I HAVE BEEN TOLD I DESERVE
“A FULL LIFE THAT ISN’T JUST ABOUT FIGHTING FOR THINGS”

Right. So I am now caught up on the first six episodes of Blind Justice, and BlindJusticeWatch may properly begin.

I watched the first three episodes on superexclusive VIP screener tapes, which had captions but no descriptions.

  1. Pilot

    • Here our manly yet endearing blond detective gets shot in the temple, rendering him blind. The “masked gunman,” as the description would later invariably call him, seems to be the Terminator in a Kevlar vest, since he takes three full clips of bullets from Jim’s gun without ill effect. Jim stops to reload twice. The masked gunman runs out of bullets and Terry the detective freezes and does not shoot. It gets worse: Jim fires one more bullet into the invulnerable gunman, who returns with one bullet. But who winds up injured? Is the secret here to shoot exactly once rather than umpteen times? “Pistols at dawn” kind of thing?
    • And then Jim awakens with a start alongside Christie. Thankfully, he’s wearing a tank top.
    • Jim takes judo or karate or something – entirely plausible for a blind person. (I seem to recall watching a TV segment on the Ontario provincial blind judo champion, who was, for a while, also the deaf judo champion. I shit you not.)
    • Jim packs up his Dell® laptop (loaded with “Window-Eyes, the most stable screen reader”?) and turns down a ride to the precinct. The subway doesn’t look all that confusing, frankly, though in practice I expect it would be, if only on a stressful day, like one’s first day on the job. (He gets on at York St., which places him in Brooklyn.)
    • There’s the rote and expected cynicism and disbelief at the police station, plus a throng of reporters. Oddly, nobody mentions the Americans with Disabilities Act and an employer’s positive duty to accommodate an employee with a disability. (I mean, he won, so I suppose that’s an unnecessary detail.)
    • By the way, Hank the guide dog gets switched to Jim’s right hand at one point. Where’s the continuity girl when we need her? (Typically you hold the dog’s harness in your weak hand [Jim’s left].)
    • Anyway, it’s the first episode and we’re already introduced to a borderline depiction of that hoary old standby, the blind character with superhuman remaining senses. Jim smells cordite in an abandoned car and declares it a crime scene! Really, what other human being could possibly have noticed that?
    • At another crime scene (a conveniently abandoned warehouse), we see Jim’s auditory visualizations of the surrounding room. What is he, a porpoise? Anyway, a lot of it is vaguely plausible since it’s keyed closely to ambient noises as they pop up in the room, but Jim is nonetheless able to visualize the exact location of a dead body and the fact that it’s face-down. I rather think not.
    • I don’t understand why Jim’s overcoats hang so badly off him. Is this supposed to be a kind of detective vérité, accurately depicting their poor fashion sense? But Jim dresses well, if a few years out of date (as with matching navy-blue shirt and tie).
    • “Detective’s really not a gun-battle kind of job.”
    • It is at least realistic that, months after Jim’s injury and rehab, he’s still fighting with his wife, who just barely avoids leaving him. (Christie looks much too distractingly like Demi Moore.)
    • And after their first argument of the series, Jim sits down and bounces a ball onto the floor and off a well-scuffed wall, catching it every single time. Sorry, but that’s impossible.
    • In order to learn his way around unguided, our hero does a reconnoitre of the squad room when nobody’s around, which would quite possibly be never.
    • Oh, God. Jim’s superhuman hearing allows him to overhear the plainly loud subway train passing by on a bridge. Why, doesn’t that mean the “perp” might take the train to camouflage his location?
    • But, Jim, how will you manage your paperwork? “I got software that lets me do all of that.” [‘Window-Eyes, the most stable screen reader’?] Fact is, I can type even faster than before.”
    • In a suspect’s apartment, Jim’s partner Karen gets taken hostage, allegedly at gunpoint. Very nice with the cocking of the service revolver, Jim; way to stand proud. And Jim gets to pull a judo move on the suspect later, who instantly confesses. Quite the clearance rate for your first week on the job.
  2. Four Feet Under

    • Wifey’s got an important dinner party lined up with some bigshot editor at her company, which is not, we will later learn, Condé Nast. Why would Jim be hesitant to go? He’s at work and he was all over the papers; he can’t handle a simple dinner party?
    • While crossing the street, Jim gets knocked over by a cyclist (now we see why bikes should ride on the street) and Hank keeps on walking without him. I suppose an individual guide dog in an unusual case might do that, but it wouldn’t be the norm. Jim calls him back and eventually they re-find the curb. The scariness of being paralyzed in mid-step was well handled. (Indeed, which curb did they end up on?)
    • YOUNG BOY
      Can I pet him or is he busy?

