October 4, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “The Good Wife”



In the wasteland of this fall’s collection of lackluster network programming, THE GOOD WIFE is starting to seem less like an exception and more like a miracle.  (Even more so, since it lives on CBS.)  Robert and Michelle King’s series eased into its 7th season tonight as sophisticated and polished as it’s ever been, and the thought of having 22 hours to spend in its company for another season is pure pleasure.

The changes in Season 7 don’t amount to a full-scale reboot, but they’re significant nonetheless.  Tonight’s script (by the Kings) picked up on Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) after the successive disasters that ended last season, as she was forced to resign from her race for Illinois State’s Attorney due to a trumped-up election scandal, and she lost her partnership at what is now Lockhart Agos.  Alicia is starting over (although as the Governor’s wife, she’s not exactly worrying about putting food on the table,  and the script made a point of saying so), and the Kings’ endless search for new legal venues to place their action put her in Bond Court, where those who aren’t quite poor enough to qualify for legal aid have bottom-feeding attorneys available to represent them at arraignment for bargain-basement rates.

Margulies is great at showing the way Alicia, thrown to the curb on her first try, quietly but intensely learns the rules of whatever process she’s been thrown into, and this is a fine new place for her to struggle.  The big news of Alicia’s Bond Court sojourn, however, is:  Alicia made a friend!  For the first time since Kalinda faded to the background of The Good Wife (for whatever tabloid reasons involving Archie Punjabi and Margulies), Alicia has what looks to be a buddy in the person of new regular Lucca Quinn (the charming and fabulously named Jumbo Cash), another member of the Bond bar.

Bigger things, of course, are happening around Alicia.  Estranged husband Peter (Chris Noth) is ready to make his move for consideration as Hillary’s Vice President nominee, which means he has to launch a small (for now) presidential run.  He double-crossed trusted old friend Eli (Alan Cumming) to hire Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale), a superficially genial sharpie, as his campaign manager.  A stupefied and then coldly vengeful Eli counterpunched by convincing Alicia to hire him as her own chief of staff, and the fireworks between Cumming and Martindale should be vastly entertaining all season long.

Groundwork is also being set for a professional move by Alicia:  she’s entered into an uneasy truce with “the devil,” Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), who sends her a case in the premiere involving the inheritance of a Chagall print.  Meanwhile, Cary (Matt Czuchry) is so palpably miserable at his elderly firm that it can only be a matter of time before he’s making a move out.  All of these machinations were handled smoothly by episode director Brooke Kennedy, one of the show’s house directors, and performed marvelously as usual by the huge cast of regulars and recurring performers.  (Along with Martindale, tonight had a particularly juicy role for Christopher McDonald as the Bond Court’s highly impatient judge.)

With more hours per season to work with than any cable drama, The Good Wife can take its time moving its pieces into position, delivering smart, brilliantly-acted episodes each week along the way.  Its ratings this season will doubt be as tepid as they always are (albeit the right kind of tepid, loaded with well-educated and affluent viewers advertisers love), but these days The Good Wife, more than ever, is providing one of the only reasons around to be grateful network TV still exists.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."