'Raising the Bar' review
Meet your new public defender—Zack Morris
Posted August 20, 2008
Yes, it's yet another courtroom drama. Yes, it examines our legal system while humanizing those who work within it. And yes, the title is, in fact, a double-pun. (They were law school buddies who have ended up on opposite sides of the criminal justice system and they go boozin' every night at the local bar. Take that, logic!).
Who's that? If he exec-produces it, they will come: Steven "Hill Street Blues" Bochco has assembled a solid cast for TNT's new hour-long original drama, including Mark-Paul Gosselaar (who starred in the final seasons of Bochco's "NYPD Blue") as public defender with a heart o' gold Jerry Kellerman, and Gloria Reuben ("ER") as his boss, Roz Whitman. The show also unofficially costars Gosselaar's new mane, which we're nicknaming Lion-o for obvious reasons.
Buzzed about: "Raising the Bar" unites "Saved by the Bell" star Gosselaar and Natalia Cigliuti, star of the significantly less watchable "Saved by the Bell: The New Class." The onscreen chemistry between the two Bayside alums raises the emotional, um, bar, but if we even catch the back of Screech's head in one of the courtroom scenes, we're totally bailing.
The "ooh" factor: “Malcolm in the Middle” mom Jane Kaczmarek shines as the sharp-tongued, no nonsense Judge Trudy Kessler, playing Darth Vader to Mark-Paul Gosselaar's Skywalker. Except that instead of cutting off Mark-Paul's hand with a lightsaber, she habitually throws him in jail for contempt of court.
The "eh" factor: As a transition between scenes, the show utilizes a bizarre time-lapse visual—an unsuccessful attempt to give this cookie-cutter courtroom drama a sharp, distinctive look. It's clunky, it's confusing and it gives the odd impression that these lawyers can teleport into the courthouse. Actually, that would be kind of awesome...
The verdict: Guilty! ...of having one of the cheesiest show names of the upcoming season. (We can play this legal show pun game too: 13-year-old Jewish kid becomes an attorney: "Bar Mitzvah." Big city attorney is relocated to Alaska: "Klondike Bar"). Not guilty! ...of adding anything particularly fresh or exciting to an already tired genre.
"Raising the Bar" premieres Monday, September 1, at 10pm/9c on TNT.
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