Ruthie Ann Miles

All Rise (2019) s01e09 – How to Succeed in Law Without Really Re-Trying

Okay, when I said “All Rise” reminded me of “Major Crimes,” maybe I shouldn’t have cursed the show with an Ever Carradine guest star. Carradine plays an old defense lawyer nemesis of Simone Missick’s, who’s got an appeal—she wants to get alt-righter, white supremacist Ben Leasure out of jail—and Carradine’s confident because she’s up against Wilson Bethel not Missick. I mean, Missick’s only got the bionic arm, Bethel never misses. Wait, wrong shows.

Better shows.

Good shows.

Anyway, Missick wants to help Bethel but not too much. Meanwhile she’s pissing off a prosecutor (Suzanne Cryer), who’s trying to railroad some defendant in an unmemorable case but has it out for Missick and it doesn’t at all seem like Cryer doesn’t like Missick because Missick’s a Black woman. Oh… wait… it does. As it seems Cryer will be back to report Missick to her manager… maybe Cryer ought to fire her agent.

The thing about the episode is it’s directed by Cheryl Dunye, who’s an excellent indie filmmaker; usually “All Rise” is just wasting Missick and Bethel’s time, not the director’s. This episode, though, it’s well-directed but with that same tepid “All Rise” writing. At least it’s engaging to watch to see the direction. I couldn’t help wishing it’d lead to Dunye, Missick, and Bethel teaming up on something worth their talent.

Back to Carradine. She’s playing this neuroatypical (but self-aware) defense attorney who’s seemingly convinced Leasure is innocent even though he’s obviously guilty. Well, I guess it doesn’t matter if she thinks he’s innocent. It’s unclear. The show’s not smart enough to delve into the defense attorney of the guilty client thing, even as third lead Jessica Camacho is defending obviously guilty John Ales and doesn’t want to defend him because he’s a pain in the ass. I guess Ales is good? Maybe. He’s at least not unwelcome when he’s in a scene. Carradine hovers around like a threat. The scene where she has a showdown with Missick is patently absurd as Missick starts seeing herself from Carradine’s warped perspective, which has its own optics the show doesn’t seem to recognize.

Also good is Audrey Corsa, as the new law clerk in the district attorney’s office who teams up with Bethel on the Leasure case.

In addition to actually being good, Corsa also reveals J. Alex Brinson isn’t so much interested in Camacho as he is a hot to trot capital D dog, which is fine. I resent liking Brinson given he’s still the murderous spousal abusing cop from “Travellers,” also a much better show. And good.

Last thing—the episode’s weird with the other white people in the alt-right case. Michael Graziadei is a reformed alt-righter who might be a co-conspirator but gets a pass because Christian and no one talks about how “resister” Tamara Clatterbuck, sister of defendant Leasure, is actually a perjuring monster with half-Asian kids her brother wants to kill and she picks the brother.

“CBS woke” is not woke at all.

Though it’s nice to great to see a Dunye credit and pretty please, universe, let her make something else—something actually good—with Missick or Bethel.

All Rise (2019) s01e08 – Maricela and the Desert

There’s a road trip to Vegas this episode, which feels like a trope. It’s not a particularly engaging Vegas road trip, possibly because Wilson Bethel and J. Alex Brinson don’t have any chemistry together, possibly because the whole thing hinges on Brinson having to talk to a sheriff’s deputy Black man to Black man after Bethel’s just too white for it. Brinson and the deputy’s talk then gets into this whole Black men in law enforcement arena where “All Rise” revs up its performative centrism. It’s particularly eh because it’s the only thing Brinson does on the road trip. He’s just there to be a Black guy. Oh, and to talk about Brinson’s brewing romance with public defender Jessica Camacho.

Meanwhile Camacho is defending a murder suspect in Simone Missick’s courtroom and “All Rise” just doesn’t seem very serious with the murder trial. It’s unbelievable defendant Sebastian Sozzi is going to turn out guilty because his kid, Eva Ariel Binder, loves him so much. And he loves the kid too. How could he have possibly murdered the mom. Is it going to turn out White ADA Kelly Frye and Black detective Eugene Byrd maybe railroaded the Hispanic guy? Through… cultural ignorance no less.

