A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bull is a drama about a team that does psychological analysis of criminal juries. Violence, sex, and drugs are all alluded to in the context of criminal justice cases. Dead bodies are shown (no gore), and violent crimes are discussed in court. Characters are shot point-blank on-screen. Drugs may play a part in cases; photographs of sexual practices such as bondage may be shown during trials (no private parts are visible). Mild cursing and off-color language includes "hell," "damn," "screwed," and "prick." Viewers may learn more about jury trials and the way our justice system works; they may also feel cynical about justice after watching people try to influence trials.
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What's the story?
The main character of legal drama BULL is Dr. Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly), a brilliant and brash psychologist who founded a company that examines the dynamics of jury trials and predicts their outcome. Also on the team at Trial Analysis Corporation are Bull's former brother-in-law Benny Colón (Freddy Rodríguez), who acts as a defense attorney in the company's mock trials; neurolinguistics expert and former Department of Homeland Security staffer Marissa Morgan (Geneva Carr); mouthy millennial and cyberintelligence gatherer Cable McCrory (Annabelle Attanasio); and Chunk Palmer (Chris Jackson), who dresses criminal defendants for success. Together, the team gets to the bottom of just who did what -- and ensures that their clients get a fair shake.
Is it any good?
It's hard to escape the feeling that this thoroughly average legal/crime show was cobbled together, Frankenstein's monster-style, out of pieces of other, better shows. You've got the cohesive team of attractive experts similar to those in How to Get Away with Murder or Criminal Minds, led by one brilliant hotshot (Lie to Me, The Mentalist) taking on cases no one else can solve. Bull even cribs the smart, snotty young goth girl from NCIS.
So, not fresh, and not innovative, but at least BULL isn't exploitative, like other criminal case programs in which the camera lingers lovingly on wounds, gore, and scantily clad young dead women. The show won't naturally appeal to teens -- it's too talky for that -- but they might linger if it's on after dinner when they're in the room playing with their phones. Fans of Dr. Phil may get a particular thrill from watching, imagining him in the Weatherly role.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why legal dramas such as Bull are such an enduring staple of network television. What types of ongoing possibilities for plots do they offer? Why would this be attractive for a television series?
On this show, Bull's firm tries to win legal cases. Is winning a goal in itself? Can you think of an example of something that's worth winning no matter what the cost? What drives people to compete? Is it ever OK to use people to accomplish a goal without their knowledge?
The show's main character, Bull, is based on the former job of Phil McGraw, better known as TV's Dr. Phil. Does this surprise you? Does this character seem different from the Dr. Phil you may know from TV talk shows?