Jeanine Pirro, best known for her blaring voice and severe demeanor on Fox News’s Justice With Judge Jeanine and her appearances on The O’Reilly Factor, is the host of a new show on the Fox entertainment network — You The Jury, premiering Friday. Pirro sets up the premise of each case, which is then tried with lawyers and a judge on a huge, glitzy set filled with a loud studio audience. At the end of each episode, viewers can text a guilty or not-guilty vote — it’s audience participation that justifies the show’s title.
The opening case is about the 2011 death of Robyn Gardner, who disappeared while on a snorkeling trip with her boyfriend, Gary Giordano, and is assumed dead. Giordano had a $1.5 million insurance policy taken out on Gardner and he was the beneficiary. You The Jury conducts a civil trial against Giordano — Robyn’s sister Danielle wants damages for her sister’s death.
You The Jury follows the lead of so many primetime game shows that have followed in the wake of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: It’s presented on a darkly lit, glistening metallic set with harsh pinpoint lighting on the contestants — in this case, defendants and their lawyers. Pirro, a retired judge, doesn’t sully her hands by mounting the judge’s bench here; it’s Judge LaDora Cordell who has to climb the towering set to look down upon the litigants.
Pirro’s voiceovers hype the drama, introducing Joe Tacopina as “one of the most feared attorneys practicing today … famous for his intense interrogations.” Defendants are placed in the center of a circle, with the lawyers orbiting around them — it’s justice in the round. Giordano proclaims his innocence, although I declare him guilty of having a very bad toupee. There’s a lot of back and forth about whether Giordano is a gold-digging sleaze or an innocent man — it’s nothing you haven’t seen on lots of legal shows and news magazines before. In fact, this case has already been worked over on an episode of NBC’s Dateline.
You The Jury (I wonder how many viewers will realize the show title is a play on Mickey Spillane’s 1947 bestseller I, The Jury, the book that introduced private eye Mike Hammer) reduces a criminal trial to bright lights and yelling lawyers, with the studio audience clapping and hooting when it feels a good point has been scored. Fox claims the results, when tabulated, will be binding in the case, but I’m sure there are loopholes in this cheeseball setup. Pirro is more entertaining — more honestly cynical — on her own Judge Jeanine show on Fox News, where she heaps loud scorn on Paul Ryan and Elizabeth Warren with equal, empty invective.
You The Jury airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on Fox.