Set in the fictional town of Rome, Wisconsin, this David E. Kelley
family/legal/medical/cop dramedy won the Emmy for Best Drama twice. After four seasons, it got cancelled for being too weird for its own good.The main characters are:
- Jimmy Brock - The Sheriff of Rome.
- Jill Brock - Jimmy's wife, the town doctor.
- Kimberly Brock - Jimmy's teenage daughter from a previous marriage.
- Matthew Brock - Jimmy and Jill's son.
- Zachary Brock - Jimmy and Jill's son.
- Kenny Lacos - Deputy, not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
- Maxine Stewart - Deputy, Kenny's partner, the more driven of the two.
- Douglas Wambaugh - Town lawyer who represents every defendant in town.
- Judge Henry Bone - Town judge.
- Carter Pike - Medical examiner, conspiracy theorist.
This show provides one or more examples of:
- Actor Allusion: In one early episode Judge Bone (Ray Walston) attends a Halloween party dressed as Uncle Martin from My Favorite Martian.
- In another episode, Carter (wanting to examine a body who may have been exposed to extraterrestrial forces) says he doesn't believe in Martians. Judge Bone says he doesn't either
- Adorkable: Kenny on some occasions
- Alter Kocker: Douglas Wambaugh, an Ashkenazi Jew.
- Amoral Attorney: Subverted. Wambaugh takes any case for a fee, and isn't above using highly dubious tactics to win, but it eventually becomes clear that he's just playing a character.
- Artistic License Gunsafety: Sheriff Brock ought to know everything there is to know about keeping guns secure at home, yet Zachary has no trouble retrieving Jimmy's pistol and pantomiming potshots at Matthew's attacker when no one else is around. Played completely serious, and chilling.
- Awful Wedded Life: Wambaugh and his wife (who eventually divorces him because even she is sick of his antics) although in the finale, they remarry.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Kenny and Maxine.
- A one-sided example would be from Sheriff Brock and his ex-wife, much to Jill's chagrin.
- Body in a Breadbox: A corpse was discovered stuffed into a dishwasher.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Wambaugh.
- But I Can't Be Pregnant!: A comatose car crash victim is found to be pregnant even though she is a virgin. They find out her doctor is a religious fanatic who impregnated her through IVF without her knowledge. When she threatened to tell the police, he tampered with her car's brakes.
- A friend of Kimberly's becomes pregnant even though she had previously claimed to be a virgin. She was having sex with her "father," actually her polygamous husband
- Butt Monkey: Carter is unlucky in love, and all his attempts to appear as an authority on a variety of subjects have a tendency of backfiring on him
- Catch Phrase:
- Wambaugh—"Douglas Wambaugh, for the defense!"
- Judge Bone—"Now, get out!"
- Carter Pike—"Let me exhume the body!"
- Cerebus Syndrome: The show started out as a quirky, light-hearted Slice of Life, then morphed once into a Police Procedural involving the hunt for serial killers, then again into an Anvilicious courtroom drama. There's also how the show took quirky comedy concepts from its first few episodes and have them turn out to have a rather dark Reality Ensues payoff. That amusing Cloud Cuckoo Lander with some of the funniest lines in the show? Turns out he has Alzheimers, which eventually leads to a tragic downward spiral.
- California Doubling: Although set in the Midwest, the show was filmed in California.
- Courtroom Antic: Used very often by Wambaugh. Usually subverted, because Judge Bone always called him on it.
- Cowboy Cop: The Rome Sheriff's Department occasionally dips into this, such as when Kenny beats up a Smug Snake corrupt businessman who had beaten a witness who was going to testify against him
- Death by Sex / Out with a Bang: How Pike's mother ended up dying (subsequently of a heart attack soon after). Around Christmas.
- Dinner and a Show: Whenever they have dinner guests. Wambaugh lampshaded it when urging another guest to accept an invitation: "Strange things happen when they eat."
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: A male teacher accuses a woman of raping him. The defense is based on the fact that the man climaxed. In the end, the woman is found not guilty.
- Driven to Suicide: A repentant pedophile who moves to town and gets chilly-to-hostile receptions from everyone, including Judge Bone his father.
- Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe example. After Wambaugh tells an un-PC joke about Jews and Native Americans (during a funeral eulogy, no less), the local rabbi tries to have him excommunicated.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Subverted with D.A. Littleton, whose brother wasn't just foolish, but also an escaped convict who he had previously sent away.