It’s a weird episode with the murder trial. Missick’s all about protecting Binder from the system, which is cute and all but the mom’s dead or missing (Camacho’s already been busted bragging about how it’ll be a slam dunk because there’s no body in front of the kid), and it just doesn’t seem like “All Rise” is serious enough to be taken seriously when it asks to be. It’s not even clear it wants to be taken seriously, kind of like defendant Sozzi, who’s uncontrollable when Binder’s around. I don’t think Missick ever puts him in contempt because of course he’s going to be uncontrollably emotional given his pleas of innocence.

The episode ends with Bethel and Missick hanging out, which used to be one of the things the show got right. Now they seem like strangers, which might just be the writing, but… the show’s bland in all the wrong places. Camacho’s nearing annoying, the guest stars aren’t of the pilot’s caliber, and the writing is just way too flat. Instead of improving, “All Rise” is floundering, wasting both Missick and Bethel’s time. Especially Bethel’s this episode.

All Rise (2019) s01e07 – Uncommon Women and Mothers

Tony Denison is finally back. Not for very long in sort of a “let’s defer Tony Denison some more” way, but it’s nice he’s back. It gives second-billed but at least fourth in the show’s heart Wilson Bethel something else to do this episode besides prosecute extremely sympathetic non-binary young adult experiencing homelessness J.J. Hawkins for arson. “All Rise” quadruples down on the pronouns this episode and never makes a joke. It’s got slimy businesspeople respecting pronouns. Though this episode also has Black woman judge Simone Missick telling her mother, Black woman social worker L. Scott Caldwell to trust the system to do the right thing.

Because the system’s fine, it’s the people.

So… ew. Lots of optics here.

Missick also has to be contrite to boss Marg Helgenberger at one point… while reaffirming how much, as a judge, she loves the cops. So… double ew.

Thank goodness the show realizes Ruthie Ann Miles and Lindsay Mendez can be buddies and have hijinks, this time involving them both wanting to be fire warden. I hold the opinion all television programs ever could have their opening titles cut to the “Night Court” theme song, but rarely do I ever hear it so often as when “All Rise” is having its hijinks.

Oh, and assistant assistant D.A. Bethel does get to tell off boss Reggie Lee when Lee’s ranting about the dangerous homeless because before Denison became a bookie to the Russian Mob (based on this episode’s visual indicators), he and Bethel at one point lived out of their car. Though pretty soon Bethel met Missick and found a second, better parent in Caldwell. What’s funny about the show’s schmaltz is how it’s also visually soft and upbeat. If it had any grit or grain, it’d be an interesting contract. Instead, it’s like the show is…

Oh.

Yeah.

It’s wearing its safety pin.

But the cast. But for the cast. Seeing Missick and Bethel doing straight network drama is damned interesting, considering it’s not where their futures lie. At least not in an “All Rise”-type form.

All Rise (2019) s01e06 – Fool for Liv

Something about this episode feels like it ran into the show’s budget. Though there’s some location shooting. Kind of a lot of it, but there’s no action at the locations. There’s standing or sitting. And it’s never on the A plot, always B or even C. On the A plot, outside Jere Burns as a terribly written slick defense attorney, everything feels like it’s under serious constraint. Burns is defending a social media star’s assistant, accused of murdering the social media star. All of the assistant’s fans are in the courtroom disrupting the proceedings, making judge Simone Missick look unable to control her courtroom so her job is ostensibly in jeopardy and Burns is being slick instead of actually lawyering and on and on.

But it’s all done cheap. It’s supposed to be lighting up social media only the show never shows how that lighting up affects anything. It’s like the show knows having social media fans dox jurors is bad, but it doesn’t know why it’s bad. Does “All Rise” even employ any legal consultants? It doesn’t seem like it does.

There’s some good stuff with Missick and court clerk Ruthie Ann Miles hanging out, but in a very humorous way not in actual character development way. I’m also not sure but it seems like Missick is having trouble not laughing at some of Miles’s best deliveries. And the stuff with Missick and Burns gets to an all right point, so it’s a shame to episode doesn’t end with it but instead subjects us to more of Jessica Camacho and J. Alex Brinson’s courtship.

