Tag Archives: the good wife

Best of 2014: Shows

Of all the year-end lists, this one is by far the hardest for me. There are fewer choices when compared to my lists of characters, episodes, or actors but it’s also the least defined. I don’t even entirely know what I mean when I say these are the best shows of 2014. I watch and love so much television that it’s hard to know what the “best” is. Are they the shows I loved the most? Sometimes. I do love all the shows on this list but different ways. Are they the best, most popular shows I watch as determined by the wide variety of television critics online? Again, sometimes. There does seem to be a consensus that many of these shows are good-quality television. So what I’m left with is a combination of the shows that I feel consistently did things well over the past year and the ones I have loved the most. I’ve left off many of the “big” shows of the year that may have been technically good but failed to emotionally engage me in the same way. I’ve probably overrepresented comedies or comedy-adjacent shows but apparently that’s what I most wanted to watch this year because this list just feels right to me. As always, this is a list that says more about me than it does about the state of television in 2014. Head to the comments to tell me what you think makes a show worthy of a place on a “Best of” list and let me know your choices for 2014!

The Good Wife (CBS) Since the start of season 5, The Good Wife has proven itself to be a show that doesn’t shy away from the unexpected. It continues to reinvent itself and head in new directions. This year saw some changes for the show – Will’s death being the most notable. Diane left Lockhart Gardner, Cary was arrested, and Alicia started a run for state’s attorney. None of these characters are in the same place they were a year ago and the show is better for it. It’s allowed characters to interact in new ways and in combinations that had been previously lacking. With a continued use of fantastic guest and recurring stars, it remains one of the best-acted and most compelling dramas on TV.

Enlisted (FOX) You know a show must be something special when it touches the hearts of so many people. Enlisted’s fanbase may have been small but like many other comedies that have come before it, fans were passionate about this show and what it meant to them. It gave the focus to a set of duties that is little-known to civilians and it provided a look into just how hard the transition from war to peace can be. There was a lot this show did right. It thoughtfully examined the effects of PTSD, provided a wonderfully empathetic male character in Randy, and did it all by being genuinely funny. Perhaps the thing it did the best though was the focus on the relationship between the Hill brothers. All so very different, especially in the way they expressed their emotions, but the bond was always there. “Hands on head” moments were a surefire way to make me tear up because it felt so real. The chemistry between Geoff Stults, Parker Young and Chris Lowell was perfect. I wish we could have seen more of this amazing show but the 13 episodes we did get were well worth the time and emotional investment.

Transparent (Amazon) I knew this was a show for me very early on in the first episode. The Pfeffermans may not be the most likeable family on TV but they feel achingly real. The kids are selfish and self-absorbed in a way that a lot of us are without necessarily realizing it but they have moments of incredible kindness and compassion. They make big, life-altering decisions on a whim. They mess up and fight with each other and hurt each other but they forgive and accept each other as they are. The acting is wonderful and it is a beautiful look at becoming who you are. Maura’s transformation is the heart of the show. Flashbacks speak to her struggles and process of discovering who she is and the present time shows the lightness that comes with embracing yourself. This show is about people in all their beauty and ugliness and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Jane the Virgin (CW) I’ve already written up why I think this is a show more people need to be watching, but since I wrote that piece I’ve only fallen more in love with the show. In a TV landscape often filled with unhappiness or unrelenting drama and angst, Jane the Virgin feels remarkably grounded for a show about a girl who was accidentally artificially inseminated and whose roots are a telenovela. The plot may be extraordinary and soapy but the characters are full and emotionally rich. It’s hard not to love Jane, Xo, and Alba and want happiness for all of them. Rogelio is a true joy to watch. His personality is large and over-the-top but he remains real by his love for his newly-found daughter and his affection for Xo. It’s a show that makes me happy to watch every week because no matter what is happening (and it’s often a lot), my connection to these characters will draw me in to this heightened world.

