Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pilot Review: The Good Wife

The Good Wife (CBS)
Premiered September 22 at 10pm

This is one instance of where a premise that sounds great just doesn’t make for a good show. Alicia Florrick’s relationship with her husband is only secondary to a generic lawyer show that’s disappointingly ordinary. There’s not much of a draw to the show. It’s certainly not “Canterbury’s Law,” and definitely doesn’t contain the same preposterous elements that made that show so bad. Unfortunately, losing that over-the-top silliness makes this show utterly forgettable. Margulies’ performance isn’t detestable like it was on her previous show, but she’s obnoxiously feeble and unenthusiastic. The show is supposed to be about how strong the character is, but she rarely displays any qualities other than shyness and worry. Two energetic supporting performances by Josh Charles and Christine Baranski enhance the show slightly, but their work appears to be very behind-the-scenes, and their momentary appearances can’t really make the show that much better. Chris Noth is very used to playing the apologetic lover after his “Sex and the City” role, but that doesn’t mean the character is terribly interesting. Attempts to make Alicia and her situation relatable with childish ringtones fail miserably, and it interrupts the already sloppy pacing of the show. Alicia may be the good wife trying to put her family back together, but that doesn’t mean her story is worth telling.

How will it work as a series? The focus will likely be on the firm’s cases rather than Alicia’s home life, and efforts to balance the two will probably result in uneven episodes which find Alicia constantly distracted at work but somehow coming through and outdoing all of her fellow lawyers at the last minute. Eventually, her husband’s fate will be decided, and at that point, the show will have to transition just to the law side, and that’s not a terribly original place for it to end up.
How long will it last? Well, this is the death slot for CBS where the network kills shows each season, but the last successful series to occupy this slot was in fact a female-led law show, “Judging Amy.” This show has a much less sustainable premise, and I think CBS will find that this slot should only really be filled by one of its crime series. It could last the season, but I don’t think it can merit a second one.

Pilot review: C-


G1000 said...

Wow. I thought this was one of the better pilot episodes I've seen in recent years. Sure, there are some kinks that need to be worked out. And you are right, the show will be walking an awfully thin line between being different and being a formulaic law show. But Marguiles gives a solid performance and the first case was fairly interesting. I enjoyed this show immensely. I have been searching for a good legal drama for ages (sorry, TNT, "Raising the Bar" doesn't cut it). Perhaps I've found one. B+

Movies with Abe said...

Glad you liked it! It's not for me - I guess I need more excitement and energy on Tuesday nights, which is why the "NCIS" double-hitter works for me!