      How would the boy know about a guide dog’s being busy?

    • JIM
      I can never see anything.
    • In a backyard, Jim hears “carrion flies” buzzing and smells “something.” And he gets a sonar visualization of a dead boy in a fetal position. Perhaps finally acknowledging the ridiculousness of it, he turns out to be quite wrong: It’s a dead dog.
    • Why hasn’t Jim been to see his shrink yet? And why must that shrink be Saul Rubinek?
    • “Since when are you his bottom bitch?” (Klassy.) “What did you say?”
    • I grow tired of Bettancourt’s hair, spread glamorously away from her face and locked rock-solid in place even when she leans forward.
    • Strangely, at the dinner party, Christie leaves Jim standing around alone. At table, Jim lays on his fingertips and feels his steak, a ragingly offensive misrepresentation.
    • Would Jim really set his beer glass down after taking a drink, then knock it into his wife’s lap? (He knows exactly where it is on the table.)
    • More ridiculous sonar visualizations: The exact layout of an iron fence, complete with finials; trees in a rainy park. Finials and trees don’t make noise, though I suppose it’s barely imaginable he could hear collected raindrops splashing down from tree branches. (And by the way, why don’t he and his missus have an umbrella or something? When’s the last time you sat outside in a rainstorm?)
  3. Rub a Tub Tub” (sic)

    • The episode’s title is frankly ridiculous and unrelated to anything in the show.
    • Jim walks smack into a desk that his archrival Russo moved out of place, but somehow doesn’t notice a large hole in his shin and a vertical scrape below it? (The Jim–Marty rivalry is already old and trite.)
    • Jim circles around Sonny the Snitch like he’s acting in a high-school production of West Side Story. Just how does he manage that kind of motion?
    • “Carl and I had a don’t-ask/don’t-tell arrangement.”
    • Jim can tell the dead cop’s partner was in the cop’s apartment purely from his cologne. Straight undercover cops wear cologne?
    • “I got my new software in [‘Window-Eyes, the most stable screen reader’?]. I can type, I can read my own reports, and it’s, like, 99% accurate.”
    • I can generally state that, in the first three episodes, exactly where Jim points his nose when he’s led to a new place or talking to someone seems reasonable for a formerly-sighted person. Why did it go downhill in episode four?
    • I think it’s rather interesting that Jim, using gloved hands, feels the anatomies of corpses lying on the medical examiner’s table two episodes running. How would that not be orders of magnitude creepier than simply looking?
  4. Up on the Roof” (with description)

    As discussed last time.

  5. Marlon’s Brando” (with description)

    Notes

    • Again, an inexplicable title.
    • Jim instantly moves from arm behind head to arm alongside him. Again, where’s our continuity girl?
    • Jim laboriously fits his earphone to the right side and types (into “Window-Eyes, the most stable screen reader”?).

    I ceased rewatching the episode because I did not wish to again feel unmanned by its flat-out depravity. I am not interested in rewatching the suicide of a victim of ritual sexual abuse and torture.

    Description

    • It’s a narratrix this time rather than a narrator. In fact, every described episode I’ve seen has used a different voice. Generally this is not preferred; consistency is preferred.
    • The narratrix is unidentified and isn’t very adept. “A white SUV travels down a heavily-graffitied street” is a phrase she can barely put out, what with the near-geminate of the -d str- in the last words.
    • In fact, my assessment of the narratrix is that she has trouble with presence and cannot produce a reasonable volume without hurting herself. I am taking into account the issues of studio recording and the abysmal quality of SAP audio.
    • We have not improved the description of opening credits.
    • OK, I don’t know what to make of this. The flash cuts used to introduce Jim’s curiously accurate sonar visualizations are given a description of “WHITEFLASH!” (Quarterflash? Flashdance? Shadowfax?) And they utter the word in a pretentious breezy whisper. So now we’ve got three tracks or levels of dialogue to contend with – the program, the audio description, and this mixture of acting and description found in that single word. I had to do some checking with and without SAP turned on to verify that it indeed was intended as part of the description.
    • WHITEFLASH! A bed lies unmade, then stained with bloody handprints.” But we’re not told that Jim is imagining this. That’s pretty important, otherwise how would this description make sense? “WHITEFLASH! A naked dark-haired woman cringes.” (She’s actually crouched.) “Her face rises and turns, revealing Christie.”
    • “Her other hand reaches under the covers. Jim’s eyes open…. Kissing, she straddles him.”
    • Oddly, only Christie is deemed to be wearing a camisole. What are you, blind?
    • “Karen watches him leave, then leans into Jim.” No, she leans toward Jim. They don’t touch.
    • Description simply misses Tom’s opening his notebook and putting pen at the ready, and a subsequent switch in scene to daytime outside the precinct. Now, the latter could be elided since we end up “in Fisk’s office,” but the former couldn’t. Tom was waiting to write down an address they had just talked about.
    • “Jim opens his cane.” Whoops, he did that a moment ago. “Jim folds the cane in half [wallop] and cracks the man’s legs.” Indeed he does. Good integration with sound effect there.
  6. Seoul Man” (with description)

