Jane Kaczmarek in Raising the Bar

Jane’s new legal drama Raising the Bar has got a 15 episode second season on TNT!

It also broke records airing behind TNT’s The Closer, the No. 1 show on cable, Raising The Bar drew 7.7 million total viewers for its premiere, surpassing The 4400’s previous record by about 300,000 viewers. It also smashed the record for most households, drawing 5.7 million, or nearly half a million more than The Closer drew in 2005.

You can find out more about the show and watch the first episode in our previous post.

Click ‘more’ for various interviews & reviews.

Source: medialifemagazine.com, BuddyTV & hollywoodoutbreak.com


Jane Kaczmarek Talks About Raising Kids And TNT’s `Raising the Bar’

While the word “glamour” might not see to apply to the Yale Drama grad and veteran performer on screen, when she’s padding around in the ‘courtroom’ in full make-up and hidden slippers, ready to be interviewed, she looks, well, glamorous. Caveat: with the mettle backlit into every character Jane, thirty-something looking at 52, plays. “I have a five year old,” she jokes, “do the math.” Here’s what Jane K had to say from the set, and on a follow-up press conference call, about her new series premiering Labor Day:

Q: First, can you catch us up on what’s been going on with you and your career?

Jane Kaczmarek: After Malcom went off the air — offers would I get would be mostly comedies. It was long. I have three little kids. I waited till a job came along that really suited my lifestyle. I worked with Bochco 25 years ago on Hill Street Blues and TNT was extremely creative in helping to develop a schedule for me that would let me be with my children. And in my life as much as I could and in a very concentrated way allowed me to get the work done that the character needed to do on Raising The Bar. So it – it was a show that I found interesting and – but mostly it was TNT and Bochco letting me work in a – as I said, in a very concentrated way so that I would have a lot of time to be home with my kids.

Q: So you’re Raising the Bar by day but also raising how many kids?

I have a 10-year-old and eight-year-old and a five-year-old.

Q: How can you study lines with the racket at home?

It is tough to memorize. I have to say that I have to spend a little bit more time memorizing the lines, the legal jargon, than I got on Malcolm in the Middle.

Q: Ah, the sacrifices we make for sitcoms —

Well, I – I think I became very grateful that I have never been in the – I have never been at the mercy of the court. I mean, memorizing those lines is hard enough and really figuring out what it is exactly the law is saying in certain instances is really confounding. I have to say I am very grateful for David Feige, who wrote the book, to explain a lot of this stuffs for us.

Q: David Feige used to be Trial Chief of the Bronx, so he has his own amazing stories, right?

The judge I am playing fails in comparison to some of the judges that he – he talks about in his cases in the book. So that was pretty frightening to read this book and to realize that, that there is really nothing I am doing that is so out of the ordinary if you are working in a – in a system like the Bronx, the Bronx or you know one of these huge urban areas. I think this is pretty far for the courts.

Q: I guess as Jerry Kellerman is based on David’s character.

Yes. [David] has such theories against judges like me that you know I have to kind of remind him sometimes when I am talking to him that, come on, you know you have got to show her – you got to show another side to her you know. If you had a bad experience with these judges and I am sure they are out there but you know nobody is going to believe if you – if you do not tamper her with some redeemable quality. So I hope he is hearing that.

Q: Are the writers there with Bochco on set, I mean do you get time with them?

They are rarely on the set because they are always in the writing room. We kind of have a phone line to them when we have questions about things. So I know that they really got their noses to the grindstone. David – I do not know if I told you this when you were [on set with him] but David and I – David is from Madison, Wisconsin and I went to college in Madison, Wisconsin. It turned out David and I were in the same play when I was a sophomore at the UW and David was a nine-year-old boy in this play. So we – we immediately had a great rapport because we had been on this together 30 years ago. So that was a pretty funny coincidence.

Q: Whoa. That is almost too weird to be true! Here’s another coincidence, I once interviewed your husband Brad Whitford for the LA Times and JFK Jr. walked into The Ivy!

Brad loves politics — I’ll have to remind him about that!

Q: Mark-Paul, who was a child actor, has been in the business a long time. He must be a fun adversary?

Basically I just continue to be really annoyed by Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s character who is very idealistic and very earnest and totally justified in his arguments and very, very outspoken. He would make a lovely lawyer. I think Mark-Paul is a wonderful actor. I have a great time working with him but he basically continues to drive me nuts, and I think in season two when we have a little more time we will probably see even more evolution of Trudy Kessler.

