October 1, 2012




WHERE WE WERE: Waiting for Kalinda’s door to open.  She (Archie Panjabi) was calmly waiting inside with a gun, waiting for her former husband, a man who even Kalinda thinks is dangerous.  It was the end of a long, somewhat meandering season highlighted, so to speak, by Will (Josh Charles) being temporarily disbarred for unethical actions with client funds, the relatively short romance between Will and Alicia (Juliana Margulies), Cary (Matt Czuchry) departing the State’s Attorney’s office after his own interdepartmental difficulties, and Lockhart & Gardner declaring bankruptcy.

WHERE WE ARE:  Watching that door open.  On the other side, as it turned out, wasn’t Kalinda’s ex-husband, but a henchman–and while her ex may give Kalinda pause, she doesn’t lose a lot of sleep over minions–this one was soon deprived of his gun and sent packing.  It was a little anticlimactic, but only temporarily, because before the hour was over, we–and Kalinda–had seen plenty of Nick (Marc Warren), at the firm (where he pretended to be a client), in combat and in bed.

After a season wandering without any clear destination, THE GOOD WIFE appears to be back on track.  The most surprising revelation of the 4th season premiere, written by series creators Robert and Michelle King and directed by Michael Zinberg, may have been that although the series is usually thought of as a legal drama and a soap, it really requires a dose of politics to get its gears moving.  Last season, with Alicia’s husband Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) ensconsed as State’s Attorney and waiting for his gubernatorial campaign to begin, everyone seemed adrift, personified by Peter’s ex-campaign manager Eli Gold (Alan Cumming), who was at Lockhart & Gardner as a quasi-lawyer, quasi-lobbyist, quasi-whatever the show needed him to be that week.  Now the campaign has begun, and every character seems to have recaptured his or her snap, even the ones who have nothing to do with the election.

Now a simple interview (with journalist Kristin Chenoweth, who was originally planned to be a significant part of the season, but who suffered an injury on-set that changed that plan) is loaded with barbs and a minefield of topics to be avoided.  The case of the week, a relatively silly tale of Alicia’s son Zach (Graham Phillips) getting stopped on suspicion of having pot in his car and then being arrested for taping the cop’s behavior, became a part of the election cycle when Zach posted the video online and that county’s counterpart to Peter turned out to be gunning for him.

The doings at Lockhart & Gardner are perking up as well.  Having declared bankruptcy, the firm has to endure special master Clarke Hayden (Nathan Lane), who’s not as dull or stodgy as he looks, proven when he strong-armed the invaluable–for the firm and the show-David Lee (Zach Grenier) back into the fold.  The tangy by-play between Hayden, Will and Diane (Christine Baranski) promises plenty of sparks through the course of the season.

With all that going on, who cares who’s sleeping with whom?  But yes, although Kalinda’s bisexual credentials were carefully reinforced in the episode (she’d had a relationship with a female dog trainer Alicia spoke to for her son’s case), she seems to have her match in Nick, in a storyline that appears to be crying out for basic cable at least.  Also impressive:  in Kalinda’s close-quarters fight scenes, it seemed to be Archie Panjabi herself handling the bulk of the stunts.

The Good Wife is one of network TV’s last bastions of genuine quality drama, and sadly it’s also one of the lowest rated shows on CBS, a network that normally has little patience for underachievers.  After this season, the series will have enough episodes for syndication, which puts it at risk for the future.  It would be a lousy milestone in the history of network television if the show vanished, but if that’s going to happen, at least it appears as though the series is going out with a serious bang, holding its own on a night that’s now overrun with the very best of cable.

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."