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  • The first season was OK, but the second season sparkles. The stories are solid, with usually three or four sub-plots that wrap up during the episode, plus the continuing story arcs regarding the major characters. Gosselar continues and improves upon his work in NYPD Blue. Gloria Reuben is her usual solid self. Jonathan Scarfe was a surprise to me, having never seen him before, while Currie Graham plays his usual sour but solid guy.

    I'm less taken with Jane Kazmarek, whose character is neither nice nor nasty enough to be a treat. The supporting characters beyond those mentioned above all do an adequate or better job, with the two female attorneys -- one for the DA's office and the other for the Public Defender's -- provide eye-candy and do a good job.

    The fact that New York City has no Public Defender's office, with that role taken by the Legal Aid Society, seems an odd twist on reality to have taken, given that using the proper group would not seem to have changed the show at all.

    All in all, I look forward to each episode.
  • The mostly young cast of Raising The Bar and the performances they give will probably interest more young people into going into the law than any other show since Perry Mason. It's also a lot more realistic than Perry Mason.

    The real test for this show and perhaps it's a bit unfair to compare it with Steven Bochco's last big NYPD Blue in terms of staying power, is to see if the premise carries it beyond the attractive cast. It certainly sustains Law And Order despite cast changes that have completely eliminated the original members now. That's what happened with NYPD Blue, but they did have Dennis Franz to anchor that show.

    Bochco got his cast from a variety of sources from daytime and nighttime television, in some cases the players have experience in both. There are role models aplenty here.

    My favorite is Mark-Paul Gosselaar who shed the Zack Morris image in NYPD Blue has now gone on to a different idealistic character in the person of Legal Aid lawyer Jerry Kellerman. There was an episode where his supervisor at the panel criticized him for being unable to watch an injustice being persecuted. Now that's someone I can always admire. Gosselaar as Kellerman is charming, mature, and idealistic and looking a whole lot better since he shed the long hair from the first season.

    For those who like hard as nails prosecutors, Currie Graham also from NYPD Blue is supervising bureau chief assistant district attorney Nick Baldo. Hard to believe that Jack McCoy and Baldo work for the same office. They think they're doing society a service, but it's also a numbers game with them, to rack up a collection of scalps so to speak. Baldo shows why the Kellermans of the world are really needed.

    And you have to love Mary Jane Kaczmarek as the tough female judge who's succeeded in what was a male dominated profession. Remember it was only 28 years ago a woman finally made it to the Supreme Court. She's had to be tough to survive. It's also twisted her somewhat, in many ways she's the most complex character on the show.

    Shows that have as long a run as NYPD Blue are few and far between, but I'm hoping this one has a real long 7 to 8 year run. The scripts are literate and factual and the players make you care about their characters. What's not to like?
  • I can understand why most people didn't connect, which resulted in the series being canceled. The idea of a law series that centers on "average" defendants (poor people who are stuck in the system by a combination of circumstances and poor choices, and sometimes only the first) is not something we are accustomed. We want to see either the bad guys being chased by the good guys or saintly lawyers and defendants who are unquestionably innocent (like in "To Kill a Mockingbird"). But crime and punishment in real life are far more complex, and that is why the day-to-day of public defenders is a premise that makes such good drama.

    (Not that the series is ultra-realistic in every sense; most of the relationships among the characters are less than believable, very made for TV, but they had to be there if the series had any chance of success.)

    The bottom line is that there is something remarkably true in the stories of Raising the Bar, something that no other cop or law show ever came close to achieving. The situations of the defendants came straight from David Feige's experience as a PD in the Bronx, and not from stock characters and plots, which puts the human element far higher.

    It is impossible not to compare it to Law & Order, the only other series to have 50% of its cast made of public prosecutors. Bar doesn't have the excitement of its competitor, but it is far, far superior in terms of human content. Whenever any of the L&Os versions tries to give us some moral complexity and tackle social issues, it feels spoon-fed and artificial, like a plug for a political agenda. After all, it is basically a show about catching the bad guys and finding the truth, not one about ambiguity - actually, the LESS moral dilemmas you see in L&O, the better the episode.