So Camacho’s got a case where she’s defending a guy against Wilson Bethel, who’s got nothing to do this episode because he’s not allowed to try cases in front of Missick and instead his boss, Reggie Lee (who’s a regular?), tries it. Bethel and Camacho are trying to work out a plea deal for her client, whatever. The episode makes Bethel seem potentially shady, which he isn’t. “All Rise” is aspirational. Bethel’s a white knight. But Camacho doesn’t seem to trust him, but then she does once Bethel reminds her he’s a white knight. Their plot feels like writer Conway Preston was just trying to pad out the episode. It’s not good. It’s lazy.

Camacho and Brinson’s cutesy courtship is worse though. It’s annoying. They’re now officially obnoxious together, which is too bad because they’re both likable apart. And their relationship used to be cute versus cutesy.

I think this episode’s the equivalent of a bunt, if I’m getting my baseball metaphors right.

All Rise (2019) s01e05 – Devotees in the Courthouse of Love

Nadia Gray’s back this episode, which is surprisingly distinguishing as Gray doesn’t make much impression other than everyone making fun of her name—Ria’s hard for them—and boyfriend Wilson Bethel’s general eye-rolling at her being a supermodel brand influencer. Of course, Bethel doesn’t really want to be dating her because he and Simone Missick are best friends who complete each other but just can’t get together at least until season two if they rush things, season three if they take their time. But the show’s ready for Gray to go now. The episode takes place on the courthouse’s annual Wedding Day, when there’s a big group wedding or some such thing. Gray’s all soft about getting married, Bethel’s not interested (he can’t even say he likes her because woke white guy still guy); plus he spends the entire episode almost flirting with defense attorney Lindsey Gort.

Over in Missick’s courtroom—the show finally addressed Bethel not being allowed to lawyer in Missick’s courtroom because they’re besties last episode; took them long enough—anyway, Missick’s got a nun trial. I’m not sure if nuns on trial is a lawyer show trope but it certainly seems like a lawyer show trope. Or when nuns show up in the hospital show. It’s a trope. If it’s not a trope now, it used to be a trope, when you kept tripping over Catholics on TV. You know, before the whole “our organization exists to protect and further child rape” thing, which “All Rise” never addresses because—deep down—the show’s not controversial.

And there’s no controversy this episode, other than Missick figuring out how bad the legal system screws poor people in dollars and cents and tries to fix it. Positive change we can all agree on, this week on “All Rise.” See, progressives aren’t going too fast, this week on “All Rise.”

The episode does give Marg Helgenberger an all-right scene—her best in the show so far, even if it passes Bechdel but only because Helgenberger’s queer—and Paul McCrane’s back. They don’t give McCrane much to do except be Judge Rocket Romano but it’s fine. It’s Paul McCrane.

Last episode J. Alex Brinson and Jessica Camacho got their chemistry in sync, this episode it’s Missick and assistant Ruthie Ann Miles. Quick refresh—Miles is the experience clerk who’s supposed to hate new SJW Black lady judge Missick but it turns out they work great together. They’ve been fun to watch since the first episode, but now they’re finally getting their rapport worked out.

“All Rise” isn’t on the most even ground but it’s getting to be solid ground.

Solid, uneven ground. Uneven, solid ground. Whichever means it’s basically all right and the performances carry it.

All Rise (2019) s01e04 – A View from the Bus

Todd Williams shows up for the first scene—he’s top-billed Simone Missick’s husband who’s been MIA most episodes—and gets her off to work. They still don’t have much chemistry together. Even if Missick and Wilson Bethel don’t have romantic chemistry together, they’ve got something. Missick and Williams haven’t got anything. They’re kind of ludicrously mismatched. Sure, the show hasn’t hit the guest star casting peaks of the pilot but it hasn’t been bad. Williams isn’t bad, but he’s not an inspired choice.

And him being an FBI agent is just kind of weird. Especially given how willing the show is to get “political,” but apparently the FBI is above reproach. It’s very weird.

