The changing face of procedural television, or why is The Good Wife so good?

“The Good Wife”  is very, very alluring. Even though I have excellent intentions to spend hours in front of the television – you know, “Glee,” “Hoarders,” “Lost,” “The Lazy Environmentalist,” “Dead Wood” on DVD — somehow I … sigh … just can’t get to it, so the only thing I watch, ever, is “The Good Wife.” Flipping to it doesn’t feel so different than settling in for some good comfy “Law and Order.” But guess what? It’s so much more satisfying! Why, you ask? There have been plenty of lawyer shows on network television, plenty of  political thrillers, plenty of who-done-it, how-do-it, do-it, and un-do-it. Why is this one so different?

Well, after an overall assessment, because the stories have heart. There are actual relationships there. In fact it’s really the changing face of procedural drama — you know, a procedure to proceed through, like law, or investigation? Sometimes we, the audience,  are focused solely on the, er, procedure. In TGW, we are actually feeling for those individuals who are implementing those procedures … and they are far from perfect: Flawed, indeed. These flaws often influence the procedure. Novel!

And you get to watch Josh Charles — with whom I fell in love as Dan Rydell on the brilliant “Sports Night”– as the serious Will Gardner, Christine Baranski as tough-as-nails Diane Lockhart, and Mary Beth Peil as the regal and doting Jackie. Of course there’s Juliana Margulies. She’s just really good! A female protagonist who is strong but in an incredibly compromised ‘situation’ (her husband embroiled in a political corruption and sex scandal) is a good place to begin. And the storylines, often engaging gender, race, discrimination, are more timely and more nuanced than your run-of-the-mill how did the bullet get there show.

Series recaps are here