By Ken Tucker
Updated December 15, 2010 at 12:00 PM EST
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Oh, The Good Wife, how I missed your complicated heart. Returning with a new episode titled “Nine Hours” on Tuesday night, Wife was tense, dense, and immensely satisfying. The central plot turned on the scant few hours Alicia’s law firm had to get a stay of execution for a condemned man, but the show also worked its time-management magic by cramming in stories that included Peter Florrick’s live, televised campaign debate; Kalinda investigatin’ and prevaricatin’; a “moment” between Alicia and Will; and everyone being worried that daughter Grace might be getting religion. (The Good Wife is the only series on broadcast television in which a glimpse of a girl at prayer is cause for shocked alarm by the show’s humanist heroes.)

At the start of the hour, Alicia received a call from a clerk asking about a detail regarding a death-penalty case her firm had lost. She correctly interpreted the brief conversation as a coded tip-off that there was something else the law firm could do to prevent the execution. In a nice bit of book-ending, the conclusion of the hour found Alicia on the phone again, making what would otherwise have been a summation argument in a courtroom, articulating a passionate plea for the man’s innocence. Once again, with its ceaseless ingenuity, The Good Wife managed to have Alicia, who would never have led this defense under other circumstances, become the dynamic protagonist for whom we rooted.

Along the way, there were numerous terrific moments:

• The opening scenes in which Will summoned the entire law firm to the office on a Saturday to pore over every detail of the case.

• The goggle-eyed ogling that Alicia’s son, Zach, gave Kalinda when she appeared at his apartment door. It was so Good Wife: Of course the kid had never gotten a load of Kalinda before!

• Chris Noth, as Peter, giving his debate questioner a withering glare he’d apparently been saving since his Law & Order days. To a question about whether his wife had forgiven him his infidelity, Peter responded with a calculatedly blunt, “My marriage is none of your f—ing business.” We watched this moment from a TV in the Florricks’ apartment, and the obscenity was masked by a strategically-placed yell from Grace (“Mom!“). But Zach was delighted: “My dad swore on TV!”

• It was great to see Chad L. Coleman — the boxing coach from The Wire — playing the condemned man with great emotional subtlety.

• Speaking of condemned, what was that tight black zigzaggedly zippered pleather-looking outfit Diane wore to Death Row? Did she expect to run into Gary Cole’s amorous gun-maven?

• There was a nice cameo by real-life lawyer Barry Scheck, head of the real-life Innocence Project, for which our fictional Cary once worked in his more idealistic youth.

Congrats to Golden Globe nominees Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth. Can’t wait to see how Peter’s live-TV blurt will play out, or when Alicia and Will will have another, future “moment” they agree to arrange, or how much more Kalinda is going to tell Alicia about her mysterious past beyond her tantalizing, “I didn’t like my life before, so I changed it.”

What did you think of this week’s Good Wife?

Twitter: @kentucker

Episode Recaps

The Good Wife

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

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 7
episodes
  • 156
rating
  • TV-14
genre
status
  • Off Air
network
  • CBS
stream service

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