Episode One “The Necklace” and Episode Two “The Woman In 8D”
By Katherine James
By now you either have or have not watched the “trial consulting” show about that won the television ratings game as “most watched new show on television” when it premiered: Bull
I surely watched the premiere episode: “The Necklace”. Twice.
And I watched this past week’s, “The Woman In 8D”.
And I am going to watch the coming weeks for as long as it lasts.
And I am going to comment on it from time to time.
In all candor, I was going to comment the very first week, but I was so taken by my colleague Tara Trask’s post on her blog that I reposted it to ours (please check it out if you haven’t yet – it appears directly beneath this one).
For those of you not in the know,
Bull is a brand new television show whose central character is a trial consultant. It was created by Dr. Phil and his son Jay, who both have continuing producing responsibilities on the show. Again, to be perfectly honest with you, I started out absolutely terrified of what this show could do for our reputation (that is, trial consultants in general). The name alone totally freaked me out – I assumed that “Bull” meant “Bullshit”. Please note this response of mine – I am going to refer to it again when I talk about “The Woman In 8D”.
I was also scared that whatever this fiction was that was being sold by CBS and that I was seeing in the trailers for the show was completely false. Unreal. With no basis in reality.
Finally, I was scared that everyone would think that I did what this Bull character did. Which from what I could tell from the trailers was total B.S.
And you know what?
After watching the first two episodes and looking forward to a third I am here to tell you that there is a heck of a lot of truth at the base of what goes on in the show. Now, I’m not saying that the trial consulting part actually works the way that Dr.Bull and his team do it. Not at all. But as I said to Tara over the phone, somewhere in Hershey, Pennsylvania M&M’s have been known to get a thin candy shell over a milk chocolate base. I’m sure it is a very real process. But I really like the way the Oompa Loompas do it in Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. I know that isn’t really how it happens…but wow, I could watch that movie again right now. I was also dreading having conversations with people who now were magically going to want to become trial consultants based on seeing Bull Then I regained a bit of sanity when I realized that no one ever told me that he or she wanted to go to medical school because they wanted to have a lot of sex on the job like the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy. Nor has anyone said that they want to become a police officer and have their entire family become police officers and D.A.’s so that they can constantly be involved in conflicts of interest and drink heavily around the dining room table every Sunday like that nice Reagan family on Blue Bloods.
Oh, that’s right.
That thing my husband Alan Blumenfeld is on all the time (who turned to me after the first episode by the way and said, “I like it. Good Television.”)
It’s not REAL.
So why does this show have so many trial consultants up in arms?
Because WE DON’T DO ALL THAT STUFF.
And when we do, WE DON’T DO IT LIKE THAT.
Let’s first look at “we don’t do all that stuff”. I am so steeped in trial consulting from my point of view as a trial consultant that I couldn’t see past that to the television-savvy part of my brain. Dr. Bull and his staff manage to do the two basic parts of any criminal television procedural show: they do what the lawyers do, and they do what the police and investigators do. They also do a third part that up until this show has never been fictionalized before: they do what trial consultants do.
Why on earth would the lead in a television show do everything, be the catalyst for all the action, and even solve the crime? Because that’s what central characters on television shows do. Think “Columbo”. Think “Macgyver”. I ask you to think like this because this show is very “old fashioned” in this way. Haven’t you noticed that all the Law and Order shows, as unrealistic as they are, have the police and investigators doing their part and the lawyers doing theirs? Not here. Dr. Bull, assisted by his team, does it all.
Let’s look at the “we don’t do it like that” part. There are so many nuggets of truth in the show that I couldn’t possibly list everything that happened in the first two episodes that is either rooted in the truth or has a glimmer of truth in it. Again, think about the fact of M&M’s being made versus them being made fantastically by Oompa Loompas. I will leave the things that others do to compare and contrast…but let me talk about some things that I do that I’ve seen happen on Bull. I do participate in helping prepare witnesses. I wish I could just magically save them with a simple sentence “Just talk to them like they are fans who buy your records!”…but then, making M&M’s takes so much actual work when you are not an Oompa Loompa. I’ve helped witnesses with clothing, hair and makeup choices. I wish I had a perfectly dressed gay ex-football star to help me out…but…oh, well. Such is real life. I related the most to Dr. Bull personally when he was trying to figure out what made the witness in front of him act that way. I do that every day of the week with a “y” in it. Dr. Bull at this point in every show sounds the most like Dr. Phil from The Dr. Phil Show. Now I don’t know if he really talked to witnesses that way or not…but I must tell you that I, for one, have been with people who became better witnesses because I, frankly, cared about them as people.
Remember when I said that I would tell you about my assumption that “Bull” could only mean “Bullshit”? I have come to see that it also means “Bull’s Eye”. That it also means someone who will stubbornly go against all odds to make sure that justice is served. Not a horrible image at all. But what I felt immediately about the show was bias. Yep, that thing that lawyers and trial consultants are constantly looking for when looking for fair and impartial jurors. “Juror Bias” was a big part of the episode “The Woman In 8D”. How about that? I must say if the people who saw that show – many of whom could be called for jury duty – got even got an inkling about what juror bias might mean in a case then the whole episode was worthwhile.
Now I am left to ponder…are the members of The Innocence Project freaked out that the new show coming up called Conviction promises to do their work of overturning wrongful convictions in just five days? And the question I know are all the women who actually do that extraordinary, low-paid public service work wondering why on earth the leading lady seems to be wearing Christian Louboutin Heels when they themselves can barely afford to shop at Payless? Or have they, like me, figured out…IT’S ONLY TELEVISION. LIGHTEN UP AND ENJOY THE RIDE.