Ruthie Ann Miles

All Rise (2019) s01e18 – The Tale of Three Arraignments

I think I know “All Rise” continuity better than the writers because when they introduce previously unmentioned Third Musketeer Ryan Michelle Bathe (she went to law school with Simone Missick and Wilson Bethel), they bend the backstory about Missick and Bethel knowing each other as kids. Or they don’t completely break it—Missick and Bethel meeting up after undergrad at the same law school could work, though him then (apparently) dating Bathe, who—physical description-wise—is identical to Missick… It has a certain feel to it.

Bathe’s back in town to start a new law firm and she wants both Missick and Bethel to join her. It was their childish law school dream. And both Missick and Bethel are in enough of a state to consider it. Marg Helgenberger’s punishing Missick for not forgiving her White feminist—like, gently punishing, being an obvious jerk but not a Machiavellian villain—and Reggie Lee’s doing something similar to Bethel. Will the Dynamic Duo join forces and become the Terrific Trio?

Only the show never pushes it too hard. “All Rise” is a mostly happy place where Jessica Camacho—who’s got an obnoxious romance subplot with J. Alex Brinson this episode, just exasperating, also has a hashtag Girl Power story arc involving Bathe and now steadily recurring prosecutor Suzanne Cryer. Camancho’s client, Raven Bowens, is being pimped by Greg Tarzan Davis and Camacho wants to do something about it, involving Cryer, but then Davis hires Bathe and Camacho gets her involved. Then Bathe gets Missick involved, who then gets Helgenberger involved and basically it’s a very positive change thanks to women working together moment.

And Bowens is great.

It’s not a great plot and isn’t particularly compelling outside Bowens’s performance and it takes them a while to spotlight her, instead giving it to Camacho in the run-up, but the acting’s solid from the regulars, excellent from Bowens, and there’s a sincerity to it. It’s making the system work for victims.

There’s some more with Missick’s husband, Todd Williams, and the creepy campaign adviser guy, Nicholas Christopher, who apparently Missick’s supposed to have chemistry with but doesn’t because Christopher always seems like a creep. Williams’s got a nothing part; he doesn’t try to showboat it, he just plays it and goes on his way. Christopher tries to showboat and invades the scenes. It’s really weird and unfortunate, as pretty much everything involving Missick and romance is a drag.

She’s much better hanging out with Bathe and Bethel in her off time.

It’s not one of the better episodes, not one of the worse—Bathe’s a fine supporting player to recur… but doesn’t the show have to start worrying about renewal at this point. Oh, episode eighteen… we’re definitely in the renewal pageantry portion of the season—all right, let’s see what they’ve got.

All Rise (2019) s01e17 – I Love You, You’re Perfect, I Think

Despite a forced start with Jessica Camacho and roomie and BFF Lindsay Mendez going hiking in some canyon before work and not finding a body, with some particularly forced angst from Camacho regarding boyfriend J. Alex Brinson declaring his love for her, the episode works out to be one of “All Rise”’s best.

Gregory Nelson’s script does a bit of a greatest hits tour through the show, making sure to give Simone Missick and Wilson Bethel banter and bickering banter to showcase the range of their characters’ relationship.

Nelson also takes the show seemingly new places—and revisiting some unfamiliar ones—the episode doesn’t just have a scene in the judges’ lounge, it also goes to the public defender office for the first time either ever or in a long while; the district attorney office is more familiar but rarely showcased as much as here. The show also figures out what to do with Audrey Corsa, now she and Brinson don’t seem to have a flirtation going. She’s a good sidekick for Bethel, who teaches her to be idealistic above all else in this episode.

Bethel’s got an innocent man to free, so lots of good White guy turmoil, while Missick’s got to deal with telling boss Marg Helgenberger what’s what as far as Helgenberger’s informal vetting.

The Missick and Helgenberger stuff turns out to be good, which is a surprise.

Then there’s a subplot with Peter MacNicol having to admit he’s capable of mistakes as an old White man, even means he has to respect young Latina women (in this case Mendez).

Paul McCrane (who does a fine job directing) is around a bit to spice things up.

