'The Good Wife' review: Michael J. Fox gave a cleverly distracting performance

In portraying a lawyer who used his “neurological condition” to distract and sway jurors, Michael J. Fox used the fact of his Parkinson’s disease in an artfully witty way on this week’s The Good Wife. Fox’s wily Louis Canning made distracting moves and noises in the courtroom, hijacking attention away from Julianna Margulies’ Alicia and her legal team.

It was a clever idea and performance, and typical of the way The Good Wife constantly merges fiction with real life. The central case involved a woman who’d committed suicide — Alicia’s firm hoped to score an eight-figure settlement from a drug company that manufactured anti-depressants that, the firm claimed, spurred suicidal behavior in this episode titled “Poisoned Pill.”

The hour also carried two sub-plots. The political career of Peter Florrick’s new opponent, Anika Noni Rose’s Wendy Scott-Carr was placed in jeopardy when news spread of a $19,000 breast augmentation operation. This was supposed to be damaging to Scott-Carr’s rep as a champion of the down-trodden, which seemed a bit of a stretch to me, but, hey, crazier things have happened in real-life politics, I suppose. What really seemed like a stretch was that no one spreading the rumor discovered Scott-Carr’s redeeming twist: that she’d been diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. Which she revealed in an interview on CBS’ The Early Show. (CBS’ The Good Wife never misses a trick.) This wasn’t even the story line’s most clever touch: The Good Wife found a way for Rose, a skilled vocalist, to sing. The National Anthem, no less, with Alan Cumming’s Eli sighing, “Of course she has perfect pitch.”

For fans, though the key sub-plot was Kalinda’s special relationship with a public defender played by Lili Taylor. Taylor’s Donna and Kalinda had a history — Kalinda had broken Donna’s heart by kissing and disappearing, in an effort to protect what Donna called “your secrets.” Scott Porter’s Blake tried to blow Kalinda’s cover, even as Kalinda, working with Matt Czuchry’s Cary, dug up some dirt on Blake that will doubtless play out in future episodes.

The Good Wife even managed to make Alicia snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as Fox’s Canning explained in the final seconds of the show. Once again, we had experienced more plot and character development in an hour than NCIS, Castle, and Law & Order: SVU can muster for an entire season combined.

What did you think of this week’s Good Wife, and Michael J. Fox’s performance?

Twitter: @kentucker


Comments (147 total) Add your comment
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  • DW

    A great hour. MJF and the whole cast were fantastic. What a really solid and quality show this is. All the plots were interesting and well done. We are very happy to see Cary & Kalinda being friendly again. Czuchry & Panjabi have a natural chemistry that is fun to watch. Blake is looking more and more like a real creep. Also continue to like how they show all the lawyers as money grubbing and ethically challenged-just like in real life. Hope MJF returns to TV’s best show. Love it.

    • Jason

      I wish Ken Tucker didn’t watch such horrible television. I’m interested in shows that aren’t reality, or political based, and Ken Tucker just isn’t. We got rid of one completely biased TV Reviewer, looks like it’s time to get rid of another.
      By the way: Sons of Anarchy is turning out it’s best, most popular season yet. You should check it out. Even though there are no bickering housewives, fashion runways, or Republicans to drool over, it’s still a fantastic show.

      • Marguerite

        Wow, bitter much? As one of the unenlightened masses, I don’t find this show “horrible” in the least. I was thrilled to see that MJF was going to guest star, and he was great.

      • sally1018

        Yes, Sons of Anarchy is a great show and so is The Good Wife.

      • sheb

        I lenjoy both The Good Wife and SOA for different reasons. Bonus is having Titus Welliver on both shows, playing equally good villains!

      • Jeri

        Yeah, it’s so political I wouldn’t dream of voting until I caught the newest episode. I guess you can match your prejudice to anything if you try hard enough.

      • Tom

        Ken is a big fan of Sons of Anarchy, he’s actually why I started watching

      • DW

        Not sure what Sons of Anarchy has to do with TGW. Viewers and critics appreciating TGW doesn’t mean they don’t like SOA.

    • Seddie Forever!!!!!!!!!

      Michael J Fox makes every show great – the severely underrated Spin City is one of the best shows of the 90s period

    • Orac

      Blake isn’t the only creep. The question now: Is Bond also a creep? He defended Blake for working for MS 13. Is he secretly a gang/mob lawyer just buying his way into a new market?

