When I read about CBS’ new show, All Rise, about a new judge taking the bench, it sounded a bit like Judging Amy back in the day. Then I happened to catch a short trailer that showed her first day on the bench where she is walking to her chair and she face plants. So I was starting to wonder if it was more Night Court than a drama. Either way, I was predicting cancellation.
I’ve now watched the first episode, and I’m not sure about my prediction. Yes, it still has the basic drama premise — former prosecutor, now a judge, hoping and excited to make a difference finally in ways she couldn’t as a prosecutor. Partly as she is a black female and thus more representative of the types of people who will show up in her courtroom. But I wasn’t thrilled with the first extended scene. She accidentaly ends up going to the wrong courtroom while still a prosecutor, and while there, notices that a defendant is not wearing any pants. She was booked, arraigned, and is now in the courtroom, and nobody has given her any pants. So the judge-to-be rails at the institution that put her there, there’s a blow-up from the prisoner’s guard, someone is shot, and it’s fun in the OK corral. Two weeks later, all’s well and she’s starting work. First, the scene has nothing to do with the series, not really. Unless they plan to have gun violence regularly. Second, she is only in the scene by accident — wrong courtroom. It is completely contrived for a plot device for no real benefit. The young woman in the case ends up as the judge’s first case, separate charge.
But after that initial crapfest, the episode sings. She’s going to be an activist judge, and she doesn’t care if her legal assistant thinks she should just accept plea deals. The judge even goes against the LAPD and one of their finest detectives. In the end, the case moves along fine. But that isn’t the whole show, it’s not Law and Order: The Bench.
The judge is played by Simone Missick, and I did not recognize her from the Luke Cage / Iron Fist world as Misty Knight. But she is bright, shiny, and full of energy. And when she’s doing her inspirational speeches, she is a super nova. Great to watch. She even pulls off a change in gravitas going from prosecutor to judge in the episode. Nice.
Her friend, and still prosecutor, is played by Wilson Bethel and while he looked familiar, I don’t remember him from The Astronaut Wives’ Club (I think I saw an episode) or Hart of Dixie (maybe 2 episodes). He did well in the episode, but it isn’t really clear where the friendship is going since he’s a prosecutor and she’s a judge, and normally those two don’t mix.
Various other characters are running around, but hard to tell if they’ll be involved for the future: Marg Helgenberger (CSI) as a senior judge; Jessica Camacho (Flash, Sleepy Hollow) as a public defender; Ruthie Ann Miles as a legal assistant; Lindsay Mendez as a court reporter who flirts with the prosecutor, even if he doesn’t see it; and Erin Cummings as a hot-shot detective who cut corners on the Judge’s first case.
So almost an ensemble cast, even with the Judge as the lead. There were lots of scenes with the other characters on their own though.
Will it succeed? I’m going to give it a coin flip and change my vote to RENEWAL. If it doesn’t go saccharine sweet, it might have a chance.