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Courthouse

Filmed in Los Angeles by Kedzie Prods. in association with Columbia Pictures Television. Executive producer, Deborah Joy LeVine; producer, Vahan Moosekian; director, Ron Lagomarsino; writer , LeVine; camera, Tom Del Ruth; editor, Susan B. Brody; production designer, Brandy Alexander; sound, Michael E. Fowler; music, Daniel Orlandi. TX:Cast: Patricia Wettig, Annabeth Gish, Robin Givens, Bob Gunton, Brad Johnson, Michael Lerner, Jenifer Lewis, Nia Peeples, Jeffrey D. Sams, Dan Gauthier, Cree Summer, Nestor Serrano, Michael Fairman, Troy Evans, Jacqueline Kim, Kenneth Tigar, Patrick Y. Malone, Shelley Morrison, Kirby Tepper, Jerry Houser, Mary Joy, Kelly Mullis, Don Stroud, E. Faye Butler, David L. Crowley, Howard Stevens, Freddy Andreiuci, Jazzmun, Jorjan Fox, Ernest Perry Jr., Cherie Franklin, Scott Paetty, Lou Bonacki, Kevin Scott Allen, Duke Moosekian, Greta Sesheta, Ken Kerman, Jodie Mann, Susan Alexander. CBS' new "Courthouse's" wobbly premise and unlikable characters don't portend well for this ensemble-castseries, which is likely to have viewers filing a motion for dismissal. The shooting is also used as a device to familiarize viewers with the series regulars, as it sets in motion an examination of courthouse security, the lives of its denizens and the motives for the killings.

Filmed in Los Angeles by Kedzie Prods. in association with Columbia Pictures Television. Executive producer, Deborah Joy LeVine; producer, Vahan Moosekian; director, Ron Lagomarsino; writer , LeVine; camera, Tom Del Ruth; editor, Susan B. Brody; production designer, Brandy Alexander; sound, Michael E. Fowler; music, Daniel Orlandi. TX:Cast: Patricia Wettig, Annabeth Gish, Robin Givens, Bob Gunton, Brad Johnson, Michael Lerner, Jenifer Lewis, Nia Peeples, Jeffrey D. Sams, Dan Gauthier, Cree Summer, Nestor Serrano, Michael Fairman, Troy Evans, Jacqueline Kim, Kenneth Tigar, Patrick Y. Malone, Shelley Morrison, Kirby Tepper, Jerry Houser, Mary Joy, Kelly Mullis, Don Stroud, E. Faye Butler, David L. Crowley, Howard Stevens, Freddy Andreiuci, Jazzmun, Jorjan Fox, Ernest Perry Jr., Cherie Franklin, Scott Paetty, Lou Bonacki, Kevin Scott Allen, Duke Moosekian, Greta Sesheta, Ken Kerman, Jodie Mann, Susan Alexander. CBS’ new “Courthouse’s” wobbly premise and unlikable characters don’t portend well for this ensemble-castseries, which is likely to have viewers filing a motion for dismissal. The shooting is also used as a device to familiarize viewers with the series regulars, as it sets in motion an examination of courthouse security, the lives of its denizens and the motives for the killings.

Presiding Judge Justine Parkes (Patricia Wettig) runs her courthouse with an iron gavel and cuts little slack for her male colleagues. The murders shake up the status quo, which is further challenged when she learns the murdered judge spent a significant amount of time dipping into the secretarial pool between trials and rulings.

Perhaps taking a cue from “L.A. Law,” the discovery of the judge’s additional partners is used as a running gag among the other more serious matters.

And then there’s public defender Veronica Gilbert (Nia Peeples), an optimistic and overly sympathetic sort who challenges the legal system at every turn, yet seemingly learns nothing from the experience.

When her emotions get the best of her in court, she articulates her considerable disdain for those meting out justice — which results in a contempt citation and a night in the pokey. With this tried-and-true attempt to generate sympathy, it becomes apparent that show’s material is strictly a rehash of ground covered by other legal-themed series.

Some of the pilot’s biggest missteps come with the addition of Judge Wyatt Jackson (Brad Johnson), a newly appointed, beefcakey magistrate from Montana who gets shirtless moments after his character is introduced.

Though he creates an eventual love interest for Parkes, the older woman/younger man pairing may spark some courthouse chatter of its own. But since the lives of most of the other courthouse personnel are seemingly romantically intertwined, a tete-a-tete between judges probably won’t raise any eyebrows.

Show is further hampered by director Ron Lagomarsino’s failure to elicit more than stiff readings out of show’s principals, and a smorgasbord of supporting cast members come and go too quickly to strike a chord with viewers.

Scripter-exec producer Deborah Joy LeVine wisely tempers her grasp of the inner workings of justice system with an emphasis on relationships and strong female leads. But her efforts fail to elevate the flat acting.

Production designer Brandy Alexander revisits “thirtysomething,” to create aesthetically pleasing sets and adroitly dressed locales, including using L.A. City Hall as the fictional Clark County Courthouse, to make show easy on the eyes despite its harshness on the ears.

Popular on Variety

Courthouse

(Weds. (13), 10-11 p.m., CBS)

Production: The startling opening sequence -- the graphic, in-court murders of a judge and a convicted felon -- is likely to draw in viewers, but similar punches to the gut fail to materialize in the meandering, albeit stylish offering.

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