    The same does not happen with Raising the Bar. The focus is on the work of Public Defenders - one of the most unjustly maligned professions in the world - and their clients. The moral complexity springs from the premise, it is not inserted in the story. It is there because the situations regular people face when charged with a crime are complex, and "guilty" x "not guilty" are two terms not always easy to apply. After watching and thinking about it, you imagine yourself as a policeman, prosecutor or judge, and you wonder if you can arrest/prosecute/sentence a person for any crime without any doubts whatsoever regarding what is done. Society suffers less crime if more people who break the law are imprisoned, that's true. But does it have less victims? Hard to say.

    There are other shows out there that have more thrill, but none in the legal genre that are that compelling. I hope more people, like another commenter and myself, find this great series on Netflix.

    Great job, Feige & company.
  • betwana27 August 2012
    What a shame that Raising the Bar was canceled after the second season! It is by the far the most nuanced, well-written legal show I've ever seen. Most shows in its genre pander to the fantasy that the world is divided into good and evil, where the bad guys are cunning and unremorseful and the good guys are always law enforcement. Raising the Bar is one of the few shows that show the defense side, but it doesn't do that at the expense of the prosecution side. Even the show's initial villains are rehabilitated as complicated, nuanced characters. As a lawyer, I can vouch for how close the show gets to reality (except for how attractive and well-dressed the characters are, of course!) it is also incredibly entertaining without sacrificing its complexity. I can't say enough good things about this show - I actually shelled out money to buy the DVDs, which I almost never do. Highly recommend!
  • I've seen a lot of shows in my time, from terrible dramas to truly innovative spectacles, but this show really does have it all. A cast thats spot on when it comes to acting and more importantly just an all around competitive feel. Jerry(the main character) is always overly concerned about his clients and along with his colleagues seems to always be fighting an uphill battle against the state and not to mention most of the judges, to get his clients acquitted of all the false claims that have been thrown against them. The state, which happens to always be a few of his friends from college, is just as ruthless in their tactics as he is! Which makes this a very good argumentative 45 minutes. Don't leave thinking this is one of those "good guys always win" shows, its not. This is what real courtroom fighting is all about. I give it a 10/10 keep up the good work!
  • rasadi272 October 2011
    One name... Jerry Kellerman. He is probably just the cherry on top for this show. The writing is excellent, it's funny and witty and makes you giggle and it is also serious and thought provoking.You just can help but fall in love with Jerry and his personality and Gosselaar plays his part with no flaws.

    Doing legal myself, i enjoy how this show ACTUALLY tackles some of the real issues with the legal system and it does so without bias as it shows the defendants point of view as well as the prosecution and this is well balanced.

    Casting is superb. The actors all play their part and even the minor characters such as the defendants who change for every episode are very believable. And the inner stories within the series amongst the main characters are balanced and do not overshadow the legal issues of the series.

    It's a shame this show only lasted 2 seasons as i see an amazing t.v show that REALLY should have gone for longer.

    i recommend to anybody who is interested in the area of law and by all means, this is just my opinion. There are flaws in the show obviously but it ticked all my boxes so 10/10
  • L.A. Law & Hill Street Blues springs to mind when watching Raising The Bar, it has the same sort of feeling of colleagues working together and using each other in a supportive way. Each of the main characters has it's own idiosyncratic ways which endear you to them. What drew me to this series was tracking the career of 'Malcolm In The Middle' actress Jane Kaczmarek, I was curious as to what she was doing and to my delight she has taken a part the suits her down to the ground. I wouldn't say the role is challenging but rather something which fits naturally with her previous role as the domineering mother and not forgetting the the same role she voiced in 'The Simpsons'. Unfortunately there is a familiarity with Raising The Bar which could stop it from being anything other than a series that gets shelved after a few seasons.... A series that will get a a thumbs up from the T.V. Execs is that of Kaczmarek's acting partner in 'Malcolm In The Middle' Bryan Cranston, that series is really breaking the mold, simply awesome!
  • This was the best legal show that Hollywood ever produced, what real courtroom fighting is all about, it was closest to reality that TV show can be.

