‘Raising the Bar’ unlikely to endure

Posted Aug. 31, 2008, at 9:04 p.m.

Based on pedigree alone, TNT’s new legal series “Raising the Bar,” debuting at 10 tonight, ought to be a winner.

After all, it’s created by Steven Bochco, who has won 10 Emmys through the years for such groundbreaking programming as “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “NYPD Blue.”

But Bochco’s involvement isn’t a sure guarantee of success anymore, as nothing he has done this millennium has stuck around for any period of time, despite critical acclaim for “Murder One” and “Over There.”

Sadly, this streak promises to continue with “Raising the Bar,” despite its time slot after a highly successful program, “The Closer.” It has a real “been there, done that” feel to it.

Set in the New York City court system, the series looks at the young lawyers in both the public defender’s and district attorney’s offices. They fight the good fight in court, then get together for drinks afterward.

The standout in this group is Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Sipewicz’s last partner in the final years of “NYPD Blue.” He plays public defender Jerry Zimmerman, who bleeds for each of his clients, which sometimes works against his and their best interests.

The wild card on the show is imperious Judge Trudy Kessler (played by Jane Kaczmarek, “Malcolm in the Middle”), who has her eye on becoming district attorney. She’s having an inappropriate relationship with her much younger clerk, Charlie Sagansky (Jonathan Scarfe), who himself has secrets.

Although “Raising the Bar” is well-done and diverting, it’s likely to disappear from most viewers’ radar as the network offerings return in force this month. There’s nothing different enough here to keep them coming back.

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