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October 13, 2015

The Good Wife: Pilot (series premiere)

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 22nd 2009 11:02PM
Julianna_Margulies_The_Good_Wife(S01E01) You might think that you're watching a variation on Law & Order when the first few minutes of The Good Wife commences. It's not just that Chris Noth is in the scene, looking every bit like Mike Logan. It's more that the scene is ripped from the headlines. Disgraced politician -- Elliot Spitzer, David Vitter, Jim McGreevey -- caught in a sex scandal. His innocent, good wife, standing beside him.

As Alicia Florrick, the wife of a Chicago prosecutor who was caught sucking the toes of prostitutes and forced to resign, Julianna Margulies masters the shell-shocked, distant gaze. Her eyes, in fact, fixate on a stray thread on his suit. But the fog lifts quickly and away from the podium, reality comes in the form of a smack in the face. She delivers the smack, and from that moment, you're on her side. Maybe it was a cheap trick, but it worked.

The Good Wife is a very good show. It has the feel of Judging Amy, the kind of solid, character-driven drama that can get under your skin and keep you coming back for more. Alicia's no Tammy Wynette, although she does stand by her man in that she doesn't divorce him. It's the best Julianna Margulies' work since ER.

Six months after the scene at the podium, Alicia's dusted off her legal degree from Georgetown and -- using her connections -- landed a job as an associate with a law firm. It's not a lark. She needs the money, and has already sold the house and moved, with her two teens, into an apartment. It's realistic, and so is her visit to see Peter in prison (he's being tried for abuse of power) when she rejects his promise that soon everything will be back to normal. "It will never be normal again."

Alicia's thrown into the deep end of the pool at the law firm; it's sink or swim time. There are smiling faces in the firm ready to stab her in the back, many underestimating her, but Alicia finds the muscles she hasn't used for years and gets to work. A tip from Peter helps, but Alicia does the detail work to help her client.

Interestingly, she's stuck with Peter's last name and it works for and against her. But her success, at least in the pilot, is more about her due diligence. But just as she tastes victory and feels good about herself and her future -- including the hint of something-something with her boss -- she gets a phone message from her husband. He says "I love you" and it's all about him and his case. What does Alicia really want?

Other points of interest

• Alicia's ring tone is The Twilight Zone theme.

• The supporting cast is excellent -- many with fans from other shows, including Chris Noth, Christine Baranski, Josh Charles and Matt Czuchry.

• Really liked the chemistry between Margulies and Archie Panjabi, who played the investigator.

• In an ironic twist, which Alicia recognizes, her mother-in-law takes on the homemaker role and Alicia's forced to fill Peter's shoes.

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Love this show! So glad to see Julianna Marqulies again. Canterbury's Law storyline cancelled that show not her performance. A tough but soft sided woman trying to stand by her man but explore her independence is a great character. If the characters don't get crazy and the cases are compelling maybe this time she will find a series worth her talent.

November 12 2009 at 7:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jill McKechnie

Finally! An amazing drama that women over 40 can enjoy. I'm a mom and wife, and I've been married for 20 years. What spoke to me was not just how Julianna Margulies portrayed the heartbreaking mess her husband had gotten her into, but how older women going back to work are treated, and how tough it can be when you're pulled in so many directions. It's not easy being a wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, let alone competing in the workforce with younger people. You go, Alicia!!

September 26 2009 at 12:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I LOVED this show! It started out with a bang and kept me interested. Julianna was great and I loved how how her married name caused her angst in the courtroom and in her law firm. Loved the confrontation with the new state attorney, too. This is my favorite show.

September 26 2009 at 8:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Horse N. Buggy

Also, was the assistant the same actress who played the "hot chick" on Community? Is she in both shows?

September 24 2009 at 6:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Horse N. Buggy

So so so so so happy to see Josh Charles on my TV again. The only thing I'm not happy about is that he's not Dan Rydell. Would give anything for this to be a Sorkin show.

September 24 2009 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked it and agree that Julianna Margulies, whom I love, was wonderful (as was the supporting cast); however, I do have one -- and arguably big -- problem with the show, which is that, good as it is, in the end it's just another lawyer show. Nothing more, nothing less. And there's really nothing that different about it (from other lawyer shows) that makes me want to watch it every week, though I probably will for a while because of Ms. Margulies.

September 24 2009 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The writing was smart, the episode was extremely well-paced, and Julianna Margulies was really great. I expected good things from the show because of the reviews, but it certainly exceeded my expectations. I would rank The Good Wife as perhaps the best new show this year along with Flash Forward (I've watched the pilot). Full review of the episode on my blog.


September 23 2009 at 7:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ruth Houston

The Good Wife is destined to be a big hit because of the public's insatiable appetite for all things infidelity -- especially when cheating politicians and other public figures are involved. The popularity of this show by all the TV critics confirms something I've been saying for the past few years - Infidelity has become the new spectator sport. As an infidelity expert who is frequently called on by the media to comment on high profile infidelity and infidelity issues in the news, I can attest to the public's curiosity about cheating politicians, celebrity infidelity and other public figures who are having, or even rumored to be having extramarital affairs. For more info on this, check out the article entitled The Good Wife Confirms That Infidelity Has Become a Spectator Sport at http://bit.ly/4G5mHl or see my Infidelity News and Views blog.

September 23 2009 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ruth Houston's comment

Wow, you took a totally different take on it then I did. I saw it as a show about a woman having to find strength under some of the most difficult circumstances. I found it to be possibly one of the best new shows this season.

September 25 2009 at 12:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry, I don't want to watch a show about sleazy politicians and their 'strong' wives try and mop up the crap. Instead I watch the forgotten on ABC (but it seems like another tragedy. . .)

September 23 2009 at 10:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Honestly, I was expecting this show to be a complete dud. What a pleasant surprise to be proven wrong! I really enjoyed this pilot, for reasons already covered in the posting and comments. I'll keep it on my fall watch list but I can't help wondering if I liked it so much because my expectations were so low?
Time will tell if it continues to be engaging...

September 23 2009 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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