- Framing the Guilty Party: "Frank The Potato Man" inverts this by having the guilty party DA Barnaby Wood deliberately trying to commit a crime (in this case, breaking and entering people's homes so as to take a bath for sexual kicks) when he believed the titular character (who's wrongly suspected of the crimes) would have an alibi (in this case, by being in police custody or under surveillance). Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work out, as both times Frank had be released
- High Turnover Rate: Mayors of Rome have died from spontaneous combustion, being pushed into freezers, and gunshots. Others have gotten thrown into jail or run out of office for making porn.
- Jerk Ass Has A Point: Douglas Wambaugh isn't really a Jerk Ass, but he is viewed with contempt for his constant volunteering of himself as defense attorney, no matter who the client is. However, several times he is able to point out that his clients have been mistreated by the police or the community, and he often calls people out when they're wrong, such as when he pays Frank the Potato Man's bail because he views his imprisonment as being motivated by prejudice, or tells Jimmy he's being stupid when he tries to prosecute Kimberly's boyfriend for statutory rape.
- Jews Love to Argue: Wambaugh.
- Jurisdiction Friction: "The Green Bay Chopper" has the Sheriff's Department and some FBI agents squabbling over the titular serial kidnapper who cuts off his victim's hands, who is believed to have killed his latest (making it a state rather than federal crime). At one point, Maxine draws her gun on the agents! This mostly goes away when they catch the guy, however.
- Little People Are Surreal: Ginny Weedon - Portrayed by Zelda Rubinstein, who basically plays the same part that she did in Poltergeist. It never stopped her from complaining about little people stereotypes, though.
- Also Peter Dreeb, who's not all that surreal in and of himself, but is introduced riding down the road on an elephant He and the elephant are running away from the circus where he was employed, and where Mr. Dreeb claims it had been abused
- Loners Are Freaks: Frank the Potato Man, who lives alone in the woods and has a tendency to loiter around schools staring at the children. He gets suspected of breaking into the homes of teenage girls and bathing in their tubs while masturbating It turns out to be the popular, young, handsome District Attorney. Frank leaves Rome in disgust by the end of the episode
- Middle Child Syndrome: Matt. Even lampshaded in an episode where he accidentally injured Zack.
- The Mountains of Illinois: In this case, Wisconsin. Palm trees can also be seen occasionally.
- Mr. Fanservice: Kenny.
- Ms. Fanservice: Maxine, to the point where Matt (who is just getting into puberty) starts having very sexy dreams about her seducing him, one of which had her in a bikini, offering him a Game Boy, a slice of chocolate cake, and herself.
- Off with His Head!: The ultimate fate of the fifth mayor, Ed Lawson, who was killed by his wife.
- Overprotective Dad: After walking in on Kimberly having sex with her boyfriend, Jimmy tries to have the boyfriend arrested on the spot for statutory rape.
- Parental Incest: It initially appears like one of Kimberley's friends is having sex with her father. Her father is actually her husband, who's in a polygamous relationship with her and her "mother"
- Patient of the Week: Seen by Jill, who has up-to-date knowledge of every disease and the latest treatments.
- Quirky Town: Rome has this trope in spades.
- Refuge in Audacity: Wambaugh, in his courtroom antics. In one episode, a drunk driver is allowed to drive home with police following her. After she causes a wreck that injures a young man, she calls Wambaugh, who tells her to drink in order to discredit the breathalyzer. When Judge Bone calls him on this, and gives him a very harsh dressing-down, Wambaugh decides to plead the case out for a suspended sentence. He then represents the victim of the wreck in a lawsuit against the town, using the driver's testimony that she was too drunk to drive. Legally, they couldn't do anything to Wambaugh for this, but Judge Bone gets so mad that he throws him in jail for contempt.
- Shock Party
- Single-Minded Twins: For a while Kenny dates a pair of Separated at Birth twin sisters whose connection is so strong that it draws them together. They're the ones who insist on dating him jointly. In their first appearance, one sister has to pull her car over on the side of the road and orgasm while her sister is having sex with Kenny — and they haven't even met yet.
- Spontaneous Human Combustion: The depressed, alcoholic mayor was written out of the plot by having him spontaneously combust in his own house. He already figured his political career was over, apparently making him a literal burnout was the final blow to the character.
- Sweeps Week Lesbian Kiss: Kimberly and her best friend kiss during a sleepover, causing Kimberly's parents to panic.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Douglas Wambaugh and Judge Henry Bone, who would also double as Heterosexual Life-Partners.
- Will They or Won't They?: Kenny and Maxine's relationship is based off of this.