In The Flesh (BBC America) What a beautiful gem of a show this is. At only 9 episodes between two seasons (with the fate of more seasons still up in the air), In The Flesh is a twist on the popular zombie stories of late. It’s not a story of human survival after a zombie apocalypse but rather a story of how medicated zombies are reintegrated into the society on which they wreaked havoc. The cinematography is beautiful, the characters will break your heart and make you love them, and and it examines issues like bigotry, the way religion is used to create zealous movements, the effects of PTSD and other mental illnesses on both individuals and their loved ones, and accepting who you are and the person you’d like to be.

Continue reading Best of 2014: Shows

Best of 2014: Episodes

Welcome to my second Best of 2014 list! Today we are taking a look at some of the best episodes of the year. This is always a tough list to make, as evidenced by the fact that my honorable mention list is nearly as long as my actual list. It was truly a great year in TV with so many episodes that made me laugh, cry and think. In no particular order, here are the episodes that stuck with me most this year. As always, feel free to make your own list in the comments below and for even more Best Of fun, head over the Nerdy Girl Notes for Katie’s favorites of the year.

Outlander – The Wedding It’s a crazy situation when two characters need to get married after knowing each other a short time in order to protect one of them from an angry English soldier. It’s even crazier when you consider that one of them recently traveled back in time 200 years and left a husband behind in the present. Yet Outlander makes these unusual situations work and that is largely due to the strength of the chemistry between Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. It is believable that Claire would be drawn to Jamie in this strange world and the 6 episodes preceding “The Wedding” shows that progression. Claire may be terrified and conflicted but there is no denying that she wants Jamie. Jaime would have married Claire just to protect her because it was the right thing to do, but it’s also undeniable that he deeply cares for her. And this episode shows just that – two strangers who are drawn to the other and navigating their feelings under a speedier timeline than usual. The sex, while required to make it official, isn’t an event of dreams. Jamie started out a bit confused about which direction each of them was supposed to face and then quickly finished as he was told women wouldn’t enjoy it much. And here is where the episode (and the book series it is based on, does something remarkable). It allows Claire to tell Jamie how much she did enjoy it and to teach him how to please her. Claire is a woman who knows what she wants and rarely has a show focused so much on her desires and pleasure. The episode gave us a moment solely from Claire’s perspective as she enjoys and examines her new husbands nude body before turning and allowing him to do the same for her. We get a female perspective of the sex and that is something that has been sorely lacking for too long.

The Good Wife – Dramatics Your Honor While not my favorite episode in the season (that would be The Last Call, the episode following it), this episode pulled off an impressive feat. It killed off a main character with absolutely no buildup. There were no spoilers that a character’s life hung in the balance, nothing about an actor leaving, nothing in previews for the episode. It was abrupt and it was startling. It allowed us (or at least the East Coast viewers who happened to be watching live) to be hit with the full emotional impact of the death. Even for those of us who were spoiled thanks to a combination of a different timezone, the internet, and more than a little bit of impatient curiosity, those final few moments were still breathless viewing. It was the second time in one season that The Good Wife took what we thought we knew about the show and threw it all away. It sent the show in a new direction and was one of those episodes of TV I was happy to experience with everyone else online.

Rectify – Donald the Normal Sometimes the only possible reaction one can after watching a particularly powerful episode of TV is to sit there in stunned silence and just experience the moment. That’s what this episode of Rectify did for me. Just the scenes with Kerwin’s family would have been enough to make this episode emotionally powerful. But what really made me love this episode was Daniel’s attempt to live life for a day free of his history and the suspicions of the residents of Paulie only to realize that you can’t outrun your past. It’s heartbreaking to see Daniel’s joy at getting to interact with other people without any baggage clouding their view of him. He gets to be the person he might have been without the murder charge and years in prison hanging over his head. Then he runs into a couple who recognizes him and any chance he thinks he has of a normal life vanishes. It is a beautifully acted episode from Aden Young and takes wonderful advantage of the slow and contemplative tone of the show. It was emotionally intense for me to watch but I loved how resonant and full it felt.

