But I'm caught up. So, here goes:
First, let me say that I wasn't too impressed by the pilot. I wasn't sure where this was going. But it has greatly improved each week. If you only watched the pilot and gave up on it, I highly suggest that you catch another episode. They're all on the TNT website.
My favorite episode so far was "I Will, I'm Will" which I think was a week or two ago. (Feige, tell TNT to put up an episode guide!) That episode so clearly displayed being asked to do the impossible, on an impossible deadline, with no one on your side, with very few resources, that being a public defender requires.
I guess one of the problems I have with Raising the Bar, like I had with Indefensible, is that I'm not sure that I'm the target audience. Do most people come home and watch a show, or read a book, that is exactly like their life all day? I could see watching a show that is a fictionalized version of their career, or an exaggerated version, but, to Raising the Bar's credit, it's almost too realistic.
So, I sat down last night to watch the newest episode, "Hang Time." In the first scene, Bobbi (the new public defender from Brooklyn, not Philadelphia, my mistake. Either way, she wasn't in the pilot, and she's a great improvement to the show.) is handling a domestic violence case. And they hit the nail on the head. The wife who says "I want my husband to come home with me, I didn't sign the complaint," but can't say it didn't happen. She told the police that he threw a mug at her. It's a bell that is going to be hard to unring.
In the next scene, Jerry is in the pens, talking to his client. His client starts with one of my favorite lines, "Give me some good news." Jerry is talking to his client about a plea offer of 8 years. Throughout the episode, the dialogue between Jerry and his client is so realistic. There are a few lines in this scene that I hear myself saying, or hear my clients say to me, so frequently. "Every trial is a crap shoot."
His client says, "I can't believe that I'm still here." Everyone who gets arrested thinks that they'll quickly be able to clear up the misunderstanding - but that doesn't always happen. Then he says, "If I did this, I would cop out like I did before." I get that.
Back at Bobbi's DV case: The Judge and the D.A. don't want to hear that the "victim" doesn't want an order of protection. The client doesn't understand how he and his wife don't get to go home together. Bobbi tries to warn them both that things will only get worse if they get caught together. But do they listen? Does the D.A. listen to the "victim" when she comes to him and says she doesn't want to go forward?
I shouldn't be surprised that Feige hits the nail on the head. He's been there.
A few little things that bother me:
- Both Bobbi and someone else in this episode (Jerry?) pronounce the word "complaitan" instead of "complainant." Update: I watched it again to find the second "complaitan" foul but couldn't, but I'm pretty sure it was said at least twice in this episode. Maybe both times by Bobbi, but I'm not sure. Either way, that really grates on me.
- Neither the D.A.'s office nor the Public Defender's office has any security - the PD's walk in and out of the D.A.'s office to drop off muffins and coffee without being announced, Bobbi's abusive husband walks into the P.D.'s office unannounced. It makes me really glad to have a receptionist in all of the offices where I've worked. I guess it's more about the theatrical effect of having someone walk in unexpectedly or find them sitting at your desk, with their feet up.
- I didn't like it earlier in the season that Jerry was dating/sleeping with one of the D.A.s. But I think that might be over. We'll see.
- I don't like that Bobbi is this helpless battered woman in her personal life but a strong, confident lawyer in her professional life. But I guess that's the incongruousness that we're supposed to feel.
I won't give away any of the interesting twists the episode takes, in case you have it sitting on your Tivo too.
But, overall, I think the show is spot on. It almost hits too close to home.
That one scene, when Jerry goes back to his client with the best offer of 3 years, and explains, "I believe you, but I'm not the jury," explains that the only way for the client to get his story across is to take the stand and simultaneously expose his criminal record. And, finally, Jerry says, "You go to trial, and 15 years from now, you'll be sitting in a cell with 10 left to do, wondering why you didn't cop to 3... I'm not happy about it either, but 3? It's too good to pass up." It couldn't be more realistic and the only way it could be more entertaining is if I didn't have to have the same conversation with clients week after week.
But, Feige has given us public defenders something good. Now, when someone asks us, "So, what you do... is that like Law & Order?" I think we can all say, "No, it's more like Raising the Bar. Check that show out."
Without the coffee and muffin delivery to our adversaries, of course.