19 December, 2011

The Cutting Room Floor

The Cutting Room Floor – Top Scenes We Wish Existed
Season 3 – December Hiatus | Post Date: Monday, December 19, 2011

For true fans of television dramas, the Christmas/New Year’s hiatus is something akin to awakening December 25 only to find a lump coal in the toe of your stocking.  It seems outrageously unfair that a one-month break is even a possibility and yet here we are.  Fortunately, we’ve already made it through one week… just three more to go until The Good Wife’s 12th episode, “Alienation of Affection,” debuts on January 8.

When Left to Wonder...
The break has given me time to ponder (more than usual) what’s happening behind the scenes at The Good Wife.  What are the writers talking about?  How are they storyboarding plots?  What’s next for Team Gardner?  I will confess to getting my fix of The Good Wife by keeping up on the latest news and reading interviews from the cast.  In a recent TV Guide article, for example, it was said: “While there may be trouble ahead for the pair [Will and Alicia] “it doesn’t mean they won’t be able to work through it” says Margulies.”  Whew!  Of course, the writers are reporting that Alicia is unlikely to dip her toe in the same water twice, so I’m left to wonder:  1)What could possibly be next?  After I made my “I didn’t see that coming list” last week, I’m waiting, with baited breath  2) Why can’t I listen to Rihanna’s song “We Found Love* [in a Hopeless Place]” without thinking of Will and Alicia? and 3) What is scattered on the cutting room floor?

Spread photo taken from the November 7, 2011 TV Guide
Looking back over the last 11 episodes, there are a few holes I wish The Good Wife writers had filled in for us.  Of course, then I wouldn't be left to imagine anything, so maybe I’m a little thankful, too.  Now, without further ado, here’s my list of “Top Scenes We Wished Existed… in the First Half of Season Three.”

1) The Christmas Gift Exchange.  I had hoped for weeks that Team Gardner would survive until the holidays as I couldn’t wait to see what Will would buy Alicia.  Seriously, I wanted this scene so badly it topped my list to Santa.  While I’m the one left crying in my eggnog over this possibility gone awry, I still imagine he would have given her something amazing.  I mean, really – if Will was keen enough to drop $7,800 on a hotel room and a butler named Jerome (who, let’s face it, Will and Alicia probably never saw), what’s not to say he wouldn’t have given her some kind of fabulous jewelry?  A beautiful necklace or pair of earrings?  Please, oh please, Good Wife writers… give us some kind of gift-giving occasion!

2) Thanksgiving Dinner.  Just think about it.  Did Alicia cook and host?  Was Jackie invited?  Where was Peter?  What did Will do?  Come to think of it, where does Will go for any major holiday?  We’ve never seen him with family or hear him talk of siblings or other relatives.  All we know about him is that he has a nice old car that he barely gets to drive.  Ahhhh… to have seen Thanksgiving dinner

3) Will, Meet Grace.  Will meeting Zach was awkward enough… and Zach is the definitely the pick of the litter when it comes to Alicia’s kids.  Will meeting Grace would have sent me over the edge with a) shrieking and b) wanting to hide under a table.  The only thing that might make this scene possibility even better would be if Jennifer was at the meeting.  If Will was tongue-tie with Zach, who knows what he would say to Grace and Jennifer.  “Keep on, keepin’ on” Will… maybe it’s best Grace has eluded you for so long

4) The Office Christmas Party.  A few of my new Twitter friends (hi Tweeps!) have been suggesting this for a while, and I can safely say I would be in love with an episode involving an office Christmas/Hanukkah  party.  First off, I would hope for a secret staff gift exchange where Diane would have to buy something for Eli (a quick trip to Barnes and Noble would see Diane secure a copy of “Who Moved My Cheese” and then she could kick back with a glass of Scotch and contemplate her brilliance).  Second, there would have to be a group sing-along after the free-pouring of holiday libations.  The cast of The Good Wife is stacked solid with talented singers: Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski, Monica Raymund and Graham Phillips to start.  Imagine what things would look like by 11 pm over at Lockhart Gardner?

Forget visions of sugar plums dancing in my head this Christmas…  I’ll remain blissfully content dreaming of these potential scenes while sipping a holiday bevvy from my Team Gardner mug.  Thank you to The Good Wife writers for continuing to keep viewers on their toes each week with thought-provoking stories and actors who shine beyond measure.  With just three weeks to go, we can all kick back and wonder what 2012 will bring for this cast of brilliant characters.  

