Culture > Television

Blind Justice

Television | Fictional detective Jim Dunbar overcomes blindness to solve cases using his other senses

Issue: "Terri Schiavo: In memoriam," April 9, 2005

From the fictional Oscar-winner Million Dollar Baby to the real-life tragedy of Terri Schiavo, people with disabilities are the latest target of the culture of death. So TV shows that humanize the handicapped, showing that despite their physical problems they have a life worthy of life, are welcome.

Blind Justice (ABC, Tuesdays, 10:00 p.m. ET) is about a detective, Jim Dunbar (Ron Eldard), who loses his sight in a shootout. After a lawsuit to get his job back, he is back on the beat with sunglasses and a seeing-eye dog. We see him tackle prejudice and overcome physical obstacles as he solves cases using his other senses.

It's a worthy concept, but so far Blind Justice is disappointing. The show is the creation of Steve Bochco, who is known for gritty and realistic police dramas. This one is gritty enough, with the blind cop having problems with his marriage, no one wanting to be his partner, and mean colleagues re-arranging the furniture so that he keeps tripping over it. But it is hard to accept as realistic. (Do blind cops really get to keep their guns? And do they really use them? And do they really aim them dead-on at bad guys just by their heightened super-senses?)

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The biggest problem is that, so far at least, Detective Dunbar is not a very sympathetic character. He whines and complains, snaps at his wife, and drowns in self-pity. Yes, disabled people face emotional issues and are not automatically saints. But they are also not always lawsuit-threatening self-conscious victims with a chip on their shoulder. That is how Detective Dunbar comes across, which amounts to yet another stereotype that disabled people have to overcome.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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