Who Wants To Be A Small Claims Judge?

The other day I sat down and watched Judge Joe Brown for the first time in a little while and I was wondering about something. What the hell happened to that show?

It used to be my favourite out of that whole bunch of court shows. It was the only one that didn’t seem overly staged, over-produced and over-dramatic. Well maybe the People’s Court, but the People’s Court never gets the chance to truly establish a personality before they change judges again. But back to Joe Brown, since my whole point was really about him anyway. The thing that made his show cool was that he was the guy without any sort of stupid hook. He didn’t yell at people, he wasn’t some sort of do-gooder intent on changing the world 1 dented car or late cell phone bill at a time, and like I said, he just seemed real.

But now, things have changed. Oh, how they’ve changed. Somebody seems to have got it in his or her head that just being a good judge and trying cases isn’t good enough, even though it’s been working since like the beginning of time. They’ve got him randomly polling the audience for no apparent reason in what appears to be some sort of an attempt to make the show more interactive. Since when was court interactive?

“Ok, before we get to the jury, I want to ask you people in the seats, how many of you think that John killed those 6 people and then burned their car?”

Then lights flash, random beeping sounds fill the air, and a nice little yes/no percentage breakdown appears and John gets hauled off to jail because 77% of the victim’s families think he did it. That just doesn’t happen, and small claims, though not as serious as murder, should be no different. Come on, that $182.31 might mean a lot to somebody, so why shouldn’t it be taken seriously? It is court after all.

I suppose you could argue that the people involved should expect nothing less than to be turned into a spectacle since they agreed to have their cases tried on syndicated television, but still, if I cared what the audience thought, I’d be watching Millionaire instead.

The other thing that bothers me about this new Joe Brown is that he seems more like a character than a judge who deserves any sort of respect. Back in the day he would shut the bickering between people down before it had a chance to get going, but now the show has pretty much degenerated into black people yelling at each other while Joe sits there at the bench like a goddamn idiot. Either that or he’s doing this goofy fucking voice while he’s making his judgment or pretending to yell at them. Listen to him sometime, how can you take anything he says seriously when it seems like it’s coming out of the mouth of a Disney character?

Maybe I’m getting too worked up over this, but it bothers me that everything concerning TV these days is all about “reality,” but as soon as the reality looks too real, right away we need to spice things up so people will watch it. Leave it alone! Not all reality is exciting, that’s why a lot of people watch TV to begin with, to escape reality. But for those of us who want to watch reality, we’d prefer to watch reality as it is, not as some producer thinks it should be.

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