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Judy Justice is basically Judge Judy: Will viewers seek out "more of the same" on streaming?

  • IMDb TV's Judy Justice is a "tricky sell" on a streaming service because it amounts to a 26th season of Judge Judy, says Daniel D'Addario. "It’s hard to imagine anything with less viral potential than Judy Sheindlin taking someone to task: To have watched television before is to be well-acquainted with the beats of this routine," says D'Addario. Except for one case involving a gig-economy worker, the rest of the show "could realistically have happened at any point in the past quarter-century," says D'Addario. So the question is will a court show format that thrived in daytime syndication work in the streaming world? "Streamers have mastered a great deal, but they haven’t quite cracked the most rigorously formatted shows. Netflix, for example, has struck out with talk shows featuring stars as disparate as Chelsea Handler, Hasan Minhaj, and Michelle Wolf; the great streaming game show has yet to arrive," says D'Addario. "Maybe these formats thrive as part of a routine — one watches Judge Judy in the afternoon, Jeopardy in the evening, and Colbert, Fallon, or Kimmel in bed. Or maybe they’re just slightly less interesting to viewers when left to their own devices. Watched in a vacuum, Judy Justice is competently made, starring practiced talent and crafted by producers who know what they’re doing. Taken as a series available on a platform, and in a streaming landscape, with  many more options, it’s hard to imagine picking it. The best thing that can be said for Judy Justice is that it is deeply unsurprising. Another interpretation of that fact might be that, despite the opportunity to take a new setting and use it to spur innovation, Judy Justice is just more of the same."


    • Judy Justice is the "Hollywood Hogan" of minor arbitration shows: Judy Sheindlin's new show has been "described as a 'flashier' version of Judge Judy, although only the top percentile of Judge Judy acolytes would be able to spot any difference," says Stuart Heritage. "Sheindlin isn’t wearing the lace collar of old, and her robe is now burgundy instead of black, but this is by no means a reinvented wheel. The format of the new show remains exactly the same as the old one: a procession of dirtbags line up to publicly air their petty disputes, and Sheindlin interrogates them before making a decision. The show is so identical to Judge Judy, in fact, that the first episode falls into line without any real explanation. We see a courtroom. We see two bozos who got drunk and had a fight. And then we see Sheindlin pull a vaguely unamused face. A narrator announces 'This is Judy Justice' and then we’re off to the races. And since IMDb TV (and, honestly, who knew that was a thing?) is ad-supported, we even still get the old pre-commercial 'coming up' buffers to gee up our flagging interest. At first glance, it’s hard to know who – other than Sheindlin’s accountants – Judy Justice is for. Indeed, it has been reported that her main competition here is herself; CBS is aggressively broadcasting a series of reruns (which have traditionally always got high ratings) during the first volley of Judy Justice episodes, in the hope that casual viewers would prefer to watch easily accessible old episodes rather than seek out a new and hellishly obscure streaming service."
    • There are a couple of small tweaks to the Judge Judy format: "Damages can now be up to $10,000, double what they were on Judge Judy, and her judicial bench is now emblazoned with 'Judge Judy Sheindlin' in big letters, in case you forgot who’s in charge," says Dave Nemetz. "Plus, her robe is maroon now, not black!"
    • Judy Justice set has a "modern courtroom" and three new supporting players to appeal to a "more youthful fanbase": The new courtroom incorporates a different wood color, marble columns and monitors that are built into the set. The show has also added Rasco, who previously served as the head of security at Sheindlin’s syndicated courtroom series, as the bailiff, replacing Judge Judy's Petri Hawkins-Byrd. Rasco is joined by Sheindlin's granddaughter and law clerk Sarah Rose, and stenographer Whitney Kumar. The casting of these three supporting players was to fulfill the “new energy” co-executive producer Amy Freisleben says the new show required. “There’s a more youthful fanbase that may come with IMDb TV, on all streaming devices,” she says. Executive producer and director Randy Douthit says that Rose, in particular, should appeal to young viewers because she is in her mid-20s and “can talk about social media." 
    • Judy Justice represents an experiment for streaming: "For the first time, a service is trying to replicate daytime television’s traditional rhythm: New episodes will arrive five days a week and accumulate in a bingeable library," explains The New York Times' Brooks Barnes. "IMDb TV ordered 120 episodes of Judy Justice, the largest first-season order ever by a streamer, analysts say. Amazon has an option to order another 120." Lauren Anderson, IMDb TV’s co-head of programming, says of the importance of Judy Justice: “We see a space to become a modern broadcast network. While we have seen the ratings decline on broadcast, it’s not because audiences are rejecting the content. It’s about convenience and the delivery route.” Barnes adds: "Judy Justice is not without risk. Old Judge Judy episodes (there are more than 5,000) continue to run in syndication on local stations, and viewers don’t seem to mind the recycling. About seven million have been tuning in, a decline of only 11 percent from May, when new episodes were airing, according to Nielsen data. How much Judge Sheindlin does one planet need?"
    • Judy Sheindlin says the goal is to bring in at least half of Judge Judy's 8 million viewers to Judy Justice: "The truth is, I think that my story, which I started 26 years ago after spending 40 years in the family court, is still relevant," she adds. Judy Justice features a new, bright set. “I changed up the robe,” says Sheindlin. “I went to the color board and said, ‘What looks good on me? What will reflect the light on my face? And I also think the new collar (on the robe) is a little more modern.” Sheindlin adds: “It’s a new show (and) you can only do so much. If you go into a theater you’re going to see comedy, drama, a ballet … you know what you’re expecting, and when you go to a court show … you pretty much know what to expect. Truthfully, it’s (the show’s) execution and its leader and who’s presenting the case. It’s really no different for me from what I’ve been doing but people will be able to pick up their phones and iPads and stream it on the go. I honestly don’t know what the future of daytime broadcasting is during the afternoon. There’s so much out there … but I just have the feeling that people are demanding that entertainment come to them rather than the other way around.”

    TOPICS: Judy Justice, IMDb TV, Judge Judy, Amy Freisleben, Judy Sheindlin, Kevin Rasco, Lauren Anderson, Randy Douthit, Sarah Rose, Whitney Kumar