CBS show devalues the word 'Supreme'

BY KATIE MARIE GATES
Daily Arts Writer
Published January 24, 2003

According to the realm of television drama, there are only two settings in which intellectual and successful Americans reside: The operating room and the courtroom. CBS once again provides the latter with its latest "Queens Supreme," a drama that rehashes the legal system from the perspective of the Queens, N.Y. Supreme Court judges. Tossing in some colorful cases and characters, the one-hour Friday night show provides some laughs but leaves viewers wanting something more.

The pilot episode introduces us to eccentric Judge Jack Moran (Oliver Platt, "A Time to Kill") as he bursts into song in the middle of trial. A hilarious opening to the series proves to be the undoing of this unconventional liberal judge. While he finds himself on trial against the mayor's associates, the young Kim Vicidomini (Annabella Sciorra, "The Sopranos"), a Republican, shows up to take his place. It is soon clear that the mayor, up for reelection, is looking to make his mark in the Supreme Court.

While Kim attacks her first trial, in which the only piece of evidence is the plaintiff's penis in a jar, she must also contend with her new coworkers. Judge Rose Barnea (L. Scott Caldwell, "Waiting to Exhale") is tough and rude. Hard headed and looking for justice, she disagrees with Vicidomini's new appointment. The kinder Judge Thomas O'Neill (Robert Loggia, "Jagged Edge") serves as a father figure, presiding over the serious case of a cancer patient, reminding him of his own wife's death.

Surprisingly interesting characters are also found in the legal aides, Carmen Hui (Marcy Harriell, "Rent") and Mike Powell (James Madio, "Band of Brothers"). The two offer assistance and comic relief to the judges.

Refreshingly, half the cast sport New York accents, a detail often overlooked in TV dramas set in areas with a distinctive dialect. The storyline has potential but fails to live up to it. The opening scene of singing on the bench indicates a different show than what follows, leaving the audience questioning the program's intent. Are we supposed to laugh or cry? Maybe both. However, this realistic attempt proves boring.

Half-way through the first episode Kim's gun is stolen from her handbag by a crazed father seeking justice for his daughter's rape. Moran soon pulls out his gun and it seems the show is going to take a drastic turn, but all is resolved and the only shot fired hits the ceiling. Obviously, creator Kevin Fox realized the audience needed a little wake up, but comedic writing would have been more appropriate than gunplay.

By the end of the first edition, Moran has regained his job with the help of newcomer Vicidomini. The show ends with another humorous musical interlude by Platt, showing he is "Queens Supremes"'s best bet for survival.