The Good Wife
The good wife – the concept, not the show – is one of those modern tragic characters that has yet to be fully explored in the world of visual media. It refers to that small yet growing number of women who stoically stand by famous husbands after finding out that they have been cheating on them. Enter CBS and their new show The Good Wife, produced by Ridley and Tony Scott amongst others, which has decided to base an entire series around a fictional good wife played here by Julianna Margulies.
CBS, for its part, has worked extremely hard to promote this show and to sell it as a ripped-from-the-headlines blast of relevance. And they may fool some of the people with that media campaign, but they certainly aren't fooling themselves because they must know that their high concept is a smoke screen being used to sell yet another Law and Order knockoff. Long lost Margulies is a pleasant enough actor and certainly deserves to have her face billboarded all over the country. Here she plays Alicia Florrick, a former defense attorney who is thrust back into the work force after her husband Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), State Attorney of Cook County, gets ensnared in a sex and money scandal and finds himself behind bars.
What all this means is that while Alicia is going about her daily business, solving crimes and making sure the innocent walk, her new life serves as a constant reminder of her old one. Working with many of her husband’s old colleagues, she has to endure Youtube clips of press conference confessionals playing in the background and people randomly encouraging her to take Hilary Clinton on as a role model. In an early episode after Alicia uncovers some hidden evidence the states attorney's office smells conflict of interest and starts sniffing around in an effort to prove that her husband is feeding her inside information. Yes, it is hard out there for a woman, especially one forced back to work under her circumstances, but sadly the producers of this show have no interest in plumbing the depths of her pain.
The show takes the format of other recent procedurals (House leaps to mind) in which long term and short term story lines intermingle. So while she's out fighting the good fight on a weekly basis she is also battling her co-workers for the last partnership slot in the firm (terribly contrived) and dealing with her husband’s legal woes at the same time. There are also some small family problems going on at home but they are so benign that they are practically white noise.
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Once you come to grips with the fact that this show is not going to teach you anything, really, about the pain of being publicly embarrassed by your beloved you can begin to appreciate the show for what it is. Legal dramas that involve a trial of the week are an institution on network TV and even though there is no need for another one this one does at least manage to justify its existence. The dialogue, while predictable, is sharp and knowing. The acting is also top notch. Noth, forever Mr. Big and perfectly cast here, is rarely seen and that's a shame because he is a magnetic actor who has mastered high class sleaze. Margulies is stuck with a boring character but she does bring to it an understated sense of realism. The Good Wife is what it is and if these types of shows are your deal then congrats, you have something else to TiVo every week. If not, well hopefully you can at least respect it as an inoffensive piece of commercialism that is unworthy of anyone’s vitriol.
Starring: Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, Matt Czuchry, Archie Panjabi
Creator: Robert King and Michelle King
Airtime: Tues 10pm
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