CBS’ The Good Wife is one of the best written and produced shows on television. But that’s not the only reason to watch the season one DVD, it’s the superb casting that elevates an already great show into a whole other realm of excellence. Julianne Margulies stars as the main character, Alicia Florrick, a politician’s wife who is publicly humiliated when her husband is caught in a sex scandal and sent to jail on corruption charges. Alicia is suddenly without money and having to raise her teenage children, Zach (Graham Phillips) and Grace (Makenzie Vega), on her own. In order to make an income, she calls in a favor and returns to work at the prestigious law firm where she once had a job before marrying Peter and becoming the politician’s “good wife.” Alicia finds herself at the bottom of the ladder, a junior associate, having to once again prove her worth and compete for job security. Meanwhile, she must do her best to support her husband as he awaits trial and continue to be a caring, aware mother.
Margulies brings gives the role the same strength, compassion and wounded soul that she gave the character of Carol Hathaway in the 90’s on ER. Her strong performance will keep you clicking through episodes at a fast clip. Margulies’ subtle shifts in tone that follow the character arc of Alicia, as she slowly begins to work within the gray areas of the law, are some of the best acting that aired on television last year. But the pitch perfect casting of The Good Wife didn’t stop with Margulies. The producers (who include show creators Robert and Michelle King, as well as Tony and Ridley Scott) surrounded Margulies with some of the best character actors on television today, each bringing their own unique style to add a different dimension to the show.
Josh Charles is Will, Alicia’s old friend at the law firm who is now a partner. Charles, late of the great Sports Night, seems to have finally found a series to showcase his talent. The brilliant Christine Baranski portrays Diane Lockhart, a senior partner in the firm. Baranski proves again why she’s an Emmy winner and has been nominated so many times in the past. Matt Czuchry, the one time heartthrob from Gilmore Girls, plays Cary, another junior associate at the firm and Alicia’s direct competition. Czuchry can go from pained and broken to smarmy and dicky in one expression. Finally, there is this year’s Emmy winner for Best Supporting Actress, Archie Panjabi, whose resume primarily consists of shows on the BBC (including cult favorite, Life on Mars), as the unpredictable Kalinda, the law firm’s private investigator who is working both sides of the political fence.
In addition, recurring roles bring in the likes of Chris Noth as Alicia’s husband, Peter, who spends most of the season behind bars, Titus Welliver (of Lost) as Peter’s nemesis, the State’s Attorney, the sly Alan Cumming as Peter’s new campaign manager; the underrated Joe Morton (from just about every John Sayles film) as Peter’s defense attorney, as well as Peter Riegert, Denis O’Hare and David Paymer as judges.
The Good Wife is one of those shows that sneaks up on you. When you think it’s just going to be another lawyer show, the writer’s present compelling cases and show sides of their characters that you wouldn’t expect. Any great show can do that, but the superb ones draw you in with relatable and realistic characters. With each episode, from the pilot through the series finale, The Good Wife kept getting better, making it one of the best new series from last season and one to tune into when it premieres next week.
The first season DVD comes with a fine selection of bonus features including two excellent episode commentaries, a bevy of deleted scenes with commentary, plus standard first season featurettes that look at how the show came together and how the show gets made each week.