TV Review: “Bull” – Not Interesting Enough

Written by Danielle Sing November 28, 2016

Bull

As a long-time fan of “NCIS”, I was not happy with Michael Weatherly leaving the series. Despite this, I decided to give his new series, “Bull”, a chance. And that’s all I am giving it, a chance.  “Bull” is inspired by Dr. Phil McGraw’s – yeah, that Dr. Phil – career as a trial consultant. “Bull” gives an interesting and modern spin to the courtroom drama, but unfortunately it’s too repetitive and not interesting enough to revive this genre of television.

Dr. Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly) and his TAC (Trail Analysis Corporation) team are trial consultants who take on the tough cases. Through trial science – a combination of technology and psychology – they make the most unlikable defendants lovable in the eyes of the jury. Bull’s team includes: lawyer Benny Colón (Freddy Rodriguez); neurolinguistics expert Marissa Morgan (Geneva Carr); stylist Chunk Palmer (Christopher Jackson); investigator Danny James (Jaime Lee Kirchner); and hacker Cable (Annabelle Attanasio). Bull’s team manipulates the jury selection and monitors how the jury will vote to ensure their clients are seen as not guilty.

“We’ll know what a jury’s going to come back with. We’ll know because that’s what we do. That’s what trial science is.”

The common courtroom drama formula includes the lawyers uncovering evidence, interviewing clients and being shocked by some unknown information that they eventually overcome. “Bull” follows this same tired formula, but adds some flashy technology and psychology into the equation. At first, the TAC technology is impressive. Using a mirror jury to predict what the actual jurors think, hacking, and countless hours of witness prep to get the psychology just right. Unfortunately, the technology is not interesting enough to cover up the fact that they’re following the same formula.  It’s their technology that’s the source of the repetition. They’re constantly explaining how their technology works and eventually the impressiveness starts to fade. The variations in which they show off their technology is not great enough to mask how repetitive it is.

Bull

“Bull” has an air of exposé to it. It constantly states how jurors have bias and how the justice system is rigged. Yet it’s not a shocking reveal to state that there is gender bias or that people hate egotistical jerks. The very concept of “Bull” is to manipulate the jurors to vote in the favour of their client, which is doing the exact same thing that the show seeks to expose. While the psychology of how they manipulate people can be fascinating to some audiences, it does fight against the underlying message of the justice system being broken. If you enjoy the psychology of “Bull”, I suggest you watch “Lie to Me”. It’s a police procedural drama that is much more clever.

“So we have a defendant going in front of a conservative judge with a boy band haircut and pimp sneakers.”

The redeeming factors of “Bull” is the good acting and that the series is quite detail-oriented. Michael Weatherly is just as good in “Bull” as he was in “NCIS”, and the supporting cast is well rounded. For a series like “Bull” to succeed in its concept it has to be detail-oriented, and it leaves very little open ends eliminating any undeveloped plot lines. Though no amount of good acting can cover up the countless horrible puns about the word ‘bullshit’.

Bull

If you like courtroom drama, definitely watch “Bull”. The TAC technology and psychology is interesting, but not enough hide the repetitiveness. “Bull” also brings nothing new to the courtroom drama formula. If they change the formula to be the prosecutors or to have a guilty client, that may just re-catch my attention. The content of “Bull” seems to be hypocritical to the series’ underlying message, but at least the acting is good.

My Rating: 5/10

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