Forget Good, Its Great
Better Late Than Never: The Good Fight Season 2 Review
It’s really hard for any spinoff of a series to be at least half as good as the original. For every Better Call Saul, there’s half a dozen Law & Order: SVU, for every The Flash, there’s Fear The Walking Dead. It would have been just as easy for the writers of CBS’ All Access The Good Fight to take so many of the characters from the incredible The Good Wife, and just put them through the paces of a legal drama (another genre that seems to be going the way of all flesh).
But the Kings have never done anything remotely close to easy. If anything, they seem to be swinging for the fences now that they are unfettered from the profanity and nudity limitations that they would eventually satirize in so many of their brilliant TV parodies that seemed to be in the background so often in the latter seasons of Good Wife. And in response to a chaotic world that seems to be getting more combustible, they start their episode with everything exploding and keep blowing things up from there.
Never has this been more clear than with Diane. The rock of the Kings world for more than a decade, world events are starting to leave her more undone. And it isn’t just the Trump Administration that is terrifying this life-long liberal (though we’ll get to that), its more current events. In the Season 2 premiere, an attorney was shot by a man who confessed to the media ‘Kill All Lawyers!” Since then, a string of similar deaths have struck fear into the legal community — including a supposed ricin attack that was just a scare — and now the world around law is terrified. Bozeman-Reddick’s new partner, Liz (Audra McDonald, finally in a TV series worthy of her) starts by befriending Diane, and then seems to openly scheme to undercut her, leading Diane to close an episode using an obscenity she could never have gotten away with on CBS. Now, she’s starting microdosing with LSD, and has had an extramarital affair. It’s stunning to see Christine Baranski, so long a pillar strength, play Diane as a character starting to unravel.
Other characters are trying to move through the chaotic world in a positive way. Maya (Rose Leslie) has finally had the scandal that dogged her all through Season 1 taken of her back in the second episode of Season 2, and seems to be positioning herself to be a major player. Marissa Gold (the incredible Sarah Steele) has finally become licensed to be a PI at the law firm, and is demonstrating that she is nearly as brilliant as Kalinda was in the original series (though she’s a lot funnier) And Luca (Cush Lumbo) is facing major changes in her life, as she is now pregnant with the child of the ASA she had an affair without Season 1. Only he doesn’t know about it yet.
The series cases are as ripped from the headlines as they were in so many David E. Kelley series, but Good Fight does is with a subtlety and far less pontificating than we ever saw on The Practice. A recent episode where a Bachelorette-type realty show was sued when one contestant assaulted another was done with so many of the cast demeaning the genre while admitting they enjoy it. And the series dialogue has wit and flow than even on its best day Aaron Sorkin couldn’t match. And its always great to see that so many of the characters who made The Good Wife such a joy keep dropping by — if they did a spin-off where Carrie Preston and Mamie Gummer decided to form a law firm together I would gladly pay twice the asking fee to see it. (Hint, hint.)
All right, yes. The Kings do not like Donald Trump. And if you’ve decided that TV shouldn’t be political, an episode where the DNC comes to Reddick-Bozeman asking about how to make a case for impeachment isn’t going to make you happy. But they’ve made it clear from the Pilot episode of The Good Wife that so much of this series is about politics, and how you deal with people who disagree with you. But they do it in such a way that its always entertaining. (The way they deal with the prequel to Darkness at Noon just makes me dissolve into laughter.) This is an angry series, but these are angry times.
The Emmy judges may not have nominated this series because they don’t yet count CBS All Access a real network. Of course, The Good Wife was one of the great shows of the past decade, and the Emmy judges never gave it the love it deserved. Maybe in an era of TV that seems so devoted to period pieces and dystopian futures, the Emmys have forgotten how brilliant the truly original contemporary series can be. The Good Fight is one of the best shows on any service, and I hope enough people eventually find that out.
My score: 5 stars.