Related to this post:

  • *Rihanna's "We Found Love [in a Hopeless Place]

12 December, 2011

"What Went Wrong"

Episode Title: "What Went Wrong"
Season 3, Episode 11 | Original Air Date: Sunday, December 11, 2011

If I had to pick just one thing I love most about The Good Wife, it would have to be the element of surprise.  It’s the over-arching trait that makes this show tick.  In “What Went Wrong” we were treated to more than a few of these delicious moments – those times that make me, personally, sit up a little taller, or even stand-up and exclaim, “Well, I didn’t see that coming!” This week, I had three of these moments.  Let's call them huge storyline developments and further nods to the Emmy-winning potential of The Good Wife.

In my Opinion – Episode Commentary
This week, the episode unfolded in a dramatic way when a jury reached a guilty verdict despite the defense, prosecution and judge believing in the accused’s relative innocence.  Unfortunately, this meant a loss for Lockhart Gardner and something they weren’t ready to accept.  Taking a cue from Diane, the team was tasked to find out “what went wrong” and secure a piece of evidence solid enough to provide grounds for a reversal. 

Of course, finding the golden ticket – that one piece of key evidence – isn’t as easy as it should be, but that’s what made this episode especially interesting.   The first order of business?  Securing the jury’s old garbage.  Luckily, Justin found the janitor and smoothly handed over a token of gratitude in the form of a pristinely folded $5, $10 or $20 (I’m guessing $20 – surely Diane would have splurged for this ripe refuse).  Upon digging in, Alicia and Justin were interested to find layers of ‘guilty’ and ‘not guilty’ verdicts sandwiched between meal remnants.  At lunch – the Chinese food layer – the jury was leaning towards ‘not guilty,’ but by their pizza dinner everyone was unanimous with a “guilty” verdict.  What happened in between?  Flash to Kalinda who tracked down juror number five, a blogger named Lisa who was openly passionate about writing twice-daily on the subject of buttons.  Yes, you read that correctly, buttons.  It seems that while sitting on the jury, Lisa had to take time away from her button-based adventures and later reported some jury frustration out to her readers. Not to dismiss the practicality or usefulness of buttons, but who would read a blog devoted to the subject?  The answer?  Apparently 45,000 people.  Only Diane Lockhart could deliver that statistic and have me believe it.

With a sympathetic judge presiding, we watched as Lockhart Gardner made three attempts to have the verdict reversed: 1) Throw Lisa under the bus – “improper contact between a juror and a non-participant.”  Good try (and kudos on all the blog hits)… but denied; 2) Back to the garbage – try to make juror 12 feel threatened by a letter found torn up next to discarded coffee cups… too bad he admitted he didn’t really care.  Solid attempt… but back to square one; 3) Social media “friending” – the undoing of all great cases.  As luck would have it, the judge accepted a friend request on "FaceBranch" by our social butterfly button-lover during the trail – just the ethical breech Lockhart Gardner was after.  Signed, sealed, delivered. Case over.

The Art of Friendship
If the case had been any different this week – that is to say, if Diane hadn’t uttered the words, “what went wrong” – I’m convinced the episode would have been entitled “The Art of Friendship.”  Everything tying this episode together was based on this one thing we’ve seen Alicia struggle with for the last three years: having friends.  Perhaps this is why she and Eli actually get along so well?  As we’ve seen, Eli isn’t so good at that whole ‘friends’ thing either.

Alicia and Kalinda
I never would have imagined handcuffs and Internet Jesus would have brought Alicia and Kalinda back together.  I also never imagined I would write that sentence… which makes the whole situation the perfect way to start my I didn’t see that coming listThat said, all things being equal, I’ve taken to working under the assumption that any storyline needs at least seven degrees of separation from Grace to succeed.  How Alicia tracked down Internet Jesus at his day job – a skateboard shop – is uncertain, but I’m glad she did.  Do I care about the fact Alicia doesn’t want Grace to hang out with this guy anymore?  Not really, but that could be more because I was rooting for her to be kidnapped.  I was, however, thrilled when he explained the details of Grace being found and returned home.  Even better was Kalinda’s threat to him, which clearly made her name stick in his memory.

