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TV Preview: The Good Wife Season Two Premiere

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Law and Order may be gone, but law and politics is back with a vengeance, as CBS premieres the new season of The Good Wife on Tuesday, September 28 at 10 o’clock. Last season’s finale finds philandering hubby, Peter (Chris Noth), his legal problems settled, on the road to rehabilitation. Looking to resurrect his marriage, he is campaigning for his old state’s attorney job. Romantic rival Will Gardner (Josh Charles) is on the phone with Alicia (series star Julianna Marguilies) trying to get her to make a commitment to their love. She is torn between love and duty and has to make a choice.

The new season begins with that choice. Almost, but not quite, in TV drama, nothing is ever quite that simple. While she is standing in the wings at Peter’s press conference, just off the phone with Will, her cell phone rings again. The caller ID reads Will, but before she can answer Alicia is herded on stage. Will leaves a message, hangs up, and then he calls back to leave a second. But Alicia has left her phone backstage.

The choice, if there is a choice, is more a matter of circumstance than conscious decision. While it happens early on in the episode, it doesn’t seem likely to have a major effect on the dynamics of the relationships. Further entanglements are on deck, waiting to get to bat. “Taking Control” is the title of this first episode, but the real question is who is doing the “taking,” and just what are they controlling.

The opening episode’s court case has Alicia forced by an authoritarian judge (who seems to have it in for women) to counsel a murderer who wants to defend himself. Once again she is thrown into conflict with Matt Czuchry’s Cary Agos in his new role as the boyish prosecutor, destined to be her nemesis, if not quite the Hamilton Burger to her Perry Mason.

Add to the mix, a new dollop of office politics as the Lockhart and Gardner law firm completes a merger with a DC law firm run by African-American lawyer, Derrick Bond, played by Michael Ealy. Who gets what office? Whose administrative policies will take precedence?

Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and Will think they will be able to control things because they will always have a two-to-one majority in the new partnership, but they may find some surprises. Perhaps even more interesting, the merger brings some new competition for Emmy winner Archie Panjabi’s sexually ambivalent Kalinda Sharma, with the arrival of another impressive investigator played by Scott Porter. In some respects this mirrors season one’s competition between Alicia and Cary: alpha male and alpha female fighting to stake out their territories. It is a conflict that promises future sparks of one sort or another.

Alan Cumming, the slimy one, is back as Eli Gold, Peter’s Machiavellian political hatchet man. His portfolio is to preserve and protect—Peter, and preserve and protect is what he does. With mid-term elections on tap for November, the State’s Attorney race in Cook County should provide a convenient vehicle for fictionalizing any new scandals, in a show that took much of its impetus from the case of Eliot Spitzer in New York.

The season opener promises another fine season for The Good Wife.

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About Jack Goodstein