      • DW

        Agreee totally. I think Blake and Bond will have bad secrets revealed about them.

    • wino

      cary and kalinda are extremely fun to watch, such chemsitry! the only upside to Blake is that it gives Kalinda an opportunity to work with Cary in maybe stopping/catching/defeating Blake. It also reveals Will’s dark side (yum), especialy if he knows what Blake does in order to get results.

      • DW

        Cary and Kalinda are great together. I hope they expand upon their friendship. The chemistry is terrific.

  • Hrfe

    Well I generally like your posts, what the hell was that at the end? Castle? Did you seriously just compare The Good Wife to Castle? Castle doesn’t even do that, they’re totally different shows! One is definition drama while the other is comedy with some murder thrown in for fun. I just don’t see why you have to compare The Good Wife to other shows, its good enough on its own.

    • Megs

      I agree. It’s not fair to compare GW to NCIS, SVU or Castle. They are totally different formats and are plenty strong in their own right.

    • Beaglicious

      Ditto Hrfe. Good Wife is very good, agreed. But DON’T EVER mess with my Castle! Unprofessional and uncool, man.

      • Katie

        Unprofessional? His PROFESSION is to write a POP column about television shows. How is it unprofessional to compare one show to another (despite how you may disagree with the comparison)? Methinks you need a dictionary.

    • aughra

      Sorry, I have to agree with Ken. I DVR Castle, NCIS and Good Wife, and was thrilled to meet the cast of Castle this summer, so I’m a fan. However, Good Wife, for all its strong characters, can squeeze in a lot more plot in its A, B, and sometimes C storylines than my other faves do. Different pacing; a difference I recognize and respect–it works well for this high-powered cast. Just like every show can’t, or shouldn’t be at PBS/BBC pacing either.

    • Jason

      blah blah blah, they are all variations of the same legal/crime show we’ve seen a thousand times. I wish people could see how many identical shows are on each network

      • Kristen

        Well, the good news is that people CAN see “how many identical shows are on each network”… it’s called a TV. I kind of thought that’s what we were all talking about.

    • AD

      Could never watch a full episode of Castle – too silly and dull; so I stopped trying. Too ridiculous. Really, an author rides along with the cops constantly? Really?

      • wendy

        yes, because ALL shows on TV are just like real life…and so should follow ‘real life’ rules. because ‘investigators’ for a lawyer’s office always get away with breaking the law…

    • Sue1

      I agree. TGW is great, and deserves praise based on it’s own merits. Negative comparisons to other shows…shows that people enjoy…was not necessary.
      Fox did indeed rock.

  • K

    Ken, man… I hope you’re reviewing preview copies of these shows at a decent hour of the day and not staying up every night to file recaps and reviews. I don’t often agree with you, but sheesh, it seems like EW has you working awfully hard in this 24-hour world we live in now. On topic: would someone please tell me what song is playing in the background of the final scene where they’re celebrating the settlement? I deleted the episode accidentally before I could run SoundHound on it, and I’ve spent a shameful amount of time trying to find the answer somewhere on the internet this evening. Thanks in advance.

    • JS

      yessayer – One

      • K

        Awesome – I really appreciate it!

    • TV reviewers get screeners of episodes ahead of time. He just writes the review beforehand and posts it after the episode airs.

      • Ken Tucker

        Wrong in 98% of instances.
        Best,
        Ken

      • Miss J

        Haha! You guys actually read this sh!t! Go Ken!

  • PR

    CBS if you are listening..stop ruining this show with banners running across the screen. You have a great show on your hands, what value is it to irritate the viewers?

    • Textumbleweed

      YES!!! YES!!! and YES!!!! We know there are other shows on and coming up. Even with DVR we still see the commercials and other previews.

  • scrutinizer

    Good Wife just keeps blowing away all the other hour dramas. And as for Archie Penjabi….WOW…now there’s a perfect example of a major star in the making!!!!!
    And a special thank you to the producers and casting directors for inviting one of my all time favorite actresses, Lili Taylor, to appear in tonight’s juicy episode.
    Can’t wait til next Tuesday :)

    • Jennie

      @scrutinizer – Totally agree with everything you said! Archie’s going to be a star, her career’s just getting started. Love that Lili Taylor and MJF guest-starred. LOVE THIS SHOW!!!!!! Good Wife is stellar entertainment.

  • Megs

    Ken – don’t go knockin’ NCIS! Yes, the Good Wife is a well written and clever show. But it is not the end-all, be-all of television.

