Pulling out all the stops in delivering its best season ever and standing as one of the best programs on all of television, CBS’ The Good Wife is truly in a class by itself among broadcast network television dramatic series. Unlike mere legal procedurals which delve into fascinating legal conundrums which involve the push and pull of defense and prosecution, The Good Wife has retained that aspect but not at the deficit of its exploration of character. In fact, so deeply enmeshed are the people and their problems (both personal and professional) on this show that the result is a consistently riveting hour after hour with no lapses or filler in its twenty-two produced episodes for its fifth year on the air.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 480P/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 15 Hr. 49 Min.
Package Includes: DVDAmaray case with leaves
Disc Type: DVD-9 (dual layer)
Release Date: 08/19/2014
The most turbulent season in the show’s five year history begins with the attempted execution of a death row inmate and doesn’t stop for air for twenty-one subsequent programs as legal firms are born and die, partners love and war with one another, and many personal relationships reach their breaking points. At the end of season four, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) had decided to leave the firm which had been her home for the past four years and go off on her own with Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) and some other fourth-year associates. But the leave isn’t able to be accomplished as quickly as Alicia would like bringing her into direct conflict with her name partners at her firm Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and Will Gardner (Josh Charles), two individuals who will feel the hurt, sense of betrayal, and utter fury once the plans are exposed in the show’s astonishing fifth episode “Hitting the Fan,” the first of a series of game-changing episodes which were sprung on the public with little or no preparation and which made the series one of the most talked about during the 2013-2014 television season.
The Production Rating: 5/5
Once the firm of Florrick/Agos and Associates is established, it’s practically a Holy War with Lockhart/Gardner for much of the rest of the season as clients get poached and courtroom cases become lethal battlefields with each side sporting take-no-prisoners attitudes. Professional and personal lives intersect constantly during the season, too, when one especially poignant circumstance impacts the lives of every major character on the show and leads to the inclusion into the last several programs of the season one of the show’s most canny and unscrupulous adversaries Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox). This season, the cases which are tried must play almost second fiddle to the interpersonal relationships which shift as readily as sands of the desert, and running story arcs with Diane’s potential Supreme Court judgeship, Will’s obsessive expansion plans for the firm (which include hiring one of the shiftiest lawyers in the history of the show – Jason O’Mara’s Damien Boyle), the struggles for the new law firm to get and keep clients, Alicia’s husband Peter (Chris Noth) potential voter fraud trial, and the pesky NSA who is bugging both law firms and the governor’s office stretch over multiple episodes.
In addition to the sensational ensemble playing of the series regulars who to a person were never better than this season, the guest star list this season remained stellar from returning players like Dylan Baker (sinister Colin Sweeney), Mike Colter (Chicago drug lord Lemond Bishop), Gary Cole (ballistics expert and Diane’s new husband Kurt McVeigh), Stockard Channing (Alicia’s partially dipsomaniac mother), Nathan Lane (lawyer Clark Hayden), and Carrie Preston (genius scatterbrain Elsbeth Tascioni who earned a well-deserved Emmy for her inspired work the previous season) to new additions like Jill Hennesy (a much-in-demand lawyer) and Laura Benanti as Colin Sweeney’s latest inamorata, all scored in major ways during the season. And, of course, one would be remiss not to mention the entertaining roundelay of guest star judges played by the likes of Victor Garber (a particularly frantic episode with two juries), Kurt Fuller, Dominic Chianese, Donna Murphy, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Kind, Edward Herrmann, and Jane Alexander, among others.
Here are the twenty-two episodes contained on six discs in this season five set:
1 – Everything Is Ending
2 – The Bit Bucket
3 – A Precious Commodity
4 – Outside the Bubble
5 – Hitting the Fan
6 – The Next Day
7 – The Next Week
8 – The Next Month
9 – Whack-a-Mole
10 – The Decision Tree
11 – Goliath and David
12 – We, the Juries
13 – Parallel Construction, Bitches
14 – A Few Words
15 – Dramatics, Your Honor
16 – The Last Call
17 – A Material World
18 – All Tapped Out
19 – Tying the Knot
20 – The Deep Web
21 – The One Percent
22 – A Weird Year
The program is presented on CBS 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. Colors can be warm and rich and nicely saturated, 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 is a bit of aliasing that can be glimpsed on select episodes. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track (the discs also offer Dolby stereo surround 2.0 tracks) does not milk its busy urban streets and legal offices for a maximum of ambient sounds. True, music by David Buckley does offer a spacious surround presence in every episode, and dialogue has been expertly recorded and placed 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.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Deleted Scenes: 37 deleted scenes are scattered across the six enclosed discs paired with the episodes from which they were taken. That means that the deleted scenes for episodes 5 and 15, the two most ground-breaking episodes of the season, are especially valuable.
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
New Season, New Alicia (3:17): creators Robert and Michelle King and star Julianna Margulies share their comments on a new attitude for Alicia as she moves into a position of power in season five.
“Thicky Trick” Music Video (3:22): the cast and crew dance along with the soft rock song which forms the basis of episode 11.
Requiem for a Friend (53:27): a comprehensive look into the planning, construction, staging, shooting, and post-production work on the monumental episode 15. Among those contributing to the discussion are creators/writers Robert and Michelle King, executive producer David Zucker, director Brooke Kennedy, stars Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, and Christine Baranski, composer David Buckley, and film editor Matt Kregor.
Gag Reel (3:40)
Still the best series on network television by a considerable margin (the Television Critics Association voted this season’s The Good Wife as the Outstanding Television Drama), The Good Wife added to its incredible luster with its fifth season being a near-perfect production. Uncommonly well written and performed, the show is a riveting dramatic jewel week after week and by far the shiniest gem in the CBS crown of hit dramatic shows. Despite the fact that CBS/Paramount does not issue the series in high definition for home video, a good upconverting player can make this box set a reasonable if grudging compromise for fans of the show. Highly recommended!
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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