Then, of course, an integral part of the storyline I have yet to tackle: Cary arresting Kalinda.  Getting too close to jurors was a risk K was willing to take for this case; Cary took exception and had her handcuffed and carted off to prison.  While she didn’t have enough time to make a shiv from her trusty notebook binding, she did get moved around the system until Alicia, after having found out Kalinda rescued Grace, decided to return the favor, yell at Cary and get her released from jail.  The moment tens of thousands of The Good Wife fans have been waiting for finally arrived – Alicia and Kalinda had a civil conversation.  "Alicia, I haven't changed.  I'm the same person.  I knew I could help, so I helped, that's all." It’s not full-fledged friendship yet, but it doesn’t have to be.  The subtext said it all – these two will be reconciled before too long.

Alicia and Owen
Thank goodness for brothers!  Owen is definitely Alicia’s best friend these days - he is the one and only person she can confide in about every aspect of her life, without judgment.  Okay, so maybe she didn’t tell him she tuned into a hot and heavy made-for-TV movie about Joan of Arc before they met for drinks, but otherwise, he’s pretty in the know.

Alicia and Will
After the heartbreak of last week’s episode, a trauma I’m not sure I’ll recover from until at least season 17, Will and Alicia had one exchange that both softened the edge of awkward encounters and complicated their future dealings simultaneously.

Will: “I don’t want things to be awkward.” 
Alicia: “I so don’t want things to be awkward.” 
Will: “Good. Then they won’t be” 
Alicia: “So that’s it then, isn’t it? 
Will: “What?” 
Alicia: “We just decide it and it’s so?” 
Will: “Yep, we’re adults” 
Alicia: “Thank you” 
Will: “You have no reason to thank me Alicia, no reason at all.”

Well, what does that mean?  Alicia looked as puzzled as I felt.  I’m sure things will become clear later in the season, likely when it comes out that Will is in professional trouble but didn’t tell Alicia.  For now, I foresee a dwindling friendship between these two.  It makes sense the writers put some distance in this storyline, at least for the immediate future.

Alicia and Diane
Not only did Diane do a literal dance of joy with Justin at the beginning of the show (see photo below), she performed admirably in her metaphorical dance around Alicia.  Wanting to discuss Alicia’s potential path to partnership, Diane eloquently touched on the dangers of office romances and how distractions could be Alicia’s one and only downfall.  In the end, Diane made a proclamation of friendship, something we know Diane is careful not to offer to just anyone.  In fact, like Alicia, we don’t see Diane with friends.  As of season one, we knew she had a dog named Justice, but even he seems to have been missing for the last two and a half years.  Not knowing where any of this was going, my list of I didn't see that coming items quickly grew when Diane and Alicia met for drinks after work.  Pass the Scotch – these women mean business.

Down at the Gym
Whenever Wendy Scott-Carr shows up, two things immediately cross my mind: 1) Why can’t I, or anyone else, call her “Wendy” instead of “Wendy Scott-Carr” and 2) Why does she remind me so much of the Dark Lord?  The first question I pose could be a mystery from now until eternity, but the second answer is quite simply: because she’s evil.  First she was Peter’s opponent in the race to become State’s Attorney.  Next, Peter hired her to go after Lemond Bishop.  Not liking that track, she decided she wanted to go after Will under the guise of judicial corruption.  When she finally approached Will this week (if I’m not mistaken, this is the first time they’ve met), she arrived on the scene almost as a shadowed silhouette.  The only thing that could have made her entrance more sinister would have been her first lurking behind the bleachers watching Will play basketball by himself.  Knowing the details on the investigation, Will was quick to brush her off until she dropped the ultimate bomb: She’s not actually investigating him - she’s trying to bring down Peter.  What can I say?  I didn't see that coming, take three.

Quotes of the Week:
Alicia: “I had friends… Where are they all?”
Owen: “Probably on Facebook”

“I have to go yell at someone now. Talk to you later.” – Alicia to Owen, just before meeting Internet Jesus

“Oh good, more from the trash.” – Diane to Justin, when he delivers evidence to her desk that he has found in the garbage

Wendy Scott-Carr: “The next we talk, it will be in front of a grand jury.”
Will: "Okay. So be it."

What’s next?
Will is off to hire a lawyer with all of this whole 'judicial bribery' investigation going down.  Word on the street is that Elsbeth Tascioni is going to be just the woman for the job.  I can only image the level of frustration Wendy Scott-Carr will have with Elsbeth.  It’s going to be worth the price of admission.

