Art mirrors life… sort of

‘The Good Wife’ and I may be taking a break

Dave Bartlett
Published on June 11, 2014
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma (left) and Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick star in the CBS drama “The Good Wife.”
— Submitted photo

By the time you read this, I will have made a choice: to watch Season 2 of “The Good Wife” or park it for a short while. A trial separation, as it were.

It’s not nearly as important a decision as Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) has to make in the Season 1 finale: to step up and stand by her cheating husband Peter (Chris Noth) as he runs for re-election as states attorney, or to walk away from their years of marriage in an attempt to find happiness elsewhere. Like the viewer, she’s not sure she can trust Peter.

I really like “The Good Wife,” but I can’t say that I love it. It is so well written and cast, but yet it’s not a show I always feel compelled to come back to. So, in that way, my relationship with the show is much like Alicia’s with Peter at the point I find myself in the narrative.

True, the introduction of Alan Cumming as Eli Gold mid-season really gave this show something extra in that department.

Muddying the waters is the desire to return to the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” which saw its full second season released Friday. The Internet streaming service has also added “Hannibal” to its library — a show I’ve been really interested in watching, especially since starting my rewatch of Bryan Fuller’s colourfully morbid “Pushing Daisies.” And really, what fan of “The Silence of The Lambs” doesn’t have a macabre fascination with the early years of Dr. Lecter.

There’s another thing I realize about “The Good Wife,” and that is I’m far more interested in the weekly court case — and investigation —than I am with the main story arc of Peter’s legal troubles and the Florricks’ unsteady marriage. Typically, I prefer a show that lets its season, or series, long arc shine through the backdrop of the sometimes-unrelated events of the adventure-of-the-week. In other words, it’s more about the greater plot. (Did all you other “Hot Fuzz” fans just repeat in a monotone voice “The Greater Plot”?

It’s not that I don’t care about the Florricks, but really I’m not as personally engaged in their power-couple lifestyle drama, as much as I’m interested in say, how a young yuppie survives women’s prison or how an overly empathic FBI profiler is being socially dissected by a brilliant man — who you know is a notorious serial killer.

What I love about “The Good Wife” more than anything is its supporting cast. As mentioned, Cummings, as Peter’s new campaign manager, Eli Gold, is so slick you can’t help but love how he is unabashed about his oiliness. His acerbic honesty cuts through all the phoniness of politics. But he’s a bit character in the grand perspective.

While Marguilies and Josh Charles — as law partner Will Gardner — are really the other two sides of the sexual-tension triangle (along with Peter) and get top billing, in my opinion the protagonist of the show beyond Alicia is Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), Alisha’s law firm’s investigator.

The character is great, and honestly is the real reason I almost love this show. Panjabi plays the character cool — almost stoic — yet after a few episodes you can tell when she’s been surprised by a piece of evidence with a mere look. And she’s also becomes a rock for Alicia when she needs it. The two are fantastic on screen together.

Noth is always great, and as Peter becomes more important to the story, I’m sure I’ll be seeing more of him. Like many in the cast, you love to hate him — or at least you’re suspect of him.

Christine Baranski as senior partner Diane Lockhart adds another exceptionally strong female character in a prime supporting role. The card-carrying Democrat’s burgeoning romance with Republican firearms expert Kurt McVeigh (played expertly by character actor Gary Cole) is a side story that I think has sadly come to an end.

And then there is the ramped up competition between Alicia and fellow lawyer-with-something-to-prove Cary (Matt Czuchry). You almost feel bad for him, but you also see he is likely the most power-hungry character in the show.

The verdict on whether or not to keep watching on into Season 2 is a hung jury at this point.

But if I do decide to take a recess from “The Good Wife” it will be short lived, as at least one of my other weekly series has a mere handful of weeks left. I have entered the Windom Earle year, the final part of “Twin Peaks.” I think the second season of “The Good Wife” might be a good replacement for the never-ending narrative cliff that I’m racing towards.

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