Thursday, September 17, 2009

RATE IT!/HATE IT! The Good Wife

While Summer is hesitant to pack it in and head into the sunset, the same cannot be said for the Fall TV schedule, elbowing its way into view. Returning series are already robustly premiering their new seasons while new series are eagerly and somewhat impatiently waiting to debut. One newcomer getting much press attention is 'The Good Wife' (CBS, Sept. 22 @ 10pm).

Starring Julianna Margulies (formerly Carole Hathaway of 'ER') and Chris Noth (Mr. Big!!), the drama focuses on a fallen politician (Noth), caught in a tawdry sex scandal, begging the public for forgiveness. His wife (Margulies), stands by silently as the ever faithful spouse despite the unbearable glare of public humiliation. When her cheat of a husband is packed off to prison, she's left to pick up the family pieces & re-enter the work world she abandoned a decade earlier. Angry and bitter about her hubby's extracurricular activities, Margulies' character doesn't have time for major revenge -- she's got kids to feed, bills to pay -- but it's always there...simmering, eating away at her...

Sound enticing? On the surface, this program seems to have the recipe for ratings success: two talented, and well-liked lead actors; a mix of sex, scandal and politics on the agenda -- a story virtually ripped from news headlines (looking at you, Eliot Spitzer) -- and an expected on-the-cusp-of-revenge scenario just waiting to break out. Or will it?

I haven't seen a screener but I have read plenty about this series.... and from the looks of things, the wife doesn't really get down and dirty in the revenge stakes. She gets on with life, works her butt off to become a success and other than a passing slap across hubby's face, getting payback unfortunately, isn't on the cards -- much.

Bummer. Payback is such good viewing, so I think someone at the helm has missed the explosive ratings boat here. For a series that shows such promise (and gets a partial 'rate it' from me for cast alone), it really seems that the Producers and CBS took the staid, easy way out. Unlike the excellent British mini-series, 'The Politician's Wife' (starring the incredible Juliet Stevenson), this Noth-Margulies vehicle is stuck in watered down relationship inertia. In the Brit series, the wronged wifey (Stevenson), plots to get her own back on her adulterous spouse at all costs. Karma baby, oh yes .... it's here in spades! It's juicy and oh, so satisfying viewing. There's no doubt as to how she feels and the viewer gets to ride along on her coat-tails as she triumphs despite her rotten husband. No wishy-washy making nice, just plain ol' feel good revenge. 'The Politician's Wife' is definitely worth spending several hours with, hunkered down in front of the TV -- 'The Good Wife' ...I'm not so sure. For now, I'm only halfway there to a full 'rate it.' Right now, I'm kinda turning to 'hate it.'

Hopefully all the press is slightly off the mark and I will actually love it. Here's hoping but I'm not holding my breath.

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