Peter MacNicol

All Rise (2019) s01e13 – What the Bailiff Saw

So it looks like Peter MacNicol is going to be a regular guest star, which is fine. He exudes a lovable, not too problematic old white guy energy as Simone Missick’s new judge pal. He shows up for a single scene, to talk to her about the case she’s got going, then disappears again. I didn’t pay attention to his credit in the titles, unfortunately. “All Rise” could use MacNicol around more, especially as this episode seems to imply the initial overarching stories are winding down.

For example, the first time we get to see Tony Denison lash out at son Wilson Bethel might be the last—no spoilers. Denison’s mad Bethel thinks Denison is a murderer, with Lindsey Gort (who’s rather bad this episode as Denison’s lawyer) tries to calm things. But there are some big signs Denison’s time on the show is coming to a close. Similarly, the show’s pushing off Missick’s absentee husband (Todd Williams) for the rest of the season at least. He’s taking a job in DC to make Trump’s FBI more Black-friendly. Him taking the job comes after he introduces Missick to his white FBI lawyer friends, who are all impressed she stood up to ICE… even though they’d be defending ICE in court. And I’m not sure “All Rise” can really sell a fantasy land where Trump-BI is looking to hire Black agents who want to make justice equitable.

Besides, Williams isn’t very good. He’s bland and he and Missick always seem forced together. They really should’ve casted his part better. A modicum of chemistry would make a big difference.

The trial this episode involves Jessica Camacho defending a teen gang member (Luca Oriel) accused of murder and the D.A. bugs the room where defense attorneys meet with their clients. It kicks up a bunch of dust, including an impassioned scene from Lindsay Mendez about how gang members are people too (the show’s humanist take on it is… well, it doesn’t make up for the FBI absurdities and Mendez’s monologue isn’t great but it is a risky position, especially on CBS) and then J. Alex Brison coming down on the wrong side of the issue for girlfriend Camacho.

Not one of the show’s better episodes, but the promise of less Gore and maybe no Williams gives me hope for the future. Though I’m going to miss Denison, even if the show never utilized him well.

All Rise (2019) s01e12 – What the Constitution Greens to Me

This episode of “All Rise”—the first after hiatus—seems like a return to form. At least as much form as “All Rise” has ever had; in terms of guest stars, it means the pilot. “All Rise”’s guest star caliber has dropped since then. Not anymore. This episode doesn’t just have Peter MacNicol as a “I know racism is real, but unconscious racism… not sure about that business” judge colleague of Simone Missick’s who’s presiding over Wilson Bethel’s case. Missick’s got a “bonding with the other judges” subplot she’s going to be doing post-hiatus, with MacNicol her first new pal. He’s good at it and able to navigate the character’s inherent queasiness well. The part leverages MacNicol’s likability, which CBS no doubt remembers from when he was on “Numb3rs” for years.

Speaking of “Numb3rs,” Alimi Ballard shows up this episode too. He’s a Black dad whose wife died because of doctor John Billingsley’s obviously racially motivated neglect. There’s no reuniting with MacNicol—I can’t even remember if they share a shot together, probably not given episode director Steve Robin’s penchant for close-ups—which is fine. Ballard’s… not great. He’s okay. But they could’ve casted the part better.

“All Rise” has never reminded me of “Numb3rs,” instead I always think of it as taking place in the “Major Crimes” universe where cops and DAs aren’t bigots and racists, and also because Tony Denison pops up from time to time as Bethel’s dad. Denison’s back for a scene and not a great one, but then they also bring on “Major Crimes” vet Graham Patrick Martin as an annoying young white guy (Martin’s only note) who wants to commit environmental terrorism to get back at Republican senator mom Kathleen York. Their case is in Missick’s courtroom—she has to consult MacNicol because she’s now worried Marg Helgenberger might be corrupt—and… well, Martin hasn’t improved since “Crimes” ended. He’s got less to do so he’s less annoying. The case only really stands out because Patrick Duffy plays Martin’s ecoterrorism mentor and Duffy is freaking awesome. It’s an exaggerated cameo but who knew we got to the point where Patrick Duffy was going to be one of the best actors on a nighttime drama.

The show does all right with its buzzy topics—unconscious bias, corrupt politicians—at least until Bethel lets Billingsley’s doctor spout a bunch of stereotypes about Black women’s medical conditions without a rebuttal witness. “All Rise” is very fast and loose with its courtroom stuff. We get to see Bethel’s closing argument but not the defense’s. It’s kind of annoying but also okay because the show shouldn’t aim too high. It still doesn’t have good banter between best buds Missick and Bethel, even though they’re good together.

Lots of beach scenes this episode. The show’s also going to be playing up its L.A. setting now?

Much like “Major Crimes” (and “Numb3rs” for that matter), you wish the better actors were in better productions but it’s nice to see Missick and Bethel have a steady gig. I enjoyed watching this episode a lot more than the last… I don’t know, five or six of them. Jessica Camacho and J. Alex Brinson are back to being cute, which gets cloying but at least they don’t have bad arcs.

It’s fine. Hopefully they maintain this better balance through the rest of the season.

Bean (1997, Mel Smith)

I’m trying to imagine how Bean would play to someone unfamiliar with the television show. Depending on one’s tolerance for bland family comedy-dramas, it might actually play better. Because Bean, the movie, removes a lot of Bean, Rowan Atkinson’s character, and instead fills the time with Peter MacNicol and his problems.

His job is on the line and his wife of presumably sixteen plus years has decided their marriage is on the rocks because of those problems with his job. Pamela Reed plays the wife and she’s exceptionally unsympathetic in her anger. Screenwriters Richard Curtis and Robin Driscoll don’t just do a hatch job with the characterizations, they keep it going and going.

Some of the problem is director Mel Smith. He resists ever shooting the film from Atkinson’s perspective, except in the longer slapstick sequences, but he also doesn’t direct the film around him well. Harris Yulin especially stumbles around looking for direction. The supporting cast is mostly indistinct, though Burt Reynolds gets a smile or two and Larry Drake gets an actual laugh.

With all the celebrity cameos, Bean should feel bigger. But Smith doesn’t know how to direct it big. Or small. Until the ludicrous finish, the script’s tolerable. Tepid, but tolerable. The finish is atrocious though.

So why’s Bean all right, even with the finish? Because Atkinson is really, really funny and he never acts like there’s anything wrong with the film. He’s fully committed, even though his character’s constantly changing.

The film shamefully fails him.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Mel Smith; screenplay by Richard Curtis and Robin Driscoll, based on characters created by Rowan Atkinson and Curtis; director of photography, Francis Kenny; edited by Chris Blunden; music by Howard Goodall; production designer, Peter S. Larkin; produced by Peter Bennett-Jones, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner; released by Polygram Filmed Entertainment.

Starring Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), Peter MacNicol (David Langley), Pamela Reed (Alison Langley), Harris Yulin (George Grierson), Burt Reynolds (General Newton), Larry Drake (Elmer), Chris Ellis (Det. Butler), Johnny Galecki (Stingo Wheelie), Richard Gant (Lt. Brutus), Danny Goldring (Security Buck), Andrew Lawrence (Kevin Langley), Tom McGowan (Walter Merchandise), Sandra Oh (Bernice Schimmel), Tricia Vessey (Jennifer Langley) and John Mills (Chairman).


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