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September 28, 2010 at 12:00 PM EDT

The new season of The Good Wife picked up right where last season left off: With Julianna Margulies’ Alicia torn between two guys: her husband, Peter (Chris Noth), beckoning her to join him at his side at a press conference, and Will (Josh Charles) phoning her to try and fan the flames of romance.

It was a nice little cliffhanger, but it was resolved with a quick slickness that didn’t really resolve anything. We saw Will leave two messages on Alicia’s cell, the second of which (containing Will’s “I love you”) was trashed by Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold, who didn’t want an Alicia-Will affair to mar his client’s political career. So neither Alicia nor Will knows what the other is thinking, again.

The show plunged into changes in the workplace. FlashForward‘s Michael Ealy has joined the cast as new partner Derrick Bond, and he’s brought along Friday Night Lights‘ Scott Porter as Blake, a new investigator-partner for Archie Panjabi’s Kalinda. As a Good Wife fan who’s been very content to continue charting the ebb and flow of Alicia’s marriage and to follow her lines of reasoning in court cases, I would have been happy for this sort of stuff to have waited a few episodes. I feel as though the show is robbing me of time I want to spend watching Alicia and Peter circle their damaged marriage warily, I always enjoy more screen-time for Alan Cumming, and I wanted to see how Matt Czuchry’s Cary was going to settle in in the prosecutor’s office run by Titus Welliver’s petulant Glenn Childs.

My first impression of Derrick Bond is that he’s a pushy annoyance, but that’s what the character is designed to do — push the buttons of Will, Christine Baranski’s Diane, and Alicia (to whom he’s become a self-appointed “mentor”). And as much as I like Scott Porter, this first episode made Blake seem like a smart, probably decent guy who’s just going to get in Kalinda’s way.

I’ll try to be patient. But the new guys were superfluous to the best aspects of an otherwise first-rate episode. Chris Sarandon was terrific as the haughty judge who compelled Alicia to take a case working with a defendant who wanted to represent himself in a murder trial. Seeing Alicia get tough with the judge, Peter was turned on — turned on enough to persuade Alicia to have sex in their home bathroom a bit later on. (Oh, my: steamy mirrors.)

Not to beat a dead new plot development, but I did think that the introduction of Derrick Bond took time away from Childs’ nifty idea of having Cary take over first-chair in this case, thereby alienating the new colleague he replaced and setting up a courtroom confrontation with Alicia that didn’t quite pay off as satisfyingly as it might have. If I sound like a nag, it’s because I love. I’m glad our Good Wife is back; carry on, Alicia.

Good thoughts:

• Proof Alicia really is a bleeding-heart liberal: She listens to National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

• What mad, devilish scheme does Jackie Florrick have in proposing new unity with her former arch-enemy-in-the-kitchen, Eli?

• Did Will really say, in running down the firm’s latest cases, that they had “a continuance on BP”? I knew he was slick, but oil slick?

So: What did you think of the season premiere of The Good Wife?

Follow: @kentucker

Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, and Chris Noth star in the legal/family drama.
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