"The Good Wife" is pretty darn good
The legal drama has been hashed, rehashed and regurgitated several dozen times in the past decades, so why should "The Good Wife" be any different?
Well, for starters, there's the premise of the new CBS drama. The wife of a corrupt Illinois state's attorney, who finds himself in the middle of a prostitution scandal and eventually jail, is forced to return to her career as a lawyer after a decade out of the business. The first ten minutes of the premiere hearken back to those awkward press conferences we've all seen replayed on cable television -- whether it's Eliot Spitzer or Mark Sanford -- where the loyal wife stands by her husband as he explains his dalliances and missteps. Chris Noth, who has always been great at straddling the divide between handsome and sleazy, is perfect in the role as the charismatic but deceptive Peter Florrick.
The story quickly moves six months forward with Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguilies) at her first day on the job at a firm as a junior associate while hubby Peter spends time in jail. As the clear underdog at the firm with a lot of "prominent baggage," she gets thrown a pro bono murder case that she's expected to retry and win, but she also hasn't stepped into a courtroom for more than a dozen years. The story is part legal drama, part personal as Alicia tries to pick herself up from the embarassing downfall of her husband's scandal.
In some ways, the show relies on the elements that set apart a good procedural drama -- a twist in a case or a hidden agenda -- but it's got a personal storyline that "Law and Order" could never quite master. Marguilies is intriguing as Alicia Florrick, bringing to the role the same combination of strength and vulnerability that set her apart as Nurse Carol Hathaway in "ER." It's also a timely approach to the legal drama. We've all wondered why Silda Spitzer or Dina McGreevey stood by their husbands even as they revealed some devastatingly personal scandals, but rarely do we get to hear their side of the story beyond the soundbites and interviews on Oprah.
As long as "The Good Wife" continues to balance both parts of its equation -- the procedural with the personal -- it has a good shot at success. With a strong cast -- Marguilies' colleagues at the firm include Josh Charles and Christine Baranski -- and some compelling storylines, we could finally have a drama that isn't just another procedural clone.
"The Good Wife" airs on CBS on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Did you catch the show last night? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
--Malavika Jagannathan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Labels: The Good Wife