Each season there is at least one show who’s very existence defies logic. Usually these oddballs are burned off as mid-season replacement replacements. But, every so often, one of these shows sneaks through the ranks at premieres in the fall. This it seems is the case with NBC’s Bad Judge.
Having watched the first 3 episodes of the series, I can honestly say that the Kate Walsh starer has no redeeming value. It is crass, braindead, and mean spirited. All of that I could respect were it funny, which is not. At all. Walsh is not just miscast as Judge Rebecca Wright but uncomfortable in the role of a judge who seems to have just fallen off of Poison’s tour bus. She drinks, smokes, fornicates and generally debauches all over the place in a very made-for-TV way. This behavior is really only negative in the context of her job, were she not doing this crap DURING WORK no one would bat an eye because she is also an adult (despite some evidence to the contrary). Sadly, though, she is doing things in her Chambers that have only been spoken of in the darkest corner of Law & Order fanfic.
The rest of the cast does what they can to discourage her behavior in a tsking sort of way. Like, they want her to continue because they kind love the train wreck. This is especially true of her bailiff (improbably named) Tedward (played by the equally improbably named Tone Bell) who shames Judge Wright in the way a tabloid reader shames the Kardashians. In fairness to the title of the show he seems rather crap at his job too, sitting on railing during open court, making snide comments during testimony etc. The argument could be made that he’s simply following the established rules but it does make his feeble complaints less valid.
Then there’s the sad case of Ryan Hansen, who is a gifted comedic actor. His role as frequent expert witness/love interest (read: occasional slampiece) is simultaneously boring and confusing. The character is written slightly differently in each of the first 3 episodes leading me to believe that other characters were deleted and incorporated into his. Hansen mostly sleepwalks through his scenes making them so much less interesting than they already were.
Rounding out the cast are Miguel Sandoval as the (I guess) senior judge in the courthouse who’s entire purpose appears to be to wag his finger disapprovingly and Tom Ducey as the only prosecutor in town, who is also deeply stupid, allowing Judge Wright to show how smart she is (she is a judge after all). Ryan McPartlin also appears as a firefighter who is not mentally gifted, but he sure is pretty (exactly like his Chuck character Captain Awesome but without the character growth) who falls for Rebecca after a road rage incident. Really.
This show is not trying to be the smartest game in town (achievement unlocked!) or redefine the form but it doesn’t even manage to be as good as the worst show UPN ever aired (Shasta McNasty in case you were wondering) let alone up to the “standard” of failed NBC fare. It’s also not original considering CBS aired the similar in theme and quality Bad Teacher (based on the “hit” film), also starring Ryan Hansen (hmmm) last spring.
By episode 3 Judge Wright and her cohorts have done very little judging – good or otherwise- and Judge Wright herself has done surprisingly little “bad.” Therein lies problem 2 of this series, it doesn’t even live up to its name. Each episode seems to feature one incident of bad, one incidence of judge and several incidents of actors doing very little to sell treacly cloying dialogue.
I never once thought I would like this show, I was mad at it from the first trailer, but I tried to ignore that and judge (ha!) the show on what it was. And even with no expectations Bad Judge managed to be one of the worst shows I’ve seen in a long time.