tv review

Everyone on NBC’s Bad Judge Deserves Better

Photo: NBC

She’s a baaaad judge. She has hangovers. She drives a scuzzy van and has sex on her desk. She wears shorts. She has several pairs of glasses. Buh-buh-buh-baaaad to the bone. She’s so bad, she sexually harasses the lawyers who are arguing cases in front of her, and she has everyone in the courtroom arrested because who even cares about the abuse of judicial power? Ha, ha, ha, she’s a bad judge. Bad, bad, bad.

Bad Judge, which premieres at 9 p.m. tonight on NBC, is a bad show, though it has a pretty solid cast. Kate Walsh stars as Rebecca Wright, and one hopes when this show gets canceled — which it will, perhaps by the time you’re done reading this paragraph — she heads back to ShondaLand, either returning to Grey’s Anatomy or maybe doing an arc on Scandal. She could even be a bad judge on How to Get Away With Murder. She has options, but unfortunately, she chose to be in this. Ryan Hansen, a treat of a human who is still kind of playing a version of his Veronica Mars douche character, has the strange distinction of being in both Bad Judge and last season’s Bad Teacher. The pilot includes guest roles from Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz, and the second episode has Chuck’s Ryan McPartlin. These people should all be on other, better shows.

And that’s not a very high bar to clear. Bad Judge doesn’t know what it wants to be about: Is Rebecca an iconoclast or simply a lost soul? Is she free spirited or just despicable? Is her on-the-job behavior meant to seem deplorable, or are we supposed to think it’s just “antics”? It’s hard to build a show around a character when that person isn’t a coherent entity. I’m all for characters — and real people! — who contain multitudes, but Rebecca doesn’t seem like a human being so much as a list of actions. “I had wine and cake for breakfast,” she confesses at one point. That’s a fine choice for how to explain a character, except moments later we see her (the next day?) waltz up to the food truck outside the courthouse and not even have to order: Her regular breakfast burrito is all ready for her. So which is it — does she do that every day, or does she eat cake, or is it both or neither or what? This is a small thing, obviously, but it’s representative of a show that just isn’t paying attention.

Since the show is called Bad Judge, I feel obligated to close this review with some sort of legalese zinger: Bad Judge is out of order. Bad Judge should be held in contempt. I object! to Bad Judge. Bad Judge is guilty of being lousy. Bad Judge has lost its appeal. Bad Judge makes me jealous of Lady Justice, because she is blind, and therefore did not have to see this show.

Everyone on NBC’s Bad Judge Deserves Better