Weekly Binge: The Good Wife

We give you what you need to know to dive into the popular shows everyone's talking about.

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Welcome to the Weekly Binge, where we take a closer look at the shows that are worth your time. And by that we mean a lot of your time -- we focus on the shows that will obliterate those nights and weekends that would otherwise be spent on more "productive" pursuits (and when we say "productive," we mean "less interesting"). So without further ado, let's try to convince all the fence-sitters to take the plunge and get all caught up on The Good Wife!


The Good Wife

The Good Wife

What's the premise? A politician's wife must decide whether she will stand by her husband after a sex scandal, while returning to work as a defense attorney.

What's it like? The Good Wife is a complex series that deftly combines sharply written character drama with political stories ripped straight from the headlines, as its heroine Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) learns to reconcile her personal relationships with her professional ambitions. Its overarching through-line is serialized, but far from soapy, with each episode containing distinct procedural story lines.

Where can I see it? The fifth season began on September 29, 2013, and airs Sundays on CBS (check local listings). Online episodes can be found on CBS.com, iTunes, Vudu, and Amazon (past seasons are free for Amazon Prime subscribers), as well as sources that can be found on Yidio. Past seasons are also available on DVD from Netflix.

How long will it take? We're anxiously awaiting episode six of the fifth season, which will air this Sunday, November 3. Prior seasons are between 22 and 23 episodes each, with each episode running about 45 minutes without commercials, so it would take you approximately 4275 minutes (71 hours) to catch up. That's almost 3 days, if you watch the series non-stop; if you need to work and/or sleep, give yourself two weeks of nightly binging.

What do the critics think? The second through fifth seasons of The Good Wife are 100 percent Fresh on the Tomatometer and the premiere season is Certified Fresh at a solid 85 percent. Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says of the current season, "It remains the best scripted drama on a broadcast network," and Robert Bianco of USA Today calls it "broadcast's best hour." Critics have been impressed by Margulies' captivating performance as Alicia Florrick, as well as the show's inventive and skillful ability to incorporate current events into its overlying story arc.

Why should I watch this? We're five episodes into the current season, and stuff is getting real. The buildup to this season has sometimes been slow and steady, but it's been done purposefully to deliver a gripping denouement. The show has never been better, with a carefully plotted storyline and subtle, finely-calibrated performances. The title may have you presuming it's intended for a specific demographic, but there is something for almost everyone: intriguing procedural trials within an addictive dramatic narrative; strong performances by regulars Christine Baranski, Alan Cumming, Josh Charles and Archie Panjabi; and guest star appearances by the likes of Nathan Lane, Michael J. Fox, Gary Cole, T.R. Knight, Martha Plimpton, Amanda Peet, Stockard Channing and more. Victor Garber is slated to appear later this season.

What's my next step? Watching old episodes of ER can provide you with a Julianna Margulies fix between episodes of The Good Wife, as can the very short-lived Canterbury's Law, another lawyer show from 2008 that starred and was produced by Margulies, but never received a full season. You may also want to check out, well, the nightly news, but also current TV shows like Scandal and Major Crimes. Legal drama films in a similar vein include Erin Brockovitch, Legal Eagles, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Few Good Men. Ridley Scott produces The Good Wife (up until this season, he co-produced with his late brother Tony), so you might enjoy watching older TV projects by the Scott Brothers as well, like Numb3rs and the 2010 miniseries Pillars of the Earth.

What do you like about The Good Wife? How would you explain it to a newbie? Any big predictions for season four? Get in on the conversation here.

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