RAISING THE BAR
Premieres Labor Day, TNT, 10 p.m.
Synopsis: Life of a righteous public defender and his friends, who just so happen to be prosecutors and judicial clerks. And really cute.
Pedigree: A+. Steven Bochco. The Cravath, Swaine & Moore of television producers. Emmy Award winning credits include L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. Not to mention, Doogie Howser, M.D..
Overview: Public Defender (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) clashes with crazy, right-wing judge to free innocent African American man wrongfully accused of rape. The rational and gorgeous prosecutor (played by Melissa Sagemiller) understands the case is weak, and agrees to plead out the defendant to a less serious crime, but the wacko judge won’t accept the plea. The Public Defender goes nuts in his pursuit of justice and gets thrown in jail for contempt. In between the court battles, the prosecutors and public defenders hang out at the local bar and talk about their jobs.
High Points: Jonathan Scarfe, who plays a deliciously circumspect law clerk and Currie Graham, the charmingly heartless and randy chief prosecutor.
Low Points: Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s one-note, super-earnest pursuit of justice begins to wear thin; the legal plotline and judge’s absurd behavior (whether she’s crazy or not) is implausible; the legal and romantic plot turns feel obvious and conventional.
Verdict: It’s not Mr. Bochco’s best. The acting is solid, if not brilliant, and the storytelling, though familiar, is interesting enough to entertain. But if you’re one of those lawyers who can’t watch a legal show that plays fast and loose with the law, don’t bother. You’ll go insane.