Mark-Paul Gosselaar in "Raising the Bar"
courtesy of TNT

“Raising the Bar” (TNT)

Steven Bochco’s new series “Raising the Bar” is the latest addition to the impressive roster of drama series on TNT. It replaces “Saving Grace” which goes on hiatus, and is so good that it will make the weeks without “Grace” bearable. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Jane Kaczmarek head a truly talented cast. 

Gosselaar plays Jerry Kellerman, an attorney in the Public Defender’s Office. He is idealistic and spends his days tilting at windmills. Sometimes he actually wins his cases. Other times he goes down in flames. But he is always trying to do the best for his clients and he is a legend of sorts in the PD office.

One of Jerry’s adversaries is Judge Trudy Kessler (Kaczmarek). He hits her the wrong way and always brings out her worst side. When they do battle in court she generally wins since she is a judge and he is a lowly attorney.

Week after week we will get to know Jerry and Trudy better as well as their co-workers. In true Bochco fashion they are fascinating people who will become like family after a while. Bochco has known great success thanks to shows like “L A Law” and “NYPD Blue” so he was due for a new hit – and he has certainly found it.

Unlike “The Closer” and “Saving Grace” which are star driven shows, this one is more of an ensemble effort. Gosselaar moves his acting up a notch to play Jerry. He cut his teeth on “Saved By the Bell” and grew into maturity on “NYPD Blue.” Now he is the leading man in this show and the fit if good.

Kaczmarek is pure perfection in her role. She is fearfully evil but we might see some softer sides to her in future episodes. Judge Trudy is a complex person and Kaczmarek gives all her facets free reign.

Paired with “The Closer” on Monday nights, this show should find an audience quickly and give some of the network shows a run for their money. It is that good. Now if they can only get Dennis Franz to drop by for a guest shot.

“Raising the Bar” premieres on TNT, Monday, September 1 at 10PM. Don’t miss it!





©2008 Jackie K. Cooper

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