The Good Fight: Season Five DVD Review

4 Stars Satirical legal and political procedural has few equals.

Season five of The Good Fight continues the riveting absurdities and hilarious complications inherent in the legal profession buoyed by a fascinating blend of characters from all walks of life and a writing and production team that’s second-to-none.

The Good Fight (2017–)
Released: 19 Feb 2017
Rated: TV-MA
Runtime: 45 min
Director: N/A
Genre: Crime, Drama
Cast: Christine Baranski, Sarah Steele, Nyambi Nyambi
Writer(s): Michelle King, Robert King, Phil Alden Robinson
Plot: When Diane Lockhart's life savings are lost, she must start from scratch at a new firm.
IMDB rating: 8.4
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: CBS
Video Resolution: 480P/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 8 Hr. 37 Min.
Package Includes: DVD
Case Type: Amaray case with leaf in a slipcover
Disc Type: DVD-9 (dual layer)
Region: 1
Release Date: 05/03/2022
MSRP: $33.99

The Production: 4/5

When writer/producers Robert and Michelle King spun off The Good Fight from their masterful CBS legal procedural The Good Wife in 2017, they clearly wanted a show that retained the legal framework from the mothership (and with several of the same regular and recurring characters from The Good Wife) but with a decidedly more political bent and one that would often veer from reality into the surreal. Beginning with Diane Lockhart’s (Christine Baranski) stunned, shell-shocked reaction to the Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump in the series’ premiere episode, the show has never shied away from the lies, scandals, and absurdities of the political system and its fracturing impact on the nation and world at large. The current fifth season, sliding the storytelling from the Trump to the Biden era, continues with the bizarro scenarios letting its surreal political satire drive its narrative mechanisms making it truly one of the most original and unpredictable shows now being produced.

After a rather lengthy COVID hiatus, the fifth season’s first episode “Previously On…” uses a vignette motif to tie up loose ends from season four (including the exiting of two principal characters: Delroy Lindo’s Adrian Boseman and Cush Jumbo’s Lucca Quinn) and bring on a new regular, junior associate Carmen Moyo played by Charmaine Bingwa all happening against the backdrop of major events during Donald Trump’s last year in office: the COVID-19 pandemic, the George Floyd killing and the Black Lives Matter Movement, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the 2020 election and its contentious aftermath. With a more stable federal administration, the stories in season five after the first episode focus less on Presidential politics and more on domestic issues and interoffice squabbling.

Primary among them is the potential nationwide legalizing of marijuana told in a recurring narrative involving drug kingpin Oscar Rivi (Tony Plana obviously inheriting the mantel of wealthy drug lord that Mike Colton’s Lemond Bishop occupied so forcefully during many seasons of The Good Wife). New associate Carmen Moyo’s ability to speak Spanish and concentrate all her energies on Rivi’s business enterprises make her a vital asset to the Reddick-Lockhart & Associates firm as they bring various cases involving him before a series of judges and courts (in true The Good Wife/The Good Fight fashion, a succession of eccentric judges hold vigil over his fate, everyone from Bebe Neuwirth and Mark Deklin to Dennis O’Hare and Jane Curtin).

Two other recurring storylines capture major screen time in the season’s ten episodes: Diane Lockhart’s on-going combat with the firm being a white name partner in a mostly black law firm continuously at odds with co-name partner Liz Reddick (Audra McDonald) over her role, status, and future with the company and once investigator-now law student Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele)’s growing involvement with a bizarre homemade legal arbitration court set up in the back of a local copy shop and presided over by the hugely unconventional Hal Wackner (Mandy Patinkin) who uses animal costumes, a prosecution/defense scoreboard, a live musician to accompany testimony, and an arena bell to call order to give his courtroom a singular flavor.

Wackner’s unique court captures the interest of conservative firebrand David Cord (Stephen Lang) who sees it as the first step into a national scheme of anarchy overturning legal institutions and eventually the entire government. Cord’s first step in his grand scheme is to hire television producer Del Cooper (Wayne Brady), currently involved in a heavy affair with Liz Reddick, to heighten the trial proceedings and increase their audience appeal. When Wackner’s court with his willing participation moves past small claims squabbles and into real issues involving drug running, hate crimes, and murder, the final episodes of the season begin to take a deep, dark tone.

Other problems during the season involve the liberal Diane’s conservative husband Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole) whose Tea Party sympathies have tied him tangentially to the January 6th insurrection with an FBI agent played by Jane Lynch and a Federal ADA played by Mamie Gummer hot on his tail, the overbearing conglomerate STR Laurie making dictatorial demands on Reddick-Lockhart that force them to find a third name partner for the firm – another wacky legal eagle Allegra Durado (Wanda Sykes), and both investigator Jay Dipersia (Nyambi Nyambi) recovering from the aftereffects of COVID and Diane Lockhart finding solace in their darkest moments in conversations with the departed spirits of (for him) Frederick Douglass (Ben Vereen), Karl Marx (Steven Skybell), Malcolm X (Clifton Duncan), and Jesus (Brandon Mendez Homer) and (for her) Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Elaine May in her final performance).

Here are the ten episodes contained on three DVDs in this season five set:

1 – Previously On…

2 – Once There Was a Court…

3 – And the Court Had a Clerk…

4 – And the Clerk Had a Firm…

5 – And the Firm Had Two Partners…

6 – And the Two Partners Had a Fight…

7 – And the Fight Had a Détente…

8 – And the Détente Had an End…

9 – And the End Was Violent…

10 – And the Violence Spread…

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The series is framed at a Cinemascope-like 2.35:1 and is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. The images are very sharp and quite robust for standard definition transfers. Flesh tones on the white characters can sometimes be too rosy (but not always), but generally speaking, color is solid and contrast is superb. As with most standard definition, you can find a trace of aliasing if you look hard enough for it, but in the main these are solid transfers. The episodes are generally divided into 6 chapters and run anywhere from 40 to 58 minutes.

Audio: 5/5

The discs offer a choice of Dolby Digital soundtracks: 5.1 or 2.0 stereo surround. Both are excellent in conveying the multitudes of dialogue, music, and sound effects without any problems with distortion or channel interference. Music in the rear surrounds can be quite robust, and the insurrection-inspired climactic courtroom scene in the season finale finds interesting ways to use all channels at its disposal.

Special Features: 2/5

Deleted Scenes: twelve scenes are scattered among the three discs in the set, aligned with the episodes from which they were cut.

Gag Reel (2:34)

Overall: 4/5

Season five of The Good Fight continues the riveting absurdities and hilarious complications inherent in the legal profession buoyed by a fascinating blend of characters from all walks of life and a writing and production team that’s second-to-none. Highly recommended for the adventurous television viewer who isn’t easily offended by the extremes in political posturing or satirical approaches to varying American viewpoints.

Matt has been reviewing films and television professionally since 1974 and has been a member of Home Theater Forum’s reviewing staff since 2007, his reviews now numbering close to three thousand. During those years, he has also been a junior and senior high school English teacher earning numerous entries into Who’s Who Among America’s Educators and spent many years treading the community theater boards as an actor in everything from Agatha Christie mysteries to Stephen Sondheim musicals.

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