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194 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good wife with a lousy husband
Never was a phrase, "torn from the headlines," more appropriate for a TV show. This dramatic tale of a wronged politician's wife brings instantly to mind famous couples such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, John and Elizabeth Edwards, Darlene and John Ensign, Jenny and Mark Sanford, and David and Wendy Vitter. But the circumstances that most closely resemble those used in...
Published on June 26, 2010 by Kate McMurry

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Predictable, lacking real redemption
The idea of this show intrigued me: what would make a woman stand by her man despite his continuing betrayal? I felt much sympathy for Alicia and wanted to see how she would respond to her new life as a lawyer and how she would manage to rebuild her family. The first season was great. But now that I am half way through the second season I have decided to give up on the...
Published 7 months ago by Kim Craig


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194 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good wife with a lousy husband, June 26, 2010
This review is from: The Good Wife: Season 1 (DVD)
Never was a phrase, "torn from the headlines," more appropriate for a TV show. This dramatic tale of a wronged politician's wife brings instantly to mind famous couples such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, John and Elizabeth Edwards, Darlene and John Ensign, Jenny and Mark Sanford, and David and Wendy Vitter. But the circumstances that most closely resemble those used in "The Good Wife" are those of Silda and Eliot Spitzer. In 2008, Spitzer resigned as governor of New York after it was revealed that he had spent public funds on high-priced call girls. In his case, his resignation halted potential prosecution. Not so for Peter Florrick (Chris Noth, best known as Mr. Big, Carrie's lover in Sex and the City). In "The Good Wife," the husband of the titular "good wife," resigns as the state's attorney of Cook County, in the Chicago area of Illinois, after he's exposed for the same crime as Spitzer. But his successor gets Peter thrown in jail.

The series' opening scene involves Peter's wife, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies, ER), nobly, and humiliatingly, backing up Peter as he announces to the press he is resigning. Then the scene switches to six months in the future. Peter is in jail. Alicia has been forced to downsize from a big house to an apartment, and she's looking for a job. For her entire marriage, Alicia has sacrificed her education and professional talents in favor of supporting her husband's political career and caring for their two children, now young teenagers. But with Peter's needs now moot, and his income gone, it's time to dust off her law degree and seek a paid position.

Though she is forty-something and out of touch with the legal world, Alicia manages to use one of her own connections to snag a position as a junior associate at the firm of a friend from law school, Will Gardner (Josh Charles, best known for Sports Night). But the job has two major drawbacks. First, Will sees her as the one that got away, and Alicia is in no mood for that kind of complication. And, second, the job is not secure. She is in competition with another new junior associate, Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry, Rory's college boyfriend in Gilmore Girls), who is the very definition of a whiz kid. Worse, though Cary is extremely competitive, Alicia is naturally collegial and kind, and it goes totally against the grain for her to try and cut anyone out.

I was sold on this show from the opening scene of the pilot. Every actor in it is great, but the three main female actors are particular standouts. First and foremost, Margulies is wonderful. In fact, one might say she was made for this part. It requires some of the most difficult skills an actor can have, in my humble opinion, to subtly indicate a whole range of emotion on the face of a character who is dignified and reserved by nature. Margulies manages to accomplish this with astounding ease given the limitations of her character's personality. It would have been out of character, for example, for Alicia to employ standard "bits of business" that other actors use such as grabbing or shoving to show anger. Instead, she shows subtle nuances of expression. Most of all, Margulies reveals Alicia to us by displaying in every scene perhaps Alicia's most sterling virtue, a quiet empathy which connects her to and draws out every other character she comes in contact with. This quality coupled with keen observation and a brilliant, analytical mind are the main attributes that allow Alicia to not only succeed as a trial attorney but to solve mysteries surrounding the cases she takes on--allowing this series to be a fascinating combination of mystery, political, legal and relationship drama, all rolled into one. Most of all, Margulies's talent as an actor allows the audience to understand and believe in every choice that Alicia makes, no matter how difficult, from the loyalty she displays to the unfaithful husband she obviously has loved deeply for many years, to her firm but affectionate relationship with her children, to her tactful handling of her meddling mother-in-law, to her often morally ambiguous encounters with her co-workers and her clients.

