The Good Wife, TV review: Is this smart, glossy legal drama really that good?
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Thursday 30 January 2014
The Good Wife on More4 is in the midst of a reputation revision. Long-term fans of the smart, glossy legal drama, which began its fifth season on More4 last night, often complain it's not given the recognition it deserves. It's true that among crime and law procedurals (TV shows where a problem is raised and solved within a single episode) this is a show of unusual quality. But is The Good Wife really that good?
It certainly has an excellent cast. Julianna Margulies radiates integrity as Alicia Florrick, the politician's wife who in the first series returned to work as a lawyer after her husband was embroiled in a humiliating sex scandal. She's still juggling home and work life, only now she's an equity partner and has reunited with her husband, the newly reinstated state governor. It's the support cast and guest stars who really makes the show, however. This week, Arrested Development's Jeffrey Tambor popped up as a judge and Melissa George from Home and Away played a tempting new hire in the governor's office.
Malik Yoba was a less recognisable, but his character, death row inmate Eddie Fornum, was the centre around which this week's legal ballet pirouetted. The Lockhart/Gardner team ingeniously presented their plaintiff as evidence in a class-action suit and brought a lying witness back from the dead, all while dodging a clumsy teleconferencing robot (The Good Wife was always good at tech satires).
Alicia and co did eventually get Eddie a commuted sentence, but amid the celebratory back-slapping, no one seemed to notice the man was still locked up for a crime he didn't commit. It was on to the next episode and a new set of legal-ethical dilemmas. That's the ultimate difference between a procedural – however good – and TV's true greats. Those shows also make time for the little guys.
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