Of course, the main plot is a soldier has PTSD so is he responsible for this assault, with Camacho as the defense attorney and Gavin Stenhouse as the accused. Stenhouse is pretty good. He’s able to make it work. Much better than when Camacho and Mendez have a really forced conversation about how much they support the troops.

Lots of big swings for the show—the PTSD of a soldier, Marg Helgenberger’s accountability arc, and the MacNichol having to admit his bias… and it does work out pretty darn well for the show. The episode successfully showcases the show at its best.

All Rise (2019) s01e16 – My Fair Lockdown

This episode of “All Rise” has this super juicy White man part for guest star Ben Browder. Survivalist holds courtroom hostage; the cops came to kick him out of his home, which is apparently somewhere in the County of Los Angeles but remote enough you don’t see people and no one pays attention when you don’t pay your property taxes for twenty years. I mean, California’s big. Sure, let’s go with it. Let’s even go with Simone Missick at one point telling Browder, who doesn’t believe the court has any jurisdiction over him, he’s going to get a chance to “speak his truth.”

Of course, Browder’s truth is objectively false and if he really hadn’t been off the farm for twenty years or whatever, he’d be in for astounding culture shock and be suffering from that problem too but… whatever. Don’t like the dismissive use of “truth” there. Not cool.

But then all of Conway Preston’s script is bad. The dialogue, the plotting, all of it. The only things wrong with the episode he’s not responsible for are the casting and the direction. David A. Harp’s direction is fine except the opening when he tries to do this lengthy fake tracking shot of Lindsay Mendez coming into work and walking past all the regular cast to introduce the episode’s ground situation. Worse, it’s peppy and upbeat while the episode is anything but. It’s a tonal bait and switch and “All Rise” isn’t worth a tonal bait and switch. Regardless of me preferring the latter tone to the former. The peppy stuff is obnoxious. The downbeat stuff isn’t great or even good, but it’s not obnoxious.

Though it’s not like the show challenges its cast. Actually, “All Rise” is a bait and switch in and of itself; here’s this great opportunity for Missick and Wilson Bethel and the show wastes them. They get less so Jessica Camacho gets more, even though she’s not part of their dynamic best buds duo (which is missing from the show, almost as obviously as Missick’s husband, Todd Williams on FaceTime, who’s either dying or cheating by the end of the season). But then Camacho gets a truncated part this episode so everyone else in the supporting cast can get more.

It’s a mess. The show’s got way too many regulars and not enough for them to do. It really needs better writers. And better guest stars. I didn’t think Browder had done anything. I thought they couldn’t get anyone to play such a poorly written juicy White man part—seriously, if well-written it’d be Emmy-bait—but Browder was actually the lead on “Farscape.”

Note: continue hesitating to watch “Farscape,” regardless of Henson Company involvement.

There’s a really solid moment or two for Paul McCrane in this episode though. The action takes him out of his regular—well, it doesn’t actually take him out of the courtroom—basically, it’s a new way to see McCrane. He gets to act opposite Bethel and J. Alex Brinson and talk about Brinson dating Camacho and you realize how great it’d be for McCrane to really get good material and not a souped-up caricature for once.

The show also wastes a Jason Dohring guest spot. I seriously don’t understand how Dohring can’t get a shot outside “Veronica Mars” projects. Though maybe it’s better to be on the periphery of “All Rise,” out of the middling’s blast radius.

All Rise (2019) s01e15 – Prelude to a Fish

It’s a Valentine’s Day episode and romance is in the air around the courthouse. Maybe a little bit too much romance because “turns out they didn’t forget about her” D.A.’s office law clerk Audrey Corsa is back and she’s got her eyes on J. Alex Brinson, who’s starting his clerk job in the D.A.’s office and can tell she’s got her eyes on him and wants to avoid said eyes. Brinson starts the episode with a grand romantic gesture for girlfriend Jessica Camacho in front of all their friends, work acquaintances, and judge Simone Missick. It involves dancing and fish (hence the episode title, which—incidentally—makes no sense if you know what the word “prelude” means).

The sequence would be cringey even if it didn’t kick off Camacho being sad on Valentine’s Day.

