Monday, December 8, 2008

Poll Position: Here Come De' Judge.

While I was out on Thanksgiving vaca the other week, I caught up on some of my Judge Shows on Tivo. Beginning with the grandaddy of them all, The People's Court back in the 80's, this brand of daytime syndicated filler has exploded in recent years and now there are more than a dozen such variations on the same central theme. Nonetheless, they're so similar and ubiquitous, I simply refer to them as "Soaps for UnEmployed Men".

If ya'll have read here for any period of time, you know I'm absolutely addicted to these shows, despite how silly and contrived they may be. Yes, the shows pull cases from real small claims court dockets, but that's where reality ends. They manipulate the participants with pre-canned dialogue and orchestrate some of the action off-camera with a fullblown writing staff and director. And, perhaps most interesting of all, the litigants don't have to pay the judgement, win or lose. The show does that on their behalves as part of their agreement to drop their actual legal cases and settle them in front of the live studio audience of unpaid extras televised courtroom. I would know secondhand. AverageBrotherInLaw was absolutely obliterated for a personal lawsuit on Judge Joe Brown a few years back.

Still, the shows are entertaining, and the best of the batch is hard for even me to choose. I used to really like Divorce Court when Judge Mablean Ephraim was the hostess. Like many of these "judges", she's really just an attorney, but her brand of materteral[1] advice and "keep it real" humor made the show worth watching. When they replaced her with the more straitlaced Lynn Toler (also an attorney), I shifted to favoring Judge Joe Brown and Judge Mathis. Toler's grown on me over time, so now she's on the Tivo Season Pass too. I have literally dozens of these episodes recorded, but never seem to get around to watching them. Having two kids sorta cramps your style like that.

Nonetheless, I asked you fine folks what your favorite Daytime Judge Show was, and the results were surprising.

One thing I still haven't quite learned about polls is that if you want an accurate picture, you should never provide a "trick answer". Yeah, the whole "Huh? I Have A Day Job" response was snappy, but so many of you chose it, it sorta undermined the point of the poll in the first place. Either way, Judge Mathis literally ran away with this thing.

Interestingly, Judge Judy finished a strong second, which is puzzling because I don't find her particularly funny or likable. True to this site's key demographic, all the shows with black judges did well. Judge Joe Brown, Toler's aforementioned Divorce Court, and Judge Hatchett (does she still come on?) finished well. Newer offerings like Judge Jeannine Pirro, Texas Justice, and BET's low budget Judge Karen barely registered a blip, which goes to prove that most of AverageNation™ has a Day Job. Sentimental favorite The People's Court finished with a respectable tally.

Question: Who did you vote for? What's your favorite show, and why?

[1] Another $5 word. Google it.

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