Pilot Perception: Bad Judge

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Bad Judge, NBC in the U.S. on Thursdays at 9/8c and Global TV in Canada on Fridays at 8/7c

The Pedigree: The pilot was written by Chad Kultgen (Waiting to Die) and Anne Heche (Save Me), who executive produce along with Will Ferrell (Eastbound & Down), Adam McKay (SNL), Jill Sobel Messick (Mean Girls), Kevin Messick (Anchorman 2), and star Kate Walsh. Andrew Fleming (The Michael J. Fox Show) directed the pilot.

The Cast & How You Know Them: Bad Judge stars Kate Walsh (Private Practice), along with John Ducey (Jonas), Tone Bell (Whitney), Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), and Miguel Sandoval (Medium).

The Premise: Rebecca Wright is a “wild child” with a mess of a personal life, but she’s also a tough and respected if unorthodox judge.

A Taste:

What Works: I always like Kate Walsh (though I’m not completely convinced this is the kind of role I like her in) and the supporting cast is decent too, especially Ryan Hansen. I was intrigued by some of Wright’s unorthodox methods and particularly her commitment to helping the families of those she’d imprisoned. Her outlook: “Is this kid more important than the state of California?” “Well, he’s not less important.” I was also pleased that it highlighted some of the issues with mandatory minimums in sentencing.

What Doesn’t: I’m a bit sick of the whole “competent professional with terrible personal life!” trope, and I found the pilot’s frenetic pace (presumably intended to match Wright’s life) exhausting. I’m not completely convinced by the main character yet – her different sides don’t feel cohesive. And, frankly, I’m not inclined to find the whole “chaotic personal life” thing funny – especially when used with a professionally powerful woman – though that’s mostly a question of taste. My issue is less that I don’t think the show is achieving what it’s trying to do and more that what it’s trying to do probably just isn’t for me.

Our Favorite Line: “You know this is just to determine whether Romeo here is a flight risk, not an audition for A Few Good Men?”

You Might Like This if you want a legal show that’s funny rather than dramatic, and find unprofessional antics amusing rather than frustrating.

If You’re Interested: In the States, NBC is rerunning the show tonight (Friday, October 3rd) at 8/7c, or catch it on their site. Bad Judge premieres in Canada tonight on Global TV at 8/7c.

(Photo courtesy of NBC.)

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