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TV Review | ‘The Good Wife’ going strong after four years

Excellent acting and characters sustain ‘The Good Wife’

Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012 08:11

Currently in its fourth season, CBS’ drama “The Good Wife” is nowhere near stale. Titular character and protagonist Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is a wife, mother and lawyer who was publically humiliated by her husband, former state attorney Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), in the show’s first season. When political corruption and prostitution scandals landed Peter in jail, Alicia reentered the work force as a public defender in order to provide for her family. After a tumultuous couple of years, Peter is now back in the state’s attorney chair and is running for governor of Illinois. Meanwhile, Alicia is dealing with a past inter−office romance at her law firm, Lockhart/Gardner. The smart lens placed on personal and professional relationships makes “The Good Wife” interesting and dynamic, but the show’s writing and acting make it truly great.

Though “The Good Wife” assumes the tried−and−true procedural style, focusing on a Lockhart/Gardner case in each episode, the show stays contemporary and relevant by using these lawsuits to consider pertinent legal, cultural and political topics. Already, season four has explored college hazing, drug dealing and sexual assault. While these cases progress, viewers see issues play out between characters in the office and follow Peter’s ongoing campaign for governor.

Margulies is critical in binding together these plot elements. As one of the most reliable and intriguing actresses on television today, Margulies perfectly portrays a character that is strong and empathetic, but also occasionally isolated. Though the first two seasons focused on her internal and personal struggles, the second two have been much more plot−driven, while maintaining the original emotional intrigue. Alicia will and should go down as one of the most powerful television characters of our times, as Margulies portrays her in an incredibly natural manner.

Another highlight is Scottish actor Alan Cumming, who plays Eli Gold, Peter Florrick’s opinionated and assertive image consultant, with a flawless American accent. Creating a larger part for the talented Cumming was one of the best moves by the show’s writers. Though Eli is unapologetically strong−willed, he is constantly put in his place by strong−willed women, including his teenage daughter. His exasperated emasculation provides the show’s most consistent comic relief. At the same time, Eli’s profession offers viewers insight into the moral, ethical and legal obstacles of running a successful campaign.

Despite the overall excellence of the plot and actors, season four of “The Good Wife” still takes a few missteps, particularly with Kalinda Sharma’s (Archie Panjabi) storyline. Kalinda, Lockhart/Gardner’s private investigator, has always been a mischief−maker and an enigma to the rest of the firm. She keeps her personal life secret and interacts minimally with her colleagues outside of work. This season, though, her private tendencies have been placed at risk by the reappearance of her estranged husband, Nick. This relationship was initially exciting, given the audience’s minimal exposure to the couple, but at this point, it has become overbearing. Nick is offensive, jealous, assertive and wholly unnecessary to the season.

Fortunately, Kalinda’s dragging arc is the season’s only substantial failure and “The Good Wife” continues to be an altogether outstanding program. Just as Alicia, the good wife, managed to preserve her reputation in the public eye, this show continues to command respect and interest. It has maintained an impressive level of excellence for four seasons and seems determined to maintain that trajectory.

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