The Good Fight opens with scandal – which, as we know, is a recipe for good television.
The spin-off successfully marries the past and the present. It feels both familiar and rejuvenated.
Talk about girl power. Whew.
The show is grounded in reality. The current political climate is the perfect plot device.
The pilot episode is heavy on exposition, introducing new characters into a familiar universe.
While interesting on paper, the title sequence seems to have been an afterthought.
Dog Days are over as Diane learns what it means to be on the right side of things again in The Good Fight.
After an unsuccessful marriage and an unexpected Trump presidency, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) decides to retire as name partner from one of Chicago’s leading law firms. As a final act of kindness, Diane offers to mentor her god-daughter Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie) during her last weeks in office.
When Maia’s father (Paul Guilfoyle) is arrested for running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, Diane is unceremoniously ousted from her firm as both her savings and her legacy are wiped out. After being labeled ‘poisonous” because of her close ties to the Rindells, it is opposing counsel Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) who is prepared to take her and Maia in.
In the second hour, Maia joins Julius Cain (Michael Boatman) and Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) in providing pro-bono legal advice – forcing her to attend a seminar based on the Friedman Method. Maia uses this technique – an intelligent algorithm to detect lies – to find out whether her mother (Bernadette Peters) is lying about her innocence in the Ponzi scheme. Let us tell you, she’s definitely not innocent. Hi, Uncle Jax.
At the office, Diane tries to find her place but almost immediately butts heads with Barbara (Erica Tazel). The competitive name partner doesn’t appreciate being blindsided by the hiring of Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele) as Diane’s personal assistant. Being labeled “the diversity hire”, Diane – who once lectured Barbara on racial issues – finds herself acknowledging her past stumbles on the subject. It’s the beginning of a brand new chapter.
Diane’s become fruit of the poisonous tree.
When The Good Wife aired its series finale back in May, it served as a reminder that the show was ultimately about Alicia (Julianna Margulies). While her story came full-circle over the course of seven seasons, several other characters were left hanging. Although The Good Fight has only just gotten started, we’re confident it will resolve some of the loose ends imposed by its predecessor.
The reason this show works so beautifully is because it just makes so much sense. In our experience, reboots tend to fail because they are either exactly the same or completely different from the original show. While the pilot is a little heavy on exposition, it’s a necessary evil. The first hour documents the transition from The Good Wife into The Good Fight, shedding any excess baggage and effectively draining the swamp.
The show never cuts ties with the past as much as it feeds on it. It aptly brings along only the elements that enrich this particular story, leaving behind those that don’t. For anyone who’s ever wondered – this is how you create a successful spin-off.
“People I thought with all my heart were guilty turned out to be innocent and people I thought were saints… They weren’t.” – Diane Lockhart
After only a few minutes, one thing becomes glaringly obvious: this show has purpose and there are things left to say. The Kings didn’t create The Good Fight to milk CBS’ golden cash cow – or at least it doesn’t feel that way. Instead, Diane feels like the perfect character to explore at a time of such civic divide. Even though the show’s creators had expected a Clinton win, Lockhart’s storyline feels invigorated by the current political climate – serving as the ultimate catalyst for what’s to come. Talk about losing everything.
The secret that makes The Good Fight feel so close to the original lies in its set-up. Both shows explore what happens when a woman unwillingly falls victim to scandal. Where The Good Wife opened with Alicia being launched into the national spotlight, its successor focuses on the more intimate side of things – which is satisfying as we never really got to see Diane’s weak side.
Different Girl(s), more power.
Here’s what sets The Good Fight apart from its predecessor: it’s no longer a one-woman show. When The Good Wife dominated airwaves, most of its supporting cast served as a plot device to further develop Alicia’s story. In this reboot, most of the characters rightfully stand on their own. While powerhouse Christine Baranski gets top billing, the show is not just hers to carry.
The real thread of the series runs with Diane’s goddaughter, Maia. Having just passed the bar, she feels like a Florrick-proxy right from the beginning. While the first season of The Good Wife explored the political nature of its scandal, this spin-off investigates the personal lives of the people touched by it – explaining why we ended up with three leading women instead of just one.
“Bad things happen to good people” – Diane Lockhart
In its first two hours, The Good Fight offers something that the original show lacked at times: character development. In merely two episodes, we’ve learned more about Lucca Quinn than we did in an entire season of The Good Wife. No longer a pawn to her (former) friend Alicia, the character is finally able to stand on its own in a world full of corporate suits. Her stone cold delivery upon meeting Diane for the first time in a year hints at a rift of some sort – one that we can’t wait to learn more about. What on earth happened between the two them?
In a way, all of the characters resemble Alicia Florrick at the different stages of her life. Maia, a first-year associate, has been publicly humiliated and is forced to make a name for herself. Does that sound like classic season one Alicia or what? Lucca, on the other hand, has seen her fair share of hurt. She’s handing out advice left and right – at times even mentioning her disgraced former friend. “Don’t let them see you cry”, she preaches as her eyes of steel resemble those of Florrick at the end of season seven. And ultimately… There’s Diane, who simply resembles everything Alicia could have been but chose not to be.
It’ll be interesting to see how these characters evolve and how their paths diverge from their counterpart.
The Good Fight literally blows up The Good Wife.
