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

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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 DVD 09/14/10 – Glee, The Good Wife, Fringe and The League

The pick for the week is not anything new but the Blu-ray debut of a classic: The Twlight Zone: Season 1 Blu-ray, reviewed on my blog here. I also featured one of my favorite shows in another DVD/Blu-ray release: Sons of Anarchy: Season Two, reviewed here. But this a month dominated by new shows and network productions rolling out as the fall TV season begins. Here are a few of the highlights from this week.

"The Good Wife" Julianna Margulies

Neither nighttime soap opera nor tabloid exploitation, The Good Wife: The First Season (Paramount) is a classic legal drama reframed with a ripped-from-the-headlines twist. Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick is the publicly loyal but privately ambivalent wife of a disgraced Chicago politician (Chris Noth), who resigns in the face of a sex scandal. “Six months later,” Alicia goes back to work as the junior attorney at a firm run by an old friend and colleague (Josh Charles) while her husband (now in prison) fights his conviction for corruption. The cases are pretty conventional, what with a firm that (with exceptions) manages to represent only innocent clients and consistently Perry Mason-style last-minute saves with evidence that reveals the true culprits (and, more often than not, humiliates the man who took down Alicia’s husband). What makes them interesting is how the cases reflect back on her struggle with her marriage and her loyalty to a man who wants to rebuild his political career and needs her support. Noth makes the husband a wonderful set of contradictions and questions and Margulies grounds the courtroom tactics and law-office politics with a compelling personal journey as her husband tries to rebuild his political career even as his appeal is barely underway and she has to decide if she trusts him anymore.

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