Back to my easy to read review format for a show I was not expecting to review at all:
TNT’s Raising the Bar Season 2
What TNT Says: This season’s cases tackle such issues as hate crimes, drug dealing and child pornography as the lawyers face off against each other in the courtroom. In addition to the difficulties they confront in Judge Kessler’s court, they now have to endure the draconian rules of Judge Albert Farnsworth (John Michael Higgins – Best in Show). And with Roz missing the hands-on aspect of public defending and Balco determined to reach new political levels, they’ll both find themselves in the courtroom more and more, alongside their talented staff members.
In RAISING THE BAR, Gosselaar plays idealistic public defender Jerry Kellerman, driven to do everything he can to secure a verdict of not guilty or a decent plea deal for his clients. Reuben plays his passionate and protective boss, Rosalind “Roz” Whitman, who loves her work overseeing the public defender’s office but frequently wishes she could spend more time in the courtroom defending the underprivileged. Kaczmarek plays imperious Judge Trudy Kessler, who has dreams of becoming the next district attorney.
RAISING THE BAR also stars Natalia Cigliuti (All My Children) as Bobbi Gilardi, a new lawyer from Brooklyn who has a flirtatious relationship with Kellerman; Melissa Sagemiller (Sleeper Cell) as Michelle Ernhart, a prosecutor who doesn’t mind playing games in order to get what she wants; J. August Richards (Conviction) as Marcus McGrath, whose prosecutorial skills are matched by his overwhelming sense of right and wrong; Teddy Sears (Ugly Betty) as Richard Woolsley, a lawyer who could have a big job at his father’s multi-million-dollar law firm but chooses instead to help indigent defendants; Currie Graham (Boston Legal) as Nick Balco, an assistant district attorney with a penchant for hard ball and sexual innuendo; and Jonathan Scarfe (Into the West) as Judge Kessler’s loyal aide, whose personal feelings and relationships sometimes interfere with his work.
Changes from last season: The biggest change is Mark Paul Gosslear’s hair. HE CUT IT. Finally that awful looking cut is down to a normal length and is actually a focal point of the season’s first episode. The episode surrounds Jerry’s birthday where each of his friends comment on what is most meomeroble about Jerry and of course it is his hair.
Another nice change this season is that Gloria Reuben’s Roz character is in the courtroom instead of the office. She fights with all the usual judges and fights with a new one played by John Michael Higgins as a great new addition.
The Good: Last year I was so excited for a new refreshing young NYC law show after the void left by the great but never appreciated Conviction on NBC a while back. The show disappointed. I love interest after a couple hours and never looked back but when the screener arrived many weeks ago I was hesitant to watch again but I did. I was so glad I did. The show in the 2 of the first three episodes had heart, compassion, humor, and drama. The cutting of Jerry’s hair brought a weird sense of revival and a new start to the series. The show balances the humor of the friendship with serious issues like gay bashing among others. The actors are as good as they can be with the best being of course Gloria Reuben and Jane Kaczmarak. These two almost veteran actress bring a respect to the show that is much needed, but still….
The Bad: The show feels forced and the friendship unreal. The love triangle of Bobbi-Jerry-Michelle is unneeded and does not gel with the rest of the production and who really cares.
And Overall…: The series is now for me a enjoyable summer show that hopefully will keep up its momentum.
Raising the Bar airs after a new season of The Closer at 10/9c on TNT. It is part of 7 original series on TNT this summer.