wed 22/05/2024

The Good Wife, Series 4, More4 | reviews, news & interviews

The Good Wife, Series 4, More4

The Good Wife, Series 4, More4

Legal and political drama is still at the top of its game as fourth series begins

Nathan Lane as Clarke Hayden, with Julianna Margulies (Alicia, left) and Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart

My only real complaint about the ever-excellent Good Wife is that they cram so much into every episode that it's notoriously difficult to keep track of all the plots, subplots, new names and cunningly tangled relationships. It's a bit like a televisual zip file, where you have to unpack it before you can extract all the contents.

Anyhow, after some diligent pausing and rewinding, I can confidently declare that this first episode of series four was a sizzler, picking up where series three left off with no pause for breath. Screenwriters Robert King and Michelle King had reprised one of their favourite devices, which is is to pick out themes that echo across different layers of the programme. Thus, we saw Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) studying the campaign advertisements from his rival for Governer, Mike Kresteva, which hammered away shamelessly at the theme of family values. This provoked angstful soul-searching from Peter and Alicia, the eponymous good wife (Julianna Margulies), who aren't sure how to play their condition of uneasy partial estrangement in the media.

Much knife-twisting fun was then extracted from an interview between Alicia and political reporter Peggy Byrne (played in hyper-real overdrive by Kristin Chenoweth), as Peggy sadistically probed all the sorest and tenderest spots. Meanwhile the family tentacles were already rippling out into the wider world, as Alicia discovered when the car containing herself and her two children was stopped on the Interstate by a traffic cop (Margulies with Makenzie Vega as daughter Grace, pictured above). A seemingly innocuous incident escalated into her son Zack (Graham Phillips) being charged with obstruction of justice.

Alicia smelled a rat, and as the episode progressed she steadily unravelled a conspiracy by the police and the State's Attorney for Madison County to put pressure on her husband to keep his hands off police pensions. Helped by some diligent internet digging by Zack - who is growing up to be a smug and self-righteous prat, though he's the apple of his adoring mom's eye - she went further, and unearthed a racket whereby the cops in Madison County had designated Interstate 55 a "forfeiture corridor". Rather than intercepting drug dealers bringing merchandise down from Canada, they were stopping them on the way home and confiscating their profits. You could develop a movie or an entire TV series around this theme, but here it was deftly aired and dispatched within 45 minutes.

And there was plenty more. We gleaned a few more details about the fascinatingly dark and twisted past of investigator Kalinda (Archie Panjabi, pictured left), and at last met her estranged husband Nick (a sleazy, tattooed Marc Warren), whom she seems to have relieved of a large sum of money and thus treats with gun-toting suspicion. However, they celebrated their reunion with a bout of ferocious unarmed combat in a lift, then went back to her place for an energetic session of bondage sex. This relationship clearly has the potential to end in a fatality or two.

On top of all that, Lockhart Gardner, Alicia's employers, are staring at a $60m debt and have had a "trustee" imposed by the judge to oversee their financial affairs. He's played by Nathan Lane with a strong whiff of deadpan black comedy, and has begun to employ unscrupulous divide-and-rule tactics among the firm's top brass. Twenty two episodes to go - oh joy.

They celebrated their reunion with a bout of ferocious unarmed combat in a lift, followed by an energetic session of bondage sex

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