Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Fall TV - CBS's Bull is On Trial

BULL stars Michael Weatherly as Dr. Jason Bull in a drama inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw, the founder of one of the most prolific trial consulting firms of all time. Brilliant, brash and charming, Dr. Bull is the ultimate puppet master as he combines psychology, human intuition and high-tech data to learn what makes jurors, attorneys, witnesses and the accused tick. 

Bull employs an enviable team of experts at Trial Analysis Corporation to shape successful narratives down to the very last detail. They include his quick-witted brother-in-law, Benny Colón, who plays a defense attorney in mock trials; Marissa Morgan, a cutting-edge neurolinguistics expert from the Department of Homeland Security; former NYPD detective Danny James, the firm's tough but relatable investigator; haughty millennial hacker Cable McCrory, who is responsible for gathering cyber intelligence; and Chunk Palmer, a fashion-conscious stylist and former All-American lineman who fine-tunes clients' appearances for trial. In high-stakes trials, Dr. Bull's combination of remarkable insight into human nature, three Ph.D.s and top-notch staff creates winning strategies that tip the scales of justice in his clients' favor.

Executive Producer - Steven Spielberg

Pilot Episode – The Necklace

Initial thought – House MD meets Scandal?

Michael Weatherly is charming, witty and even asks the client to call him boss, which made me think of Gibbs and NCIS. A talented actor in a two dimensional role.  The rest of the casting is well placed, Geneva Carr as Marissa Morgan is almost a translator for the audience. 

In the pilot episode, The Necklace, Bull takes on a murder case involving a privileged rich kid. The episode goes through the initial headlines of the crime and then gets down to the first meeting of Bull and the clients defense team. Bull and his team then go about explaining what they do at TAC (Trial Analysis Corporation ) and how they will get save the son’s future utilizing psychology to procure the perfect jury. 

TAC apparently has some serious alliances as they have a list of all potential jurors and do wide and deep analysis into those individuals lives. Have to admit, got a little scared knowing somewhere out in the real world this technology probably exists. 

From there, they create a mirror jury (people who literally mirror the real jury with 94% accuracy) they watch the testimony along with the jury and TAC analyzes the responses. Tracking the jury movement and how they are feeling every step of the way. This methodology is called trial science. 

So right off the bat, no question whether this kid is guilty or not, the parents spent the money so Bull is going to get the kid off. 

In this instance, the kid was innocent as reveled by Bull and his team. Bull’s team also identifies the real murderer, showing their arrest at the conclusion and everyone goes home happy. 

As a first episode it wasn’t bad, plot, characters, background all there. In the beginning of this article I asked the question if this is a House MD meets Scandal scenario? At this time I am going to say no. In Scandal you have a political cleaner who may not always be on the right side, but she wears a white hat and is looking for true justice (usually). In House MD we had a severely flawed character who despite his failings was utterly brilliant and worked to save lives, not for a price but for the challenge. 

If I am being honest I do not like the premise of Bull. I realize trial analysis is a real thing, but it completely mocks the US Justice system by illuminating how juries can be manipulated to sway a verdict. For instance, in one of the early scene’s Bull compares the statement, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ to the Big Mac song. Stating its old hat and not reality. Granted he is right, however I do not like the glorification of trial science within the show. The vibe I get is ‘look at how cool this is’ and it really isn’t. I might be a little harsh in my initial judgments but this is what my gut says. Bull, thus far, is in it for the money and the challenge and so I have no affection toward the character. 

In a time where people are protesting, enraged and even killing due to the alleged unfairness of the justice system, showing the court system can be rigged (albeit fictional) is a big leap.

Bull is part of the three episode test, and has two more episodes to hook me. Bull is on Tuesdays,  8 PM CST – Check your local listings

Love to hear what you think! Comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with my assessment.

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