Tuesday, March 03, 2020

TV Tuesday: All Rise

I haven't had much time lately for TV and movie reviews, so I have some catching up to do, starting with a new legal drama we began watching when it premiered in fall 2019, All Rise. It features a brand-new black female judge with a desire to do the right thing and a tendency to stir up trouble.

As All Rise opens at the start of season 1, it is Judge Lola Carmichael's (played by Simone Missick) very first day as a judge at the L.A. County Courthouse. Lola has recently been promoted after working for years in the prosecutor's office as an attorney. She is a direct, honest woman who wants to be a fair judge, even to those who are not always treated fairly by our justice system, which sometimes means doing things that upset the status quo. Her colleagues are mostly old white guys who are quite traditional, though her boss is a powerful woman judge named Lisa Benner, played by Marg Helgenberger. Luckily, Lola is not completely in unfamiliar territory. Her best friend from law school, Mark (played by Wilson Bethel), who still works in the prosecutor's office, is usually in the building and available for secret stairwell conferences when one of them is struggling with something and texts the other. The show also features other courthouse regulars, including public defender Emily Lopez, played by Jessica Camacho, who is always standing up for the forgotten and disadvantaged; Luke, played by J. Alex Brinson, the bailiff for Lola's courtroom who is attending law school at night; and uber-organized Sherri, played by Ruthie Ann Miles, who is Lola's assistant. The cast is filled out with other courtroom employees, as well as a rotating cast of attorneys and defendants, as each episode tackles different case(s). Cases often address hot issues from the real world, like immigration, cyber crimes, social media, and eco-terrorrism. There is also some fun stuff interwoven into the plot, like civil weddings and children's visits, plus some action-packed episodes dealing with natural disasters, violent defenders, and other kinds of emergencies.

We've been watching All Rise since its debut in September and are enjoying it, me probably a bit more than my husband (I like relationship-driven shows and he prefers more action!), though he likes it, too. In addition to the different cases in each episode to keep the show interesting, there are ongoing storylines about the personal lives of the main characters: Lola's sometimes volatile relationship with her mother, Mark's strained relationship with his criminal father, the budding friendship (or more?) between Emily and Luke, and even a possible romance for coolly efficient Sherri. The constantly changing plots and themes keep the show fascinating and evergreen, and I find all of the characters likeable and interesting--I look forward to spending an hour with them every week. Lola shakes things up a bit as one of the few women and only person-of-color judge in that courthouse but is determined to be fair to all and look at things in new ways, even when it puts her career in jeopardy. Best of all, in the midst of the drama, issues, and occasional suspense, the show also has a good sense of humor, a must for us! I think we just have one episode left to finish season one, but CBS has announced plans to move forward for a second season. We'll keep watching!

All Rise is currently airing on CBS on Mondays (just one show left in its 17-episode first season). Right now, the last three episodes are available for free on the CBS website, and the entire season is still available (for now) On Demand, if you have cable service. It is also available on Amazon for $1.99 an episode or $24.99 for the entire season or on CBS All Access  (CBS's own streaming service, which we recently signed up for)--you can sign up for a free trial week (and binge it!) through this link. After the free trial, the CBS All Access subscription starts at $5.99 per month.

Have you tried All Rise yet? Do you enjoy the legal antics of Lola and the L.A. County Courthouse?

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