The second amazing woman in this series is the ever marvelous Christine Baranski (Mamma Mia! and Cybill) as Diane Lockhart, a co-partner with Alicia's boss Will. It does not surprise me that a comic actor as phenomenal as Baranski is also an outstanding dramatic actor. Most actors seem to agree that doing comedy is so difficult that drama seems comparatively easy. In this series, Baranski's character Diane has a complex relationship with Alicia and has plenty of juicy plot lines of her own.

The third female actor whose performance I greatly admire is Archie Panjaba (the heroine's older sister in Bend It Like Beckham), who plays the enigmatic Kalinda Sharma. Kalinda rather rapidly develops what seems to be a strong friendship with Alicia, demonstrating an amazing amount of helpfulness and loyalty to her. But Kalinda's background and true intentions toward Alicia remain intriguingly unclear throughout the whole first season.

Among the male actors, my personal favorite is the fabulously versatile Scottish actor Alan Cumming (Glitch the Scarecrow in Tin Man and Nightcrawler in X-Men). He plays Peter's cunning political adviser, Eli Gold, and this role is the dead opposite of the odd, quirky types he's most famous for. Eli is conservative and muted, almost benignly invisible in his presentation to the general public. But underneath he seethes with passion and is a powerful, back-room player in the world of politics. His relationship with Alicia is one of the most dynamic in the series and his role in one of the key decisions she makes at the climax of season 1 is absolutely pitch perfect. And, by the way, his American accent is perfect.

I personally adore dramas that present the protagonist with moral dilemmas every week that are filled with shades of gray. This series abounds in that dynamic. I also much prefer dramas that have two clear story tracks, the protagonist's professional life (in this series a weekly legal case for Alicia to pursue, with a frequent mystery thrown into the mix as I mentioned above), and the protagonist's personal life. Because of Peter's scandal, there are plenty of juicy sinkholes for Alicia to inadvertently step into as she weaves her way through a landscape of seemingly endless people who want to use her or abuse her because of her connection to her husband. This thread in the series has allowed it to avoid falling into the aggravating pattern of so many dramatic TV series of melodramatic emphasis on the personal failings of the protagonist and her close family members in ways that often turn that protagonist from sympathetic to pathetic and annoying. I am greatly hoping this series continues to avoid that pitfall for many years to come.
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103 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creme de la creme!, June 26, 2010
This review is from: The Good Wife: Season 1 (DVD)
"The Good Wife" ranks at the very top, in the cream of the cream, of the best television series ever created. Such a strong statement needs verification. Just what makes this weekly series so powerful?

1. Julianne Margulies, foremost, plays the "good wife" in perfect pitch. The wife wronged by her successful, ambitious, attractive, but absolutely corrupt husband (the gorgeous Chris Noth) as a fallen, disreputable district attorney, you know, the kind voters love to put back into office. Then there's the sex scandal that horribly embarrasses both his "good wife" and children? What is her reaction to his scandal? How does she cope?

2. Her education as an attorney, no, not just an attorney, but an insightful, resourceful, brilliant attorney, not only gets her a job quickly, but proves she deserves it.

3. Kalinda, the private investigator is the biggest mystery on the show. Just whose side is she on? Just whom has she been intimate with? She represents the ultimate pragmatist, the bottom-liner. She gets my vote as the most mysterious and intriguing of all the characters!

4. Add the mother-in-law, who is helping out while son tries to get out of jail. Viewers eventually discover that she is one of those controlling mothers who push their children onto the success track at any cost.

5. One strand involves the growing attraction between Margulies and her male boss whom she knew in college. Although not the gorgeous, virile type (like her husband), he represents the intelligent, successful, but perpetual bachelor, one to be wary of.

