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"Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good..."? Nope, NBC's "Bad Judge" is just bad. As in awful. (Spoilers to follow.)
The pilot begins with a clear shot of Kate Walsh's (Judge Wright's) posterior. She apparently partied so hard that she is now sleeping in her glittery underwear with her butt in the air. She wakes up late, does the "I'm late for school!" montage that we've all seen so many times, and then picks up a pregnancy test on the way to court before taking the bench hung over, and eventually taking a witness into her chambers -- no pun intended, since the bailiff walked in on them. Get it? It's because she's the Bad Judge!
And then the show's other half of the plot appears: Despite her supervisor's pleading, she just cares way too much about a young urban youth whose parents she sent away. She spends the episode balancing her caretaking efforts with her drinking and judging. But don't worry: By the end of the incredibly sitcomy sitcom, she's in a bar, rocking denim booty shorts, shamelessly getting hammered in front of her coworkers and boss, none of whom seem to mind, because she's just quirky and lovable!
The show is a low-brow comedy produced by Will Ferrell's company, so truth be told, I wasn't expecting much realism. And when the prosecution called an "expert witness" to testify that the polygamist defendant was a flight risk, and started tossing out loud, overacted questions like a gunner in 1L mock trial, I cringed.
Then Judge Wright called him over, mocked him for the performance, and then made fun of his tight pants. That may have been the comedic and legal high point of the episode, because mere moments later, the expert witness was on top of the judge in chambers -- we're maybe 5 minutes into the show and Judge Wright has already been in her underwear twice.
Oh, and the last time a judge was caught getting carnal with a witness in chambers? (Here, the bailiff walked in.) That'd be Judge Wade McCree, the man with "no shame in his game" who narrowly dodged a lawsuit over impregnating a witness, but didn't dodge the ethics commission. Needless to say, if you're sleeping with a witness, people aren't going to shrug and say, "Oh, that judge. She's endearingly wild!"
It seems to me that there are two ways you can go with this show: unapologetically raunchy, or heart-warming tale of judge who is struggling with her personal demons and (zzzz Sandra Bullock movie).
So far, "Bad Judge" hasn't done either. Judge Wright is self-sabotaging with unethical behavior and an open and obvious drinking problem. And yet, everyone around her doesn't seem to care, nor does she -- there's nothing at risk due to her bad behavior, it's just a fun quirk!
In fact, the only thing that her supervising judge seems to care about is that the middle-aged Caucasian female judge cares too much about a young African American child's well-being because she reluctantly sent his two parents away to prison on a mandatory sentence. She spends half the episode playing parent to him in parent-teacher conferences, giving him advice on bullies, and making sure he doesn't end up in a violent group home.
There are a few good raunchy jokes, a bunch of jokes that fall flat, and a contrived unrealistic maternalism-meets-white guilt plot line, all of which relies on Kate Walsh's cougarific sex appeal. Needless to say, I don't think we're going to be doing weekly recaps of this one.
What'd you think of Bad Judge? Should we give it a second chance? Tweet us @FindLawLP.