The problem with quarantine shows like the first SNL At Home and A Parks and Recreation Special is they put too much effort into trying to be special, to rise to this unusual moment, that they don't feel organic. As the first drama series to do a quarantine episode, Monday's All Rise episode -- titled "Dancing in Los Angeles" - delivered something that didn't feel like a stunt, says Daniel Fienberg. "When is making a so-so episode of broadcast television actually quite brilliant?" he asks. Fienberg adds: "When broadcast shows rush to address major global events, the results tend to be grind-to-a-halt exercises in sanctimony; 'Isaac and Ishmael,' the astonishingly clunky post-9/11 episode of The West Wing, is the ultimate illustration. 'Dancing at Los Angeles,' in contrast, was assertively sanctimony-free. It was, and I say this as the highest of compliments in this case, a regular episode of All Rise told in a very specific style. It contained an episodic plotline, with Simone Missick's Lola volunteering to use her virtual courtroom as a guinea pig for online bench trials in order to ease a coronavirus-spawned backlog in the judicial system." This, he adds, "was a completely legitimate 'Here's how our characters would actually be going through life in these bizarre times' episode of TV that used technology in a way that somehow avoided feeling like a stunt. It was also an instance in which having a middling bar for success benefited All Rise tremendously. I never got the impression the All Rise team was trying to achieve something definitive or to try to be all things to all viewers." As Fienberg points out, SNL did something similar with its second SNL At Home episode that felt more like a typical Saturday Night Live episode compared to the first edition. "So congratulations to All Rise for settling into the mundane immediately," says Fienberg. "It looked easy, but it couldn't possibly have been. There's a template here for quarantine episodes, not that I expect many more dramas to make the effort."
TOPICS: All Rise, CBS, Simone Missick, Coronavirus