Show has strong cast, plot surprises


Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 6, 2003 at 10:11 p.m.

If you really hate jury duty, you should see ''Queens Supreme.''

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Oliver Platt stars as Judge Jack Moran in "Queens Supreme," a comic drama that delves into the chaos, infighting and colorful personalities of the people behind-the-bench and behind-the-scenes at the Queens County Courthouse in New York City. The series premieres Friday on CBS.

The first episode of the CBS comedy/drama is called ''One Angry Man'' and shows what happens when one juror has had it up to here after endless deliberations. I won't spoil the plot any further because it contains some good surprises.

But the main strength of ''Queens Supreme'' is its lead actor. Oliver Platt (''Bullworth'' and ''The West Wing'') portrays a New York judge, Jack Moran, with his usual knack for unorthodox portrayals.

''Queens Supreme,'' a good series with the potential of becoming a great one, premieres at 10 p.m. on Friday on CBS.

The characters are all intriguing pieces on a dramatic/comedic chessboard.

The challenge for creator Kevin Fox, Aaron Spelling and the other executive producers is to find the right moves for a dramatic/comedic checkmate.

So far, that checkmate hasn't come, but the first two episodes show a good start.

''Queens Supreme'' boasts a strong cast. It's great to see veteran star Robert Loggia playing Judge Thomas O'Neill; Loggia effortlessly walks into his characters.

And Kristen Johnston of ''3rd Rock from the Sun'' fame is brilliant and hilarious as a very intelligent character, lawyer-turned-fashion designer Maude MacPherson. Maude is married to Jack, but they've been separated.

The first episode shows Maude insisting on a divorce, but you can see Jack and Maude are meant to be together.

Another strong aspect of ''Queens Supreme'' is plot surprises. In the first episode, the characters outright say what's going to happen next. I was delighted when they were proved wrong.

The second episode shows Jack having to deal with judicial rules when the police can't provide the evidence to bring a mobster to trial.

The story's strongest element is Platt's portrayal of the judge as someone who won't back down to anyone - not the mob, not the police, not other judges.

''Queens Supreme'' is one of this season's better shows. It's clearly an unpredictable show in a time when most programs are way too predictable.

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