What’s Going On In Judge Parker? Is there even a Judge Parker anymore? July – October 2022


There is not! We all supposed it already. But Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker confirmed that Randy Parker is no longer a judge. It’s hard to see how he could have kept his post, what with disappearing for a year or so to be in hiding with his superspy ex(?)-wife April. But this was, I think, the first time it was said on-screen that he’d been replaced.

Randy’s father, Alan Parker, retired from the judiciary a long while ago to write law thrillers. So there is, for now, no Judge Parker in the strip Judge Parker. It’s looking likely that Randy Parker’s successor, Matt Duncan, may not be in the post much longer. But it’s hard to see how Randy would get the job back given that whole “ran off to be with his fugitive wife for a year” thing in his recent history.

Also, I’m still not sure whether Randy and April are married. Another character referred to April as Randy’s ex-wife, but that may just be the reasonable supposition. I admit I don’t know whether you can get divorced from a fugitive, as April Parker had been for years. I would think it has to be possible; it’s abandonment if nothing else, right? But then I remember my parents teaching young me how to guess who was going to win a case on The People’s Court. Think of which party seems obviously in the right, and take the other side, as there’s usually something in the law that makes the ‘wrong’ thing right. It sets one on a path to a useful cynicism.

So this sets you on a path to understanding Judge Parker for the start of October 2022. If you’re reading this after about December 2022, there should be a more useful plot recap here. Thanks for reading.

Judge Parker.

17 July – 1 October 2022.

My last check-in with Cavelton’s favorite family came as Sam Driver told Abbey Spencer about the forged video. And that he had accepted as plausible that then-Mayor-Sanderson had a drone video of Abbey burning down her money-pit bed-and-breakfast. And had sat on it in trade for then-Deputy-Mayor-Stewart’s support in kicking the corrupt and bonkers Sanderson out of office.

Toni Bowen, on the phone: 'So let me get this straight, Soph ... the previous mayor illegally spied with drones and the new mayor doctored that footage to convince Sam that Abbey burned down her own B-and-B for the insurance money?' Sophie: 'Pretty much it. And I want both mayors to pay.' Bowen: 'I still have connections back with my old news show. And yes, they'd jump at this story. But you have to think this through ... '
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 12th of August, 2022. Incidentally we still don’t know who did burn down the bed-and-breakfast, nor who forged the video. If Sanderson had done it he’d surely have used the video when he was mayor to drive Abbey Spencer out of town. Stewart knew the video was fake but that’s not the same thing as faking it. And the scheme of “burn down my boss’s rival’s business and fake a video of her doing it so her husband will support me when I become mayor” seems to me too risky for too slight a reward. He didn’t need to buy their help working against Sanderson. Someone else, though? We’re short on suspects.

Abbey is heartbroken. That her family knew about this and didn’t tell her for months, for one. That her husband thought she might have burned her place down, the more devastating thing. She decides she has to divorce Sam, who accepts the decision.

Amidst all this misery Sophie thinks of revenge. She wants Mayor Stewart to pay for blackmailing Sam. And Ex-Mayor Sanderson to pay for spying on Abbey. She turns to Toni Bowen, former Cavelton reporter and failed mayoral candidate, for advice. Bowen advises to talk to Abbey and Sam first. Revealing the forged video could humiliate Stewart and Sanderson. But it’s going to humiliate the Spencer-Drivers first, and more.

Sam, on the phone :'I told no one, Abbey! Things are a mess as it is ... ' (He notices the TV.) 'Though I have an idea who did ... ' On the TV is former mayor Sanderson, saying: 'Though I did check on certain individuals with drones --- for our town's own well-being! I never would have doctored footage like Mayor Stewart ... '
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 9th of September, 2022. Have to say, Cavelton is having a heck of a time when “former mayor admits spying on the population with drones” is not the scandal. Anyway, enjoy the surveillance state, folks.