True Detective – The Secret Fate of All Life The editing and acting in this episode are fantastic. I loved listening to Rust and Marty tell the story of what happened to the Ledoux cousins back in 1995 while we saw the actual events unfold on the screen. It was a fascinating look at how we construct stories about our past to suit our needs (in Rust and Cohle’s case, to cover up the killing of the Ledoux cousins) and while Rust’s philosophizing has gotten a lot of the attention on the show, I enjoyed the emphasis on the psychology behind these two men getting from who they were when we first see them in 1995 to their present state, especially Rust. We saw their journey and that was never more clear than it was in this episode.

Continue reading Best of 2014: Episodes

Best of 2013: Returning Shows

Just like it was a great year for new TV, it was a great year for returning TV as well. Several shows did a fantastic job at reinventing themselves and proving their quality in a rapidly-growing TV world.

Breaking Bad I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the last two episodes of Breaking Bad (a problem that should be remedied this week) but the six episodes that preceded them were fantastic. From Walt and Hank’s confrontation in the garage to the scenes in the desert, the season was filled with tension and it brought out the best in all of the actors. While I know that not everyone was thrilled with the finale, there is no denying that the episodes leading up to it were among the best this show had to offer.

Game of Thrones This season brought 3 outstanding moments – the Dracarys scene, Jaime’s confession in the baths, and the Red Wedding. It also brought with it fantastic additions to the cast in Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister, Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell, and Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell. It was full of interesting connections between characters and some truly outstanding performances. This show continues to be one of the best.

The Good Wife I am so impressed with what this show has managed in its fifth season. The decision to split the cast into two different and competing firms has completely revitalized the show. There is a new energy and excitement to it and the quality is higher than ever. It’s hard enough to do even one episode like “Hitting the Fan” in a season but just a few weeks after that aired, we got “The Decision Tree” which was one of the best 100th episodes of a show that I’ve ever seen. For all those who think that nothing on network TV could ever compare to a cable drama, watch this show. It’ll prove you wrong.

Parks and Recreation Parks and Rec started out this year with one of its best episodes – “Two Parties”. More than almost any other, this episode summed up what this show is all about. It’s about good people doing doing things for each other. That theme carried through to “Leslie and Ben” as everyone important to Ben and Leslie pitched in to give them a perfect wedding. It’s been a year of love, friendship, and lots of laughter for this show and it never gets old.

Continue reading Best of 2013: Returning Shows

Episode of the Week: December 1st-December 7th

As TV begins to wind down for 2013, I had fewer shows than usual to watch this week but there were so many good moments. Henry was (kind of) rescued on Once Upon a Time, Stockard Channing’s presence made a fantastic episode of The Good Wife even better, Margaret found out that Bill is gay on Masters of Sex, Barney threw Robin a surprise Canada-themed rehearsal dinner on How I Met Your Mother, Terry and Boyle saved the day on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Dawson and Shay finally made up on Chicago Fire, Detective Bell broke Sherlock (and the viewers’) heart on Elementary, and Brennan related beautifully to a physicist whose daughter was killed on Bones.

For as good as those moments were, there was only one possible choice for this post. All of the praise for The Good Wife this season has been so deserved. It went from a show that I almost dropped last season to one of the highlights of my TV-viewing week. This week’s episode was their 100th episode and midseason finale and it nearly matched the sheer perfection that was “Hitting the Fan” a few weeks ago.

I know that there only a very slim chance that Josh Charles will even be nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama when award season comes around again because that is such an overpopulated category but if they wanted to invent some other category just for him, I would not complain at all. His chemistry will Juliana Marguiles is truly electric and there was so much of it in this episode. From their flashback to happier times to the interrogation scenes (both imagined and real), they both just shone. Will showed some vulnerability over what happened with Alicia for the first time since “Hitting the Fan” and I loved it. He is so angry and hurt and the use of the fantasy interrogation was the perfect way to show that.

