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Bad Judge - Pilot - Review : "All Rise! Re-Trial of Pilot Now In Session!"

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1.01 - "Pilot"
Teleplay by Chad Kultgen
Story by Chad Kultgen & Anne Heche
Directed by Andrew Fleming
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

Two and a half months ago (that would have been hilarious if I was reviewing the season premiere of Two and a Half Men) I joined SpoilerTV and my first article (well, technically second, not counting the review I did on the series premiere of Pretty Little Liars four years ago for the site) was my advanced preview of the NBC show, Bad Judge. I honestly enjoyed the pilot episode, now considered the "unaired pilot" since the script changed slightly with some recastings and complete character removal (a.k.a. the best friend), so now this review is focused on the new pilot. It was definitely different - the slight changes shifted the overall feel of the show, but would I say it was improved?

Season Guide

Click on an episode title to be taken to my review of the episode.

1.01 - "Pilot" (Advance Preview) (Review)
1.02 - "Meteor Shower" (Review)
1.03 - "One Brave Waitress"
1.04 - "Knife to a Gunfight" (Review)
1.05 - "Judge and Jury" (Review)
1.06 - "What is Best in Life?" (Review)
1.07 - "Communication Breakdown" (Review)

'Pilot' Recap

Rebecca Wright (Kate Walsh) wakes up after an evident night out to realise she is late for work. She quickly gets dressed and rushes to work in her van. A very interesting looking van too, I might add. On the way, she stops off at a store to pick up some headache tablets and a pregnancy test. She arrives at work and parks in the disabled spot. While getting dressed up in her judge robes, she uses the pregnancy test. Rebecca arrives into the courtroom in a timely manner and is relieved when the pregnancy test comes back negative. Tedward (Tone Bell) takes the test away. The court is now in session with Douglas Miller (Chris Parnell, a.k.a. Dr. Leo Spaceman in 30 Rock) as the defendant. Douglas is accused of two charges of bigamy, multiple counts of fraud and one count of falsifying identity. Douglas pleads not guilty. Tom Barlow (John Ducey) claims Douglas is considered a flight risk and bail is asked to be denied. Dr. Gary Boyd (with re-cast Ryan Hansen fresh from Bad Teacher) is called to the stand as he is a psychiatrist and says Douglas shows classic sociopathic tendencies. Bail is denied.

Rebecca has Gary come into her chambers where they make out on the desk. Gary knocks her bag off the desk where the contents spill out. He sees the pregnancy test and she tells him it's negative though he wonders if she is sleeping with other men. Tedward walks in and sees them but isn't fazed by it. He tells Rebecca that Judge Hernandez wants Rebecca to file a motion by the end of the day and Lincoln Elementary School is on the phone. Judge Hernandez (Miguel Sandoval) walks in and tells Rebecca not to take the call, but she does. It's Robby Shoemaker (Theadore Barnes). Rebecca tells him that she will be there soon despite Judge Hernandez's objections. Rebecca reveals she put both of his parents in prison so she needs to help him. His mother will be out in two months so she needs to help him until then.

Rebecca arrives at the school. Robby drew a picture of his P.E. teacher with boobs and Rebecca finds it amusing. In the van, Robby says Rebecca can't buy him off to get rid of her guilt, though Rebecca says he should buy her off for getting his sentence reduced. She drops him off at school but he reveals he is being bullied by a 12-year-old kid named Alfonzo. He leaves and Alfonzo flirts with Rebecca but she threatens him. At the office, Judge Hernandez tells Rebecca not to help with matters not important to her job. Outside, Rebecca is dancing to music and picks up her lunch. On the steps of the court, Tedward warns Rebecca to take the back entrance as she forgot to file the motion so Judge Hernandez is mad. Gary comes outside and is also mad with Rebecca. Rebecca runs into Judge Hernandez when Robby phones again but Hernandez tells her not to take it as she is a judge, not a social worker. Rebecca doesn't answer and tries to win Hernandez over by saying she is writing the Dunham Law Commencement speech. He leaves and Rebecca accepts the call from Robby.

