Thursday, October 02, 2014

Bad Judge, worse TV

Kate Walsh plays Judge Rebecca Wright on NBC's Bad Judge

I saw the commercials and was not enthused. Still, I thought it might be fun to watch NBC's Bad Judge and possibly do a review. I thought a review might fit in with the other judge-related stuff I put up here. My son-in-law, Arne, egged me on: There was a doctor, he told me, who blogged his reviews of the Fox TV show House, explaining the medical decisions in each episode, winding up with a book deal from his efforts.

Next to Judge Rebecca Wright,
Judge Harold T. Stone of TV's Night
Court
was a reincarnation of Benjamin
Cardozo and Learned Hand
About 15 minutes into the show, I asked my son-in-law if he remembered the doctor's name.

No, he admitted, adding that he wasn't even sure the doctor really did get a book deal out of his online reviews.

Another couple of painful minutes dragged by. "Did the poor doctor keep his license?" I asked.

Bad Judge is truly awful. And I'm trying to be nice. If a creature such as "Judge" Rebecca Wright really did exist, and if she really did the things that the TV character did, she would lose her robe, her law license, and quite possibly her liberty. And that's just from the pilot. To illustrate: Judge Wright's courtroom deputy walked into her chambers while she was engaged in (the network television equivalent of) sex with a witness who had just testified in her courtroom. We were just reenacting a case, she told the deputy. "I know the case," the bemused deputy says, "I saw it late night on Cinemax." Judge Wright and her, um, conferee are still pulling on their clothes when in walks the supervising judge. He wants Judge Wright to "file a motion."

File a motion? Did a page from an old L.A. Law script accidentally get mixed in this mess?

Of course, especially because she's a 'bad judge,' Judge Wright doesn't do as her supervisor requests; instead, she leaves her post in response to a phone call, heading to a nearby grammar school, there to represent a child (whose parents she'd sent to prison) in a dispute with his school. The kid is an artistic soul -- his troubles all come from drawing objectionable pictures of his teachers -- who is being bullied at the group home where he is awaiting his parents' release from stir. We are supposed to think kindly of Judge Wright on account of these efforts, because we the audience are supposed to see that her heart is in the right place, even though she has had "wine and cake for breakfast."

But in Illinois a judge cannot practice law or represent clients, even troubled and bullied young artists. Maybe California is different. I doubt that it's that different.

I could go on, but I won't. First of all, I want to start suppressing this entire experience as soon as possible.

I express no opinion on whether a funny show could be made about a 'bad judge.' But this sure wasn't it.

In Talamine v. Apartment Finders, Inc., 2013 IL App (1st) 121201, ¶17, in a concurring opinion, Justice Michael B. Hyman wrote, "Every ad hominem smear, insult, and innuendo, every speculative accusation, every potshot leveled at members of the judiciary has the capacity of weakening confidence in the judiciary as a whole, confidence which is essential to the vitality of our legal system." Don't get me wrong: I don't think Bad Judge should be taken that seriously. And, even if it were taken seriously, if tonight's episode is any indication, the show is unlikely to be around long enough to do any lasting damage. But, just in case, Mr. and Mrs. America, please do not judge America's judiciary by the character portrayed in the NBC program Bad Judge.

1 comment:

Michelle Carey said...

I have to admit I was curious, but not curious enough to tune in. Thank you for sparing me.