Juliana Marguiles also did some of her best work in this episode. I have loved this kick-ass Alicia that we’ve seen in recent weeks and her work during the actual interrogation scene was a perfect show of strength from her. She was so different from the way Will imagined she would be and so was able to surprise him and hurt  his case instead of helping it.

On top of their brilliant work, Stockard Channing just makes everything better and I need more of Veronica sparring with Jackie in the future. Finally, Alan Cumming provided the best comedic relief of the evening with his spit-take reaction to the name of Marilyn’s future child. It was just a fantastic episode of TV and a great way to end the first half of this season.

Episode of the Week: October 27th-November 2nd

October 27th was an incredible night for television. On ABC, Revenge delivered another entertaining episode and Once Upon a Time showed a new side of Hook. On Showtime, Michael Sheen gave a heartbreaking performance at the end of Masters of Sex. And finally on CBS, The Good Wife had the best episode of the 2013-2014 TV season to date.

Any other week, Masters of Sex would have won for the final scene alone and the fact that Allison Janney made her first appearance on the show. This was not any ordinary week. It’s rare that a show in its 5th season creates quite as spectacular an episode as The Good Wife. The writing was strong and the performances were all fantastic.

There are so many scenes that can be singled out to explain why the episode was so good. There was Will’s immediate reaction with Alicia, with all of Josh Charles intensity and the moment Alicia got fed up and started kicking ass. There was a visible change in her demeanor when Will fired her and I give Juliana Margulies so much credit for the added physicality in that scene.

Continue reading Episode of the Week: October 27th-November 2nd

Finale Review: The Good Wife

Episode Title: What’s in the Box?

Renewal Status: Renewed for season five

Season Thoughts: This season was a little rocky. I didn’t find the firm’s financial problems all that interesting, although I did love Nathan Lane. My largest problem with the beginning of the season, however, was Kalinda’s story line. There was absolutely nothing redeemable about Nick or his storyline and then they seemingly killed him off, never to be seen or heard from again. It was sloppy and did nothing but turn Kalinda into a nearly unrecognizable character. On the plus side, Kalinda and Alicia did sort of rekindle their friendship as a result.

I also really miss Alicia and Will’s relationship. I prefer them to Alicia and Peter romantically, but I’d even take their friendship back. This season (like Peter’s campaign) has also suffered from a lack of Eli. I don’t need him around all the time, but I would have liked to see more of him succeeding at him job rather than being under investigation.

I was also not entirely thrilled with the concept that Diane may have to give up her partnership with Will in order to be on the Illinois Supreme Court. Diane is one of my favorite characters of all time, and therefore, I think she should get to have everything she wants. I want her to marry Kurt and have political arguments with him for the rest of their lives, I want her to be on the Illinois Supreme Court and kick ass, and I want her and Will to be friends forever. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Basically, I felt like there was a lot of stuff that needed to be addressed going into the finale and I was unsure that they could address them all properly.

Continue reading Finale Review: The Good Wife

Galentine’s Day: A Celebration of Female Characters

It’s Galentine’s Day! Sort of. It’s technically the 14th but I haven’t slept yet so I figure I can pretend it’s still the 13th for a while longer. In keeping with the spirit of this holiday, I wanted to celebrate a few awesome ladies on television.

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Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)

As the creator of Galentine’s Day, I figure she probably deserves to be mentioned first. Leslie is my fictional hero. She is passionate, determined, and caring. She believes in working to make your community a better place, celebrating the women in your life, having big dreams, and that friends (and waffles) should always be higher priorities than work.

Continue reading Galentine’s Day: A Celebration of Female Characters

2013 Television Wish List

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2013 is filled with lots of happiness and lots of good television for you. Here are some things that I’d like to see happen with television this year on certain shows but also in the industry in general. What’s on your wish list for 2013?

Continue reading 2013 Television Wish List