An old-fashioned bar raising

I gotta say that I was a bit surprised that TNT was debuting Raising The Bar this week, just as the networks are starting to roll out this season’s shows. This is one of the reasons why I have not been made chairman of a basic cable network. They set a new record for a basic cable launch, apparently.

The show is, alas, not something to justify the turnout. It is a paint-by-numbers legal drama. The Lawyer Who Cares Too Much. The DA Who Just Want To Keep HIs Conviction Numbers High. The Judge Who Cares More About Job Description Than Justice. Everyone is falling short of being two-dimensional. I’m not saying that the concepts behind such characters doesn’t reflect any truth in the real world, but nothing that comes from this feels like truth.

(There are going to be some that will say that the quality of this show should be the closing bell for Steven Bochco’s career. I say poppycock. He’s had weak shows peppered throughout his career, some ambitious flops (Cop/Rock), some middle-of-the-road muddles (Bay City Blues). But he’s had creative successes as recently as Over There, and his financial successes run continuously from 1981 (the start of Hill Street Blues) to 2005 (the end of NYPD Blue; L.A. Law covers the gap between the two shows). That’s a track record that sounds like it shouldn’t be over yet.

But Steven, if you’re reading this (hey, you never know): Just because Jane Kaczmarek played a harsh judge well on The Simpsons, that doesn’t mean she was going to make it work in a drama. Similarly, you should have second thoughts about that series with Kelsey Grammer as a killer clown, or that show where Nancy Cartwright plays an 8 year old boy.

Published in: on September 2, 2008 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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