Liveblogging Raising The Bar (updated)

Update: Seth Abramson has 10 questions for David Feige (who was kind enough to leave a comment below) and I sign on to all of them.

10:17pm: So Raising the Bar is on TNT… It’s a little hard to watch, I’ll be honest. I’ve cringed a few times already. Hopefully it will get better.

10:20: Oh my…

10:25: Um, wasn’t there an acquittal on the rape?

10:30: What about recusal? Sorry…I guess I was looking for something more…realistic?

10:31: Oooh boy….I’m just gonna go now. I’ll come back if it gets better.

10:33: Hmm. Very strange chambers discussion… 10 days for contempt? What the hell goes on in New York courts, ScottyG?

10:40: I guess relationships decide guilt or innocence or lengths of sentence. I guess that’s true to some extent (the last bit).

10:45: Looks like no one’s heard of conflict of interest.

Well, that’s it, I guess.

Overall, I think it was entertaining enough that I might watch it next week again. From a legal perspective, it was awful – inducing the same cringes and head-slaps that L&O does, except this is from the defense perspective. I guess my biggest problem with the show is that it’s not realistic – at all – unless this is exactly like NYC courts and NYC courts are a unique universe unto itself. That I have no clue about, but from my experience, this stuff doesn’t happen.

Also, I’d normally advise the writers of the show to get a quick lesson in legal ethics, but seeing as how it’s written by Feige, it’s an intentional disregard of any semblance of prof. responsibility. Which makes it another L&O (and, from me, that’s not a compliment).

I have to say, I like Mark Paul Gosselaar’s hair. A lot.

Overall: C. I’d watch this over Greek, but not the Big Bang Theory.

20 thoughts on “Liveblogging Raising The Bar (updated)

  1. Gerard

    Don’t know how bad the law part was, but as a drama, just not feeling it. When PD Joyce Davenport showed up at Capt Furillo’s in Hill Street Blues (damn, I’m old) that was a twist … this just feels contrived and over the top.

  2. Lil Spicy

    Gee, I’ve got a laundry list of things that made me cringe. I had heard from folks who saw the pilot that it started off REALLY bad and got better towards the end. I’d have to agree with that analysis of it.

    It was almost if the person who wrote the script for the first half was a totally different person than the one who wrote the last half.

    I no longer have high hopes that this show will change peoples perceptions of public defenders as I had to keep telling myself “it’s regular tv, it’s not really suppose to be reality tv.”

    I’ll keep watching it tho…for now. I’m just bummed that it didn’t seem real enough to me.

    1. Gideon Post author

      I don’t want to use the C word, but I think it was, for the most part. I agree that it got slightly better toward the end, but not by much.

  3. Lil Spicy

    I took a look at Seth’s site and I agree with his questions and could add about 30 more to his list! I actually took notes as the show went on of all the things that just were too bizarre or unreal. I had to stop though as I was getting more and more upset the longer the list got.

  4. Lil Spicy

    I would have been happy to do it! But it would have been brutal for David to read…not a good thing to do to a friend.

  5. David

    It’s 1 am on the night my show premieres, and I’m home responding to you (and eventually to Seth). Why? Because despite reviews in a hundred or so newspapers across the country, I actually care what PD’s think about the show.

    Here’s all I ask: Give it some time. A pilot serves a particular function, it winds up the springs that drive the action of a show over the subsequent episodes. I’m not surprised you didn’t like the pilot, I understand why you hate the Jerry-Michelle relationship. I get the conflict issues. Conflict is the point. And the resolution of that conflict is what the show is ultimately about.

    Judge me. That’s fine. It’s painful as hell, but it’s what you sign up for if you actually try to do something public. So fine. Judge away. But consider as well whether the clients are portrayed as human. Look at the way Jerry cares about them and ask yourself whether you think that’s an easy sell. Consider the underlying message of the plot when it comes to how the system works or doesn’t and then, if you still can’t get over the blouses or hair or even the Jerry and Michelle relationship, then watch three or four more and if you’re not convinced, then pull the plug.

    But do me one favor: Don’t question my integrity or my commitment to the clients or the cause.

    1. Gideon Post author


      Thanks for taking the time (at such an early hour nonetheless) to respond to my bumbling criticisms of the show.

      Right off the bat, I want to make clear that I am not questioning your integrity or your commitment to the clients or the cause. I don’t think I ever suggested such, but if I did, that was an error.

      As for the rest of it – honestly, I was quite disappointed only because I was very excited about the show and the prospect of having an actual public defender work on a show about public defenders. No longer would I have to get angry and rush here to write a blog post about how public defenders were treated on law and order or how every legal show on television butchers the one thing that can make it interesting: the law.

