January 12, 2011
Greatness Is A Double-Edged Sword
I was talking to a friend yesterday about various TV-related things and while we couldn't muster excitement for much that's happening this week, we were both thrilled to have a new episode of The Good Wife on last night. One of us noted that even a bad episode of The Good Wife was better than most anything else on TV. Turns out we were wrong. A bad episode of The Good Wife is actually exactly on par with most everything else on TV.
After a month of reruns or preemptions, this episode ("Breaking Up") was a bit of a disappointment. The case of the week wasn't nearly as compelling as I've come to expect and the guest stars lacked the acting chops to help it along (Leelee Sobieski? I thought the world had collectively agreed her talent was non-existent and we were done with her. Was that just me?). I could see what they were trying to do - Diane vying to win the favor of an influential client she can take with her when she secedes from the firm and Will trying to keep the influential client happy so he doesn't fire them. In the process of all this ass-kissing, everyone does shady stuff that stomps all over the thin, gray line between legal and not legal. But as for the case itself? Not only didn't I care what happened to the couple, I actually wanted them both to go to prison and I didn't much care for what. They were just THAT annoying.
Normally, this show is so well-written and well-paced that a story like this - one with serious implications on multiple levels that ends up revealing things about the characters - can unfold in a single episode and feel completely organic and engrossing. This one felt more like 4 separate people wrote it and then pasted it together - nothing fit together perfectly. It played out in fits and starts and got the long arc where they needed it to go but did so without the satisfying payoff I have come to expect from this show. The final scene between Will and Diane was great, don't get me wrong, but as the episode led to that moment, everything felt forced which made the last confrontation seem watered down. Having Will find out about Diane's plan from his cavalier, half-asleep girlfriend took all of the bite out of it. Losing the case, and the important client, diminished the stakes they spent the whole episode trying to make us care about.
There were things about it that I enjoyed very much. Cary is devious and smart and one of the most worthy adversaries the lawyers of Lockhart Gardner have come up against and I love every minute that Matt Czuchry is on screen. I particularly love the awkward, reluctant friendship chemistry that Cary and Kalinda have and how they can so perfectly convey it even in a scene that lasted less than a minute. Speaking of things that were over too soon, Blake didn't get a lot to do this week but he was scary to the point that I no longer look at Scott Porter and think "Jason Street," rather I see Scott Porter and think "Yikes!" He's unsettling. Owen's return was wonderful and I love his interaction with Grams. Those two are a kick in the pants.
Unfortunately, this show has set the bar so high by being so good, that sometimes it fails to clear that bar itself. Fortunately, it looks like next week they'll be back in fighting shape. And Diane's going to recruit Cary to which I say, "YAY!"