Grace and Zach are off to private school.  I hope this doesn’t mean Jennifer, Grace’s tutor, will be unceremoniously ousted.  Quite frankly, she’s the best part of Grace right now.

The Good Wife is officially on hiatus until the New Year… but that doesn't mean I am.  Next week I’m planning a special feature on ‘top scenes we would have liked to witness.'  If there's one scene you've been imagining (Just think - what was the conversation Will and Alicia had when that elevator kept closing during the finale?) please post a reply and let me know.  Anything goes!

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05 December, 2011

"Parenting Made Easy"

Episode Title: "Parenting Made Easy"
Season 3, Episode 10 | Original Air Date: Sunday, December 4, 2011

As fall turns to winter in Chicago, the seasons are similarly changing over at Lockhart Gardner: Eli is no longer the “flavor of the month” (thanks to the cheese people), Will is being watched like a hawk, Alicia is being wooed by Louis Canning and Kalinda is busy dipping her toes in everyone’s water.  Somehow The Good Wife writers keep delivering quality scripts that the actors are turning into television gold.  While I will pre-confess to being heart-broken by the time the credits rolled this week, I will first celebrate another great episode and state for the record: “Forget the cheese and diary people… I think Lockhart Gardner is single-handedly supporting Chicago’s fine purveyors of Scotch.”

In my Opinion – Episode Commentary
For the first time in recent memory, Alicia found herself with a case stuck in arbitration – it’s not life and death, but rather a friendly game of newly pitted rivalries: Caitlin vs. Martha, Florrick vs. Canning.  Making a triumphant return to The Good Wife, Michael J Fox’s character, Louis Canning, picked up right where he left off in season two: trying to convince Alicia his new firm is the place she should be.  In some ways what he proposes makes a lot of sense: She could spend more time with her children, get home before dinner and Will would no longer be her boss.  Okay, maybe it was just me thinking about that last selling feature, but I’m sure it crossed her mind.  While the arbitrator stops and starts the case like he’s driving a stick shift for the first time, we’re taken on a “wrongful termination” journey featuring Pamela Raker (played by Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter) with Caitlin and Martha jumping head-first into their first “real job” debates.

The case this week, in my opinion, is the least important part of the episode.  It was what happened behind the scenes that maked it all so interesting.  Yes, there was all of Canning’s wooing in an attempt to snatch Alicia from Lockhart Gardner, but there was so much more…

Where’s Grace?
Throughout “Parenting Made Easy,” Alicia was on edge about the well-being of Grace and Zach and this time, she had reason to be concerned.  While at lunch with Canning, Alicia noticed 12 missed calls (no more annoying “Mom pick up the phone” ring tones), all from Grace.  With no answer when she called back, Alicia jumped to action and with the help of Canning and his driver, found herself in the throngs of a personal investigation.  The details?  Grace is missing and was last seen getting into a man’s car.  Overhearing a conversation between Alicia and Zach (who was once again at the office working on the Lockhart Gardner computers – I hope he’s getting paid), Kalinda gets down to business: Project “finding Grace.”  I had two early predictions on where this was going and I’m glad one was correct: Grace met up with her YouTube Pastor.  I hadn’t guessed she was going to be found at a church getting baptized, but when it comes to Grace, I try not to think about storyline too much.  In any case, Kalinda found Grace (of course, it is Kalinda), dropped her off at home and snuck out under the cover of darkness like a stealthy superhero not looking for any glory, just a job well done.  More than anything, maybe she’s just looking to up her karma rating?

M is for Meeting
The highlight of “Parenting Made Easy” was the number of one-on-one meetings happening everywhere this episode – every storyline escalated to a new level.  We started with a great exchange between Diane and Will featuring the notorious sound bite, “I think you need to stop mothering. I can take care of my life.”  Not long after, Diane stumbled upon Eli sitting in the boardroom staring at ceiling tiles with his imaginary clients.  Clearly Diane’s instruction “well don’t get morose” from the previous episode was as futile as his new food diagram.  My opinion? Get this man a copy of “Who Moved My Cheese?” already!  Diane, always one to offer encouragement and advice, came prepared to give Eli his daily dose: “Make friends, be nice to people, don’t try to do it all yourself.”  This time, Eli listened and set out to mend fences and find allies.