  • Flyer

    By mentioning Blake’s past, it seemed like the show was subtly suggesting that Blake was the one who beat up the psychiatrist during a fake “burglary attempt,” making him unable to reappear in court (and thereby forcing a settlement). Was I understanding that correctly? Or am I completely off-base?

    • Cilla

      That is what happened because in the last episode he broke into the masseuse’s home and made it look like a robbery too. We now know that he has a bad past. And Kalinda’s reaction also suggested that.

    • D

      Did they say he got beaten up? I must have missed that part! Yikes!

    • Elli

      Subtle like a kick in the kidneys.

    • Ellen

      I was waiting for Will to say something to Blake about the (obvious?) connection of the Doctor’s injuries to Blake’s acquisition of damning info about him. It seemed clear that Will asked Blake to get the dirt because he knew he would do whatever it took to get it – which implicates Will in the crime. That plot point is definitely going to be important later.

      • Miss

        That’s definitely two weeks in a row where Blake did something very bad. Breaking in and snooping, OK (well, not really but for the show it’s OK) but last week he did a lot of damage and stole money and this week he injured someone. Badly, I think? I bet this is setting the stage for some big time drama.

      • Samantha

        It definitely changed my view of Will. He always seemed like the shining knight compared to Peter, but it shows that he’s willing to do bad things to get what he wants. It’s a bit disappointing really.

      • Kathy

        I’ve always thought that Will wasn’t such a great guy. Now we know more about his tactics, and I’ll still take Peter any day.

  • Cilla

    Loved this episode. So much good stuff. First, Blake seems so evil and the scene with him and Will in the elevator gave me a bad feeling. What is up with Derek, Will & Blake? I just love Cary and I wish they had him more in each episode. And Kalinda genuinely seems to be worried about Blake so now I’m worried.

  • C

    well, getting back on topic… MJF did one awesome job being an attorney last night. besides having Parkinson’s, he picks his roles well now and does them well. =)

    • bob

      well yes it is a very hard thing to go thought i have thaT parkison dieaes to

  • Fluff

    Wonderful episode! The acting was brilliant. The writing was so much better than last episode’s.
    I can’t wait for Fox and Taylor to be back. The way they fleshed out their characters in just a few scenes speak volumes.

    Now can Blake be hit by a car or something? He’s just annoying, period. Porter is not good enough to lift him off the page and on the page, he’s just a jerk without a single redeeming quality or even a reason to be. I don’t get it.

    • Kathy

      Sorry, but I disagree. Scott Porter is doing a good job with a character that isn’t as well-written as most of the others on this show. But I think there is more to come.

  • Daniel Liam

    This show is without a doubt the best drama on television. The acting is superb, the same goes for the writing and the production.

  • ajmalzx

    Blake’s a badass, Canning’s more than worthy opponent, Thomas giving the candidates a serious run for their money. And to think we’re barely through 1/3 of the season, mind my is going to blow up with awesomeness when this season ends.

    • elena

      THIS.
      Am I the only one who wishes Cary and Childs got more screen time? I know Cary’s not coming back to the firm anytime soon, but his scenes with Kalinda were sweet as well as plot-advancing (always a good thing).
      It was hard to top last ep, though, because Will punching people and getting sassy is always a win.

      • Hm.

        I agree. I like Cary more than Blake.

  • Kimberly

    Ah , man . I can’t believe I forgot that Michael J. Fox was on this weeks episode, I missed it .

    • Jean

      It’s online on CBS.com. Enjoy!

  • Cheryl Doglass

    HURRAY MICHAEL’S BACK!! THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO BREAK OUT IN INTENCE , SERIOUS LAUGHTER. WE ARE SO BLESSED THAT HE CHOOSES TO SHARE HIMSELF WITH US…SO WAKE UR AMERICA WATCH “GOOD WIFE” AND CONE ALONG FOR THE RIDE….HA HA HA HA

  • Sydney

    This episode had some nice twists and turns and MJF did a great job (nice to see that he can still act with his condition). To be honest, I didn’t really like the Kalinda-Donna storyline. Especially at the end with Donna’s jealousy of Alicia. She works in the State Attorney’s Office! I’m sure she’d know who Alicia Florrick was. Kalinda-Blake is not quite as intriguing but it was great to see Kalinda-Cary. Please bring him into more scenes! I miss his verbal sparring and he’s a young fresh dose into this sometimes too serious and middle-aged drama.

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