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FIRST MONDAY!! Talk Back!!

I am – Hercules!!

Don Bellisario, the talentless writer-producer behind “Magnum P.I.,” “Quantum Leap” and “JAG,” and the embodiment of all that is wrong with modern TV drama, tries to help rip off genius dramatist Aaron Sorkin with a CBS series about the Supreme Court titled “First Monday.”

Few reading AICN will see tonight’s pilot, of course, as it airs opposite “Smallville,” “24” and “Buffy” (to say nothing of “NYPD Blue” and “Frasier”) so here’s some review excerpts:

The Hollywood Reporter says:

Given the success of "The West Wing," it's easy to understand the impulse that gave rise to this series (and to ABC's "The Court," which premieres in March). In capturing the admiration of viewers, critics and Emmy voters alike, "West Wing" proved there is a thirst for shows that dramatize critical public issues with actors and dialogue convincing enough to make us believe we are watching an accurate reflection of what transpires at the highest levels of government.

The biggest problem with "First" is that it is nowhere near that convincing. Too many books and news reports have been written in recent years to make it possible to swallow this portrayal of the Supreme Court as a back-slapping group of mutually respectful justices. Forget that some of the details aren't right (for example, the newest justice always sits on one end): The whole tenor of the show lacks the ring of truth.

… The script for the premiere, written by exec producer/director Donald P. Bellisario, isn't afraid to raise controversial issues, but it wants to go at them with more emotion than intellect. Not trusting viewers to appreciate the clash of issues on their own terms, Bellisario often trivializes them.

Variety says:

It's absurdly oversimplified and miseducates aplenty if viewed as a civics lesson, but it identifies the fault lines of important social issues and has a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" meets "Father Knows Best" purity that's hokey and appealing.

… The Supreme Court, long off-limits to dramatic interpretation, has taken enough hits to its reputation of late that it could use this bit of well-packaged Hollywood mythologizing.

USA Today says:

… a preposterously misguided attempt to reach The West Wing by way of Matlock.

… where [West] Wing is credible within its own TV universe, Monday is absurd on its face; and where Wing protects the dignity of its public servants, Monday turns its justices into codger comic relief. It even gives them a goofy catchphrase: Before entering the court, the justices huddle as the chief justice cheers, "Let's go make history!"

Better you should go make good TV.

I am – Hercules!!

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Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 15, 2002, 9:43 p.m. CST

    First Tuesday!

    by Madscaper

    had to...

  • Jan. 15, 2002, 9:45 p.m. CST

    Free Mr. Kent!

    by SSJ Gohan


  • Jan. 15, 2002, 9:49 p.m. CST

    Good premise, but a technical error

    by NFLRefugee

    The Supreme Court allowed the petitioner to argue in front of the court. This is not correct (at least to my knowledge) as the Supreme Court doesn't allow new evidence to be presented. Am I right? Anyone know?

  • Jan. 15, 2002, 11:13 p.m. CST

    Gah! Who dares to badmouth Quantum Leap?

    by epitone

    Quantum Leap is one of the top two or three shows ever created in the history of mankind! What are you smoking, Herc? I'm on board 100% with your views on Buffy, but come on!

  • Jan. 15, 2002, 11:57 p.m. CST

    Quantum Leap was excellent, despite Bellisario's other shows

    by johnnysunshine

    Yeah, this show sounds like a piece of crap rip-off of West Wing, but you can't say Quantum Leap was a bad show. It had one of the most original concepts ever for a tv series and stands as one of the best science fiction series ever made.

  • Jan. 16, 2002, 12:22 a.m. CST

    yes, i actually sat through it.

    by majorq007

    even worse than the blurbs claimed, if possible. lemme get this straight: the coronor on the child COULDN'T tell the difference between strangulation and suffocation, and the FIRST person to notice this is a clerk on the supreme court? And NFL is right (i think it was him)--you can't just arbitrarily introduce new evidence. in fact, the sc can't simply find an issue to bring forth, they have to stick to the claims in the petition.

  • Jan. 16, 2002, 2:25 a.m. CST

    tuesday is officially GILMORE DAY

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    Got it?!?!?

  • Jan. 16, 2002, 4:29 a.m. CST

    Anyone see the last episode of Magnum P.I.?

    by Toby O Notoby

    A friend once told me that it turns out Higgins is actually Robin Masters (as in, he writes all the books). It was one of the reasons he was always so worried about the Ferarri, among other things. Bullshit or not?

  • Jan. 16, 2002, 10:02 a.m. CST

    Sorry Herc, but I'll watch Quantum Leap repeats over new Buf

    by Sod Off Baldric

    However, what I won't be watching ever again is "First Monday." This had to be one of the hokiest, hackneyed pieces of tripe that I have ever been subjected to. The only reason I watched is because I stopped by my friend's place last night...he is a law student and therefore wanted to check out this new program as it deals with law. Otherwise, I had never even heard of this program. Could the dialogue possibly BE any cornier? The interaction between the characters was just horrible. And what the Hell was up with the bad "Waterboy" impersonation from the guy playing the retarded Death Row inmate? This show was bad...period.

  • Jan. 16, 2002, 10:28 a.m. CST

    In Defense of Bellisario

    by Col. Thursday

    Admittedly, this man produces a show for a different audience, perhaps a different generation. The common elements of shows that bear his mark (Black Sheep Squadron, Battlestar Galactica((the better episodes)), Magnum PI, Tales of the Gold Monkey, Airwolf, Quantum Leap, JAG, First Monday) are at the heart, soldier stories. The situations may cover an odd range of bases, but they are a reasonably authentic relflection of a normally dismissed but occasionally valued sub-culture - tales of those who serve the United States, or the common good. No, I can't say the man has the genius for character and cute dialouge that Sorkin sweats over breakfast, but I'll watch a Bellisario show any day if I want to be reminded of the nobler aspects of our culture. The first of First Monday wasn't up to your average West Wing, but as premiers go, I'll be giving the series a good shot.