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'All Rise' Becomes the First Drama to Jump Into the Virtual Pool
May 4, 2020  | By Mike Hughes  | 6 comments
 


Any experiment – Wright Brothers’ flight, man on the moon, mixing chocolate with marshmallow – will have its problems.

Let’s think of the upcoming All Rise episode (9 p.m. Monday, May 4, CBS) that way. It’s flawed but fascinating.

As COVID-19 struck, productions shut down, and actors were sent home. Then came the idea of creating an episode that could be done from the actors’ homes, representing the characters’ homes.

The idea of remotely recording a show has already worked for other genres. We have at-home talk shows, music specials, music competitions (American Idol, The Voice), and comedy/variety shows (Saturday Night Live). We even had a full sitcom half-hour (Parks and Recreation Reunion.

But a full drama hour, done with characters in separate homes? That took some fresh thinking.

All Rise centers on Lola Carmichael, a first-year judge in Los Angeles. As this story begins, the quarantine has been lingering. The court backlog grows, prisoners are crowded and unsafe, lawyers and staffers are fuming.

So Lola gets permission to do a virtual trial. Along with the proceedings, we see the personal stories of self-quarantine.

All of this was shot – via FaceTime, WebEx, Zoom, and more – in actors’ homes. Faces zip across the screen, with occasional interludes of a mellow DJ and views of a vacant Los Angeles.

Most of it is slick and fun; these are good actors, working with solid material. But the trial is a mess. 
Still, that shouldn’t erase a solid try at distanced drama.

Hey, the first Wright Brothers flight lasted 12 seconds and 120 feet. By modern aviation standards, that would be insufficient, but it seemed exciting at the time.

 
 
 
 
 
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