Pilot Review: The Good Wife

The Brief: A politician destroys his career with sex and corruption scandals, but his wife stands by him. She has to become the breadwinner for her family and returns to work as a defence attorney after a 15 year career break.

Thank the television gods for this show, I was really starting to despair of there being anything from this collection of pilots that actually made me sit up and pay attention. Maybe my desperation is making me overly gushy, but I was practically holding my breath towards the end of the episode, hoping that it wouldn’t suddenly collapse into crap and laugh at me for getting my hopes up.

The best thing about this by a country mile is the cast. It’s packed full of talented actors who for some reason just haven’t been getting the good roles they deserve. I adored Julianna Margulies on ER and this may be the role of a lifetime. Christine Baranski always lights up the screen and I can’t wait to see more of the two of them circling around each other. My happiest moment however was seeing Josh Charles on the screen again, I hadn’t even known he was in it and have always felt sorry that while his Sports Night co-stars seem to have gone on to bigger things, he fell out of circulation a bit. I could go on throughout the entire regular and guest cast being equally gushing, but I’d suggest just looking at imdb.

Once you’ve got that cast in place, and Ridley and Tony Scott on board as executive producers, you’re pretty much sorted. I instinctively thought that the world didn’t really need another series about lawyers, but actually with the exception of the Law & Order franchise, there’s not really many legal dramas on at the moment. Also it could be argued that the show isn’t really a legal drama, it’s about a woman who finds herself in a fascinating and miserable situation and is just trying to get through it with as much dignity for herself and her children as possible.

I was concerned that the title of the show and the premise might mean the lead character was presented as meek, being defined (either by herself or by others) as ‘just’ the wife, not as her own person. It becomes quite clear through the pilot though that the fears were unfounded. This is an exceptionally well built character, she’s not so confident as to be obnoxious but she’s not so vulnerable as to be a doormat. At the same time, even in the limited time available the supporting characters are rounded out beautifully – no one is straightforwardly evil or wonderful. Pretty much every character on the screen elicited both little “yay”s from me and little scowls, every one of them felt whole and credible.

I think this show might have the potential to be superb. It really is the first pilot I’ve watched this season where I finished watching it and thought- “wow, that was good”. Not “that’s got potential”, or “this might be good if they don’t screw it up” but honest to god relief at seeing something that got absolutely everything right. Please don’t let it turn to crap, I’m not sure my faith can take it!

Links: imdb, wikipedia, TV.com

TV Squad review, Cliqueclack review.

Like many of these shows I can’t find any information on whether a UK channel has brought it, or a decent video that’s not either crappily taped off tv, region locked to the US or give away the entire plot. It’s a frustrating life trying to be a reviewer.

Boston Legal: Season 1

The first season is only 9 episodes long (it ‘shared’ a first season slot with Boston Legal giving each series reduced lengths) and left me desperately wanting more. The characters are a great collection of social misfits trying to get along and have some form of life whilst working at the bottom of the food chain and competing against each other to drag themselves through. The relationships (both amicable and antagonistic) are great fun to watch and throughout it all they manage to throw some medical drama in for good measure.

My only complaints would be that the voice-overs can get a little tiresome and that the show isn’t a hundred miles from House, frequently overlapping in humour and also in medicine.

Boston Legal: Season 1

Season 1 is a strangely truncated season thanks to a bizarre network decision to move the last 5 episodes from season 1 into season 2. The shortening of the season makes the whole thing seem very focussed and dense (or maybe that’s because I watched the whole thing in just a few days).

I don’t care what the labels say, this is by far more of a comedy than a drama – nothing that makes me laugh out loud and splutter my tea so many times per episode isn’t a comedy. The characters played by James Spader and William Shatner are so deliciously nasty, weird and compelling that they can steal the whole episode with just raised eyebrow. The other characters frequently suffer not because they’re bad or poorly acted, but just because they can’t compete. These two on screen seperately are brilliant, when they’re together playing off each other they’re amazing.

Plot wise it is interesting to see the lawyers fighting different sides of criminal cases and how ‘approved’ practice changes depending on the situation and the client. I can’t wait to see the 2nd season and I have just two words…

Denny Crane!