Through the exposure to it by my wife, I have a strange affinity for the CBS show The Good Wife, so much so that I've reviewed the last three seasons of it for DVD Talk, with varying degrees of anticipation. And after a strangely bizarre end to Season Six, the show creators Robert and Michelle King declared Season Seven to be the last, so the question became whether it went out with a bang or a whimper.
When last we left the show, the proverbial good wife, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies, ER) had recently been ousted from a campaign for State's Attorney in Illinois, and was in the beginning phase of looking to start her own firm. Making this decision doubly tough is that her once philandering (and imprisoned) husband Peter (Chris Noth, Sex and the City) was looking to be attached to a separate campaign as a Vice President, which put Alicia reluctantly back in the public spotlight. While she had this public face her private one was in the beginnings of a law firm with Lucca (Cush Jumbo, The Inbetweeners Movie), who she met while working public defender cases. She also hired a private investigator in Jason (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Watchmen), who she found personal comfort with.
Along with that overarching story through the season, and would appear to be the case in most long-running shows with a final season, every player of varying import returns to deliver their own unique goodbye.
There are some new ones who appear who are of consequence, the other notable one aside from Morgan is Margo Martindale (Justified), who plays a campaign manager designed to elevate Peter's campaign, to the objection of his longtime friend and manager Eli (Alan Cumming, X2). Martindale's presence on the show is reassuring and her performance calculating, and at least if the show was going to go out, it was on some sort of declarative terms. But the cavalcade of memorable guests (Carrie Preston) and guest stars (Michael J. Fox) pop in for one last turn in their characters, giving us all one last laugh, cringe, whatever, including a returning cast member that was welcome in his nostalgic return.
And while the "This is Your Life" of The Good Wife was welcomed, whatever it was trying to do with some of the larger business at hand was a reminder of why it was dying on the vine. Sure, Jumbo's presence was welcomed, but it was basically a like for like replacement of Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), who left at the end of last season. And Alicia's battles with Lockhart, Agos & Lee were at times nonsensical. Along with reducing Diane (Christine Baranski, The Bounty Hunter) and Cary (Matt Chuchry, Gilmore Girls) to essentially bit players, it introduced David Lee (Zach Grenier, Zodiac) to an elevated position which, while nice for his character, came across as hackneyed.
Then you have the matter of the ending. I won't spoil it for anyone who was still waiting to binge the episodes or anything, but I didn't see it when it was first broadcast, for reasons I don't recall, which was a change as well, an old, I'm home on Sunday nights. My wife told me about it afterwards and she felt insulted by it, almost because the show was carrying this emotional dilemma for Alicia and she made a choice that she disagreed with. But moreover, it decided to end on some sort of circular note the Kings enjoyed in the pilot. And in watching it on my own, I appreciated that they wanted to stick with such a thing, but in doing that, and de-emphasizing more popular storytelling choices, it seemed to get stuck in the weeds and didn't get out. Something that I'll note happened far more often than not in the last two seasons of the show.
When it was on, there were few shows better at doing what they wanted to do than The Good Wife. But, as they had done in the past, the Kings attempted to outthink the room and thus diminished whatever momentum the show or their characters had, and few ways were summed up better than the last several episodes of the series. For most fun experiences it is hard to see them go but fun to watch them leave, but the Kings successfully proved the opposite so many times near the end of the show, in retrospect I gotta wonder if Josh Charles may be a modern-day Ted McGinley, leaving a show in mythological disarray that it couldn't recover.
The final 22 episodes of The Good Wife are split over six discs and presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and are loyal to their original broadcast format. The show has a natural look to it with little in the way of edge enhancement or image haloing. Colors and flesh tones are replicated faithfully and while the black levels tend to fluctuate, it generally stays true to the source material.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround for all episodes. As I've generally alluded to before, this is a dialogue-driven show set in a court room or legal offices generally, so there isn't a lot to jump up and down about from a dynamic range standpoint. Dialogue sounds good, directional effects and channel panning is present and subtly placed, the subwoofer doesn't get a workout. For what the source material is, the discs sound fine.
Deleted and extended scenes are on each of the discs and on 17 of the episodes (32, 49:40). Most of the scenes are forgettable, though there are some extensions of courtroom sequences and on the campaign episode which are fun to watch. Otherwise, skippable, and almost hard to find. The remaining extras are on Disc Six, starting with "All Good Things" (25:18), where the Kings and Margulies talk about the decision to shutter, and on the character motivations through the seasons. They show clips of the memorable moments, and the new characters in the season, along with what everyone will miss. Content wise, it's in line with similar pieces on the show's DVDs in past seasons. "Final Score" (9:38) examines the music, along with the intent and process of same. Footage from the Finale Party on the red carpet follows (2:44) and "It's a Wrap" (3:28) gets more into the favorite moments of the cast. The gag reel (4:20) starts out promising in the first minute then becomes all instrumental, making it a disappointment, kind of like the season!
While The Good Wife was fun at times and downright superb in others, the show's creators and star made some poor story choices in the last couple of years that led to its demise, culminated in a finale that was disappointing and strange. Technically the discs are good and the extras are OK, but if you're looking for good dramatic television to watch, I think The Good Wife dissention into storytelling nonsense was encapsulated in its final season.