7 Ways How The Good Wife Got Its Groove Back This Season
Julianna Margulies | Photo Credits: Jeffrey Neira/CBS
Nick who? That's what fans of The Good Wife are — thankfully — asking after a recent string of strong episodes have erased the unpleasant first half of Season 4 from memory. In September, the legal drama (airing Sundays at 9/8c) suffered a rare critical misfire when it introduced Kalinda's (Archie Panjabi) cold and abrasive estranged husband Nick (Marc Warren), who was not popular with the fans. No irreparable damage was done, but for a show that was regularly in critics' top 10 lists during its first three seasons, the negative attention was surprising. Producers caught on and quickly expunged Nick. Less than four months later, the show is stronger than ever. So how'd they do it? Here's seven ways:
1. New pairings! After four seasons, it's usually hard to imagine any fresh combos coming out of the show's nine-piece ensemble. But then along came Diane (Christine Baranski) and Peter (Chris Noth). Sure, they've only done two scenes together, but both packed a punch and the most recent may also hold major consequences for Will, Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and the entire Lockhart/Gardner firm. As much as we don't want work-wife Diane and work-husband Will (Josh Charles) to break up, Diane would look so good in judges' robes! And then she would have a lot more free time to hang with her Marlboro Man (Gary Cole, who returns this week).
2. Cutthroat Cary! Cary (Matt Czuchry) was welcomed back to Lockhart/Gardner with open arms at the end of Season 3 after almost two years of playing for the opposite team as a prosecutor in the State's Attorney's Office. But other than his endearing bromance with the firm's court-appointed trustee Clark Hayden (Nathan Lane), Cary seemed to be little more than some extra window dressing in Alicia's crowded office. Thankfully, making Alicia an equity partner lit a new fire under a very bitter Cary and watching him plot and scheme his way to success both in the firm and as a possible solo act has been captivating. Add to that his evolving (and possibly, maybe newly sexual) relationship with Kalinda, and Cary is finally the man we always wanted him to be.
3. Returning favorites! It's painful to admit, but a legal drama this serialized and this far into its run is not going to attract a wealth of new viewers no matter who the big name guest star of the week is (we're looking at you, Michael J. Fox). So instead of trying to focus on polarizing new additions like Nick and Maddie (Maura Tierney), the show is at its best when it finds ways to utilize fan-favorite recurring characters like the scattered-but-stealth Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston) and the mysterious but captivating wife killer Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker, who also returns this week). These characters have not only established delicious backstories over time, but they are also big rewards to the show's very loyal following.
4. Stockard Channing! Apologies to Amanda Peet and Kyle MacLachlan, but of all the impressive recurring thesps added to the show this year, Channing takes the prize. It only took the introduction of one parent — sadly, we also learned this season that Alicia's father passed away years earlier — to fill in the blanks on a lot of questions about Alicia, and also bring out surprising new sides of the good wife. The best part about Alicia's free-spirited, uncensored mama? She is hilarious. Finally! We know where Owen (Dallas Roberts) gets it from. Please don't ever leave Chicago again, Veronica.