The episode does near that inspired guest star casting—not in terms of name or experience, but quality—with defendant Jacob Gibson. He’s the college-going young Black man who still hangs out with his… urban friends and one of them killed someone then had Gibson drive away. The big deal of the first half of the episode is when judge Missick agrees to take the jury to the crime scene. Field trip! Only then there’s an active shooter situation and Missick’s got to worry about whether she prejudiced them because they’re worried it’s Gibson’s friends who were trying to intimidate the jury. Jessica Camacho’s Gibson’s lawyer so of course she’s worrying about it too. Suzanne Cryer’s the shockingly obviously racist district attorney who wants to humiliate Gibson before his conviction. It’s tense stuff, even pasteurized into CBS appropriate milk.

You can tell it doesn’t work right because J. Alex Brinson is hanging around Camacho and Gibson the whole time but he doesn’t actually get to reflect on how white people treat Black men they suspect of being dangerous, even though the episode opens with a “previously on” recapping bailiff Brinson getting cuffed up by the white sheriff deputies.

Meanwhile Bethel’s going up against previously established not corrupt but dirty cop Erin Cummings. He’s suspicious of her evidence and does a full investigation; strangely the show doesn’t bring up Cummings’s “support me because I’m a woman” thing she tried using on Missick a few episodes ago, which might not be standards and practices but the show just showing its lack of self-awareness. But Richard Brooks is back for a scene and it’s awesome to have Brooks back for a scene. It gives Bethel a lot to do and he’s great at it but you’re still sitting there thinking… that’s Bullseye, he can do a lot more.

At least the episode ends on a reassuring montage sequence and not another “let’s work together” speech from Brinson. And he and Camacho are getting cute together. It’s hard to see Brinson as cute, given he’s son of a bitch abusive cop husband Jeff from “Travelers” but it’s starting to work.

All Rise (2019) s01e03 – Sweet Bird of Truth

I’m very curious how this episode went through standards and practices. Was there a version of it where Black bailiff J. Alex Brinson doesn’t give a heartwarming speech about how the sheriff’s department needs to work within the system to fix the system. It’s just after Brinson has approached the fellow deputy (Christopher Amitrano) pulled him over and cuffed him the day before for jogging while Black. Amitrano gets a shot to himself during Brinson’s speech, so we know if we just wait long enough and explain it to the white supremacists the right way, we can all get along. It’s toothless, just when “All Rise” seemed like it might have some actual teeth.

It’s particularly bad because there aren’t actually many Black people in the cast. Two. Sure, it’s judge Simone Missick (she’s not exactly the lead but it’s about her courtroom and experiences in it), but the show goes out of its way to imply how out of place Missick (and Brinson) feel. And this episode seems like they’re taking it really seriously. They don’t want to offend anyone, but they’re taking the institutionalized racism thing seriously. Only it’s a passive thing, people can’t really control it. But if you get too out of hand—like evil violent white supremacist Ryan Brady. I mean, hey, the show’s saying assault with a vehicle is real assault and does real damage—it’s like the show thinks it can play woke in one column but not the other. Especially since the whole episode you’re just waiting for Brinson to have some awesome speech or confrontation and instead it’s… civility. Eye-roll.

But, I suppose, much more what I was expecting from “All Rise.”

Missick and Wilson Bethel don’t hang out much this episode. It’s one of the subplots. But Bethel’s busy with the Brady case, being an earnest white savior. It only works—as far as it works—because it’s Bethel and his tense energy. We also meet Bethel’s girlfriend, Nadia Gray, and Missick’s husband, Todd Williams. The show doesn’t even pretend it cares Gray and Bethel or Missick and Williams have any chemistry together.

There’s also a cringe-y part where Bethel argues well in court so the judge rewards him by recognizing brown person have rights and the show presents it as a win. See, all the racist old white men judges want is some creative courtroom antics before they’ll recognize non-white people as people.

And you can tell “Rise” thinks that Brinson speech is pushing the envelope, even though it’s as fake as when Bethel and Williams chest bump or something because they’ve clearly never hung out in their lives and it’s unimaginable they would. But anyway.

