×

TV Review: ‘Bad Judge’

With:
Kate Walsh, Tone Bell, John Ducey, Ryan Hansen, Miguel Sandoval

Ah, “Bad Judge.” If ever a title lent itself to ridicule, it’s this one, although the show works pretty hard to earn the gibes. Kate Walsh plays the robed dispenser of justice, who, when not on the bench, has sex in her chambers, shows up to work hung over and generally behaves like a college sophomore on perpetual spring break. Walsh’s mix of comedy chops and sex appeal do as much as an actress could to sell such a role, but even generous acceptance of the show as broad farce makes it difficult to return a favorable verdict.

In a way, the series is a one-note joke, in the same way “Bad Santa” or “Bad Teacher” sort of said it all about the movie. But if you’re really going to go that route, it practically requires a pedal-to-the-metal approach that isn’t pursued – or perhaps even possible to the extent necessary, on an ad-supported broadcaster.

Yes, Walsh’s Judge Rebecca Wright is an unapologetic party gal, and a self-described “workaholic freakshow.” Yet in the reworked premiere — which has managed to make the show inoffensive, but not good — she’s not even really that bad. After all, she goes out of her way to help a wisecracking foster kid. But presumably, “Mildly Inappropriate Judge” wouldn’t have looked as good on billboards.

The same largely holds true for a second episode, in which Judge Wright beds a hunky firefighter — despite the fact she considers him dumb — and presides over a case involving an actress, with paparazzi flooding into her courtroom.

As for the cast, there’s not enough support to be found in Wright’s bemused bailiff (Tone Bell), the expert witness (Ryan Hansen) she occasionally sleeps with, an officious prosecutor (John Ducey) and a very underemployed Miguel Sandoval as her ostensible boss.

Basically, it’s all just “Night Court, 2014,” down to the silly cases and creative sentencing. Then again, NBC might have been slightly starstruck by the off-screen auspices, which include Will Ferrell’s production company and Anne Heche collaborating on the story with writer Chad Kultgen (“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”).

That the show has already undergone a showrunner change suggests the whole exercise wasn’t the subject of particularly careful deliberation. NBC has slotted “Bad Judge” on Thursdays, pairing it with the incompatibly romantic “A to Z.” Viewing the matter charitably, the network might be throwing a couple of different looks on, hoping one of them sticks.

Whatever the rationale, based on the available evidence, the title might as well apply to whoever gave the pitch for “Bad Judge” a thumbs up.

TV Review: 'Bad Judge'

(Series; NBC, Thurs. Oct. 2, 9 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Gary Sanchez Prods. and Squirrelius in association with Universal Television.

Crew: Executive producers, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Anne Heche, Chad Kultgen, Jill Sobel Messick, Kevin Messick, Betsy Thomas, Kate Walsh; co-executive producer, Andrew Fleming; producers, Owen Burke, Joanne Toll; director, Fleming; writer, Kultgen; story by Kultgen, Heche; camera, Alexander Gruszynski; production designer, Bill Arnold; editor, David Helfand; casting, Geraldine Leder. 30 MIN.

Cast: Kate Walsh, Tone Bell, John Ducey, Ryan Hansen, Miguel Sandoval

More TV

  • Jenny Wall Eryk Casemiro Nickelodeon

    Jenny Wall Named Nickelodeon CMO, Eryk Casemiro Named Senior VP of Nickelodeon Preschool

    Nickelodeon has hired two new executives, tapping Jenny Wall to become chief marketing officer and Eryk Casemiro to become senior vice president of Nickelodeon Preschool. Most recently CMO at Spotify-owned Gimlet Media, Wall will be responsible for all on- and off-air consumer marketing, brand creative and content launches across all of Nickelodeon’s platforms, including Nicktoons, [...]

  • Liz Garbus on Why We May

    Liz Garbus on Why The World May Never Know 'Who Killed Garrett Phillips'

    By the time Liz Garbus’s two-part documentary “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?” debuts on HBO, there could be a new public lead in the case of the murdered titular 12-year-old. As least, that’s what many may hope after the new St. Lawrence County district attorney admitted a new tip earlier this spring. Garbus says she would [...]

  • Mike Fleiss

    'Bachelor' Producers in Wait-and-See Mode Amid Police Probe Into Fleiss Incident

    Those working on “The Bachelor” and its sister shows are in wait-and-see mode as a domestic incident involving creator Mike Fleiss continues to be investigated in Kauai, according to sources close to production. The results of the police investigation are still pending, after Fleiss’ wife, Laura Fleiss, had accused him of attacking her in their [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Cable Blackouts Growing More Common, Even If Subscribers Get Angry

    Among media companies, “going dark” was once a matter of last resort. Now it’s an option that is seeing more light. CBS is not currently available on DirecTV or AT&T’s U-verse, the result of a battle over how much the two outlets’ owner, AT&T, ought to pay for the right to send CBS into millions [...]

  • maria elena salinas

    CBS News Names Maria Elena Salinas Contributor

    Maria Elena Salinas, one of the best-known anchors in Spanish-language broadcasting, will join CBS News as a contributor, Susan Zirinsky, the unit’s president, told staffers Monday. Salinas stepped down from her role at Univision at the end of 2017 after an on-air tenure of more than three decades. She is expected to contribute reports across [...]

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas Ed Asner Elliott

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ed Asner, Elliott Gould Seek SAG-AFTRA Board Seats

    Ed Asner, Elliott Gould and Jonathan Taylor Thomas are seeking SAG-AFTRA national board seats as members of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Asner is the former president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving two terms from 1981 to 1985, and winning five Emmys for his role as Lou Grant and two others [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content