6. Which also includes office politics and two more fascinating characters: the driven woman partner (whose own love interest is one of the pings later described) and the young male attorney also vying for the one slot that both the Margulies character and he fiercely want.

6. Another Subplot involves her son and a cougar-like older girl intent on using the boy for her own devious plans.

Now wrap all this back story into the various strands that it takes to create a tightly woven plot, utterly fascinating, utterly unpredictable. Ping! What?! Yes, something came loose. What is it? Something that makes this series so gripping, so unexpected, so dramatic that viewers are on the edge of their seats, expectant, breathless. Frankly, I've been stunned any number of times.

Addition: Two days after publishing this review, I realized I had covered only one-half of the program. The personal lives of the characters make up one-half, the other half concerns the weekly trial (after all, this is partially a courtroom drama). Each case is unique and equally fascinating. Just as in real life, each case is not necessarily resolved for the viewer's total satisfaction. Sometimes the viewer--and the attorney--don't really know if the client is truly innocent. This holding to what actually happens also makes this series a winner--provocative, perspicacious, gripping. Verisimilitude is practiced here.

"The Good Wife" is what television should be about: quality of the highest order. This is not a series a viewer can simply tune into with the mistaken notion of joining the story. It's too complicated, too nuanced for such a cavalier attitude. That's what makes "The Good Wife: The First Season" so essential--it provides a full appreciation of this excellent and outstanding drama! Frankly, my viewing mode is in idle for the summer, barely containing a great desire to discover what in the world will happen next!
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78 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Is She Going Through? Show Answers This Question, April 12, 2010
This review is from: The Good Wife: Season 1 (DVD)
Update in late August 2010: It was just announced that Michael J. Fox is coming aboard for some episodes of this show's second season to play an attorney. He recently won an Emmy for doing the same on RESCUE ME. I am very excited about this as I think he will be a very good foil for these characters. My original review follows.