So let’s talk about those opening titles – we just have to. Starting with the second episode, The Good Fight most noticeably diverges from its predecessor by implementing a lengthy credits sequence. Scored by David Buckley, the opening scene features an elegant array of workplace artifacts such as a laptop, a chair and a purse. But there’s a twist. As soon as we’re treated to a seemingly inconspicuous gavel, the sequence hits a turning point and starts to – literally – blow up the items one by one. But what does this mean?
Watching the familiar explode is an excellent metaphor for this show: although it has a lot in common with the original, the spin-off effectively puts an end to the previous story as it transitions into new domain. Apart from referring to the show itself, the title sequence also illustrates the current political climate. What better analogy for the Trump administration than a series of random explosions?
This sequence, in addition to Diane watching the presidential inauguration, helps ground The Good Fight in a current reality – making it a tad more urgent and compelling than other legal dramas of the same kind.
It’s time for Diane to box up that picture of Hillary Clinton once and for all.
RELATED | Watch: The Good Fight opening credits
While the concept of this opening sequence is well thought out, its production feels like an afterthought. The concept – blowing up the old as an introduction to the new – works well but for a sequence this lengthy, we would have expected something a little more – or less – polished. We get it, minimalism equals elegance but when we’re forced to watch opening credits for sixty seconds, we’d prefer something a little more diverse. Because that’s what this show is all about, right?
We’re left wondering: was there no better way to present these items that could have pushed its concept even further? We would have loved to have seen the old “Lockhart & Lee” offices blow to pieces as a final send-off. Now, that would have been one hell of a sequence.
FINAL VERDICT: After two episodes, The Good Wife has gracefully transitioned into The Good Fight. The show respects its legacy while opening up the universe to new trials and tribulations. This is a fight worth watching.
The kings devised a masterful strategy for launching their Good Wife spin-off. They took it slow – and it paid off. Instead of launching the show with a batch of new characters, they gave us time to reconnect with Diane. At the beginning of the pilot, things were as we last left them but over the course of an hour, we transitioned with the character as she adapted to a new reality. The Good Fight really starts at episode two, but taking the time to ease the audience into this new environment was a clever move.
Ultimately, the biggest problem with this show lies not in its directing, writing or acting. It lies with its platform, CBS All Access. It’s difficult to review a show voraciously when it’s being confined to an inferior online medium. Keep in mind: this is not Netflix (or even Hulu). Had anyone even ever heard of CBS All Access before The Good Fight was announced? We’re confident this show has an audience – and then some. But would we pay six bucks a month to watch it? Well, let’s just say this: would we pay six bucks for anything these days?
So far, the only thing that has slightly bothered us in the first two episodes was the production value. When the quality of a show is this high, even the slightest mishap draws attention. Apart from the disappointing opening credits, the show suffered a small technical blunder: near the end of the second episode, the boom came into picture for a few seconds – and while the audience probably hasn’t noticed, any professionally trained camera guy should have.
Details aside, we’re looking forward to witnessing the different interactions the members of this ensemble. Barbara and Diane have an interesting dynamic that we can’t quite figure out. There’s a hint respect mixed in with a good chunk of contempt, which leaves us wondering which will ultimately prevail.
The good news is that this relationship opens the door to a thoughtful storyline about race. In the final seasons The Good Wife, Diane already faced complaints about racial hiring practices but that arc never materialized because all of the protagonists were, well… White. With tensions already high after only two episodes, we are confident the Kings are being deliberately more attentive – as they should.
All in all, The Good Fight is off to a Good Start. Successfully blending the past and the present, CBS did the right thing rebooting this show. While The Good Wife casts a big shadow, its spin-off is already emerging as a giant of its own kind!
- Disclaimer: I know this review talks about Alicia Florrick and The Good Wife A LOT. In my upcoming reviews, I’ll keep these observations to a minimum or have a separate section for them here. Here, discussing them at length was necessary in order to learn what kind of show The Good Fight is – and what kind it isn’t. That said…
- “FUCK!” – Did you hear it? Diane dropper her first F-bomb in eight years. Atta girl!
- “Lockhart, Deckler, Gussman, Lee, Lyman, Gilbert, Lurie, Kagan, Tannenbaum & Associates”. Really? Okay, I admit, that was kind of funny. But who throws shade at their own show?
- Diane’s villa in The Provence was underpriced. If she doesn’t want it, I’ll go for it. Also, that valley view was fake as hell – can you guys try a little harder next time?
- I’m team #Durt. I don’t want that marriage to be over – and I don’t think it is. Ideally, I want to see them get divorced for financial purposes but reignite that spark they used to have.
- YAS! Dennis O’Hare is back doing weird shit in the courtroom. What was up with that beard? Totally matched his prescription sunglasses.
- Ugh, those financiers got on my nerves and I get the feeling we haven’t seen the last of them.
- Oh my god, what about that exchange between Lucca and that horrible LA lawyer? I forget her name, but their little back-and-forth about hairstyles killed me. By far my favorite moment of the episode. When did Lucca get so cynical, jeez.
- Let’s return to the CBS All Access problem for a minute. If you do plan on getting a membership, consider this: why pay a monthly fee to access weekly episodes when you can binge watch this show at the end of May – and only pay for a one-month membership? Just saying…
Catch new episodes of The Good Fight on Mondays, exclusively on CBS All Access
The Good Fight: 1×01 & 1×02 – “Inauguration” & “First Week” Review.