Many pilots, in particular ones with a procedural edge on CBS, have a huge challenge. you have to figure out a way to introduce the leads, the supporting characters, and also the premise in the span of about 42 minutes, and you have to do it in a way that is not an avalanche of exposition.
When you consider what it was up against, we’d say that “Bull” did a fine job. The biggest challenge for it right away is getting to see Michael Weatherly without seeing Anthony DiNozzo, and he’s well on his way. This isn’t an image that is going to vanish after one week, and that’s no slight on him as an actor. It’s a testament to the strength of his “NCIS” work, and the fact that he did this for thirteen years. You can’t just ignore the amount of time and effort that went into that.
This show did spend a lot of time setting up what Weatherly’s Dr. Jason Bull does, how he operates, and also how he manages to achieve success by analyzing jury patterns and steering defendants into getting the best possible result for a case. He’s a psychologist, someone very different than almost anyone else you’re going to see in the courtroom. He’s compelling, as is the rest of the cast around him. He’s come from a harsh past, and that helps to make him all the stronger.
The pilot was for the most part formulaic, given that there was a case, Bull showed his strength, and then there was eventually a verdict. At least the ending did give us a few surprises, as we started to understand why Dr. Bull does what he does — and also why this particular case was so twisted in the first place.
The major struggle for this series moving forward will be figuring out how to tell different cases every week that remain interesting, while also not going completely overboard with the technology. For now, we’ll at least say that this was a very enjoyable pilot anchored well by Weatherly, and one that has plenty of room to grow. Grade: B.
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