Of course she’s sad on Valentine’s Day more because client Danielle Burgess can’t escape an abusive ex-boyfriend and it reminds Camacho of her abusive ex-husband, which eventually leads to a Brinson tone-policing Camacho at work thing. The show goes out of its way to explain why when men do bad things it’s their fault not their ex-girlfriends, but damn if Brinson doesn’t tell Camacho to stop yelling when dealing with shit of a D.A. Mitch Silpa.

Meanwhile Wilson Bethel’s got a case opposite Lindsey Gort; they like each other but are competitive so they only ever hooked up the one time or something a few episodes ago and now it’s time for the next level. While they work through this somewhat strange case involving disability fraud but in a heartwarming, let’s be understanding way. It’s not the most “CBS woke” episode of “All Rise” but its the most constantly “CBS woke” one.

At least now she admits liking Bethel, Gort’s nowhere near as obnoxious.

Meanwhile Missick is investigating boss Marg Helgenberger for a potential political run—doing in-house oppo research—and, just like Paul McCrane (who apparently was only willing to come back if he got to be seated in a break room) warned her. Lots of hemming and hawing for Missick, including the investigation being a cliffhanger, which is a little too dramatic for “All Rise,” while she’s trying to open a present from her offscreen husband. Just reminding about the offscreen husband reminds about how he’s pointless to the show and seems like a forced detail in Missick’s ground situation. Especially since Helgenberger’s campaign guy is a very flirty Nicholas Christopher.

The episode gives Camacho a big monologue about how her husband turned physical abusive, which is intense but also, unfortunately, not a good showcase for Camacho.

All Rise (2019) s01e14 – Bye Bye Bernie

This episode is series story editor Mellori Velasquez’s first episode as the credited writer. And, wow, either she’s really and at the dialogue or they went exceptionally cheap on the supporting cast. For example, Chelsea Rendon’s murder trial defendant. There’s no reason Rendon should be bad and she certainly seems earnest in her performance, but it’s not a good one. The dialogue between Rendon and her lawyer Jessica Camacho, where Camacho tries to empathize with Rendon over being Latinx and in the system (Camacho, big reveal, was in juvie for a bit as a teen), is painful and then made worse by the scenes going on a line or two too long. So maybe director Michael M. Robin’s fault too.

Then again, with Carlos Miranda as the prosecutor on Rendon’s case? He’s just plain bad. He’s got terrible dialogue but he’s also bad.

As the episode, with its plots for almost the entire regular cast—save Lindsay Mendez and Ruthie Ann Miles, of course—started to wind down, I got thinking about how they’ve managed to make “All Rise” a melodrama without making it particularly soapy. This episode’s got Simone Missick dealing with the Rendon trial, which doesn’t require much from her, as well as the perceived fallout from her mom, L. Scott Caldwell, talking about the racism in the criminal justice system. The subplot—which introduces Brent Jennings as Missick’s peacemaker father—culminates in Caldwell and Missick yelling at each other about how Caldwell basically thinks Missick’s a sell-out. The show positions Missick as surrounded by White people evaluating her as a Black woman judge, with Missick’s reaction often being filtered for that audience (as well as the White audience of the show). This scene with Caldwell could’ve been something.

And it’s not. In fact, the show goes on to walk it all back so they can get to a happy ending for the episode.

Also happy ending for the Wilson Bethel subplot with dad Tony Denison. I was thrilled to see Denison in the pilot’s opening credits but they’ve completely wasted him. Even this episode, presumably his last for a while, doesn’t give him anything to do. Velasquez’s forte is not the parents of grown children in the legal field.

Bethel’s case is at least effective, if manipulative, as he tries to get justice for an older woman possibly suffering from dementia (a decent enough Debra Mooney).

Throw in fourth-billed bailiff-turned-lawyer-to-be J. Alex Brinson interviewing for clerkships, Denison’s defense attorney Lindsey Gort flirting a little more seriously than usual with Bethel, and it’s a packed episode.

Maybe the most significant development is Bethel and Missick getting into an argument, which Velasquez cops out on almost immediately, but it’s at least interesting.

“All Rise” really seems to want credit for humanizing prison inmates and people with dementia; it’s a TV drama equivalent of “Please clap.”

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.

