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.