Q: What kind of personal touches did you add to the character or what kind of – you know what kind of little touches have you been able to add to the character to kind of round her out?

We decided to wear scarves you know instead of that horrible judge’s thing. We have a very nice, very, very beautiful silk scarf around your neck. And I think that judge Kessler takes great pride in her – in her clothes and in her appearances although you do not see much of it until she takes her – until she takes her robe off. But you know she was kind of working it. She is interested in more than the law, for better or worse.

Jane on her role – monstersandcritics.com

This show has been an absolute delight for me, the cast and the storylines have given me so much room to grow and create this character…Steven has given us a really lovely loose leash to play, and we’ve all been having a great time with it.

I have never been at the mercy of the court. I mean, memorizing those lines is hard enough and really figuring out what it is exactly the law is saying in certain instances is really confounding.

I have to say I am very grateful for David Feige, who wrote the book who was with us, to explain a lot of these stuffs for us because we just assume these civilians just assume that it is common sense and a lot of them which is not. A lot of time of the law is really based on precedent – and not on the way we think something logically should go. I hate to say it but I have greater respect for lawyers than I did before the show.

movieweb.comInterview with Jane Kaczmarek and Jonathan Scarfe

What we saw in the bus looked really good…

Jane Kaczmarek: In the bus?

We watched the trailer on the way over here and you were really good.

Jane Kaczmarek: You know, I always played lawyers and professional people and always had such a hard time getting auditions for comedies until I did a Neil Simon play on Broadway in 1991. Suddenly, casting directors said, ‘Well, Neil Simon is funny, so maybe we can have her in for a comedy audition,’ so I did comedy. I guess it’s surprising to me that people think it’s a surprise, because that’s what I did for a long time, when you’re an industry veteran as I am. I’ve been around awhile.

So how did this project come to you? Did you audition?

Jane Kaczmarek: Malcolm was on for seven years and, three kids later – my baby was two and a half when we started it and I had two more kids during then run – and I was really done. I had done my part as a person on a television show. I really wanted to be a woman and be with my kids.

Jonathan Scarfe: I wanted to get away from my kids, that’s why I signed up.


Jane Kaczmarek: So, mostly what had been offered to me after Malcolm, were leads in comedies with big big parts and I really didn’t want to work that much anymore. So, when things would come about, the first thing I would ask would be, ‘Can I only work two days an episode?’ If they can’t make that deal then I wasn’t interested. So, this one, we were able to make a deal and I had worked with Bochco 25 years ago on Hill Street Blues and I went in and had a nice meeting with him. We were both kind of in the same head about not killing yourself, about making television history anymore. You know, 14-hour days, I just don’t know if I could do it anymore. I thought I would be in good company and then I IMDB’d the guy who was going to play Charlie.

Jonathan Scarfe: Now we get to the truth. Really, she wanted to show that she could make out with me.

Jane Kaczmarek: I kind of did.

What was it like coming to a network like TNT?

Jane Kaczmarek: It’s much more of a relaxed schedule, knowing you’re only doing 10 episodes.

Jonathan Scarfe: In terms of having a family life, it’s great. It’s way cooler. I think you get a lot more freedom. The network is run by an ex-actor. It’s not just a guy who came from the business world, he came from the artistic world.

Has the art department given you some nice sets to work in?

Jane Kaczmarek: We have a courtroom… courtroom’s are such dumps, and we’ve got the best of the dumps.

Jonathan Scarfe: I sit on a tuffet.

Jane Kaczmarek: Doing Sudoku.

Jonathan Scarfe: Did you read that article about that Australian case that was thrown out because the guy was doing Sudoku? That’s what I wouldn’t do. I would never have mine in the courtroom.

So what’s it like working with Steven Bochco?

Jane Kaczmarek: He’s so comfortable and knows so well what he’s doing that he kind of lets you do your own thing, which is nice. He’s not micro-managing everything and his son Jesse is our showrunner.

Jonathan Scarfe: He’s actually given Jesse a lot of room to take this on as his own thing. Jesse is the guy that’s been there.

What elements of you do you put in your character?

Jane Kaczmarek: That’s an interesting question. I am very linear and I’m very punitive (Laughs).

Jonathan Scarfe: Angry.

Jane Kaczmarek: You know, she really follows the letter of the law and the character Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays, drives her crazy.

Jonathan Scarfe: I’m surprised you don’t make him get a hair-cut

Your hair is in contempt.

