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Teutonic TV making case with ‘Judge Judy’

'Richterin Barbara,' others using legal skein format in Germany

BERLIN — Judge Judy may not be a household name in Germany, but with producers here convinced what works on American TV will work here, viewers will soon be watching plaintiffs and defenders pleading their cases to her Teutonic counterpart, “Richterin Barbara.”

One of three court shows to land on German TV recently, Sat.1’s “Richterin Barbara Salesch” (Judge Barbara) is the only one that offers legally binding rulings.

Judy, Judy, Judy

The show’s producers admit Judge Barbara, who took a two-year leave from the Hamburg state court to do the show, was inspired by “Judge Judy,” which they call a classic reality TV show.

ZDF’s “Streit um Drei (Dispute at Three),” which is going into its second season, has a genuine judge but uses actors to re-enact actual court cases.

Commercial weblet Vox, on the other hand, is offering “Klarer Fall?! (Clear Case),” which has real people presenting their arguments to a jury made up of audience members and moderated not by a judge, but rather Radka Kaspar, former host of a popular karaoke show on Czech Republic TV.

“We don’t think re-enactments are the right way to do it,” Vox program director Joerg Schuette said.

While the jury is still out on how much of a pull the shows ultimately will have with auds, the programs have met with criticism from Germany’s top judiciary.

Out of order

“These pitiful people will only be laughed at by viewers. It’s no different than the daytime talkshows,” commented one constitutional court justice.

German TV has managed to capitalize on successful formats borrowed from the U.S. before, including daytime as well as latenight talkshows.

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