A month ago, the Hallmark Movie Channel announced a Memorial Day round-the-clock marathon of “The Good Wife.”
By Mitch Silver
A month ago, the Hallmark Movie Channel announced a Memorial Day round-the-clock marathon of “The Good Wife.” The Julianna Margulies show was one my wife Ellen and I sort of ignored when it first aired five years ago. “The Good Wife?” What’s so dramatic about a good wife? Okay, we blew it. (It’s the same thing I did with “Upstairs Downstairs” umpteen years ago, but that’s another story.)
Then we heard friends go on about how wonderful the writing and acting was, how Margulies’ character Alicia Florrick struggled to deal with the fallout of her politician husband Peter’s (Chris Noth) infidelity. How she resumed her law career to make a life for herself and her two kids separate from Peter’s, especially when he went to jail for an unrelated offense.
I’d read quotes like this one from James Poniewozik of Time: “‘The Good Wife’ is currently the best thing on TV outside cable.” Stephen Marche of Esquire said, “‘The Good Wife’ is network TV’s most intellectually ambitious show. The last two episodes may be the best television produced this year.” So I recorded the marathon and we sat down to watch it a few nights later.
Stupid me. When the HMC network said “marathon,” I’d assumed it would air shows starting with the 2009 pilot. Not so. The first episode was from the start of Season 4, for some reason. Peter Florrick isn’t just out of jail … he’s the Governor of Illinois! (Art imitating life in reverse, I suppose.) So we sat there watching a bunch of interesting actors going on about stuff that must have happened in Season 1, 2, or 3. Not good.
Then I got a bright idea: Cablevision’s On Demand! “The Good Wife” episodes there were free, and we wouldn’t have to watch them on the computer the way we would with Netflix. (Don’t tell me I can stream Netflix to my TV; I’m a techno-Luddite.) So we settled down and demanded our On Demand showing of “The Good Wife.”
Wrong again. Cablevision only has this season’s shows in its archives, and not even the whole season: the menu starts with the March 9, 2014 airing of episode #103, one in which a drug dealer with lots of backstory unknown to us is represented by Alicia’s firm, Florrick/Agos. (She has a firm? Already?)
Ellen turned to me and said, “Isn’t there another way?” Hey, don’t they put these things out on DVD? The library must have them.
New problem: we’re not the only people who want to watch “The Good Wife” for free from the library, and Season 1 wouldn’t be returned for another week. Right. I put a Hold on it. But now we were hooked on the show, for some reason, and didn’t want to wait. So we went back to On Demand and spent the week watching the last three months of Season 5. When we’d caught up to the current schedule, the DVD was in. So we jumped way back to Season 1. (Spoiler alert: the Florrick kids un-grow from high school kids back to preteens and Julianna and Chris seem to have discovered the Fountain of Youth.)
Another problem cropped up. The DVD has to go back in a week, no renewals allowed. We were only halfway through the 22 episodes when time expired. Clever me, I found Season 2 on the shelf when I returned the partly screened Season 1.
So here’s where we’re at: Alicia Florrick is a newbie at the law firm of Stern/Lockhart/Gardner. No, wait: she’s running her own law firm with Cary Agos. No, that can’t be right, she dislikes Agos and is having an affair with Will Gardner while toiling at Lockhart/Gardner/Bond.