A winning combination: Courtroom drama is just the beginning in ‘Bull’
Some TV dramas rely on pulseracing action and big-budget special effects, while others draw audiences in with clever writing and charismatic performances. Viewers looking for such smart TV may want to check out CBS’s latest Monday night hit.
Psychologist and trial science expert Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly,
“NCIS”) helps clients win cases in the drama “Bull,” airing Monday, Dec. 10, on CBS. He employs a team of experts as he uses high-tech data analysis, as well as his intuition and knowledge of the human psyche, to figure out what makes people tick in the hopes of tipping the scales of justice.
Now in its third season, the show was created by screenwriter Paul Attanasio (“Quiz Show,” 1994) and psychologist Phil McGraw (“Dr. Phil”), and was inspired by McGraw’s early career as a trial consultant. The show premiered on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, to more than 15 million viewers.
Much of the show’s success has been attributed to Weatherly’s solid performance as Bull, who heads up the Trial Analysis Corporation (TAC), a top trial consulting business. Although “Bull” is billed as being “inspired by” the life of television personality and author McGraw, Weatherly clarified that the program isn’t biographical. In a November interview about the show’s third season with ET Canada, the actor talked about McGraw’s ongoing involvement with the production.
“[What] Phil McGraw helps with a lot is the trial science and the analysis of how to best move forward in a jury trial,” he explained. “How do you prep your witnesses, how do you select or deselect a jury ... that process is fascinating, and it is a component of the show, but we’re not following the life of Phil McGraw.”
Weatherly seems well suited to take on the role of the fictional Bull, who holds three PhDs in psychology, as well as a pilot’s license. Having failed the bar exam himself, Bull isn’t generally fond of lawyers, but seems to have found his niche in trial consultation. Before Weatherly snagged the starring role in this drama, he was well known to TV fans as Anthony DiNozzo in
“NCIS,” a role he played from that show’s premiere in 2003 until his departure in 2016. He’s also known for his work in the TV soap opera “Loving” and the prime-time series “Dark Angel,” the latter of which earned him two Saturn Award nods and a Teen Choice Award nomination.
Weatherly now brings his onscreen charisma to his leading role. Sometimes brash, sometimes charming, Bull uses a variety of techniques as he tries to predict how jurors, defendants, witnesses and others might behave during a trial. His services include case investigation, assembling mock juries and conducting mock trials with the help of his talented team of experts.