Jonathan Scarfe: I know. Hello, friend-o.

Jane Kaczmarek: You know, I went to catholic school, my father worked in the Defense Department. I was kind of raise where you kind of toe the line. It’s not hard for me. I think people, also, if you’re in an environment where you’re seeing case after case after case, it really opens your heart to the horror of your job, so I wouldn’t be able to do it unless this character does shut that down so you can make these decisions without thinking about the human consequences of them.


Reviews are mixed most thinking it doesn’t make it.

herald-dispatch.com“Raising the Bar” Review: Bochco’s Back, Baby!

I know you guys are tired of hearing me say this, but it’s just too appropriate here.

A TV pilot—say it with me now—is a very tricky thing. You have to find the perfect balance between sufficiently introducing the characters and story and making the story interesting enough that people will want to come back and watch.

And unfortunately, the pilot of Steven Bochco’s “Raising the Bar” doesn’t find that balance. Fortunately, however, the fine folks at TNT wisely sent the media the first three episodes so we could see how good the show really is.

I just hope viewers give it the same chance…

“Raising the Bar” follows three sides of the justice system—the public defender’s office, the district attorney’s office and a judge’s courtroom. Bochco created the show with David Feige (author of “Indefensible”), a former public defender.

So, it’s no surprise that the emphasis is on the public defender’s office and its heart and soul, Jerry Kellerman (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who is based on Feige. Jerry is willing to do anything to help his clients, including go to jail. His boss, Roz (Gloria Reuben), offers her support when she can, as does Richard (Teddy Sears), who is often referred to as “Mr. Rich” because of his wealth (He gave up a cushy job in his father’s law firm.). Richard constantly flirts with Roz, but she doesn’t give in because she is his boss. Bobbi (Natalia Cigluiti) joins the PD’s office in episode two as a transfer from Brooklyn who catches Jerry’s eye…

The DA’s office is led by Nick (Currie Graham), a sleazy ladies’ man who is only interested in wins. His sleazy innuendos are often aimed at Michelle (Melissa Sagemiller), an ADA who often cares more about justice than wins. She’s joined in the office by Marcus (J. August Richards).

The main judge in the show is Judge Trudy Kessler (Jane Kaczmarek). She’s as tough as they come and slightly eccentric. Her clerk is Charlie (Jonathan Scarfe), who has some interesting traits of his own…

It’s important to note that although they’re on different sides, Jerry, Teddy, Michelle, Marcus, and Charlie are all friends and help each other when they can.

In the pilot, Jerry defends an innocent man on a rape charge. Knowing the man is innocent, Michelle helps Jerry out, but Judge Kessler will have none of it. Kessler and Jerry clash so much that Jerry ends up in jail and his friends and boss must intervene.

Meanwhile, Richard must defend a man who killed and mutilated his gay lover. Richard’s work is cut out for him because the man does not want to reveal he’s gay.

The pilot is a little too choppy as it tries to give us a quick summary of each character. And it bangs Jerry vs. Judge Kessler over our heads a little too hard. I know they’re trying to drive the point home that Jerry is passionate and Kessler is tough, but we can grasp that fairly quickly without all the unnecessary rhetoric.

There are two interesting twists in the pilot, though. The first you will see coming in the first 10 minutes—especially if you’ve seen any of the promos. The second is actually a double twist. The first part you’ll totally see coming, but the second comes out of left field and is classic Bochco.

In all honesty, the main problem with the pilot is that Jerry is so interesting and Gosselaar is so good that we just don’t care about anyone else—especially Roz since Gloria Reuben comes off as a little miscast.

Fortunately, she—and everyone else—finds her stride in the second episode and by the third, they’re completely rolling.

And since the best moments in the promos didn’t even occur in the first three episodes, I know it’s only going to get better.

It’s great to have Bochco back on TV, and this show is definitely classic Bochco with its mix of the legal and the personal. And Bochco wisely went with his go-to-guy Gosselaar (Yes, I’ll keep calling him that.) to anchor the ensemble. Kaczmarek is also beautifully cast in a role she has some familiarity with (She’s voiced a judge in numerous episodes of “The Simpsons.”). And by the third episode, you’re completely drawn to Teddy Sears.

