Videophiled TVD: ‘The Good Wife: The Fifth Season’

The Good Wife: The Fifth Season (Paramount, DVD) is the rare network drama that has found its voice and improved over its run, delivering both a clever and engaging legal show with cases and twists and offbeat characters that rival David E. Kelly’s show at their best, and an adult drama with real stakes and consequences for every choice, personal and professional. The professional complications come right away as Alicia (Julianna Margulies) plotting to leave Lockhart Gardner and start a new firm with fellow associate Cary (Matt Czerny), a secretive scheme that turns into a war with former colleagues Will (Josh Charles) and Diane (Christine Baranski). The split forces Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) to take sides and creates tension between the firm and Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), who is still Alicia’s husband if only in name and public appearance.

Margulies remains the center of the show but this is an ensemble with an expanding universe of characters—this season introduces mob-connected lawyer Damian Boyle, a new hire for the firm, and brings back Nathan Lane as a new colleague in the fledgling firm, Carrie Preston as an eccentric attorney, and Michael J. Fox as cunning rival Louis Canning who takes an interest in Lockhart/Gardner—but Charles dominates as Will, who goes on the offensive with a ferocity previously unseen in his character, while Baranski finds herself in a crisis of her own. For fans of the show, this is a significant season due to a dramatic death. A lot of dramas would play it for shock value but creators Michelle and Robert King work the event into the fabric of the series and the show spends a good part of the season exploring the way the characters deal with the loss personally and professionally.

22 episodes on six discs on DVD, with two featurettes (including an in-depth look at the key episode where a major character is killed), a music video, and deleted scenes. No streaming option yet beyond Digital VOD.

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TV on Disc: ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent – The Seventh Year’

Law & Order: Criminal Intent – The Seventh Year (Shout! Factory) is the final season of this incarnation of the franchise to feature Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan, the character he created on the original “Law & Order” and resurrected in the fifth season of this spin-off to give star Vincent D’Onofrio a break from the schedule. It’s also one of the best seasons. Alicia Witt steps in as Noth’s “not a people person” partner for five episodes (stepping in for Julianna Nicholson while she was on leave) and Noth goes head-to-head with an unscrupulous, possibly criminal DA (Leslie Hope) who puts her career above justice. And that’s not even the season finale; it pits D’Onofrio’s Goren against his nemesis Nicole Wallace (Olivia d’Abo) in a case that involves the murder of his brother (Tony Goldwyn) and the machinations of his mentor (John Glover), which nearly drives him over the edge.

Kathryn Erbe is the show’s quiet strength as Goren’s partner, a sharp investigator who plays counterbalance in social situations, and Eric Bogosian is the unit Captain, who understands the way power works in the department. 22 episodes on five discs. DVD only, no supplements.

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