The Good Wife

julianna margulies 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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7 thoughts on “The Good Wife

  1. Problem with TV dramas these days is that the first few episodes are basically a movie. But once the show gets picked up for more episodes, the original writers and ideas are all spent and the show quickly goes adrift.

    Is that what happens? I remarked a couple of times to Fal that it would make an EXCELLENT movie, but couldn’t see how they were going to continue it on for a series.

    And Chris Noth should have never left Law & Order.

    He was awesome in L&O, definitely. I liked Benjamin Bratt too. Just ain’t the same without ol’ Jerry though.

    • I disliked Mexi-cop (Bratt). The way he cheated on his wife was very unentertaining. Nor did I like his policing styles.

      Hm. Maybe I should refrain from stating things like this when I only saw a couple episodes with him in it. Cheating spouses are not entertaining for sure. Didn’t know about that, and the only policing I saw him do seemed in line with other cop shows I saw at the time. Now I know.

      • He picked up this college chick at a record store over discussions of what I think was a U2 CD. Some of the finer details escape me. I have only seen the episode once and it was a looooong time ago. It was the same episode that Koncaid (Jill Hennessey’s character) died.

        Oh, I remember that one! The truck drunk driver out of the alley episode. I guess I missed that scene in the record store. I feel up to date now.

  2. Ahhh… Chris Noth *swoon*. Makes me wish I had skipped the grocery store and turned on TV instead 🙂 I’m trying not to watch any of this week’s TV shows because if I do then I’ll be hooked for the season. I figure that if I miss the first show then I won’t feel obligated to catch the rest of them. Well, I might catch CSI on Thursday night… that looks awesome!

    Too bad you missed out on this one; it was very good. CSI’s a joke; has been for … well, always. 😀

  3. Oh yeah! I checked CBS’s website and they are rerunning the pilot of The Good Wife on Saturday night at 9PM. I might catch me some Chris Noth-ness.

    Well there ya go.

    And I like to watch CSI to see intricate and interesting ways that people die. I’m macabre. Don’t confuse that with macrame. I did once.

    “Intricate and interesting?” We are talking about the same TV show, right?

  4. I plan to give it a watch when it comes out on DVD. Some shows take a full season before they hit their stride so it’s nice to know this one started out strong.

    It did; very much so. It’s r-airing Saturday according to Kreestee if you’re interested in seeing the pilot. Your mileage may vary. 🙂

    I feel I’ve been extremely negative lately too. Wonder if it’s the season.

    Well, I’ve been talking so much about crap on the ‘Net that bugs me, like flamers and general idiots coming around leaving insulting comments … that’s all I meant. But I didn’t notice the trend until they were all written and scheduled. Autumn’s my absolute favorite time of year, so I know it’s not that for me.

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