Meanwhile Abbey has decided to sell the Spencer Farms. Yes, they’ve been in her family for generations. But she’s fed up with town and with the complicated set of memories. Especially in the dramatic years since Francesco Marciuliano took over the writing. Sophie calls as Abbey is talking this over with the real estate agent. And then the news breaks. Someone’s told the news media about the doctored video. Abbey suspects Sam, but he’s innocent. It’s Sanderson who broke the news. (This suggests, but doesn’t prove, that he only recently learned of the video.)

This re-energizes Abbey. She cancels the sale and Marciuliano jumps the story ahead a couple months, keeping Abbey and Sam from having to be humiliated by this. Abbey has joined the special race for mayor, becoming the third major character to run for mayor of Cavelton in as many years. (Alan Parker and Toni Bowen made their tries in 2020.) Say what you will about Francesco Marciuliano as a writer: he loves his mayoral elections.

Abbey Spencer, addressing the media: 'our town has fallen prey to corporate and political self-interests. As mayor I will make Cavelton a place for all, not just a select minority.' Reporter: 'But weren't you just planning to leave the very town you now wish to run?' Abbey: 'Like a lot of people, I had lost hope in my home. But I have chosen to stay and fight.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 14th of September, 2022. That seems like a lot of podium for a press conference attended by four people.

And then, from the 16th of September, we settle in to a new story. And a new kind of story. The divorced(?) Sam Driver has a case, the sort of action-adventure detective stuff he was originally introduced to the strip to do. I don’t know what to expect in this shift. There has been crime drama in the strip before. The two big examples were the kidnapping of Sophie Spencer and her bandmates, and in Marie’s husband faking his death. But none of that was stuff that characters were expected to investigate. They were supposed to live through drama. This is about solving a mystery that the main cast could let pass by.

This story, by the way, involves gun violence and murder, so please consider whether you need that in what has been, for years now, a family-drama soap strip. If you do want to carry on with reading about this in your recreational reading, you’ll find the rest under this cut.

Someone murdered Judge Matt Duncan’s family. Assassinated, says Sam’s old partner Steve, who probably has a last name. Duncan’s eldest son, found cowering in the closet, covered in blood, and holding a gun, is the obvious suspect, and the cops figure it’s an easy case.

Steve doesn’t think it’s that easy. Duncan had been coming down hard on the meth gangs moving into Cavelton. And Duncan had been coming down hard on corrupt cops, enraging the police. Duncan had hired Steve to look into threats against his family. And now? Someone’s coming after Steve’s family, and Sam Driver is the person Steve can trust.

Sam; ''Pin the murder'? So you don't think the kid did it either?' Yelich: 'No priors. of course, that isn't a pre-req for this kind of crime. But the kid's really fragile. Hasn't said a single word. He's almost a walking coma.' Sam: 'Couldn't he have snapped? Maybe there was violence in the home. Maybe he's in shock about what he did.' Yelich; 'All possible. But my gut has always been my professional lodestar and it's telling me two things --- he didn't do it and I'm a fool for talking to you about it.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 1st of October, 2022. So, I accept Yelich’s idea that a kid isn’t likely to murder his family without some history of minor crimes coming first. On the other hand, an up-and-coming judge would be able to get a history of minor crimes squelched. I understand the dramatic need to make the murders as mysterious as possible. And to set Sam Driver up so he can’t just shrug and say it sucks but I have my own problems. But it does come across as Sam asking why the obvious suspect can’t be the one who did it and everyone saying, ‘Eh, just trust me.’

Sam asks his friend Detective Yelich, who I also imagine has a first name, to meet at an out-of-the-way yet hipster bar. Yelich agrees he doesn’t think Duncan’s son did it. But his only evidence is knowing how much the police department wants to humiliate Duncan and his fool idea of making cops follow laws. And all he’s sure about is it’ll be really dangerous for Sam to go asking questions of … someone, somewhere. I guess he’ll know if he starts provoking people until someone shoots at him. We’ll see.

Next Week!

Has the city of New Cleveland come to take up permanent residence in Moo? And who’s messing with Doc Wonmug’s personal history to turn him away from science and into jazz? I’ll examine Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop in a week, if all goes well.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

Please Write Something Funnier Than I Thought To

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: