October 26th, 2010
That’s more like it.
Thus far, I’ve been disappointed in the quality of The Good Wife’s second season, if not disappointed in the season as a whole. There has yet to be an episode which really lived up to the potential of the first season when it comes to its legal procedural elements: the show’s serialized elements have remained present, but the series was at its most effective when the legal story was novel or particularly well organized (I’d argue “Heart” was the season highlight).
For me, “VIP Treatment” is the best episode of the season and certainly a standout in the series as a whole primarily because it is driven by a legal case as opposed to ongoing character interaction. Like last week’s episode, it features some work regarding Peter’s campaign, the love triangle, and Kalinda and Blake’s feud of sorts, but it’s all done in service to the standalone story. It’s an episode which makes its standalone storyline feel like something much more substanthe episode worked really welltial, and which embraces the show’s uniquely well-drawn workplace environment to tell a small story with potentially huge ramifications.
October 19th, 2010
The Good Wife was the best new network series of last season, without a doubt: the show was smart, sophisticated, and comfortable in its balance of both procedural and serialized elements.
This season, The Good Wife is a considerably worse show, objectively speaking: the weekly plots are over-written, the serial arc has swapped character drama for fairly rote political maneuvering, and tensions which might have remained subtexts last year become baseball bat attacks this time around.
Normally, I’d chalk this up to a network note about wanting to draw in younger viewers with a more exciting product; while I do think that this is likely part of it, I’m reticent to speak too critically because I’m finding this new version of the show a whole lot of fun. This is not to say that I don’t wish that the scripts could be a bit sharper, or that the show would avoid playing so heavily to the relationships between Will and Alicia as well as Cary and Alicia, but “Cleaning House” demonstrates that there are times when manipulative plotting can be delightful enough to quell most, if not all, of my critical concerns.
“Highest Standards in Television”
CBS 2008-2009 Fall Schedule
Last year, CBS’ Upfronts were a shock to fans of Jericho, a drama that had struggled mightily in the face of scheduling woes and was upended by a network with extremely high standards; heck, that year they even got rid of Close to Home, a show with much higher ratings but just not enough balance between buzz and Nielsens for the network to continue on that path. They wanted things to be a little hip, but not too hip, with good ratings as well. In other words, they’ve got an idea of what they want.
And now, a year later, things aren’t much different: Shark is getting the boot for not having enough buzz, and Moonlight is being tossed out with the bathwater because its ratings just aren’t enough to match its overwhelming and motivated fan base. This news broke yesterday, but today we get to learn which shows are replacing them, and whether or not CBS’ high standards are going to just have more casualties in a year’s time.
Eleventh Hour – Thursdays at 10pm
It gets the biggest lead-out in television amongst demo viewers, so there’s something to be said for the potential quality of this British import based on the BBC miniseries starring Patrick Stewart. It comes from Jerry Bruckheimer, who also produces CSI, and its real barrier is that is lacks star power (Rufus Seawell is not exactly a household name). It will be facing off with ABC’s import of Life on Mars, and I actually think that this show’s premise (Investigating abuses of science and scientific crimes) seems less intriguing at the end of the day. This is the first time the network has tested a show in the slot since Shark got moved from it, so we’ll see how it turns out.