25 January, 2010

Preview: "The Good Wife"

"This is most definitely a year of surprises on the drama front as 'The Good Wife' might just be the best new hour and I sure didn't see it coming." The Futon Critic

"THE GOOD WIFE is a drama starring Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies as a wife and mother who must assume full responsibility for her family and re-enter the workforce after her husband's very public sex and political corruption scandal lands him in jail.

Pushing aside the betrayal and crushing public humiliation caused by her husband Peter (Chris Noth), Alicia Florrick (Margulies) starts over by pursuing her original career as a defense attorney. As a junior associate at a prestigious Chicago law firm, she joins her longtime friend, former law school classmate and firm partner Will Gardner (Josh Charles), who is interested to see how Alicia will perform after 13 years out of the courtroom. Alicia is grateful the firm's top litigator, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), offers to mentor her but discovers the offer has conditions and realizes she's going to need to succeed on her own merit.

Alicia's main competition among the firm's 20-something new recruits is Cary (Matt Czuchry), a recent Harvard grad who is affable on the surface, but will use any means to ensure that he, not Alicia, secures the one full-time associate position that's available. Fortunately, Alicia finds an ally in Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), the firm's tough in-house investigator. Gaining confidence every day, Alicia transforms herself from embarrassed politician's scorned wife to resilient career woman, especially for the sake of providing a stable home for her children, 14-year-old Zach (Graham Phillips) and 13-year-old Grace (Makenzie Vega).

For the first time in years, Alicia trades in her identity as the "good wife" and takes charge of her own destiny. Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, Robert King, Michelle King, Dee Johnson and David Zucker are the executive producers for CBS Television Studios." CBS

The Good Wife is my favourite new US drama. I love law shows in general but this one is particularly well-written. By that I mean the characters, their relationships and their dialogue ring true. I also mean that the story of the week is compelling and surprising.

Julianna Margulies' previous show was Canterbury's Law which, although in the same genre, didn't get all the elements right. Popular television is looked down on but it isn't easy to do. So when it's done right and written well, it deserves to be acknowledged in the same way as unpopular well-written shows like Mad Men.

The good wife and her bad husband have a complex relationship. At first, I thought he was just a special guest star for the pilot and we wouldn't hear from him again. At home there's conflict with the husband's mom who helps look after the kids.

At work there is immediate conflict set-up with a fellow new colleague - set to conclude, co-incidentally, at the end of the season. But even that obvious set-up isn't written in an obvious way because the characters aren't stock stereotypes and remain interesting.

Creators Michelle and Robert King Interview (video)

Channel 4 site/4oD

Mondays, Channel 4, 10:00pm
Wednesdays, More4, 11:40pm

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