Monday, October 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'All Rise' - Lola Risks Losing Control of Her Courtroom During a Celebrity Trial in 'Fool for Liv'

CBS' All Rise - Episode 1.06 "Fool for Liv"

Lola contends with a fame-hungry defendant, personal assistant Olivia McLeland, and a circus-like courtroom while presiding over a celebrity's murder trial that forces her to find peace at Sherri's home after she's chased by paparazzi.

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 next episode of CBS' All Rise.

"Fool for Liv" was written by Conway Preston and directed by Stacey K. Black

The drama's first season has already relaxed into a familiar storytelling pattern. Every episode so far has basically followed the same format of Lola presiding over a trial with Emily representing the defense while Mark was engaging in his own completely separate story. As such, the show was running the risk of being too formulaic and predictable. That's not good for any new show. Sure, there should be a comfortable level where the audience knows what to expect every week and can reliably come back knowing that they will be entertained. It may not be the most challenging or exciting version of television nowadays. But it can be remarkably sturdy as well. But it's still worthwhile for a show to push its limits in bold and exciting ways. This episode isn't a huge stretch. However, it does break out of that particular mold in the pursuit of doing something new. It allows Sherri and Sara to have more agency in this world. Judge Benner still seems underutilized. She can have more value than simply being the mentor figure to Lola who also needs help dealing with heartbreak right now. Work still needs to be done. But it's still vital listening to Sherri talk about her need for rigorous control following an upbringing with two lackadaisical parents who didn't care about the consequences of the world. Meanwhile, Sara is the one who gets to the bottom of the mystery photo taken of the jury members in this celebrity trial. She puts a plan into motion and ensures that justice is swiftly delivered. That is the mission statement that Lola emanates from her courtroom. She always wants it to be seen as a place where people can reliably count on justice to prevail in the end. She inspires such action from the people who work for her as well. She counts on them to step up and embody that mentality through their actions. They may be representatives of her but it's so much more important than that. Of course, this trial offers up an easy resolution for the jury to render their verdict. It makes it seem like the defense truly doesn't have a case outside of the showboating that Jere Burns' broad character gets to do. He is a man who treats everything as a performance in order to fool the jury into believing his version of the narrative. It doesn't matter that the facts don't line up with it. He believes this is the way to win. He does so not really caring what the final outcome will be. He has self-preservation above all else. So long as he is allowed to operate in this world and afford his fancy lifestyle, then he will keep acting in this way. It's not worth the effort to view the criminal justice system as something worthy of respect and honor. It's all just a show. He is the effective storyteller. Everyone keeps telling Lola that she runs the risk of losing control of her courtroom. She understands that. She doesn't need to constantly be reminded of that. And yet, she has a valuable team who helps her come up with the creative solution. Again, it's all leading to the defendant breaking on the stand and essentially confessing to the murder. That means it's not a particularly difficult decision for the jury to make. Lola has yet to face a trial in which what truly happened is incredibly murky. This is the type of show that wants the audience to overwhelmingly feel certain about what actually happened. That can drain a lot of tension out of the proceedings because it's expected. The show will outright tell the viewer what to think. But again, the charm of the proceedings can go a long way in making it all feel refreshing and unique. Mark and Emily get to interact in a meaningful way here. They help a kid beyond what the justice system requires them to do. That's meaningful and shows that compassion does exist in this building. Plus, it all concludes with Emily and Luke sharing a kiss. The show is moving fast with this coupling. It works and allows romance to inform some of the storytelling. Of course, it defines a lot of Luke's role in the drama beyond telling people when to rise in Lola's courtroom. He may be studying to become a lawyer. But that is mostly happening off camera at this point even though Emily is more than willing to help him study.