How can something so potentially good go so wrong?
That was my dominating thought while watching the first three episodes of Raising the Bar (premiering Monday at 10 p.m.).
Consider the evidence: The legal drama is from the creative mind of executive producer Steven Bochco, the man behind the genius that was NYPD Blue. I loved NYPD Blue. I never missed an episode of what I will always consider one of the best television dramas ever.
Raising the Bar stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Detective John Clark on NYPD Blue) as scrappy public defender Jerry Kellerman, J. August Richards (Gunn on Angel) as lawyer Marcus McGrath and Jane Kaczmarek (Lois on Malcolm in the Middle) as volatile Judge Trudy Kessler.
Given the above facts, I went into this show previously disposed to absolutely love it. I couldn’t wait to watch the DVD when it arrived. But the show is not good — at all. I’m so disappointed. I can’t figure out how it all went so wrong. But here are some key places the show goes awry:
1. Jerry is soooo whiny. And I can’t blame Gosselaar because I know the man can act. The script has Jerry constantly throwing a temper tantrum to defend his clients. Sure we all know people who get indignant when they don’t get what they want, but we wouldn’t watch a TV show about them either. Jerry is the center of the show and I want to root for him but he is really, really, really annoying. Like he’s related to Maya on Heroes annoying. I’m going to not even talk about Jerry’s unfortunate hairstyle because I like Gosselaar and I don’t want to pick on him any more.
2. Judge Kessler makes no sense. She’s poised to be the adversary for Jerry but she’s mercurial and irrational sans explanation. She comes across a bad judge who did not take her legal responsibility seriously which I know isn’t want the show intended. And she is sadled with a regrettable and cliched storyline.
3. Gloria Reuben is underused as the head of the public defender’s office. And in the few scenes she’s in, her only plot line is that the young cute and wealthy public defender Richard Patrick Woolsley (Teddy Sears) has a crush on her.
Ugh. Two stars. The last time I felt this disheartened was with The Return of Jezebel James from Gilmore Girls executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino. I’ll stop complaining now because I like everyone involved in this project way too much to continue. I will leave you with this one fun fact: The series also stars Natalia Cigluiti as public defender Bobbi Gilardi. Cigluiti was Lindsay on Saved by the Bell: The New Class and of course Gosselaar was Zack on the original so at least that’s some minor good times — especially since I sense some sort of romance will happen down the line with those two characters.
After you watch the premiere of Raising the Bar, let me know what you think. And talk about when you were disappointed by a show you thought you would love below.
Quotes of the Week
"Peggy listen to me. Get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened." Don to Peggy when he visits her in the hospital after she has her baby in a flashback on Mad Men.
"When do you stop be so gullible? When the baby arrives?" Ashley to Amy on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
"This is not the time for petty sibling squabbles, that’s what Thanksgiving is for." Sean to Chief Vick on Psych. Thanks to Lil for the quote.
Exchange of the Week
"Alright, enough. The painfully cute mugging is starting to get on my nerves" Commander Dunlap on Psych.
"What are you Entertainment Weekly?" — Gus’s response. Thanks to Brian for the quote.
That’s all for today. I will be back on Labor Day to talk about the second season premiere of Gossip Girl (spotted: one TV critic so tired of a certain couple) and the results of the hit or flop 90210 survey (if you haven’t voted yet send me an email and let me know what you think). Have a question, seen a familiar face or want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great long weekend. Talk to you on Monday.