on NZ On Screen