One of the things I miss most about the demolished Netflix corner of the MCU is Simone Missick as Misty Knight. She had presence, and, boy, was she gorgeous. Good news is, you can't keep Simone Missick, er, benched for too long.
In Room #802, Dept. 1 of the L.A Superior Court, newly appointed judge Lola Carmichael doles out justice and thumbs her nose at a flawed judicial system. I have to rank All Rise as one of the most promising new shows to premiere on network television in 2019. It readily became a weekly compulsory watch. In the realm of debuting courthouse dramas, it tops fellow newbies, The Code and Bluff City Law. But I liked those other series, too, Phillipa Soo featured in one, Jimmy Smits in the other.
There haven't been too many shows that feature judges as the lead, I don't think. Off the top of my head, there was Night Court, Judging Amy, Hardcastle & McCormick, and, going waaaay back to 1955, Judge Roy Bean. And, in the movies, there was Judge Dredd, but that's really reaching.
Going into her judgeship, Lola Carmichael already had a reputation. It stems from her stint as a formidable prosecutor from the D.A.'s office. It's where she got her nickname of "the Lola-coaster." And when Lola mentions she doesn't get it, her judicial assistant, Sherri, explains that it's "because none of us know where the ride is taking us, but nausea is likely to set in at some point." Heh.
- Sherri (filling in her rookie judge): "The name of the game is speed."
- Lola: "And where does justice fit in?"
- Sherri: "A close second."
As if. I don't know that there's anyone quite like Judge Carmichael in real life. Seems far-fetched to me that there exists someone so crusading and passionate about fair play and fighting injustice, and who thinks outside the box and bucks the system. Judge Carmichael promptly demonstrates that her nickname applies as well in her lofty new post. It doesn't take long before someone wryly observes, "Oh, you're gonna be one of those creative judges."
All Rise is mostly about Lola, but it isn't all about Lola. Whenever our rookie judge isn't presiding in unorthodox fashion, or negotiating the treacherous legal and political minefield of her new profession, or quickly learning the benefits of calling recess, the camera frequently pans over to two other characters: passionate public defender Emily Lopez (Jessica Camacho), who suffers from past trauma, and insolent Deputy D.A. Mark Callan (Wilson Bethel), who happens to be Lola's best friend. Emily is instantly rootable. Takes longer to warm up to Callan as he comes across as such a smug, ambitious hombre. What finally sold him to me is that if he's so chummy with Lola, he can't be all bad. Never mind that Lola's parting words to him are always, "Go good."
Not that I'm an expert in jurisprudence, but it seems to me that All Rise is smartly written. It's a talented and diverse ensemble which translates to a solidly acted show. And I appreciate the show's wicked sense of humor. It provides a counterweight to the heavy, hot-button topics that are addressed in whirlwind pace, if absent of any genuine or penetrating insight. We do get that old saw again about dirty cops, as well as the played-out plot point about the black lawman dressed in his civvies who gets hassled by profiling policemen. This year alone, other shows like Deputy and S.W.A.T. mined that trope.
Simone Missick anchors the show and makes it look easy. She presents Lola Carmichael as warm and deeply compassionate and immensely relatable. I love Lola's struggle as she tries to preserve impartiality even as she fights her durndest for the underdog, often by pushing back against a flawed and adversarial legal system. She's the calm in the storm, even though, most times, she's the one upending the status quo. It's fun watching her fluster and flabbergast and antagonize the establishment judges and lawyers who are used to things getting done a certain way. The most boring thing about Lola is that she's married to an FBI guy, and there's some tiresome folderol made about how their time apart - hubby keeps getting assigned away - is gradually eroding their perfect marriage. Honestly, I kept wanting to fast forward whenever Lola is sharing screen time with hubby or on the phone with him.
I still give this 5 out of 5 stars. Sure, it doesn't dig too deep into the pressing issues it tackles. And our favorite legal eagles seem to win their cases far too frequently, even the longshot cases. But never mind. The performances are too good, the wit too sharp, the dialogue too snappy, the courtroom goings-on too entertaining, the busy camera keeps things moving. And Simone Missick is super-charismatic, although if I have to crush on someone, I'd probably go with the fiery public defender Emily Lopez. Although, I may swing back to Lola if she ever heeds her judicial assistant's advice of wearing as few clothes as possible under the robe (on account of it gets really hot under the robe).
Update: I just saw the season finale, “Dancing at Los Angeles,” and enjoyed it and appreciated it so much. So far, it’s the only tv episode I’d seen that acknowledges the current pandemic - and I realize a lot of tv shows had to stop filming and never did get a chance to incorporate current events into their storylines. But I appreciated the perseverance and outside the box thinking that went into this one. Talk about embodying the spirit of “the show must go on!” It was an experimental episode that made plenty use of the Zoom feature and had the cast acting from their homes, and bits of the storyline addressing the Covid-19-related concerns we all have nowadays. I am crossing my fingers and toes that this show gets renewed. The Lola-coaster is a heck of a fun ride.