Third-episode verdict: The Good Wife

The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 2

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, CBS
In the UK: Acquired by Channel 4

As you may recall from my review of its first episode, The Good Wife is latest attempt to give Julianna Margulies a star vehicle in which she plays a lawyer. It’s good enough that it’s already been picked up for a full season – and for me to have stuck with it this long.

I have to say it’s actually quite good. Margulies is engrossing. We’re seeing things we don’t often see in legal shows – the behind-the-scenes politics, the strategies of negotiations, networking, what goes into pre-trials, actually making sure you have a job, and so on – which makes it intellectually more interesting than most such shows. 

It’s also as much about what it’s like to have had your partner cheat on you as it is about legal work. All three episodes have seen Margulies having problems with trust, and dealing with the effect on her kids and her friends, as well as on her new career. 

The slight tendency to crudely make the feminist sub-text become text has been replaced with something subtler, and there are no real moustache-twirling men of evil for Margulies to have obvious fights with: even her rival for the one job at her company turns out to be quite good in his own way.

It doesn’t quite sparkle yet: Julianna’s PI partner in investigation has no real charisma, Margulies is quite subdued in her performance and its slower pace does have the disadvantage that you don’t feel drawn in.

But it’s still a good entry in the legal drama stakes and certainly one of the best of the new shows of the season: not quite serial, yet not quite standalone, and with some intelligence as well as heart. I’m not absolutely recommending it, but you might enjoy it.

Carusometer rating: 2
Rob’s prediction: Will last at least a season, potentially more if something more exciting doesn’t smash it in the ratings.

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