Friday, September 23, 2016

Pilot Review: Bull

Bull (CBS)
Premiered September 20 at 9pm

I started watching “NCIS” back when it was known as “Navy NCIS,” and it’s actually the first show I watched regularly from the beginning, right when I was just getting into the “film and television phase” that I haven’t grown out of since. I watched Michael Weatherly for seven and a half seasons, and I’d argue that he was the strongest cast member aside from his two female counterparts, Sasha Alexander and Cote de Pablo. Both women left the long-running show, now in its fourteenth season, a while ago, and Weatherly finally got out too. It’s exciting to see him take the lead after so long and really anchor a show, and this is inarguably a perfect role for him. He’s great at playing a know-it-all, and here he actually does, purporting to be able to predict how a jury will vote even before they know. The whole premise is pretty far-fetched, and this was a wildly sensational pilot, featuring a witness throwing something at the defense attorney while testifying, the suspect’s father getting shot by the victim’s father, and the suspect confessing on the stand that he’s gay after Bull told him that he knew even before the suspect did. It’s a lot to take but I guess that’s the nature of the law procedural these days, with CBS trying to think outside the box of its formatted programs and giving it an enticing twist. I like Weatherly and I’m also happy to see Freddy Rodriguez, who was a fantastic part of “Six Feet Under,” who stood out in this episode when he pretended to be the defense attorney for the simulation trial. This isn’t a show I need to watch in any way, but it’s nice to know that there’s a new fun series on the air.

How will it work as a series? We got a glimpse into Bull’s psyche at the end of the episode when he confronted one of the jurors and got analyzed himself. There’s sure to be some recurring drama there, and while this pilot was obviously loaded up with excess, I would imagine that ensuing episodes will actually be just as full of over-the-top characters and incidents, making it very memorable. Its procedural nature means that it should be easy enough to check in at any moment.
How long will it last? CBS is pulling out all the stops in terms of its marketing, using Weatherly’s face and a catchy tagline with the knowledge that “NCIS” fans are going to be ecstatic about seeing a beloved actor get his own show. The ratings for the pilot were solid, and I expect that CBS is going to jump on this one and renew it very soon.

Pilot grade: B-

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