There’s no question that Bochco is back. Just make sure you give him some time to get there

thedeadbolt.comRaising the Bar
by Brian Tallerico

There is a fine, fine line between a show that feels old-fashioned and one that feels dated and musty. Raising the Bar lives on that line. Fans of Bochco’s who long for a relatively standard, ensemble-driven, legal drama will be satisfied but it’s very difficult to shake the feeling that we’re watching something that Bochco wrote back in the ’80s and recently fished out of his trash can. There’s absolutely nothing new here, unless you count the fact that one of the most influential voices in the history of television is starting to sound a bit too much like another. Raising the Bar is like Bochco “doing David E. Kelley” complete with the over-the-top judge and out-there cases that are more often Kelley staples than Bochco’s. The fact is that, just like Kelley’s recent misses, Bochco and the people willing to stand by his creative vision are more talented than your average TV folks. In other words, the pedigree of the creative people involved in front of and behind the camera with Raising the Bar almost make it worth watching on their own and fish the show out of its derivative foundation, even if the show never transcends the predictable nature of its structure and concept.

The folks trying to live up to the bold title of Raising the Bar are a group of young public defenders and district attorneys. The defenders are headed by the brash and driven Jerry Kellerman (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who happens to be sleeping with his rival on the D.A. side, Michelle Ernhardt (Melissa Sagemiller). The idea of Raising the Bar is that these young, talented recent law school graduates can fight each other on opposite sides of the courtroom and then sit around and drink as friends after the case. Other cast members include a nice mix of recognizable faces like Angel’s J. August Richards and ER’s Gloria Reuben along with some talented newcomers like Jonathan Scarfe and Teddy Sears. The scenery chewing is done by Malcolm in the Middle’s Jane Kaczmarek as an only-on-TV Judge Kessler who consistently tries to make an example out of poor Mr. Kellerman. In the first episode, Jerry defends a man that he knows is innocent of rape, while the Judge tries her hardest to make that impossible.

The ridiculous plot of the first episode – Judge Kessler does some things that should have gotten her kicked off the bench by episode two – feels like its attention-grabbing more than anything else and kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t buy a minute of the actual case and I found it hard to care about the cast. But, mostly because I trust Bochco and thought the ensemble was interesting, I tried the second episode that we were sent for review and found that interesting enough to head on to a third. There’s something here that’s worthwhile. If the team behind the show can commit to actually developing the ensemble and giving them equal screen time, Raising the Bar could work. Watching two pretty people – Gosselaar and Sagemiller – spar in both the courtroom and the bedroom while they deal with a crazy judge? Seen that show and don’t want to see it again. A talented group of young actors working interesting cases with unique angles and Bochco’s sense of ensemble? That could be interesting. The jury is still out as to if Raising the Bar lives up to its title, but the fact that I’m still willing to give it a chance after three episodes during the busiest time of the year for a TV critic must mean something. We’ll see. Sometimes even that fine line between old-fashioned and just old can be an interesting place.

sandiego.com“Raising the Bar” from Steven Bochco

This is too easy. Still, I can’t resist:

“Raising the Bar” lowers the bar.

The bar, that is, by which TV legal dramas are measured.

And it’s a shame, because “Raising the Bar” is produced by Steven Bochco, whose “L.A. Law” (1986) really did raise the bar in the genre. His credits also include two of the medium’s most honored cop shows, “Hill Street Blues” (1981) and “NYPD Blue” (1993).

But Bochco, who has always aimed high, striving for quality even when producing series that never became hits – “Cop Rock,” “City of Angels,” “Over There” – has missed this time. And the feeling can’t be avoided that with “Raising the Bar” Bochco was aiming low, trying to appeal to a young audience he no longer understands.

“Raising the Bar” tries to walk the dicey, dangerous line between serious legal drama and sexy titillation, a balancing act that won gold medals for Bochco with “L.A. Law” but which he flubs this time around. The scene is set in New York, focused on two teams of young lawyers, prosecutors and public defenders, all onetime law school chums now playing on opposing sides. (10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1, on TNT)

It scarcely needs be said that daytime professional rivalries sometimes dissolve in nighttime sexual dalliances. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who co-starred in “NYPD Blue” (with Dennis Franz), has the lead role this time as Jerry Kellerman, a hot-tempered, self-righteous defense lawyer. His steady is Michelle Ernhardt (Melissa Sagemiller), a prosecutor whose job it is to put his clients in jail. I’m not an expert in legal ethics, but I would hope there’s a rule against this sort of thing.

