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Murder, He Wrote - "Dressed to Kill" (Episode 18, Season 1 of Bull) on CBS

In the eighteenth edition of his weekly column in Law360, DOAR’s real-life New York City Jury Consultant and Psychologist reviews the fictional NYC Jury Consultant/Psychologist on the television series “Bull,” focusing on what litigation is really like in the trenches.

[Spoiler Alert]…





This week’s episode strays far from the “He’s a genius jury consultant” premise of the show. It is a whodunit that appears to be the result of someone getting a good deal on a script from “Murder She Wrote: The Lost Episodes.”

But, as many readers of this column have said, who am I to judge?

The Case Of The Arsenic Dress

Like Angela Lansbury before him, Bull wanders through life until a murder happens in front of him (Full disclosure: I’m just guessing. Like everyone under the age of “Died Peacefully In His Sleep,” I have never seen an episode of “Murder She Wrote,” but still have lots of opinions about it.). Bull goes to a Fashion Week show and watches as Chunk’s old fashion mentor dies on the runway from arsenic (!) that had been put into her dress.

The deceased’s assistant is arrested, and Bull immediately, based on nothing, decides the accused is innocent and takes on his defense. Chunk is doubtful of the assistant’s innocence and is upset that Bull takes the case for the accused murderer of his mentor. Although Bull is supposed to be a super genius, and in fact proves his superpowers by repeatedly pointing out people and saying “they’re having an affair,” he is unable to back up his decision or observations on romance to Chunk or the home viewer. Either the writers got tired at this point or they are trying to tell us that Bull is a charlatan. Has to be fatigue, right? Let’s move on.

This discussion with Chunk is also part of a strange tonal shift in this quiet episode. Unlike what we have seen in past episodes in which Bull is a cruel purveyor of hard truths to his staff, here he is uncharacteristically warm and concerned to Chunk (although he makes a mean crack to poor Cable that she is a generic hipster. She is so disheartened, she can barely muster the strength for criminal mischief). We are also suddenly introduced to Bull’s long-term relationship with a girlfriend played by Eliza Dushku, that will play out in future episodes. This sudden long-term girlfriend story is so jarring that it can only be a vestigial remnant of when Angela Lansbury’s character had a fling with Bea Arthur.

The whodunit plot moves through Bull identifying many people as the real arsenic killer. As usual, Bull eventually settles on one and has him arrested and wins the case for his defendant.

Felony Corner

Angela Lansbury spent most of her time closely examining her tea for signs of arsenic poisoning at various bed and breakfasts, so this week, no TAC Team felonies or misdemeanors. Who knew we would long for egregiousness and misconduct?

Is That What Jury Consulting Is Like?

Angela Lansbury was not much of a jury picker, so on this episode there is just one weird scene of Benny asking a panel of potential jurors “What kind of dinosaur would you be?” I will leave it up to you to insert your own “Murder She Wrote” joke here.

Next week, I’ll start off with a pretty good joke and then overplay it throughout the column. See you then!

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