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Jessalyn Gilsig

School in chaos on 'Boston Public'

"Boston Public" is David E. Kelley trying to do for public education what Steven Bochco did in 1981 to urban law enforcement with "Hill Street Blues": show a system so hopelessly out of control it's on the verge of chaos, save for a few brave souls trying to hold back the night.

Kelley does not do it nearly as well. But there are moments of such visceral intensity in tonight's premiere that you can't help but think "Boston Public" might yet be something special if Kelley can reign in the hyperbole and excess that keep us from totally believing in the world of Winslow High.

We open on the sound of boom boxes screaming hip-hop, rap and urban rage in...