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Freshman Contenders: ‘Judging Amy’

No. 1 new drama of season

It didn’t take viewers long to render their verdict on the CBS drama “Judging Amy”: It’s a hit.

The 20th Century Fox/CBS Prods. series, starring Amy Brenne-man as Juvenile Court Judge Amy Gray and Tyne Daly as her social worker-ex-judge mother, Maxine, was the No. 1-rated new drama of the season. In its 10 p.m. Tuesday slot, “Amy” was watched weekly by more than 14 million viewers, topping ABC’s Tuesday drama tandem of “Once and Again” and “NYPD Blue” as well as NBC newsmag “Dateline.”

It’s the first TV series in five years for both Brenneman, a regu-lar in the early days of “NYPD Blue,” and Daly, a regular on the CBS drama “Christy” after a seven-year run in the ’80s on the net’s “Cagney & Lacey.”

The series continues a recent trend of successful primetime fam-ily shows, both dramas and comedies. While Judge Gray’s court cases and Maxine’s social work figure prominently, it’s the relation-ship between the two strong-willed women. Additional family char-acters include Amy’s brothers, Vincent (Dan Futterman) and Peter (Marcus Giamatti), and her daughter, Lauren (Karle Warren).

The series was based at the outset on the life of Brenneman’s mother, Frederica, who in 1967 became only the second woman judge in Connecticut. Brenneman created the series and is also an executive producer.

“Judging Amy” has won several honors during its first season, including two TV Guide Awards (for show and actress in a news series), and was recently nominated as best new program by the Television Critics Assn. Awards.

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