Gosselaar isn’t the only “NYPD Blue” veteran on the set. Currie Graham, the hard-nosed, uptight station commander in “NYPD,” plays the district attorney, Nick Balco. He was most recently the slightly daffy cop in “Men in Trees,” the one who followed Cynthia Stevenson around like a lovesick puppy-dog. He’s a fine, versatile actor, and it’s just as well because his character shifts dramatically in the first two episodes. In the first, Balco is impossibly flirty around Ernhardt, almost giddy. In the second, he’s the stern, no-nonsense boss.

Her character changes as well. In week one, she’s the chief prosecutor in a case. A week later, she’s the eager backup, pleading to get a chance at the lead spot, as if the first week never happened.

Jane Kaczmarek, usually a comedy specialist, undergoes a similar transformation as Judge Trudy Kessler. She’s eccentric, vain and vindictive in week one, nutty, really, determined to put an apparently innocent defendant in jail. A week later, she’s considerably calmer and more open-minded. Jonathan Scarfe plays blonde, handsome, young Charlie Sagansky, the judge’s law clerk, a preening, cunning Svengalian presence who discreetly provides her with extra-legal services.

Ethical questions abound in “Raising the Bar,” from its numerous subrosa sexual relationships to the court bailiff who whispers helpful hints to defense attorneys. Bochco seems intent on creating an updated New York version of “L.A. Law,” blending it with elements of “Ally McBeal,” but instead he’s veering dangerously close to MTV’s “Real World.” And in that second episode, he draws from the scripts of “Perry Mason,” magically introducing that last-minute witness who saves a heroic young lawyer’s case.

A year ago, the 64-year-old Bochco told an interviewer that he was finding it harder to relate to today’s programmers in an industry that worships youth above all. “The network executives stay the same age and I keep getting older and it creates a different kind of relationship,” he said. “When I was doing my stuff at NBC with Brandon (Tartikoff) and ‘Hill Street,’ we were contemporaries. When I sit down (now), they’re sitting in a room with someone who’s old enough to be their father and I’m not sure they want to sit in a room with their fathers.”

He should have listened to his own advice.

deseretnews.com‘Raising the Bar’ is overly familiar

“Raising the Bar” would be a groundbreaking legal drama … if this was 1986.

But it’s 2008, and this new show from producer Steven Bochco looks like a lot of shows that have gone before. A lot of his shows that have gone before.

Including “L.A. Law,” which premiered way back in 1986.

It’s not that “Raising the Bar” is a bad show. It’s a decent legal drama. It’s just that the minute it begins, it feels like it’s been on before.

Even the basis for this show — it’s built around the public defender’s office — has been done before. By Bochco, for that matter, in his failed 2001-02 series “Philly.”

Bochco, whose dozens of credits include legal/police shows such as “Hill Street Blues,” “Civil Wars,” “L.A. Law,” “Murder One,” “Brooklyn South,” “Philly” and “NYPD Blue,” insisted that he’s on guard against repeating things from previous series.

(He co-created “Raising the Bar” — which premieres Monday at 8 and 11 p.m. on TNT and repeats Tuesday at 9 p.m. on both TNT and TBS — with David Feige.)

“You do have to pay attention to that,” he said. “Over the course of 30-plus years, having told hundreds and hundreds of stories, you do have to be very careful.

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“And I think David will attest to the fact that, in our story meetings over the course of this year, I’ve said many more than one time, you know, ‘I’ve done that story. I don’t want to do that story.’ Or ‘I don’t want to do it that way.”‘

And yet, the characters on “Raising the Bar” seem easily interchangeable with those on all those previous shows. And, in the episodes sent to critics, plot developments intended as twists played out without much in the way of surprise.

“Raising the Bar” revolves around oh-so-earnest public defender Jerry Kellerman (Mark-Paul Gosselaar of “NYPD Blue”), whose unwavering idealism puts him into conflict with oh-so-tough Judge Trudy Kessler (Jane Kaczmarek of “Malcolm in the Middle”). She’s the modern-day equivalent of a hanging judge.

She puts Jerry behind bars in the pilot, so you’ve got to wonder what will happen when the writers ratchet things up.

Trudy’s only soft spot is for her law clerk (Jonathan Scarfe), a man she really shouldn’t be involved with.

While the show is populated by Jerry’s boss, Rosalind Whitman (Gloria Reuben of “ER”) and other public defenders (Teddy Sears and Natalia Bigliuti), it’s not just about that side of the legal story.

Although it doesn’t help the balance that assistant district attorney Nick Balco (Currie Graham) is a big jerk.

But not only is one of Jerry’s best friends (J. August Richards) a prosecutor, heck, in the pilot Jerry is sleeping with ADA Michelle Ernhardy (Melissa Sagermiller).