Under the guise of wanting to see what people were up to, Eli stepped into Will’s office and was quickly wrapped up in a lecture on how to be a team player.  While there, Will explained that Eli’s notable lack of attendance at staff meetings (and, if I’m not mistaken, also the mandatory Sexual Harassment Seminar?) isn’t helping him within the firm.  Oh yes, and he’s bad at sharing.  Admittedly, Eli knows his short comings and owns up to his faults while simultaneously accepting the offer to chat more over Scotch. 

Will: “Why is Peter investigating me?”
Eli: Looking genuinely surprised, slowly swallows his drink “I didn’t know he was”
Will: “He is. You’re still his political strategist, right? Is this for politics or something else?
Eli: “I have no idea.  Have you asked Alicia?  I mean, because she works here she might know.”
Will “I haven’t told her. I didn’t want to make it her business”
Eli: “But it is her business… isn’t it?”

Thank you, Eli, for pointing out something I’ve been thinking for weeks.  This investigation is going to become public sooner rather than later, and once again, Alicia is going to feel like she has been hit by a proverbial bus.  It will be 100 times worse than seeing Jackie’s face unexpectedly on a computer screen… and that takes something.

Flash forward a few scenes and we’re given yet another glimpse into the world of Dana Lodge, the sly and sassy ASA working with Cary.  As Dana and Kalinda sit and sip drinks at a local bar, I find myself missing Alicia and K’s random chats about love and life over tequila shooters.  For now, Dana will have to do, but not because of friendship, because of convenience.  I feel like Dana’s motives are all over the map – she wants to make an impression at the State’s Attorney’s Office and elevate her career, she wants to pursue a relationship with Cary and she wants to take Kalinda along for both rides.  Kalinda, the last person in the world I would try to double-cross, is wise to her ways but still finds herself playing along. Like Kalinda says, “When I flirt, I follow through.”  That’s what I love about her.  Keep on keepin’ on, Kalinda.

Then of course, there was my favourite conversationalist duo in Will and Kalinda.  Sometimes they don’t need to say anything, sometimes they hover of the verge of impropriety and sometimes they tell it like it is.  No matter what, there’s never any confusion though.  This week we got two stellar conversations: one about the investigation and one about commitment.   “I’ve spent my whole life getting ahead,” says Will, “Sometimes I can’t figure out why.”  Thinking about what the next steps with Alicia could look like, Will decides he needs to ask some important questions: What’s next?

Heart Break
The moment I’ve feared finally came to fruition: the gut-wrenching breakdown of Team Gardner.  Alicia has had points of reflection over the last few episodes – times when we’ve seen her think about the bigger picture and with the drama of Grace missing, she made a difficult decision.  No more Will, at least for now. 

Alicia: “Will…”
Will: “Yes.”
Alicia: “I can’t.  It’s too much.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  I’m going to miss you.”
If you haven't seen the scene, please do.  The dialogue doesn't do it nearly enough justice. In any case, after one of the longest, most heart-felt hugs I’ve ever seen, Alicia walks out of Will’s office, tears pooling in her eyes and running down her face.  My heart broke for both of them.

What’s next?
Next week in “What When Wrong?” Cary has Kalinda arrested.  All I can think is “big mistake.”  Kalinda is sure to befriend some other recent law breakers and only increase her network.  Okay, that’s probably not the first thing that will happen, but still.  Bad move, Cary – I think this is plot is going to backfire into a hot mess.  Just wait.

Meanwhile, I think we all know the Alicia/Will relationship is far from over.  Although Diane thinks Will broke things off, that’s her misguided impression and one Will is surely not going to change.  He has done the right thing in her eyes and now he can focus on 1) the investigation (that darn Andrew Wiley finally surfaced!) and 2) consider his next move where Alicia is concerned.  I’d like to see him start crafting plan “win her back” but that might take until season four.  The fact is, he hasn't truly lost her, she's just overwhelmed with life. Why did I say I love the drama?  Pass the Scotch. 

Related to this Post
*Food Inspired by The Good Wife's "Parenting Made Easy:" Vanilla ice cream with black pepper and the Lockhart Gardner staple, Scotch!
*Josh Charles and Tim Guinee have fun on set, tricycle style
*Preview for next week's episode, "What Went Wrong?"
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