All Rise (2019) s01e11 – The Joy From Oz

Does the Los Angeles court really have a bring your kids to work day? I’m less engaged with the dramatics of “All Rise,” which has Wilson Bethel hemming and hawing over whether or not to help dad Tony Denison with his upcoming trial or just abandon him and Simone Missick having to defend herself as a judge to her current and former peers, whose problem with her is basically she’s a Black woman but “All Rise” doesn’t have the stones to say it, than with the incidentals of the courthouse they’re creating. Chief Justice Marg Helgenberger deciding her most important duty is to make sure visiting kids have the best time on their trip is… very weird. And very silly (they stage a mock trial based around Wizard of Oz, sadly it’s for the kids and not smartly written). But Helgenberger’s awesome at being silly. She’s been fine on the show before, good even, but never so much fun.

But while she’s being fun in a C plot, Missick and Bethel are just trying to get through the episode. It starts with everyone going crazy for the cookies at the District Attorney’s holiday party, which seems like utter nonsense. A bunch of harried adults geeked out a couple cookies (because they’re not irresponsibly snacking of course). “All Rise” dares the viewer to take it too seriously.

Anyway, Bethel’s arc is all about how some crook rats out his boss and it turns out to be because of a family thing and so it inspires Bethel not to abandon Tony Denison, even though at the end of last episode Bethel was ready to quit his job and become a defense attorney. There’s also a white guy redemption thing to it. Meanwhile, Missick’s got to defend herself against asinine allegations—she apparently embarrasses attorneys in her courtroom when they’re shady or incompetent—while Rocket Romano (or whatever Paul McCrane’s conservative white judge but not racist conservative TV nonsense conservative) shoots her withering looks. It’s got a predictable end.

Missick gets a big speech about how she’s going to judge the way she’s going to judge and it’s… fine. It’s not well-written, it’s certainly not well-directed (Claudia Yarmy’s direction is best described as annoying), but Missick gets through it. See, she’s got the hashtag woke courtroom and everyone—except the white prosecutors (save Bethel of course)—thinks there finally needs to be a hashtag woke courtroom. Not sure why no one else could do it but whatever. It’s just sad Missick’s stuck on such an obvious, middling network drama instead of actually getting to act on something.

All Rise (2019) s01e10 – Dripsy

Lots of guest stars this episode—Tony Denison, Ileana Douglas (who brings so much energy to the show she ought to be added as a regular), familiar-faced Brian Howe, and then Dina Meyer for a scene. The episode’s about Simone Missick having to switch courtrooms due to a leak and then protect the defendant in a case from her incompetent lawyer (Howe). Oh, and Wilson Bethel’s got a sleepwalking burglary case—Douglas is the consulting psychiatric examiner—but mostly he’s dealing with dad Denison getting arrested.

The episode then ends with Marg Helgenberger very calmly and disinterestedly informing Missick she’s under review. Missick’s old buddies in the prosecutors office have filed complaints (not Bethel, obviously). The episode ends on a semi-solid cliffhanger between Missick’s review and Bethel debating whether or not to quit his job to defend Denison and there’s this possibility the show could be about both of them quitting to become defense attorneys and it’s the most potential the show’s had in maybe ever.

Shame it’s not going to happen.

It’s also moving day for Jessica Camacho, who ends up in Missick’s courtroom by the end of the episode but doesn’t really do anything there. Camacho is moving in with court reporter Lindsay Mendez who’s a regular but doesn’t get story arcs. J. Alex Brinson and Camacho go out on a date, which gets bumpy but also doesn’t, and he’s apparently forgotten all about new prosecutors office clerk Audrey Corsa. She’s in it for a literal shot, reminding everyone she exists but having nothing to do. Kind of weird to introduce her just to drop her but whatever.

The cliffhangers for Missick and Bethel, which are all of a sudden instead of building over multiple episodes (especially Bethel’s), reek of middling plotting and give the actors very little to work with. Though having Denison back—he’s barely in the episode though, with Bethel’s time mostly spent trying to find him lost in the system—does mean having Denison’s fantastic hair helmet back. It’s awesome.

Not sure it’s worth watching the show just for it but it’s awesome.

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.

Scroll to Top