So much to love about The Good Wife

Julianna Margulies heads a cast of staggering quality in The Good Wife. Photo: SuppliedWhat is it about The Good Wife (Ten, 9.30pm)? Compared with trendier shows, it’s so staid, so talky, so barren of sex and violence and swearing. It’s so old fashioned – a legal drama about serious, passionate professionals with a bracing dash of quirk, in the vein of The Practice, or even LA Law. And yet it has survived and thrived in the new world of television, along the way garnering critical plaudits and a committed fan base who declare it the best thing on the box.

Part of its appeal has to be in a cast of staggering quality. Alongside the exceptional Julianna Margulies, as the titular wife, and Chris Noth as her husband the governor, you have a line-up that includes Christine Baranski, Alan Cumming, Michael J. Fox, Matthew Goode, Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing, among others. It’s a concentration of acting talent that most shows would kill for, and it elevates The Good Wife above your run-of-the-mill court opera.

But there’s also the fact it’s as much a political drama as a legal one. Internecine intrigue is the focus, and in Wednesday’s season finale the various plots are thickening like hell, as an inadvertently left-on webcam allows good wife Alicia’s firm an insight into how her former firm of Lockhart-Gardner plan to destroy her.

At the same time, the malign forces within Lockhart-Gardner are also gunning for Diane – their own boss. Diane is attempting to engineer a merger with Alicia’s new firm, which causes a butting of heads between Alicia and Cary, who is being played by the feminine wiles of Kalinda, working on Lockhart-Gardner’s behalf. It’s complicated by Governor Florrick making an offer to Diane, who must decide whether to give in or fight back against Michael J. Fox.

OK, got that? Following it all might be exhausting if it weren’t done with precision, touches of the domestic and occasional comic relief – the latter from Lane and Channing, the former from Alicia’s attempts to deal with office warfare while planning graduation celebrations for her son.

Work-life balance, the most relatable of themes, woven into a tale of high-powered legal superstars in the thick of corporate battle. That’s the balance that makes The Good Wife much more than you expect.

The combination of stellar cast and exceeded expectations is shared by Bob’s Burgers (Eleven, 10.30pm). TV’s great deadpan heroine, Tina Belcher, is on a mission to uncover the truth behind the “Mad Pooper” wreaking havoc at her school, and as is the wont of BB, crudity is the springboard for a thing of beauty and a work of genius.

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