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The Morning After: The Better Wife

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CBS

CBS

When the pilot of The Good Wife aired last week, I wondered whether the show would continue to focus on its ongoing story, about Alicia and the aftermath of her husband’s sex scandal, or if it would mainly become a law-case-related-to-Alicia’s-personal-situation-of-the-week. I still suspect the show is too much of a law procedural to become a regular for me, but the second episode strongly followed up and built on the pilot.

What I liked best about the second episode of The Good Wife is that the characters are already proving complex enough to surprise us, rather than fall into repetitive roles. Diane, who was something of a heavy in the pilot, here acts on principle in wanting to take the rape case; Will, who was Alicia’s advocate in the pilot, starts out as the voice of skepticism here. As for Alicia, she also resists easy prediction: the obvious choice would be for her either to bond with the stripper (as a woman who purports to have been a powerful man’s victim) or suspect her (seeing the similarity between her and her husband’s toe-suckee). Instead, she empathizes with her but at first advises her to take the settlement. (Also, we see that the show is going to let Alicia lose cases—sort of, since her civil-case loss forces what will probably be a successful prosecution.)

Meanwhile, the show is turning out to be a pretty solid law drama in the courtroom. In particular, I like the emphasis on the role, and the character, of the judges in each particular case, so that each trial is not just two-sided combat but an unpredictable three-way dynamic in which the judges’ on-the-fly decisions from the bench are critical. That said, I suspect this show will become like House for me: enough of a procedural that I won’t feel compelled to watch every week, but well-executed enough that I’ll enjoy it when I do. How do you rule?

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