In the fragile TV world, a small glitch might doom a show.
Then there’s “All Rise” (shown here) belatedly starting its third season on June 7. It has managed to survive:
— The Covid shutdown, late in its first season. It even did a special episode, with characters having only Zoom-type conversations.
— Controversies surrounding its creator/producer. He was investigated twice, then fired. By then, another executive producer and five of the seven original writers had quit, complaining about his views on Black and female characters.
— And what’s usually the final blow: After the second season, CBS canceled it. “We thought we were over,” showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence told the Television Critics Association.
She had just taken over for the season’s final two episodes. Then the show was finished … or not. “We started getting an inkling that another network was interested.”
That was the Oprah Winfrey Network. “I felt immediately that it’s going to be the right fit,” said Winfrey, who has ordered 20 new episodes. The season-opener – more than a year after the show was canceled — is at 8 p.m.; it reruns at 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., surrounded by other reruns, starting at 7 p.m.
At the core is Lola Carmichael (Simone Missick, shown here), a Los Angeles judge. She’s Black and bold and open to new approaches; friends call her world “the Lolacoaster.”
Peppered in there is a fair amount of humor. “We’re fun people,” said Wilson Bethel, who co-stars as Mark Callan, Lola’s longtime friend.
The humor and the drama are interwoven, Harris-Lawrence said. “All Rise” involves “the absurdity of being in the courtroom, as well as the gut-wrenching stories … We can somehow mesh those two.”
Then there are the romances. Callan, a prosecutor, is engaged to Amy Quinn, a high-powered defense lawyer. Emily Lopez (Jessica Machado), a passionate public defender, romanced Luke Watkins, a bailiff who became a lawyer; then she left for Puerto Rico to re-examine her life.
Now the show jumps ahead six months and she’s back. She’s “re-ignited, renewed, with a sense of purpose that’s on fire,” Machado said.
That comes just as Lola is unsure of her own future. The season begins on election night, when she faces a tough opponent, played by Anne Heche. And even if she wins, her boss and protector (Marg Helgenberger) is leaving.
Lola’s life reflects the times, Missick said, “when you think about what we all have been through,” including “a global pandemic and the uprising that came as a result of George Floyd’s murder.”
It’s a life that keeps facing new crises … plus brief bursts of humor or romance.