There’s a bold innovation! Lawyers with intertwined personal lives! We’ve never seen that before!

Oddly enough, Bochco and Feige went out of their way to defend “Raising the Bar” against criticism they expected — that the characters, particularly Judge Kessler, are too outrageous.

“If anything, she’s a fairly moderate portrait,” Feige said. “You go down to any criminal courthouse in this country … and talk to the lawyers who appear before the judges and they will tell you she’s dead-on. That they’ve practiced before people who are just as mercurial and just as sort of out there as Kessler and perhaps more so.”

He was a public defender in the Bronx, so we’ll absolutely take his word on that.

But you’ve got to wonder if Feige has actually watched legal dramas when he says that TV judges are “almost universally portray(ed) as stentorian and thoughtful.”

Um, when was the last time you saw a thoughtful, dignified judge on “Boston Legal”? Feige thinks his character will be “mistaken for unreality” when, in actuality, she could be mistaken for a judge on another TV show.

And that’s the problem with “Raising the Bar.” It doesn’t.

blogcritics.orgTV Review: Raising the Bar

Legal procedural dramas are not exactly a new species of television show. Law & Order guru Dick Wolf himself tried to get two series about the NY district attorney’s office off the ground in the L&O universe (or at least next to that universe), neither of which lasted more than a few episodes. Another super-producer, Steven Bochco, who is also not entirely unfamiliar with the terrain having produced L.A. Law and Murder One (and NYPD Blue too) is about to premiere his new, NY-based, legal drama on TNT.

Entitled Raising the Bar, the series stars Bochco vet Mark-Paul Gosselaar as well as Gloria Reuben, and Jane Kaczmarek. It’s an ensemble drama which also features Teddy Sears, Natalia Cigliuti, Melissa Sagemiller, Currie Graham, Jonathan Scarfe, and J. August Richards. Half of the group works for the public defender’s office, and the other half for the district attorney. Save Kaczmarek, Reuben, and Graham, they’re all young and almost all are friends outside of the office too.

Gosselaar is at the center of everything as the tried-and-true public defender Jerry Kellerman who puts all of himself into each and every one of his cases. The premiere episode features him getting misty-eyed and being on the verge of tears more than once and less than believably. He’s young, brash, will fight tooth and nail for his clients, and is completely uninterested in politeness and tact.

Kellerman alternatingly does battle and drinks with the folks from the district attorney’s office. While his compatriots do their best to leave work at the office and in the courtroom, Kellerman is unable to, which routinely gets him into fights with his friends. In short, he’s a character we’ve all seen over and over again.

In fact, through the first three episodes there is little in any of the characters that the audience won’t instantly sense as already being very familiar. This is perhaps most true for J. August Richards’ Marcus McGrath, who works for the district attorney. While some will recognize Richards from his starring role on the Joss Whedon series Angel, others might remember that he’s played a prosecutor in the NY district attorney’s office before… on Dick Wolf’s Conviction. Richards plays his part well, he’s also very charismatic and compelling on screen, but there certainly is a sense of déjà vu that accompanies his role here.

Through the first three episodes of the series, the most interesting of the characters is Kaczmarek’s Judge Kessler. She’s the sort of hard-nosed stickler that the audience will be familiar with from any number of David E. Kelley legal dramas. What makes her interesting is that unlike most court shows, we actually get to see behind the scenes on who she is and what makes her tick. At this point, there doesn’t seem anything unusual behind her motives, but it is still a slightly different viewpoint, and Kaczmarek seems to relish the role.

What then to make of this series? It’s a legal drama in the vein of so many other legal dramas. It features a good cast doing a solid job (Gosselaar stops tearing up by the second episode), but none of the plotlines feel remotely new. Actress Natalia Cigliuti is introduced in the second episode as Roberta Gilardi and everyone watching will instantly spot where her story seems to be headed (and I for one will be greatly disappointed, but not in the least surprised, if the show travels down that well-worn path).

Yet, despite its feeling of familiarity, the show is somehow intriguing. The cases in the first few episodes are moderately interesting, and there are plenty of characters running around doing plenty of different things which helps as well.

Perhaps it is the very sense of familiarity of Raising the Bar that works for the program. Despite being a legal drama that purports to explore our broken (or at least slightly bent) justice system, it requires very little of the audience. The cast is a good one, they’re attractive and enjoyable to watch, and one has to pay very little attention to the story to know exactly what is taking place.