All Rise (2019) s01e02 – Long Day’s Journey Into ICE

Going into this episode, I thought I had the show figured out. It was “‘Major Crimes’ universe,” where white cops could be progressive about gay and trans rights and so on. Still pretty invested in white supremacy, but maybe not as much as usual. And no talking about killer cops. Progressive, just not actually progressing. Going into “All Rise” episode two, I was onboard for the cast and just fine with it.

This episode, “All Rise”—in the first scene—goes all in after ICE. I had thought about how a feature of a “‘Major Crimes’ universe” was no Orange Führer, but it’s all about living in the 2019 hellhole under the Orange Führer. Simone Missick’s judge is going to be a proud activist judge. Last episode it wasn’t clear whether or not the show wanted to be overtly progressive. This episode decides enthusiastically in favor of it, with Black female judge Missick getting together with Latinx public defender Jessica Camacho and—yes, Simone Missick really appeals to Irish ancestors at one point—white district attorney Kelly Frye. They work together to subvert ICE and try to get Camacho’s client, asylum-seeker Roland Ruiz, out of ICE’s grasp with the best possible outcome for Ruiz. It’s women for the win.

But not just women in this episode, with younger white guy Wilson Bethel trying to take down old rich white guy Robert Curtis Brown because Brown bribed a witness. The arc gives Bethel a lot of emoting over his estrangement with his father, as he identifies with Brown’s kid, Ava Deluca-Verley. Sadly Deluca-Verley isn’t particularly good. This episode of “All Rise” doesn’t have that amazing guest star casting from the pilot. No one’s exactly bad… Deluca-Verley’s just not interesting, which might also be the part, but the casting caliber isn’t here.

The show’s still pretty safe just based on the energy Missick and the supporting cast get when the plan comes together. She and Ruthie Ann Miles are downright good together already, which isn’t easy as Miles is supposed to be the irate judge’s clerk. If they get a second season, I’ll bet they even have the gall to proudly identify as social justice… hmm… champions of social justice. “All Rise” isn’t bold so much as forceful. Its progressive politicking is always calculated.

And its lead performances always solid. But it’s too soon to tell if it can get away without being bold about anything.

All Rise (2019) s01e01 – Pilot

I wanted to watch “All Rise” because it’s Simone Missick’s new show. Missick was awesome on “Luke Cage,” figured I’d try it. But you know who else is in “All Rise”? Bullseye from “Daredevil,” Wilson Bethel. They play best friends. She’s a new judge, he’s her ex-fellow district attorney. She’s Black, he’s white, but they’re real friends. Heartwarming stuff. It’s really weird to see Missick and Bethel in this kind of role, this slightly patronizing mainstream safe progressive CBS show. Missick’s got to wait for humor cues, Bethel’s got to play excitable but sympathetic guy, it’s weird. And it’s kind of fun, especially with Bethel. He lets loose well. Missick’s better with the new judge stuff.

Besides Bethel, “All Rise” centers around Missick’s new courtroom. The last time the regular team was together, a white cop had an anti-immigration meltdown and tried to kill a judge. A kindly old white judge. In the courtroom are defense attorney Jessica Camacho (from “The Flash”), bailiff J. Alex Brinson (son of a bitch cop and spousal abuser Jeff from “Travelers”), argumentative court clerk Ruthie Ann Miles, and stenographer Lindsay Mendez. Camacho’s basically third lead. Brinson flirts with her and helps her out with her case (he’s going to law school at night) and is buds with Mendez, who’s the introverted sassy one because “All Rise” is all about its caricatures. And the caricatures are fine because the cast bring enough personality. It’s basically a perfectly casted network legal drama. Not going to rock any boats.

But… it’s going to have a great cast. This episode has, guest starring, ‘Rocket Romano’ and ‘Emil’ Paul McCrane, Tony Denison (the show gives off a whole “Major Crimes” vibe, also with the upbeat reality nonsense), and Richard Brooks. Onahoua Rodriguez gets a small part too (I had to look her up, “Shield”). So it’s an exceptionally well-cast show. It’s worth just watching for the guest star casting, especially since Denison is playing Bethel’s lowlife small time crook dad. Denison’s so good. So “All Rise: The Pilot” gets a pass, but maybe not on the merits it should be scoring.

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