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The Good Wife: The Second Season DVD Review

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#1 of 4 Matt Hough

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Posted August 26 2011 - 12:29 PM

Decidedly no victim of the “sophomore slump,” CBS’ The Good Wife spent its second season firmly establishing itself as the finest drama on network television, a status that earned it nine 2011 Emmy nominations and a cherished spot as the only network television series tabbed as Best Dramatic Series this year. With wonderfully complex cases, an estimable cast which accounted for more than half of its Emmy nominations (six for performance), and storylines which were so expertly crafted that for once serialized drama didn’t seem to be standardized or predictable, The Good Wife didn’t make a wrong move during this charmed, tremendously entertaining second season on the air.


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The Good Wife: The Second Season
Directed by James Whitmore, Jr. et al

Studio: CBS/Paramount
Year: 2010-2011


Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 997 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English; 2.0 English, French
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese


MSRP: $ 64.99




Release Date: September 6, 2011

Review Date: August 27, 2011



The Season

5/5


With a superb production team operating at full tilt, the show’s incredible writing staff has expertly managed to create riveting weekly legal cases which wrap up most often before the end of the episode along with tantalizing personal stories for all of its major characters which follow lengthy season-long story arcs keeping the series’ momentum at a fast clip week in and week out. The setting is the law offices of Lockhart/Gardner in Chicago, a firm which in season one was teetering on the brink of extinction due to the failing economy. To help them out of their financial doldrums, the firm joins with Derek Bond (Michael Ealy) from Baltimore who brings a healthy client list with him and his firm’s crack investigator Blake Calamar (Scott Porter) who comes into instant and potentially ruinous conflict with the Lockhart/Gardner’s established investigator Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi). The two’s deadly rivalry lasts most of the season and features an incredible, anxiety-evoking amount of give and take. For two characters who are clearly supporting the weekly spotlighted legal matters, one can’t wait for the next juicy installment of their continually fiery encounters.


But with the show entitled The Good Wife, the title lady Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) certainly commands center stage for much of the season not only in court but also personally dealing with her somewhat shaky marriage to states’ attorney candidate Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), her continuing but sublimated feelings for her boss Will Gardner (Josh Charles), the surprise appearance of her gay brother Owen (Dallas Roberts in four episodes), and her handling of upsetting presences in her life like domineering, opinionated mother-in-law Jackie (Mary Beth Peil), her husband’s political consultant Eli Gold (Alan Cumming), former associate at her firm/now an avowed enemy in the state attorney’s office Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry), and rival attorneys at other firms who oppose her in court and out (Michael J. Fox, Rita Wilson, Mamie Gummer, Titus Welliver, Martha Plimpton). The other guest stars who make notable appearances this season as recurring judges (Denis O’Hare, Jane Alexander, Joanna Gleason, David Paymer, Jerry Stiller, John Pankow) or clients and associates (America Ferrera, Gary Cole, Anika Noni Rose, Lili Taylor, Fred Dalton Thompson) make for a star-studded, ultimately gripping season.


Here are the twenty-three episodes contained on six discs that make up the contents of this box set:


1 – Taking Control

2 – Double Jeopardy

3 – Breaking Fast

4 – Cleaning House

5 – VIP Treatment

6 – Poisoned Pill

7 – Bad Girls

8 – On Tap

9 – Nine Hours (by far, the most emotionally devastating episode of the season)

10 – Breaking Up

11 – Two Courts

12 – Silly Season

13 – Real Deal

14 – Net Worth

15 – Silver Bullet

16 – Great Firewall

17 – Ham Sandwich

18 – Killer Song

19 – Wrongful Termination

20 – Foreign Affairs

21 – In Sickness

22 – Getting Off

23 – Closing Arguments



Video Quality

4/5


The program is presented in 1080i and at 1.78:1 for its network broadcasts, and these downconverted 480p transfers look just about as good as it’s possible for a series to look in standard definition. Color can be warm and rich, and contrast is always spot on. Flesh tones are usually quite natural. Sharpness is very good but merely a shadow of what we get on high definition broadcasts. There are minor aliasing issues that crop up occasionally, but nothing that seriously impairs picture quality. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.



