The Good Wife: The Second Season
Paramount // Unrated // $62.99 // September 13, 2011
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 19, 2011
Highly Recommended
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While it was initially promoted heavily as a drama about infidelity, "The Good Wife" is more of a legal drama - a genre that's cooled off in recent years after a ton of legal dramas were put on the airwaves. The conflict between the good wife, or Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) and her husband Peter (Chris Noth), is central to developing the character conflicts that drive Alicia's actions, but the majority of the hour long drama is centered around the courtroom.

In Season One, Alicia returned to practicing law after her husband is caught in a sexual/political scandal and sent to prison. The first season worked well creating a balance between Alicia's personal life as she tried to come to terms with her husband's wrongdoings, and finding her footing in the courtroom after years away from it.

While "The Good Wife" could have veered towards melodramatic, it managed early on to offer an unexpected look into the life of a politician's wife with teenage children and something to prove at work. The writing is in part to thank for the series standing on its own, rather than giving in to formula. With compelling and complex characters, "The Good Wife" got on the right track and managed to stay there.

With season two out on DVD, "The Good Wife" picks up where it left off and this season carries even more punch. In season two, "The Good Wife" starts to feel like more than a legal-family drama. Perhaps it was all along, but as the series progress it grows stronger and with that strength it begins to reveal layers in not only the character's lives (flaws, graces and all), but also in the legal and political system. Season two storylines have a lot going on: Peter tries to clean up his public image as he runs for state attorney alongside his slick campaign manger, Eli Gold (Alan Cumming), Alicia tries to understand her growing feelings for Will (Josh Charles), and the firm's private investigator Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) has a big secret she's been hiding that will be revealed before the end of season two.

Season two offers several memorable episodes. What makes them so enjoyable is the fact that, like in the season opener "Taking Control," a lot happens but the episodes never feel rushed or overcrowded with unnecessary scenes and dialogue. "Taking Control" sets up the season for several turns it will eventually take. Michael J. Fox guest stars as Louis Canning in three episodes and does a fantastic job portraying his character who uses his disability to his advantage in the courtroom. By the end of season two, some relationships start to fray and fall apart (Kalinda and Alicia's friendship reaches a turning point in "Foreign Affairs"), while the relationship between Alicia and Will starts to take off in the season finale "Closing Arguments."

With Ridley Scott and Tony Scott as producers, "The Good Wife" has a certain feel that helps it stand apart from other series. The slick cinematography does a wonderful job of capturing the scope of a moment or the intimacy of a character's emotions, and there are slow pans that linger just long enough to evoke a reaction from the audience. In addition to the feel of the series, the writing, and the directing that helps hold the series together, there's the cast, which has terrific chemistry with one another. The entire ensemble delivers performances that certainly help the show earn the critical applause it's earned thus far. Panjabi is fantastic as Kalinda and Margulies' controlled and believable performance as Alicia is well deserving of her 2011 Emmy win.

Season 2:
2-01 28/Sep/10 Taking Control: Picking up just as we left off, Alicia is about to join Peter on the dais as Will calls. Eli grabs the phone and gets Alicia to take Peter's hand. Will leaves two messages: the first saying he understands they should just drop it, then the second saying no, I love you, and I'm not dropping this.

2-02 05/Oct/10 Double Jeopardy: Dissatisfied that Alicia wins a not guilty verdict for a young Army Reservist accused of murdering his wife, Cary has the case re-tried in military court.

2-03 12/Oct/10 Breaking Fast: For the first time, we see SLG go squarely on the offensive with prosecutors, filing a multimillion-dollar malicious prosecution suit against the S.A.'s office for ruining an innocent defendant's life.

2-04 19/Oct/10 Cleaning House: Alicia once again faces the impossibly sweet young Nancy Crozier, only this time she's our co-counsel and - supposedly - on the same side of the case. A third candidate is setting the stage to enter the State's Attorney race.

2-05 26/Oct/10 VIP Treatment: This episode begins right where the last one ends, with young DA Wendy Scott-Carr announcing her intent to run for State's Attorney at a gala dinner in front of Alicia, Peter, and the LGB partners.

2-06 09/Nov/10 Poisoned Pill: LGB crosses swords with a brilliant disabled attorney named Louis Canning who is cynically deployed by a desperate pharmaceutical company to battle the claim that their new billion-dollar antidepressant caused the grisly murder-suicide of our client's parents.

2-07 16/Nov/10 Bad Girls: After receiving a critical peer review from new partner Derrick Bond, Alicia is saddled with the DUI case of teen star Sloan Burchfield, who ran her Escalade into a pole after a night of underage drinking.

2-08 23/Nov/10 On Tap: LGB takes on the case of Matthew Wade, an alderman who has been indicted for taking campaign contributions in exchange for getting a mosque built on the site of an abandoned housing project.

2-09 14/Dec/10 Nine Hours: Ten years ago, Carter Wright was accused of starting a fire that killed his ex-wife. He's been on death row ever since. When LGB gets a cryptic call about the case from a courthouse clerk, they realize that something must have been overlooked by his previous counsel and they have less than 8 hours before the deadline to file an appeal.

2-10 11/Jan/11 Breaking Up: The Diane/Will conflict finally comes to a head as well when Will (via Blake's investigation) learns that Diane is planning to start her own firm and take many of their lawyers and clients with her.

2-11 18/Jan/11 Two Courts: While defending Scott Bauer, an internet spam distributor accused of murdering his father, Alicia and Will are stymied by hostile judge Edward Weldon due to an altercation he had with Will on the basketball court.