    You wont find black & white picture of the life in and around the court in this one, where good guys, relying on "the Law", tough but impartial and objective judge and honest infallible jurors always win, instead you will be hit with reality and dirty nature of the courtroom, procedures, and petty little personal agendas and vanity. You wont see "the Law" as ultimate, unmistakable, perfect, God given, instead you will be presented with sort of law-market where lawyers on the both side of aisle sell and buy, you wont meet knights in shiny armors on "peoples" side, nor on the side of defense, especially not on the bench, but marketeers and traders in a dirty trade we call Law - so, forget the fantasies like Law & Order (although another first grade show), The Practice, LA Law, especially Boston Legal or Fairly Legal, not to mention Ally McBull(sh.t), etc.

    Stories are mostly simple every day life stories, real and very interesting, the plot solid, acting mostly solid....

    It's a shame it was canceled ! To me it's a complete mystery why viewers actually rejected it, something so different that breaks every cliché ?! Unbelievable .... 10 of 10
  • The reviews of "Raising the Bar", totally miss the point of this series. This series offers great insight into the politics of justice as opposed to the principles of justice, whereby personal agendas of judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers intrude into the judicial process to over-ride the truth of a case. This is the reality of "justice" which is generally ignored or brushed aside. No other series exposes this reality as well as "Raising the Bar", if they try do it at all.

    The inner workings of behind the scene trading of favors in "deals" is fully exposed. The truth of a case is often a secondary consideration with judges and opposing attorneys. Such political skewing of principle is the corruption that exists in all human transaction - economic, political, or judicial. However, we often ignore this and wish it away, as a part of our ignoring much of reality that is uncomfortable to us. This series can shake up your perceptions of the law and government.
  • I just discovered this show and cannot believe it was canceled. It was fantastic.

    Just another reason why I don't bother with television anymore. (I stumbled across this gem on Netflix, after the fact.) The execs that make the decisions about what stays and what goes are so out of touch their audience.

    I just discovered this show and cannot believe it was canceled. It was fantastic.

    Just another reason why I don't bother with television anymore. (I stumbled across this gem on Netflix, after the fact.) The execs that make the decisions about what stays and what goes are so out of touch their audience.
  • This show is well thought out and succeeds and falters simultaneously in the early episodes, but gets stronger as it continues into the second season. Although the writing and acting are a bit disjointed at moments, the fundamental plots are excellent and very well put together. Most people's expectations of a legal drama will be exceeded. The series touches on many moral and ethical issues that face western societies, particularly the United States. Every episode provokes thought and discussion about issues that do not have simple answers and which the American system of justice is ill-equipped to resolve. The acting and writing are not perfect, and there are cheesy/campy moments, but there are also moments where you can see that the acting and writing could really click. Having been a fan of Boston Legal, the Practice and The Good Wife, I feel very comfortable recommending this series to anyone who enjoys legal drama. The series is more serious than Boston Legal but less fun and sexy; and is more fun and sexy than the Practice but less serious. It also has a distinctly different aesthetic than either of those shows and outcomes are less predictable. The cast is strong and there are many familiar faces from ER. I hope the show continues. Not perfect. Not a 10/10, but it is thoroughly enjoyable.
  • After viewing DVD 1 of Season One, I wanted solid stories with solid acting. What I found left me wanting my time and rental fee back. The story lines are shallow. There is no richness to them. The only solid acting comes from the ER co-stars Reubens and Scarfe, with the right writers they could work it out. Kaczmarek needs better writing or a better vehicle and something done with her hair. Speaking of "hair", Gosselaar needs his hair washed and cut.... oh, the biggie, acting classes (and not the one he is currently in). Zach Morris isn't charming high schoolers anymore.

    If you want a good show (quality writing and acting) watch "The Practice" on Hulu, check out Boston Legal or LA Law. Or how about Matlock?
  • When I heard that Gloria Reuben, who is unusually vibrant, talented, subtle, and gifted, had a new show, I rushed to see it. Unfortunately, the only thing Reuben has to do here is add class and ability to the mix--the writers are giving her nothing interesting, challenging, or different, and one could probably say this about several other actors on Raising the Bar. The show has none of the raucous, riotous, shameless satire or humor of Boston Legal, or even of LA Law in its heyday.. Even worse, the blonde yuppie icebitch ADA has become one of the tiredest, weariest clichés in lawyer shows, and this particular actress makes it even more loathsome. she is almost a reason never to watch the show again...