Initially, it passed me by, this series. I know Sex in the City’s Mr Big has many fans, but I’ve never found Chris Noth to be the sex god that Carrie Bradshaw sees him as (unless I’m missing the obvious and it’s not the business world he’s Mr Big in). But I was always a committed ER fan, and I like the beautiful Julianna Margulies (her eyebrows alone are magnificent), but hadn’t realised, despite the title (d’uh!), that’s she’s the central character in The Good Wife. The original trailers seemed to feature more of Noth. But happily, The Good Wife is really about the trials and tribulations of Margulies’ character, Alicia Florrick. She’s married to Peter (Noth), the District Attorney who has just gone to prison for alleged fraud. Also, for knocking off prostitutes willy nilly and getting caught doing so. She’s The Good Wife for apparently standing by her man.
So we begin with Alicia, having hithertofore led the life of a wealthy housewife in a mansion, having had to move in to an apartment (admittedly a lovely one) and to start earning a living to support their children, Zach and Grace. She returns to the thing she’s trained in, the world of law, and becomes an ‘mature’ junior associate with Lockhart and Gardner. Diane Lockhart is played by the fine Christine (Martha May Hoovier in The Grinch) Baranski, and Josh Charles (never heard of him) plays Will Gardner. There are two twists here – firstly Alicia and Will had an unresolved thang going on at law school together – and secondly, Alicia is put in direct competition for one post, like musical job-chairs, with another new junior associate, the young and eager Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry).
Now, I’m an unashamed fan of UK and US legal dramas – Boston Legal (James Spader, oh yes), Ally McBeal, Damages, This Life, North Square etc – I think the appeal is similar to that of reading a good crime novel – lots of tension and mayhem, but by the end of the programme, everything gets resolved. And The Good Wife does the legal drama brilliantly. You get the enjoyment of the weird and wacky judges, some brilliant Other Lawyers (most memorably Michael J Fox, but there are several minxy women too) and some juicy cases. You also have the ongoing unresolved sexual tension between Alicia and Will, plus Peter Florrick’s attempts to get himself out of prison and back into a fight for power.
One huge thing in its favour is that The Good Wife is co-produced by Ridley ‘Blade Runner’ Scott. So it’s high on style and tension, and beautifully shot as well. And such good casting (other than Noth, but maybe that’s ok too – his character isn’t meant to be that attractive or likeable).
It’s hard to pick an all-time favourite character, but the super smart Lockhart & Gardner investigator, Kalinda Sharma is in the top two. Physically slight, hard drinking and incredibly attractive, she’s not someone you’d want to mess with. There’s something of the steely brilliance and sexual ambivalence of Lisbeth Salander about her, although less tattooed, pierced and psychologically fragile.
But the person who has made the whole series (or rather ‘both series’, because I’ve just finished watching series 2) a thing of utter joy has been the character of Eli Gold, played by Alan Cumming. In my head, I put him in the same box as Queer as Folk’s Aidan Gillen (more recently in The Wire). Both actors from this side of the Atlantic who blow the screen away in the scenes they’re in. Just mesmerising and gorgeous, the pair of them. Phwoar.
Posted by Inkface