2-12 01/Feb/11 Silly Season: This episode will be from Cary's point of view, as the state attorney's office prosecutes Joey Church for the murder of Jay Winston.

2-13 08/Feb/11 Real Deal: When a miscarriage/infertility cluster in a suburban neighborhood appears to have been caused by poorly disposed pesticides, Alicia and her team pound the pavement rounding up clients in a possible multi-million dollar class action lawsuit. But they're not alone. Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) returns, this time representing his own rival firm also looking to represent the neighborhood.

2-14 15/Feb/11 Net Worth: Will takes on the defamation case of wunderkind internet billionaire Patric Edelstein, the 25-year-old founder of [Alicia] finally confronts Will about the voicemail, but he tells her that all he said was that she made the right decision staying with Peter.

2-15 22/Feb/11 Silver Bullet: Kurt McVeigh, the right-wing ballistics expert with whom Diane has an on-again off-again relationship, is on trial for testimony he gave in a murder trial.

2-16 01/Mar/11 Great Firewall: LGB is suing a social networking website on behalf Shen Yuan, a Chinese dissident who was jailed and tortured for five years by his government. But when Alicia sees Patric Edelstein, (the internet billionaire from 214) in the office, she begins to suspect that the firm has an ulterior motive for taking Shen's case.

2-17 22/Mar/11 Ham Sandwich: Alicia and Will must convince the court that their client is fit to be a father despite his underworld dealings or he could lose his family for good. Meanwhile, Kalinda is subpoenaed by a grand jury to answer for a variety of crimes she's committed in the past.

2-18 29/Mar/11 Killer Song: Alicia and Diane help Eli attempt to secure citizenship for Natalie, but their case hits a snag when Natalie's father is wrongfully arrested and threatened with deportation.

2-19 05/Apr/11 Wrongful Termination: Opposing counsel is once again Louis Canning, this time taking the case over from former LG partner turned rival Jonas Stern.

2-20 12/Apr/11 Foreign Affairs: Lockhart/Gardner represents a small drilling contractor in a contract dispute against a major oil conglomerate. Meanwhile, Peter and Wendi are neck-and-neck in the polls leading up to Election Day. In order to win over the people, Eli tells Alicia that she must enter the fray and show her support for Peter in a televised interview.

2-21 03/May/11 In Sickness: Lockhart/Gardner nemesis Patti Nyholm returns, this time defending a hospital in a liver transplant case. The case takes an unexpected turn when Nyholm turns the tables - she's been wrongfully terminated by her firm due to her pregnancy, and she wants to hire Will and Alicia to take her case. Alicia takes action, throwing Peter out of their home.

2-22 10/May/11 Getting Off: Lockhart/Gardner defends the operator of an adultery website against doe-eyed prosecutor Nancy Crozier. But what seems like a simple civil case turns criminal when Crozier works with Cary to pin a murder on L/G's client as well. No longer on speaking terms with Alicia, Kalinda contemplates leaving the firm.

2-23 17/May/11 Closing Arguments: The jury is already in deliberations when a shocking piece of evidence is anonymously mailed to Lockhart/Gardner. Eli is already thinking about the next race: Peter Florrick for Governor of Illinois. And for Alicia and Will, a sixteen year run of bad timing may finally come to an end.


VIDEO: Paramount gives "The Good Wife" a great presentation, as the show looks solid throughout the proceedings. Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the presentation looks slick and crisp, with pleasing clarity and small object detail. A few traces of pixelation were spotted, but the presentation otherwise looked pristine, with colors that looked warm and pure, with no smearing or other faults.

SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was just fine, remaining dialogue-driven throughout much of the running time. Dialogue sounded clean and well-recorded.

"Season 1 DVD Release Party": A brief (under two minutes) look at the red carpet before the release party. There are some interviews with the cast on the red carpet discussing the show.

"A Conversation with the Kings": This two-part special feature where series creator/writers Michelle King and Robert King discuss making "The Good Wife." They talk about the topics often included in each episode, creating multidimensional characters, guest star Michael J. Fox, and the character Kalinda.

"Alicia Florrick: Real Deal Inside The Episode": - this feature has three parts that can be played as all or separately. In the first part, "Breaking the Case" the cast discuss their characters and their approach to portraying them, while Michelle King and Robert King talk about the characters' growth throughout the seasons. With focus on the episode "Real Deal," the discussion leans towards writing the script and working with Michael J. Fox. There's a nice focus on several of the writers and part of their process working together. The second part, "Trials of Production," is an interesting look at the production side of making "The Good Wife" from script to filming in a short period of time. The third part, "Post-Mortem" is a look at what happens after an episode finishes filming, from editing, to the executive producers viewing it, to music placement, sounds and so forth. All three parts are equally informative and worth a look for fans of the series.

"Alan Cumming's Videos": there are six videos filmed by Alan Cumming for the CBS website. Each video offers a behind-the-scenes look at "The Good Wife."

"An Evening with the Good Wife": The cast and crew of "The Good Wife" are in a panel where they answer questions.

"Campaign Music Videos": Three campaign music videos, "Stiff Sentence," "Peter Is The Man," and "Wendy Scott-Carr" are also included.

"Deleted Scenes": There are several deleted scenes throughout the DVD.

Final Thoughts: "The Good Wife" could maybe dial down some of the promotional bits ("Wife is Complicated" - oy vey), but the series itself is well-acted, tense and very well written. Recommended.

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