Audio Quality

3.5/5


The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track does not milk its busy urban streets and legal offices for a maximum of ambient sounds. True, music does offer a nice surround presence in every episode, and dialogue has been expertly recorded and presented in the center channel. More could be done audio-wise to make the soundtrack as involving and immersive as the cases and personalities the series presents.



Special Features

4/5


Unless otherwise noted, the bonus featurettes are presented in anamorphic widescreen.


There are eleven deleted scenes spread over the six discs. They may be watched with the individual episodes with which they’re connected or accessed in the bonus features menu at a later time.


Season One Release Party offers a brief 1 ½-minute look at some of the stars celebrating their show at the release of season one on DVD.


“A Conversation with the Kings” is a two-part interview with Robert and Michelle King who created the show and who serve as writers and executive producers (Robert also directed the season finale this year). The first part (3 ¼ minutes) focuses on the creation and maintenance of the character of Alicia while part two (1 ¾ minutes) deals with the enigmatic character of Kalinda.


“’Real Deal:’ Inside the Episode” is the set’s most ambitious extra: 51 ½ minutes discussing with the producers and stars the program and its production difficulties. We’re also treated to an extended period inside the writers’ room being introduced to each writer and told of his or her strengths on the team and watching them prep “Real Deal” and also future episodes. We’re witness to facets of the seven day pre-production period and eight day shoot to get the episode in the can.


There are six internet videos shot by co-star Alan Cumming and focusing on different aspects of the show’s production. Each one must be viewed separately, but together the videos run a total of 25 minutes.


“An Evening with The Good Wifefeatures highlights of a panel discussion at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and moderated by Dalton Ross asking questions of the show’s producers, casting director, and three stars: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, and Archie Panjabi. It runs 20 ½ minutes and is in 4:3.


There are three campaign music videos which were shown only in segments during the actual season. In their entirety here, they are “Stiff Sentence” by call girl Amber Madison (3 minutes), “Peter Is the Man” by guest star Christopher Sieber (1 ¼ minutes), and “Wendy Scott-Carr” a vitriolic piece about guest star Anika Noni Rose (1 minute).



In Conclusion

4.5/5 (not an average)


The best dramatic series on network television, The Good Wife only got better during its inspired second season, a testament to what incredibly intelligent writing and superlative directing and acting can bring to viewers in weekly installments. Though not in high definition, this DVD set is a best-case alternative for fans of the show who want to rewatch the brilliance on display again and again. Highest recommendation!




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC 



#2 of 4 mattCR

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Posted August 27 2011 - 06:56 AM

Such a great series. This would be an instant buy.. if it were on bluray. It's not that this isn't a good presentation, it's just that it's hard to watch something that was originally broadcast in HD and know that you're not purchasing it that way. The second season is great stuff. It was one of the most consistent, well written shows on TV last year, and it took no easy shortcuts. There were a lot of moments I thought they'd take a cop out but they didn't. I have to say the use of Michael J Fox is a real testament to the writers of the show. Instead of it being about his disability, the show was about his brilliance as a lawyer, and his use of a disability at time to win favors. But in critical episodes, the issue NEVER came up, instead, we could only contend with the smart moves he was making and whether or not it'd pay off. I really love this series, I'm looking forward to Season 3. :)

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#3 of 4 Matt Hough

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Posted August 27 2011 - 09:57 AM

It is my favorite series on the air currently, and the third season can't come fast enough for me. I know what you mean about wanting it on Blu-ray, but as much as I enjoy revisiting the episodes and watching how beautifully the writers pay off on little things down the road many episodes after they're introduced, I'd have to have it, even in this compromised state.



#4 of 4 mattCR

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Posted August 27 2011 - 11:29 AM

I will probably grab it, for the deleted scenes and because I do love the show.   But it means I'll end up archiving the DVR recordings.  *shrug*


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