This show never ignores its central premise: what is it like being the wife of one of these political figures who gets involved in a lurid sex scandal. Julia Marguiles does a very good job answering that question week in and week out. Chris Noth plays her sex scandal husband. Some viewers know him from SEX AND THE CITY while others know him from LAW & ORDER shows, both the original and CRIMINAL INTENT. He also does a very good job because you never like or trust him. His role is getting meatier as the weeks go on and that is all to the good. I frankly would be tempted to just dump him in her place but she holds on for a variety of reasons, the most compelling being her two teen children who are already deeply conflicted by their father's behavior. He starts out the season in prison and the action steps up when he is allowed to come home under house arrest, with an ankle bracelet. She is left as the main wage earner and she is a very good attorney in her own right. At her firm, she is surrounded by a partner, who is clearly smitten by her, another partner who is the reigning superwoman, and a woman private investigator for the firm, who is fast becoming one of the breakout stars from the series. I think this show is well worth your giving it a try.
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31 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars subtle, fascinating performances in this lurid age of scandal, April 23, 2010
This review is from: The Good Wife: Season 1 (DVD)
Margolis gives a fascinating, very sympathetic performance as a smart, accomplished woman, a more-than-competent lawyer, loving mother, accomodating daughter-in-law, and betrayed but tenuously hopeful wife. She is a model of self-restraint, self-respect, and compassion. You cannot help but watch her face every second she is on the screen. Noth is the ambitious, attractive, self-indulgent, man-of-the-people politician who wants to come back home after a very public number of sexual and possibly ethical missteps have landed him in jail and alienated his family. More than that, he desperately wants to regain the trust and love of all the people he betrayed. The writing is superb! I can't wait to see what will happen every Tuesday. The private investigator is indeed a riveting character: whose side is she on? has SHE had her own affair with Noth? is she loyal to the good wife? what's up with those 6 inch heeled thigh high leather boots? The only problem I've had with the show is the frequent mid-season replays. But if this helps them keep up their excellent writing, I'll be patient. If you couldn't already tell, I highly recommend this!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprising show, June 1, 2013
By 
Woodbug (Ashland Virginia) - See all my reviews
I have not been interested in watching this show primarily due to the title "the Good Wife" , sounds too much like a soap. I finally decided to give it a try on my IPad with Amazon prime, figuring I had nothing to lose. I was was surprised to discover that this show was actually well written and very entertaining! Just goes to show that you can't judge a show by a stupid title.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Predictable, lacking real redemption, January 18, 2014
The idea of this show intrigued me: what would make a woman stand by her man despite his continuing betrayal? I felt much sympathy for Alicia and wanted to see how she would respond to her new life as a lawyer and how she would manage to rebuild her family. The first season was great. But now that I am half way through the second season I have decided to give up on the show. I enjoy all different kinds of entertainment, many of which do not conform to my political and spiritual beliefs. This show definitely has a both a liberal and atheist slant, of which I could overlook except that there doesn't seem to be any redemption for any of the characters. I want to root for the characters, especially for Alicia, but I am afraid the writers are going to take her down some dark morally ambiguous path to which there is no life. I wish she'd just divorce her husband and be with Will if that's what she really wants, but I fear the writers will have them start an illicet affair and there will be more sleepy and shady back room deals made all for the sake of winning the case. I don't understand the motives of the lawyers, is it the money or truth that guide s them? I suspect their primary passions are to win, which they so predictably do in every episode.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good show, June 5, 2013
I recently got hooked on the newest season and wanted to see where it all began. The procedural aspect can be a bit frustrating at times because I really want to know what's going on with the characters not the cases. The guest stars are great and there are moments of humor that really break things up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall very engaging, June 3, 2013
By 
Minette (Los Angeles, CA, US) - See all my reviews
Great acting and judicial storylines however the ongoing legal and jail time of Alicia's husband Peter got a little old and convoluted by the end of the season. And the Calinda character is becoming too unknowable and caricature-like - we need to see more of how she got to be the way she is and why she is so hardened. A little romance and trust would be an interesting development for her character, IMO. Also the storyline with the kids at home, covering up stuff from their mom is getting a bit old as well. But good show overall!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful surprise!, September 5, 2011
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This review is from: The Good Wife: Season 1 (DVD)
I was rolling my eyes everytime the preview for this show was aired. I refused to watch it. I couldn't stand the thought of a woman standing by her man like Hilary Clinton did for Bill. However, a reviewer for TV Guide who consistently gives good reviews to shows I like kept promoting it, so this summer I rented it at the video store. I am really glad I did. WOW! The sublties the lead actress is able to portray in just a look is amazing. All that supressed rage is just there below the surface. The law show's supporting cast is also always great to watch, too. There are a lot of favorite actors from other shows that appear on this show. Although the Good Wife is the star and the main reason I watch, the other players on the show add to the depth of the show. Alan Cummings joining the cast was a nice bonus, too. Now I'm dying to watch season 2 before the next season airs.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars story line lost interest, April 28, 2013
I could not get over how quickly I lost interest, given the many elements that initially drew me to the story: credible actress, husband thrown in jail under damning circumstances that maybe were trumped up - or not-then the whole theme seemed a house of cars that collapsed in slow dull motion:
she loves him but is angry at him,- ok - reasonable:
her children seem to be the story writer's pliant toys to prevent important truth to reach her - good kids don't talk to the mother about disturbing graphic pictures of their dad with another woman - pictures in their hands? - not believable;
, story previews showing her ethics and morality getting compromised by an interest in a man who is not her husbans? a bit disappointing and painful.
I had to let it all go. I am a lawyer - it probably did not help that her lawyering skills seemed based in fantasy and not even the edges of reality. HOWEVER - this was my experience - and your experience may be different and quite enjoyable and of course valid. Give the show twenty minutes- see what you think.
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The Good Wife: Season 1
The Good Wife: Season 1 by Julianna Margulies (DVD - 2010)
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