Judge Judy
Review By: Gringo

"Hello, I'm looking to settle a $1 million law suit".

"Oh, right. Have you tried Judge Judy?".

"No. What's she do?".

"Well for starters she has NO LEGAL POWERS WHATSOEVER".

I'm guessing this is the sort of conversation that takes place between the average person featured on Judge Judy. For some reason they decide that a legal dispute turned into a television circus (without the clowns and wacky cars that fall apart) is far better settled on non-binding, harsh words coming from an ex-judge than taking it to a proper courthouse. Wise move. Instead of an argument on the facts, we get Mr. A and Mrs. B badmouthing each other. Then Judy shouts at them. A lot. This is followed by Mr. A trying to win Judy over, who's having none of it. However, sticking to her evident 'harsh but fair' doctrine, Judy also insults Mrs. B for good measure. End of show - and what a way to waste half an hour!

Judy is aided in her madcap pursuits by sidekick and court policeman Petri Byrd. I'm saying nothing about his name, because he looks mean and could quite easily win should I ever get in a fight with him. Of course, that's not going to happen because I doubt he'll read this review. That, and the fact that I'd be running away, screaming like an injured banshee at the first sign of imminent danger. Mr. Byrd's role seems to be that of getting paid for doing very little. He announces each case and then stands to the side of Judy's ridiculously tall desk. I don't think he's allowed to do much more. In one show I saw, one of the defendants was getting a bit out of control, so Petri menacingly pointed his finger and said "Yo". I'm not joking. Judy even said that she couldn't top that comment. And if Petri is the only person on Earth who can out-sass Judge Judy, there's no point in you even trying.

Now for some examples of recent cases heard by that most venerable justice of the peace, Judith Sheindlin. Case 91569 - why they have numbers, I don't know. They're not transcribed anywhere. It's not as if law students are going to be writing an essay and suddenly think "Hey! I saw two idiots fighting over a Christmas ham on Judge Judy! Now where can I get myself a copy of that case...?" - anyway, the case concerned former roommates fighting over rent and utilities. Thankfully, I never had to share a room for the duration of my University years. Especially given that old urban legend, and all. But we all know urban legends aren't real. They're just used to make really bad movies starring Jared Leto and an assorted bunch of half-wits. Anyway, the arguing clowns involved bickered and waved copies of hand-scrawled bills in each others faces. Judy interrupted them. A lot. Then the idiots bickered some more. Then there was an advert break. Joy! Who'd have thought rent and utitities could be so much fun?

Alternatively, there's case 91080 which concerned short-term lovers fighting over New Year's Eve weekend expenses. This is the sort of case which is all too common on the show. Two ugly, ugly people who have split up come on national television to insult each other, make some cheap jokes and walk away having changed little and won even less. In between all this there's a fair amount of finger-pointing and saying of "Uh-uh, talk to the hand". Watching the show is like watching a crappy argument; the kind where two people try and win a third party over, but that third party is a stubborn old pot of sarcasm who'd rather abuse everyone in sight. The good thing about Jerry Springer is that the mean jokes he makes at his guests' expense are usually funny. By comparison, Judy just shouts at both the plaintiff and defendant before handing out a saccharine summing-up in which she always urges reconciliation. Hey, what else can she do? It's pretty clear that her courtroom isn't a legally recognised institution.

Despite the inherent lack of point behind it, the show remains popular and Judy - I'm guessing it's okay to call her that - dear Judy even has her own website. You can learn all sorts of fun information there, and even hear sound clips of everyone's favourite judge delivering some classic lines. Judy also has a lucrative line of children's books aimed at teaching young people the law, and what to do in dangerous situations. Here's an example: see if you can guess the right answer!

Your best friend's cousin is visiting and wants to go skating after school, but she seems to be a bit goofy. You should:

A) Tell your friend you wouldn't be caught dead with her.
B) Fake being sick to get out of it.
C) Go along with her, maybe she is really nice.
D) Buy her a mask.

Me? I'd buy her a mask. Cryptically, the website doesn't give the answer; it doesn't even hint at what is the right approach. If you failed the above test (I'm guessing the right answer is B, but it might be A) then you can always learn the error of your ways by reading Judy's more mainstream book, with the fantastic title 'Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever'. Then there's the best-selling follow-up 'Don't Pee On My Leg And Tell Me It's Raining'. Oh my. I hope it's getting near the end. Last paragraph!

Of course, Judge Judy wouldn't be an ordinary television show without a second-rate competitor. Enter the ring Judge Joe Brown. He has a less catchy name than Judy, and for that reason fails at the first hurdle. He's The Weakest Link to Judy's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. And I'm the sort of idiot who thinks comparisons like that are worth putting in reviews, and even worse thinks that they make sense. Joe has none of Judy's qualities, and he certainly doesn't have a guy called Petri Byrd to help out when things turn nasty. I've started having thoughts of Joe and Judy marrying, and starting some wacky sitcom together, so I think I'll end this review. Right. Here.

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