Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Raising The Bar: “Making Up is Hard to Do” A Reality Check

Last night’s episode of Raising The Bar, “Making Up is Hard to Do” (TNT) had everyone trying to fix problems, some of them of their own making.

Jerry Kellerman (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who sometimes seems clouded by his belief that all his clients are good (and innocent) people, makes an error when he doesn’t really listen completely to what his client, who is refusing plea deals, has been saying. When he gets his boss Roz (Gloria Reuben) involved, she is able to extract an admission from Jerry’s client, and she finds that he only said he was not guilty because he didn’t want to disappoint Jerry, who had helped him in the past. Jerry, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be hearing his client because he didn’t want to disappoint him either. The end result was Jerry and his client passed up on a decent plea deal, and when Jerry tries to get that deal again from Marcus McGrath (J. August Richards), Marcus first tells him no, and then succumbs and says he will take the issue up with his boss, the smarmy Nick Balco (Currie Graham).

Marcus does as he said he would, and takes the issue to Nick, who proceeds to chastise Marcus for caving in to his friend Jerry. Nick tells Marcus to tell Jerry there will be no plea deal. Jerry breaks the bad news to his client, and at the end, Marcus makes the first move to patch things up with Jerry while they sat at the bar at their usual watering hole. Jerry tells Marcus that Marcus doesn’t know his client, but Marcus reminds Jerry that Jerry didn’t know the woman that his client had assaulted and robbed, and that this woman had worked two jobs to put several kids through college. In this case, Jerry showed that sometimes he looks at his clients with rose-colored glasses, and that he needs to take more time to really listen to his clients.

The more involved case in this episode involved a woman that Bobbi Gilardi (Natalia Cigliuti) represented, who was accused of smuggling drugs. The woman claimed it was a simple case of her picking up the wrong luggage off the bus. But prosecutor Michelle Ernhardt (Melissa Sagemiller) has help from the man she’s sleeping with who also happens to be the detective who caught the case, Tim Porter (Josh Randall). She doesn’t know right away that it’s not the kind of help she needs. At first, Michelle is worried when a key piece of evidence – the cocaine the woman was allegedly carrying – can’t be found in the evidence room. Porter tells her not to worry, and magically has the evidence ready on the day of the trial and for his testimony. But when Bobbi challenges the evidence – it seems the evidence form attached was a copy and not the original – Bobbi annoys Judge Farnsworth (John Michael Higgins) by voicing a lengthy objection. Bobbi’s objection is reviewed and overruled in chambers, where Farnsworth tells Bobbi he’s not into conspiracies. Personally, I am enjoying Judge Farnsworth far more than his colleague, Judge Kessler (Jane Kaczmarek).

Things get worse when one of the jurors comes forward and says she overheard Porter talking in the elevator with another person about the defendant’s prior arrest. Michelle seems to have a twinge of concern. When Farnsworth has the juror and the attorneys in chambers, the juror tells them there was another juror in the elevator with her who likely overheard the same comments from the detectives. But that second juror claims he heard nothing, as he was not wearing his hearing aid. Farnsworth only replaces the first juror who came forward and the trial goes on, and the defendant is found guilty. But Bobbi is on to the other juror who said he couldn’t hear the detective’s elevator conversation, and after the trial, she gets in an elevator with him as he is leaving. She asks him where is his hearing aid, and then tricks him into showing he can hear perfectly well without it by standing behind him and saying quietly his zipper is down. He knows he is caught, but when she pushes him to talk to the judge about what he did, he threatens to report her behavior to the judge.

Things seem to crash down on Michelle when she gets a phone call from the property clerk saying the evidence that could not originally be located was finally found. Michelle is stunned as she realizes that Porter faked the evidence. She storms over to his squad and she confronts him about the matter. He admits that he used a pack of books wrapped up to fake the evidence, that no one would have tested it to verify the contents. He said he got the scorpion pattern that was on the original drug evidence bag off the Internet. She also realizes that he really did talk about the case in front of the jurors on purpose to taint the jury, and then she calls their relationship quits, not a moment too soon.

Knowing she made a mistake and worried that should the case go to appeal and these things come out, and concerned that her affair with the detective/ key witness would be exposed, she runs crying to Balco. Balco, after handing Michelle a handful of paper towels to wipe her tears, agrees to help her out of the mess. We later see him – along with Michelle and Bobbi – in Farnsworth’s office where Balco expresses concern about the drug evidence paperwork question and the possibility of a tainted jury, and Farnsworth grants them a retrial. Bobbi asks to get her defendant released pending a new trial, and Farnsworth, asking Balco if he wouldn’t mind a lagniappe – a Cajun word for “baker’s dozen” or “a little extra” - gets Balco’s agreement. Everybody is happy, and afterwards Balco reminds Michelle that he expects her respect. I suspect he wants a little more than that from Michelle.

It’s great to see that Jerry Kellerman got a dose of reality, and hopefully he has learned that he can’t just drag his feet and then expect his friends to bail him out when he makes a mistake. Likewise, it’s good to see that Michelle has dumped Porter, who actually was beating out Balco on my smarm-o-meter. What is surprising to me is that while Balco expected Michelle to give him more credit and respect in the future, I found that I also had a little more respect for him and his way to work the system in this episode. But he still scores high on the smarm-o-meter.

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