Returning after a month’s respite—the better to take a break from the fever pitch hostilities between the warring firms of Lockhart-Gardner and Florrick-Agos—“The Good Wife” continues as network TV’s best series, with new episodes available on CBS and seasons 1-4 on Streampix. And even though Golden Globe nominees Julianna Margulies and Josh Charles failed to bring home awards, their simmering chemistry continues to dominate the latest two episodes, last week’s “Goliath and David” and last night’s near-screwball comic “We, the Juries.”
Last night’s episode was heavily promoted as introducing three new songs from Bruce Springsteen’s new “High Hopes” album, including the title track (over the opening credits), “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Hunter of Invisible Game.” And while “Joad” was used as background for a bar scene, the other two songs worked incredibly well with the show’s themes of optimism turned sour, betrayal and dead-end investigations that find culprits slipping through the system’s legal cracks.
“The Good Wife” seamlessly interweaves stories with intriguing narratives wrenched from current events and politics, as the personal and the professional co-mingle and intersect in dizzying degrees. “We, the Juries” juxtaposed a drug case involving a nerdy physics professor and his supposed drug mule, a busty blonde he falls in and out of love with as the two juries, one for each defendant, weight their individual fates. That strand, in which the two rival firms find themselves simultaneously on the same, but conflicting sides, of the case—with each representing one of the accused couples—is juxtaposed against a brewing ballot-box stuffing scandal descending on Chris Noth’s hapless Governor Peter Florrick, who avoids a scandal in which it was hinted he could be the father of ethics chief Melissa George’s child (which turned out to be—spoiler alert—the real-life Peter Bogdanovich in last week’s surprise conclusion), only to be confronted with a video that shows one of the campaign operative employed by Allan Cumming’s Eli Gold unloading a crate of ballots from the back of a truck.
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The presence of Bruce Springsteen songs in last night’s episode makes it two weeks in a row that music played a big part in “The Good Wife.” Last week’s “Goliath and David” dealt in such thorny topical issues as copyright infringement, when a song parody is “transformative,” Spotify royalties and Rick-rolling (as in Astley) in a scruffy folk duo’s pop cover of fictional rapper Rebel Kane’s “Thicky Trick” on YouTube, reportedly ripped off by a flamboyant, officious TV producer obviously modeled on “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy. Throw in a steamy lesbian scene between Archie Panjabi’s Kalinda Sharma and Jordana Spiro’s aggressive policewoman gal pal, in which they discuss the merits of Katy Perry as well as a cast of expert supporting characters, including the ubiquitous F. Murray Abraham as a hot-shot music business attorney, “The Sopranos” Uncle Junior Dominic Chianese as a doddering judge and “Scooby-Doo” star Matthew Lillard as the goofy member of the folk duo Rowby and Marshall, who enlist Florrick Agos’ help in suing a major TV network after playing their year-end holiday party, and you have the ingredients for a welcome “Good Wife” return.
Some other memorable moments in “Goliath and David” include faux rapper Kane selling the “derivative rights” to cover his song for $5 while tending to his plants “who have to eat”; F. Murray Abraham’s exasperated attorney kvetching, “I’m getting so sick of this song,” after the umpteenth playing of “Thicky Trick”; Jess Weixler’s dogged investigator Robyn Burdine discovering the errant sound wave of a bowling pin in a Swedish iTunes recording of the song in question, lending credence to the charge it was stolen; Lillard’s delighted description of the court arguments as “legal jazz”; two warring musicologists fight over the meaning of “parody”; partner Christopher Fitzgerald’s tentative attempt to offer Matt Czuchey’s Cary Agos a bro hug after a favorable ruling, and the duo’s woeful manager, who works out of a bowling alley, describing the tiny amount the band makes per Spotify stream, explaining why he failed to grab “derivative rights” to the song.