    Notes

    • It’s patently absurd that Jim would claim to have heard shell casings fall in a distant deli. It’s even more absurd that what reminded him of that sound was the similar sound of coins dropping. In that case, why wasn’t the noise he heard from the deli the sound of actual coins?
    • I see the writers are building up a bit of schtick with Jim – his contention that carrying a firearm is only as a “belly gun,” in case somebody tries to attack him “up close.”
    • The episode plays another stereotype a bit too hard – the imperative among Asian persons (they’re all Korean here) to avoid shame and the loss of face.
    • And of course the bad guy has to be a borderline redhead. Well, they are mutants.
    • The rivalry between Jim and Marty continues to age poorly.

    Description

    • We’re back to a narrator rather than a narratrix. It isn’t We See TV potentate Rick Boggs; in fact, it sounds like the announcer from those tedious Duracell commercials, which succeed in making batteries sound even more boring than they actually are. The narrator later IDs himself as Jack Patterson. He’s by far the most appropriate narrator choice yet. He’s relaxed, dispassionate, and dextrous (especially with troublesome geminates like -st st- and -skt g-). I like the tiny bit of gravel in his voice. Keep him!
    • Writer is credited as Micah Grossman.
    • Echo: Jim “cocks” his head twice within three minutes.
    • “On the street: A taxi stops behind crosswalkers.” That’s a word?
    • Missed an important part of a quick sequence of movements – “Jim sits up and blinks,” Marty moves toward Jim (missed), “Tom grabs Marty; he pushes Marty back and stares at him.”
  7. Leap of Faith” (with description)

    Notes

    • Inevitably, Karen’s boyfriend would be (1) a prominent nightclub owner (how A-list!) and (2) dirty. And inevitably, Jim learns of this from an éminence grise who, coïncidentally, is retiring from the department.
    • Tons of fun watching Karen and Christie sit around gossiping about Jim and the boyfriend.
    • It’s amazing that Jim all but confronts a teenage boy about being abused. That’s precisely the worst approach when dealing with male abuse victims, who require a great deal of time, indirection, and opportunity for self-disclosure.

    Description

    • It’s another narrator, but it’s not Jack Patterson. I’m pretty sure it’s Rick Boggs again, noticeably improved.
    • We do a better job with our WHITEFLASHes: “A white-shadowed figure falls, limbs flailing, through a wavy brown background.” Nonetheles, this is still insufficient. Do what they do on CSI and tell us this is a visualization. Just start it with “Jim imagines” or “Jim visualizes.”
    • Misses a store clerk handing a paper to Jim, realizing he can’t see it, and giving it instead to Karen. That’s kind of important. All we are told is “Karen smiles.”
    • In all these episodes, there are too many mentions of “GW Micro, makers of Window-Eyes, the most stable screen reader.” Don’t interrupt the show (always at the halfway point) to give us another plug. It seems less bad that some episodes use that half-time interruption to credit writer and describer; it might be completely OK if they did it in every show instead of only sometimes.

Objection

I wish to register an objection to Blind Justice’s obvious efforts to out-Oz Oz. I don’t think we particularly need successive episodes dealing with in-prison Nazi rape and torture and with a man’s sexual abuse of boys in a sports setting. As if that weren’t bad enough, the torture victim shoots himself on-camera. And the molester is of course queer, even though most of them aren’t. And Jim beats him up in the interrogation room. (“Are you just gonna let this happen?” “Yeah, I am,” Karen says.)

OK, how is all this necessary? Is this intended as some kind of progression from Sipowicz’s utterance of the word “asshole” on NYPD Blue? Or is there an effort to gratuitously disturb and haunt each and every viewer, blind, deaf, or otherwise?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.04.24 15:07. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2005/04/24/bjw/

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