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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.