At the school, Rebecca is informed in the meeting with Mr. Thorpe that Robby drew another offensive picture, this time of him with a penis for a head. Rebecca commends the picture for "getting" Mr. Thorpe and asks if he evaluated it, which he did. Rebecca concludes that it's a cry out for attention from Robby, but he says he just thinks Mr. Thorpe's head just looks like "a dong". Rebecca thinks guidance would be better than punishment. Rebecca drives Robby back to the group home he lives at and tries to talk to him about what to do next, but he's distant. She tells Robby how to defend against Alfonzo next time he tries to hurt him.

At the courthouse, Rebecca is about to pass sentence on Douglas Miller's case. The judge informs Rebecca that his two wives want to petition the court for leniency. Rebecca sentences him to time serve for bigamy, one month for falsifying identity and fraud, to take a course in feminism while wearing a T-shirt that says "I'm a convicted bigamist". In her office, Rebecca is running through her speech when Robby comes in. He tells her that punching Alfonzo was a bad idea as he has brothers and cousins and a really big sister. Rebecca tells him to call his case worker and she would sort it out first thing in the morning but Robby tells her that they are sending him to Edgewater. Rebecca tells him it's for super violent kids and that she will sort it out. Robby wants to live with Rebecca but she doesn't have people live with her, but Robby says she owes him one. Robby convinces her. She takes him to Gary's and asks Gary to write a letter to state Robby is not a violent child.

Rebecca gives the speech to the law school. Afterwards, everyone ends up at a bar. Robby is also there and Tom says he is underage, but Robby shows him his ID. Gary gives him the letter to stay out of Edgewater and Robby tells everybody that the drinks are on Rebecca. Robby leaves and Rebecca tells him to call her any time "during business hours". Judge Hernandez says a round is on him and Rebecca and Gary bond. A song that Rebecca loves comes on and she starts dancing. They all toast.

'Pilot' Review

Okay. So if you guys read my advanced preview, I had nothing but love for this show. It had great stories, it had great characters, it had some really funny moments. Most of that transferred over to the new pilot, for sure. The case that Rebecca is presiding over is still funny with Chris Parnell. That guy is just funny in whatever he is in. Most of my favourite quotes were in the scenes he was in. I still love Kate Walsh with all of my heart, of course. Most scenes were the same - but it felt different.

The original pilot was different. It wasn't just a re-casting with Ryan Hansen that changed the pilot, but the best friend of Kate Walsh's character that was played by Arden Myrin was just completely removed. For more details on what was different between the unaired pilot and the new pilot, read the article STV Guy is doing for SpoilerTV. It will be worth a read. The dynamic just completely shifted. Without Arden as Jenny, there was no side story with Rebecca's two-woman band. She didn't have the problems that split her work life and personal life and seeing that struggle in the original pilot was enjoyable to watch. Now it wasn't even in it. The ending of the original was much better than the one presented in the broadcast version.

One thing that bothers me is, in the original pilot Rebecca is reluctant to help Robbie, yet in this version she is quick to help because "it's what she does", but in the scene where she drops him off (which was in the original) she tells Robby not to call her again. In the scene where she takes the call in her office, she acts like it's what she does all the time - helping him because she feels guilty for putting his parents in jail. I think this was an editing error and maybe they should have re-shot the scene to make it look more like she wants to help him. In my opinion, the storyline in the original pilot where she was reluctant to help in the first place was much better. Her character growth through helping Robby was much better to see rather than have her be quick to help.

So Robby won't be in the show anymore. If you guys remember what I said in my preview, I thought the chemistry between Rebecca and Theodore was fantastic and I said I was looking forward to seeing how they develop over the season as Robby was supposed to end up staying with Rebecca. Not anymore. Instead, he's gone. That's a shame because I thought the show could benefit with his type of humour. He bounced off Rebecca very well and it was so charming to watch Rebecca grow fond of him by pilot's end. Not so much in the pilot that aired. It's such a shame.

I still enjoyed the pilot, just not as much as the original. The show needs a supporting female character as right now, it's more of a sausage-fest with Kate Walsh leading the gang. The funniest moments in the episode were provided by Rebecca, Douglas Miller and Robby. Douglas was just the case-of-the-week and Robby is no longer on the show, so now we just have Rebecca. The other characters need to step up their game in order to deliver some comedy gold I was hoping to expect from the show. Even saying this, Rebecca as a character was more fun and care-free in the original pilot than the one that aired. She seemed a little indecisive about who she wanted to be - careless or caring - as she wants to help Robby one minute, but then doesn't the next. I will say that is due to the situation of having to reshoot some scenes and to get rid of Robby, but it still wasn't as smooth a pilot as it should have been.

Funniest Quotes

Douglas Miller: How could love be a crime?
Rebecca Wright: You've clearly never been to Thailand.

Rebecca Wright: You know this is to determine Douglas Miller is a flight risk, not an audition for A Few Good Men?

Gary Boyd: Mr. Miller is also quite charming, he already has a date with his lawyer.
Douglas's Lawyer: I object, that is a work dinner!
Douglas Miller: And karaoke!
Rebecca Wright: Overruled! Mr. Miller, are you a flight risk?
Douglas Miller: Oh, Your Honour, absolutely not. I am a family man with deep roots in this community. Ask either of my wives!

Robby Shoemaker: You can't get rid of your guilt by buying me off with ice cream, pizza and cash.
Rebecca Wright: Fine, give it back.
Robby Shoemaker: Okay, you can buy me off.

Rebecca Wright: (walking into elevator) I know what I'm doing. (Elevator doors close) Oh wait, is this going up?

Rebecca Wright: Hey, if it makes you feel any better, this is your hickey! (Everyone stares) That's a song you guys. "If it makes you feel any better, this is your hickey Gary!"

Mr. Thorpe: I still don't know why Judge Wright is here for this meeting, I mean, it is an elementary school.
Robby Shoemaker: Miss Wright is a mentor and a very important judge.
Rebecca Wright: (burps) Excuse me, I had wine and cake for breakfast.

Mrs. Miller #1: I have to say he has always been there for me when I'm sick and supportive when I was down.
Mrs. Miller #2: He was also there for me when I was sick and supportive when I was down. Except for a few times when she was sick at the same time, then it got tricky.

(After his sentence that requires him to wear a T-shirt that says 'I'm a convicted bigamist' to classes on feminism)
Douglas Miller: What? How am I going to pick up girls?

Closing Argument

I sounded critical. I am critical. I'm gutted that the pilot aired was not the one I reviewed two and a half months ago. I preferred the original. I wish that the pilot they aired was the original. Now I'm worried. While the pilot is still enjoyable and had its funny moments, I am worried the show isn't going to resonate with viewers as it felt a little all over the place. Moments that should have stood out fell a bit flat while there were often moments left untouched from the original pilot that had me laughing again. This pilot, to me, wasn't bad. But it could have been better and I have seen it better. Re-casting? Fine, do it. Removing a character that changed the dynamic of the show. Not cool. Re-cast if you have to but removing the character shifted the way Rebecca was as a character too and she was so much more fun in the original.

I will still be watching as I think once the show moves past the awkwardness of the reshoots for the pilot, it could potentially be much better. I have faith that it can do much better. There were laughs, for sure, and Kate Walsh still delivers.

What did you guys think of the series premiere of Bad Judge? Did you sentence the show to spend the rest of the 2014-15 season on your watchlist, or are you allowing it out on bail? Let me know in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode of Bad Judge, October 9th on NBC!

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV on August 9, 2014 and will be reviewing 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black and Salem in the 2014-15 season. Gavin's favourite shows include Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal and much more. You can contact Gavin at
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