September 22, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “The Good Wife”


Season 6 of THE GOOD WIFE has a tough act to follow:  its own dazzling Season 5, which brought the show back from previous signs of subdued middle age and established it once again as one of the best shows on any form of television.  It being a broadcast network series, we have 22 hours of Good Wife to look forward to between now and next May, and since series creators/showrunners Robert and Michelle King have proven themselves masters of long-term plotting, tonight’s season premiere provided just a overture of what’s to come.  Reassuringly, though, the hour was instantly back in form.

The episode, written by the Kings and directed by Robert King, touched on some of last season’s cliffhangers, including Diane Lockhart’s (Christine Baranski) likely move from Lockhart Gardner to Florrick & Agos, and the possibility of Alicia (Julianna Margulies) running for State’s Attorney–the latter seeming like a real possibility by the end of the hour, despite Alicia’s unwillingness to run, thanks to some characteristically sly manipulation of Alicia’s extranged husband, Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), by his Chief of Staff Eli Gold (Alan Cumming).  Mostly, though, the premiere concentrated on a new plotline, in which Alicia’s partner Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) was arrested for facilitating the sale of $1.3M in heroin by client Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter) through his legal advice.  The pros and cons of representing a genuine criminal like Bishop have floated through The Good Wife for several seasons–at various times, his fees have meant the difference between life and death for each of the show’s two firms, but life and death (often through his quirky personal attorney played by Wallace Shawn, who hasn’t shown up yet) are also often the stakes he brings with him.  Colter is marvelous at genteel menace, which became less genteel this week after he had Cary’s hand cut in lock-up as a proof of loyalty.

The storyline also gives Czuchry a much more central role than he normally has, and he was terrific in showing Cary’s mix of fear and shrewdness as he faced the lower end of the legal system.  It quickly drew in Diane, who’ll be representing Cary after Assistant State’s Attorney Finn (Matthew Goode) had Alicia disqualified, as well as both Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) and Robyn (Jess Weixler).  The Cary plot complicates the other storylines as well, since ever-scheming David Lee (Zach Grenier) and Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) were using it as a way to hold onto Diane’s clients as she planned her defection, and current State’s Attorney James Castro (Michael Cerveris) made it clear that he’ll be going out of his way to keep Cary in jail once Peter refused to give him an endorsement.

Over the years, The Good Wife has created an entire world for itself, thanks to the vast network of first-rate guest stars who recur when needed and available, and this episode brought back Kelli Giddish (on break from her much more somber law-enforcement role on SVU) as Kalinda’s federal agent sometime-girlfriend, and Sarah Steele as Eli’s daughter, who admiringly watched him put Peter just where he wanted him and said she’d like to learn the family business, although she’s probably too blunt for the trade.

Although Good Wife‘s ratings have never equaled its acclaim, luckily that prestige is worth something to CBS, as are the high incomes and education levels of those who do watch, and that’s been enough to keep it on the air. The series is as polished and sophisticated a television drama as one could want, sparklingly written by the Kings and their fellow writer/producers from week to week, and beautifully performed by its regulars and guest stars, led by the remarkably multifaceted Margulies.  Whether it will delve more deeply into politics this season or stay in the courtroom is unclear (we do know that Taye Diggs is joining the show as another attorney), but the journey will surely be worth watching.

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."