      So yes, it was a pilot, and I understand and appreciate that, but there’s some stuff that I just can’t swallow: You mention conflict being central to the theme. From a cinematic perspective, I get it. But from a legal perspective, a prosecutor and public defender sleeping together and trying cases against one another? How long will it last? What will be the fallout? Generally speaking, one will get transferred or fired. Are you going to go that far? (Maybe, I don’t know..I guess I’ll have to tune in to find out). What about the fallout on cases that they’ve handled? There’d be appeals, motions, habeases in every single one of them. What about IAC claims…

      Basically it comes down to this: the characters are fine, the plots will keep me drawn in, but I had much higher expectations of the portrayal of real-world criminal law and the criminal justice system. Maybe that’s my fault and has nothing to do with you.

      As for your portrayal of clients, I will echo what Seth said in the comments to his post. I think that this portrayal of clients was some of the best I’ve seen on TV (even if you include The Practice).

      I wasn’t kidding about Mark-Paul’s hair. I really do love it. I’d wear mine like that if I could.

  6. Lil Spicy

    On the hair….I love it! We have several PD’s in my office that wear theirs like that or very similar and it’s the ultimate “Don’t mistake me for a prosecutor” statement. (In my office it’s a true insult to be mistaken for a prosecutor if your a PD).

    That being said, I can see why the general public doesn’t like the long hair and just can’t get over it. It’s like the are obsessed with what a lawyer is suppose to look like in their mind and if you don’t fit that stereotype, there is something wrong with you.

    Which is exactly why I would prefer to see a public defender with long hair kick arse in the courtroom on the show. We as PD’s are judged in the same way our clients are…on face value. Long hair simply doesn’t equate to sloppy service or lawyering ability….anymore than race equates to having a criminal mind.

    But we shall see how soon after the pilot he ends up cutting his hair to a more “conservative” cut.

  7. shg

    If I had to make a guess, David’s efforts to keep it real were trumped by Hollywood’s efforts to make it exciting, dramatic, fabulous. Finding the tipping point between the two must be very hard under the best of circumstances.

    So while it’s David’s baby, the ob decided to perform a section despite his insistence on natural birth. There were a number of things in there that proved that somebody at the typewriter knew what they were talking about. And some that smelled.

    But I do have one question for David: Who was the model for the judge?

    1. Gideon Post author

      I guess that may be true to some extent, but then why bring on someone like David to co-write and collaborate on the show.

      Clearly, if they want to make a completely unrealistic legal drama, they can do it. So why the addition of someone from the trenches like David, if not to get his input on how things really work?

      So while it may be that things were changed, I doubt he had that little control over making things seem “real”.

  8. shg

    From my very limited exposure to Hollywood types, the love the idea of being “real” by including someone from the trenches, but only as far as “real” agrees with what they think is a good idea. As soon as the two diverge, “real” takes a distant back seat to their brilliance when it comes to knowing what the people want to watch.

    So the trench guy keeps trying, and pushing, and trying, and he takes whatever crumbs he can, hoping that the people who know better won’t blame him for things he can’t control.

  9. Michelle Thomas

    I have no doubt that shg is 100% correct in what he says. That is just how Hollywood operates. If you have a message that iS near and dear to your heart, it sometimes makes more sense to go the independant route 1ST, make a name for yourself that way, develop a loyal following, and then have Hollywood knocking on your door once they see that their assumptions about what can make a profit is sometimes wrong.

    If you think about it, years ago, the only black people you saw on TV were on shows like Sanford & Son, Good Times,etc… wasn’t until some independant artists went to school for film, studied their craft and started making their own movies (and were making a profit) that Hollywood took notice.

    So it very well may take someone like Seth, Gideon, Me, Shg,etc. to come together and do it the way we think it should be done. But trying to sell it to Hollywood upfront, as we think it should be done, may never happen.

    I hope I’m wrong in that, but I’ve never been impressed with Hollywoods ability to “be real”.

  10. womanwearingblack

    Hey, I love David F. He rocks. He also comes to our seminar to talk and you can tell he loves his clients and the work.

    I was disappointed in the show a bit, but I will watch again to see how it goes. I was hoping it would be a bit lighter on the sex and heavier on the law.

  11. Edintally

    Bah I guess I missed the first show. I’ll try to withhold judgment, but….

    the one thing that struck me as “off” in the commercial trailer was “What?! You gonna hit a lawyer?” Hopefully I can catch that show to figure out what it was about but in the commercial it just came off cheesy to me and a bit “wimpish”.

  12. Lil Spicy

    TNT just posted a sneek peek at tonights episode. I wasn’t turned off by the sneek peek, but I’m certainly not holding my breath with HUGE expectations either.

    We shall see how it unfolds tonight.

    Oh….the pilot is online now at TNT as well, in case you missed it and want to see it.

  13. Pingback: Raising the Bar: A Week Later | a public defender

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