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A Love Letter to 'The Good Wife'

by Chris Harnick, posted Dec 7th 2010 2:45PM
Julianna MarguliesSomething strange happened after watching a recent episode of 'The Good Wife.'

Following 'Cleaning House,' the fourth episode of the show's second season, an overwhelming feeling of pride swept over me. A TV show that I have no connection to whatsoever -- besides being a viewer -- filled me with immense pride. Why? Well, 'The Good Wife' is nothing short of amazing.

When a show can easily blend the generic nature of a procedural with weekly character development and overarching plots, it deserves to be called amazing -- perhaps even the best drama on network TV. (Our own Mo Ryan named it among her top 10 best shows of 2010.)

'The Good Wife' follows Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) as she navigates a renewed career as an attorney at Lockhart/Gardner & Bond. Being the wife of disgraced politician Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) isn't always easy, nor is working with a former beau, Will Gardner (Josh Charles).

So, what exactly happened to make this usually cynical writer swell with emotion? The episode was paced perfectly, which is rare for a drama that balances so much at once. A leak to the press brought former colleague Cary (Matt Czuchry) back to Lockhart/Gardner & Bond to interview his friend/sort-of-enemy Alicia. Meanwhile, Peter's campaign manager Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) raced around trying to discover the mysterious source behind the leak of a legal document. At the end of the episode it was revealed that there's a game-changing third candidate in the State's Attorney race. Suddenly, politics got 100 times more interesting.

The good Wife 'The Good Wife' is consistently the best because the women are in charge. Nothing makes for a better TV show than a particularly well-rounded leading woman. But, when you make it a trio as developed, vulnerable and smart as Alicia, the firm's emotionally cool investigator Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) and senior partner Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), then all bets are off.

Of course those three actresses were nominated for Emmys in 2009, their portrayals are legendary TV in the making.

Season 2 has brought nonstop drama with attorney Derrick Bond (Michael Ealy) and his mischievous investigator Blake (Scott Porter) joining the firm. Let's not forget the baggage they're bringing -- uh, meth gangs!? Naturally, Derrick's arrival has fractured the already fragile relationship between Will and Diane. It's a boys club and Diane's feeling left out. What's her next move? Apparently, starting a new firm with the smarmy David Lee!

After being criticized for not having enough gay characters, CBS rolled out Alicia's brother Owen (Dallas Roberts) and finally introduced Kalinda's former lover Donna (Lili Taylor). Other shows struggle to properly utilize their guest stars, but 'The Good Wife' makes each guest have a purpose. Generally, that purpose is to help develop and shine a different light on one of the main characters, just like Owen and Donna did for Alicia and Kalinda. Other stellar guest stars have included Michael J. Fox, Miranda Cosgrove, Mamie Gummer, Lou Dobbs and Elizabeth Reaser.

Peter Florrick's campaign is still as lively as ever -- despite some hiccups with pastors, the kids and opponents Wendy Scott-Carr and Glenn Childs. Cumming's Eli Gold, has become the go-to comic relief with his campaign trail blunders and triumphs. Now that Eli has been wire-tapped, what does that mean for the Florricks? We'll have to wait and see, but it could be very harmful to all parties involved and, in turn, very entertaining for us viewers.

Each week, viewers are treated to exceptional acting from each series regular right down to the actor playing juror No. 4. 'Good Wife' writers and creators Robert and Michelle King know these characters like the back of their hands. After only eight episodes of season 2, 'The Good Wife' has developed Alicia, its main character, more than most shows do for their characters in a season.

'The Good Wife' has been delivering consistent drama week after week, but the biggest story is still waiting in the wings: The fallout of Eli deleting Will's voice mail to Alicia. In 'On Tap,' Alicia got wind of a second voice mail thanks to a recorded call between Will and a client. Her reaction was perfect, her desire reignited and -- BOOM -- the credits started rolling.

The drama, the legalese, the stoic stares -- 'The Good Wife' has it all to a perfect science. I'm in for the long haul.

'The Good Wife' airs Tuesdays at 10PM ET on CBS. Check back next week for a recap of the last new episode of 2010.

[Follow @ChrisHarnick on Twitter]

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Though this season is not as dynamic as the first one it is nonethe less as interesting. However this whole Alicia/Will thing is getting tired. They need to resolve whatever it is they have (I cant see it) quickly. If this means Peter to really get it and be punished then so be it as he needs to suffer but I hope they do get together eventually as tv needs to not give up on relationships as they usually depict old relationships. Also i do think Will is the nice guy he seems - I wish they dig up some dirt.

December 17 2010 at 4:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sadly I'm feeling more and more disconnected from the characters this season. There is too much aggression from the onslaught of male characters taking over what were once interesting and "in charge" female characters. Alicia (when she's not sighing over Will or Peter) is fighting with Cary. Diane is rolling eyes over her two male partners' bonding. Kalinda is too busy getting bullied by Blake (with no end in sight) to be the kickass investigator and much needed friend of Alicia she was in Season 1. Too much testosterone on this show now. I know they want to attract male viewers but I think this ship has sailed and they should try to keep the ones they have interested instead.

December 07 2010 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love this show. Have since it started. A rare find full of strong women that makes the every day housewife have someone to admire. I love the storylines, the characters and I look forward to every episode. I hope this one is around for a long time.

December 07 2010 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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