I’m interrupting my current series on blog stuff (mostly negative stuff, if you haven’t noticed) to talk about a TV show I saw last night.
I was actually just surfing channels when it came on, but it caught my attention right out of the gate and held me throughout the hour. It had interesting characters, an interesting backstory, a sound plot (I mean, you know … for TV), and was acted well. Overall, a very good show.
The Good Wife aired on CBS at 10 p.m. (9 CT), starring Chris Noth and Julianna Margulies. The basic premise is, a Chicago state’s attorney is caught with a hooker and the video tape is exposed to the media, destroying his career. He’s charged with abuse of office and imprisoned. (That’s the fantasy part of TV at work – that a Chicago politician would actually serve time for committing an act of abuse of office.) To recover her life, she’s gotten a job as a junior associate with a large law firm, and her first case is a pro bono case which is being picked up from a previous trial which ended in a hung jury.
The story was interesting, and the way the backstory was delivered was masterful. The writers didn’t hammer home a bunch of it through information dumps of any kind, like the usual “sitting in a bar with the one person who accepts you as you are sharing histories” scenes so typical of television. It came through things said along the course of the show, through very natural dialog, and through the opening scene which set the stage for the show.
I haven’t been impressed with anything Julianna Margulies has done with her career since she left ER years and years ago, but I have to admit, she did a great job of showing the uncertain, finding-her-footing lawyer returning to the industry and courtroom and being thrown to the wolves after fifteen years away from it. She’s stumbling along on this case with instructions from a senior partner to continue the previous defense because it caused a deadlock before.
Through the course of the story we learn her character is still married to the politician, though she hasn’t forgiven him for his transgression(s), and the mother-in-law is offering daycare services to her tween/teen children while she’s working. In addition, she’s facing a judge in the trial who hated her husband, shows a definite bias against her during trial (creating the tension the audience needs to rally behind the MC, of course) and another junior associate in her office who is competing for the same job (there’s one opening, two associates, and a decision is to be made in six months on who will be retained). Top it off with an assistant, shared between her and her competitor, who doesn’t give her the time of day because the other junior associate is “hogging her” and you have a great bit of tension and conflict built into this woman’s uphill struggle.
I thought the show was well-written, and I don’t say that lightly. I scrutinize TV shows horribly and closely, looking for flaws and trite techniques which are tired and hackneyed. Let me tell you, in general, I don’t have to look very long or hard to see them. But this one? Pretty well-handled; I was a little impressed.
There are nice touches and subtleties throughout the show, which I can only hope will continue over the course of the show. The writing had a couple of moments of deus ex machina, but not as many as you’d find with most other TV shows. I completely enjoyed this one, and recommend it.
At least, for this episode. We’ll see how it goes from there.
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