Monday, September 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'All Rise' - Lola Hopes to Make a Difference as a New Judge for Those Frequently Abused by the System in 'Pilot'

CBS' All Rise - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

A new courthouse drama that follows the chaotic, hopeful and sometimes absurd lives of its judges, prosecutors and public defenders, as they work with bailiffs, clerks and cops to get justice for the people of Los Angeles amidst a flawed legal process.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of CBS' All Rise.

"Pilot" was written by Greg Spottiswood and directed by Michael M. Robin

This new drama aspires to peel back the curtain of how the judicial system actually works in courthouses around the country. This is a government building where lives are changing on a daily basis. It's inspirational for someone like Lola. She feels invigorated because she has been appointed to the bench as a new judge. She feels like she can make more of a difference sitting on the bench. In fact, the overall storytelling points out again and again just how much she cares about the less fortunate who aren't given a fair shake in this world. It's a solid overall story even though the show doesn't dig too deep with it. Lola just continually feels the urge to protect a young woman who is constantly being abused by the world. At first, it's Daphne simply appearing in court with no pants on. That could easily be treated as a joke. This show does want a light tone overall that showcases just how absurd some aspects of the legal world can be. And yet, it shouldn't be seen as such. It points out the horrors that come from the inhumanity all too present in these systems. No one cares except Lola that the defendant isn't wearing any paints. The prosecutor and judge want to move ahead with the case while the officer who brought her into the courtroom was simply doing his orders. Of course, he immediately presents himself as a threat who shouldn't be given the responsibility of wielding a weapon in order to protect the people of this world. He is just as volatile as any threat that could walk in to disrupt this courtroom. That mostly presents as a way to start the series off on an explosive note. This judge retiring isn't the inciting incident that allows Lola to make this move in her career either. When this happens, she has already been appointed to become a judge. She is still in a transitional period where she is closing her remaining cases in the District Attorney's office. Two weeks is all it takes before she starts seeing the law from a new perspective. Daphne is once again in the courtroom though. This time it is for a completely different case. One where she is accused of potential robbery. But it too is a story of corruption where the outside pressure is forcing people to do unsavory things by targeting the most vulnerable communities. The detective who made the lead arrest in this case wasn't doing good police work. She was simply driving up her statistics so that the boy's club of the police department will take her seriously. She believes she's acting as a strong feminist. In actuality though, she is just propping up a broken system that deserves to be called out for the abuses it does throughout this world. Sure, it's still outrageous to see just how much of a personal connection Lola extends to this young defendant. When the case is finished and she is set free, Lola sits down with her while she's waiting for the bus. She does so with the knowledge that it was likely her mother who committed this crime. That's horrifying. It also feels as if the show feels the burden to provide a strong sense of resolution even though that may not always be necessary in legal proceedings. There simply needs to be an answer as to who is truly guilty of this crime. Sure, that criminal is still allowed to go free. Daphne's mother isn't in handcuffs. The detective isn't forced off the job. Lola simply does her part to ensure that Daphne doesn't pay for the sins of others. That's the influence she hopes to have in this job. It's just clear she is going to ruffle some feathers along the way. The effectiveness of all of this comes down on just how easily the audience can buy into this world and its approach to the law. Lola is told to avoid trials but pursues one almost immediately. That may be the simplest way to produce a legal procedural nowadays. It just wouldn't present a version of this environment that hasn't been seen a million times already on other shows just like it. As such, the show probably needs a little more originality in order to stand out. The tone isn't overall bad and neither is the cast. Time will ultimately determine whether or not to invest more fully in the proceedings.