You’ve Been Served

Maybe you havenâÄôt been spending your days lying on the couch watching daytime courtroom dramas. Perhaps you have an âÄúobligationâÄù or a âÄújobâÄù or a âÄúlife.âÄù Well, for the rest of us, this fall has brought about a megaton of new courtroom âÄúrealityâÄù shows, along with many returning favorites. These shows milk the crazy character of their near-celeb judges; each has a special personality, from a malicious cackler to a calm farceur. But, in general, the more the judge yells, the better the show is. (Who remembers that snooze-ball Judge Alex? No one.) Well, A&E is here to help you figure out whatâÄôs new in the televised small-claims court world, and who else is worth dialing in. The Newbies: Jeanine Pirro Angle: Uptight right-winger with a penchant for draaama. (She, like many of her litigants, may also be a criminal [tax fraud], so, thatâÄôs fun.) Bio: Former Republican district attorney in Westchester county. Well-known (and disliked) for some bad rulings during her real court career, including putting an innocent man in prison for 16 years. DâÄôoh. Why you should watch: Because this woman isnâÄôt so much a judge as she is a cheeky entertainer. If youâÄôre looking for a ridiculous spectacle, you have found your judge. Like many court shows of late, she has a phony personality and an air of confidence that puts Tyra BanksâÄô assuredness to shame. Pirro takes on a bit of Judge JudyâÄôs cattiness, but this woman is no moral adviser. SheâÄôs solely a drama enabler. Level of justice: SheâÄôd probably let O.J. free. Judge Karen Angle: The strong, sassy judge Bio: Her website reads, âÄúJudge Karen Mills Francis has a colorful and engaging style that is as distinctive as her bold burgundy robe and bright blonde hair.âÄù Yes, if anythingâÄôs true in the TV court world, itâÄôs that robe choice and hair color often match character traits. She was elected judge in Miami-Dade County a few times, and was known for acting as a guardian for kids in her courtroom, even taking some in to live with her. ItâÄôs doubtful sheâÄôll be fostering any children with this new show. Why you should watch: One commercial for Judge Karen talks about the âÄúcat-fightsâÄù that will certainly ensue. Yes! ThereâÄôs nothing better than a court show that provokes and encourages physical brawling. In fact, Jerry Springer should have his own courtroom drama. Level of Justice: Noble enough to award Anna-NicoleâÄôs baby to her rightful father. A few of the Returning Elder Justices: Judge David Young Angle: The gay jurist Why you should watch: Only watch if youâÄôre looking for a mockery of what it means to be gay. Judge Young tries real hard to gay things up in the courtroom. This includes snapping at litigants, and uttering, âÄúYou go boyâÄù to more than one guest. He claims that he likes the TV courtroom better than the real one because before TV, âÄúhe could never break in and out of showtunes.âÄù But it all seems just a bit forced. What else will you find on Judge Young? Lie-detectors! DNA drama! Racy family secrets! Level of Justice: A medium amount of justice. ItâÄôs like mild hot sauce. So whatâÄôs the point? Flavor. Judge Judy Angle: Tough justice, with hardcore name calling Why you should watch Perhaps no judge on television embodies toughness the way Judy does. SheâÄôs certainly passionate about what sheâÄôs doing, and she just canâÄôt seem to keep herself from screaming. The list of people sheâÄôs hollered at includes children, adulterers and audience members. With Judy, it doesnâÄôt matter who you are, you could be the target of her wrath. But youâÄôre also probably going to get a fair ruling, which, in the TV world, is rare indeed. Level of Justice: Hardcoreextremeabsolute justice. Judge Mathis Angle: The laid-back wisecracker Why you should watch: Unlike Judy, Mathis doesnâÄôt need to yell. Instead, he loves to joke. The former âÄútough kidâÄù turned judge has set his life straight, and, like any ratings junkie, he doesnâÄôt seem to mind turning his courtroom into a circus complete with semi-famous rappers and lawsuits involving plaintiffs obsessed with âÄúbig beautiful women.âÄù Mathis seems like a fun guy to hang out with. Level of Justice: Mathis is pretty justice-y. But there are too many ridiculous incidents in his court to put him in the same ranks as Judy. Judge Milian, The PeopleâÄôs Court Angle: The sweet Latina with an icy side Why you should watch: Because this woman turns on a dime. She seems to have a split-personality; on the one hand sheâÄôs friendly and jocular, but before you know it, sheâÄôs screaming in Spanish and then condescendingly translating into English. SheâÄôs fun, until you treat her like sheâÄôs fun, then she remembers sheâÄôs a judge, and the yelling begins yet again. Level of Justice: If someone takes your puppy, Judge Milian will likely get it back for you. Or at least help you get back its purchase price.