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Bad Judge may have nabbed a series order at NBC, but that doesn’t mean it is green skies and clear pastures ahead for the comedy. This weekend, the brand spanking new NBC series lost its showrunner, Liz Brixius, leaving the series in a bit of a lurch. Luckily for potential fans, the move should not affect NBC’s planned October 2 premiere of the series.
Brixius is most famous for her work as the showrunner on Nurse Jackie, however, she switched to a consulting producer on the show in 2013, presumably so she could spend more time working with NBC on the now-defunct comedy series Go On. While funny, that show never managed to find a large audience at the network and was canceled after its first season. Then, Brixius tried to get another comedy pilot moving forward at NBC, this time with Christina Ricci. Girlfriend in a Coma also failed to move forward. You would think Brixius would be stoked to see Bad Judge go to series, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. According to Deadline, Brixius wasn’t happy with the direction of the series and left over “creative differences.”
This could be bad news for Bad Judge, for multiple reasons. First, the show has only shot four episodes. While Bad Judge only nabbed a 13-episode order, that’s still a long way to go to get to the end of the season, and NBC will need to find a new showrunner as soon as possible since the comedy’s early October premiere date is looming. Secondly, it seems like Brixius wasn’t happy with the final product she was seeing. It sounds like she wanted to take the series one way and NBC wanted her to take it another way and they couldn’t find any middle ground. While it's hard to decipher exactly what "creative differences" means, there’s certainly some sort of disconnect between the showrunner and the network, and that's not a good sign.
Honestly, I was having trouble with the Bad Judge concept before this news even broke. Kate Walsh is the lead in the series, and she’s a great and sometimes funny comedic actress, but for whatever reason, the trailer for the Bad Judge pilot doesn’t really do it for me. It’s not even that Walsh is playing a total wreck—she was arguably a bigger mess in Fargo and I’d give that gig two thumbs up. The problem with the Bad Judge trailer is that it's suffering from the bland vanilla comedy values NBC has been offering us for several years, now. Despite having a mess to work with, the network isn't really reaching for an in-depth portrayal or an outside-the-box character at all.
Maybe it’s the too-cute kid and maybe it’s the scene where Walsh tries to get it on in her judging chambers. Perhaps it’s just that I have been watching Jeffrey Tambor kill it on The Good Wife for the past several seasons, and he only needs a few seconds in a given episode to nab a laugh. Whatever the problem is, it caused Brixius to leave Bad Judge, and we have to sit back and hope that doesn't reflect poorly on the series.
If you’d like to catch Walsh playing a judge with a penchant for bad behavior, you can catch Bad Judge when it premieres on NBC on Thursday, October 2 at 9 p.m. ET.