Monday, March 19, 2012

The Televangelist: 'The Good Wife' Season 3, Ep 18

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 12:50 PM

You may recognize me from my work on that other legal show
  • CBS.com
  • You may recognize me from my work on that other legal show

First of all, in the opposite news I began with for "Luck," "The Good Wife" has been picked up for a fourth season! The show remains perpetually on the bubble because CBS seems obsessed with killing it by putting in the most competitive slot for good TV drama (up against HBO and AMC's best), despite it being CBS' only critically acclaimed show. Well done, network, well done.

It hasn't helped that the show is forced to take odd and extended hiatuses because of awards shows or sports, which also bump the show later than usual on a good day (last night "The Good Wife" began at 9:43pm. Enjoy those first 15 minutes, DV-R viewers). Further, the season has been plagued with an uneven tone and nebulous story arcs that have had moments of greatness while not providing consistent quality. It's difficult, no doubt, when you have a 23-episode season to keep things on track, and as "The Good Wife" closes in on the last episodes of its current season things do seem like they are coming into focus. "Gloves Come Off," however, was not been the best example of it.

The main thrust of the episode was with the Case of the Week, which meandered and took many a turn only to end back up where it started. Unlike an episode of "Law and Order," which could never help itself from making a pointed commentary on the "ripped from the headlines" case it was exploring, "The Good Wife" presented an issue and left it on the table without fanfare. Is it because that the NHL wasn't really the issue? Instead, the NHL was standing in for the far more powerful (and frightening, depending on who you are) NFL, an organization which has gone under immense scrutiny in the last few years over the issue of concussions. It is well and probable that hockey players face some of the same problems are pro football players when it comes to health and the way they are treated by the league, but hockey has nowhere near the power and influence of the National Football League. I am not surprised that the writers would use the NHL as the target instead, and not pass any judgement other than to present certain facts.

There was a show that ran on ESPN many years ago called "Playmakers," detailing the inner workings of the NFL from the owners down to the guys holding the Gatorade on the sidelines. It wasn't the best written show, but it was engaging and pretty startling in its portrayal of all of the "dirt" hidden beneath the glossy veneer of the league. The show was not allowed to air for long, and ESPN insiders have since claimed that pressure came from the league to remove the show because it was seen as a PR calamity. Image is everything, and freedom of speech means little.

"The Good Wife" touched on this gently, and with low stakes. Most of the legal proceedings regarding the COTW took place away from Lockhart Gardner's case, which served as a pantomime whereby Frank Thomas and Louis Canning could "smoke out" each other's long-term legal strategies regarding a class action suit where former players were suing the NHL. None of this mattered much to Alicia's firm, who considered it a simple victory when their client got his requested payoff (probably courtesy, ultimately, of the NHL). Canning later claimed Alicia was only using him to get leverage on Lockhart Gardner, which he saw as ok since he was essentially using her to get an idea about the class action suit. But I don't think Alicia was using Canning - I think that if Diane had refused her raise that she might have actually left the firm. The bump in pay also leads to another decision about which Alicia is keeping her cards extremely close to her chest - whether or not to buy their apartment or move back to their old house. And what are the consequences of either? And what does Peter, the Forgotten Man, think of it? Alicia is acting like a single mother, is that her intention going forward?

Alicia's relationship with Will seems to have cooled off now to a non-issue, though with the return of his ex-girlfriend (who I had been asking about for awhile) the affair was brought to light again. Once Will and Alicia consummated their lust, we never heard from Tammy again. Had Will broken up with her off camera? Apparently not exactly, the two were still involved when he cheated on her with Alicia, the revelation of which gave Alicia a new perspective on Kalinda's tryst with Peter. I thought it was a very real moment both when Alicia rebuffed Kalinda's attempts at friendship and also later when Alicia told her she was willing to make a go of things, but couldn't pretend everything was fine right away. Too often on TV shows characters get over things incredibly fast from the viewer's perspective. It was one thing I really loved about "Six Feet Under," that even if a character wasn't still talking out loud about their grief over someone who has passed away, that person was shown to still be a very big part of their thoughts. But a show doesn't need to use specters to show someone struggling internally with conflicting feelings, and I thought that Alicia's moments with Kalinda were great at speaking to some of Alicia's turmoil that we don't usually see.

It was a messy episode with too many moving parts, but it did serve to put to rest some loose ends as well as foster some character development. Like so many episodes of "The Good Wife" this season, it wasn't fantastic but it's still a worthy watch.

Next Week: Matthew Perry guest stars and stresses Alicia out.

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Diane was in an orbit of her own this week (though I always love Diane time). I was surprised that she would stay at Kirk's once she had stumbled across his very young "protege" and then ask for his sloppy seconds (one presumes). Diane!

— I had a lot of questions about the snowmobile case as well. Why didn't the guy shout to his wife that it was out of control? Why didn't she just jump off? Why didn't he just turn the danged thing off? Does this all go back to the question of diminished mental capacity?

— "And you call me an ethical midget!" - David Lee. There was a hint of the David Lee versus Eli Gold battle continuing, but it was such a small footnote in this already crowded episode that it didn't do much for me.

— "I didn't get the memo that we are now Stalin and Associates" - David Lee gets all the best lines.

— Lost of familiar faces as guest stars this week: David Costible (Gale from "Breaking Bad," and that bad guy from Seasons 1 and 2 of "Damages"), Fred Thompson (from "Law and Order") and Phil Burke (one of the McGuinness brothers from "Hell on Wheels")

— To the accusation Alicia was faced with, "he slept with you once and I never heard from him again," my friend Martha said, "isn't that a compliment?" Hah!

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