In a desperate scramble to find something to watch yesterday (other than a Judge Judy rerun I must have seen at least three times already), I stumbled onto the pilot for The Good Wife (2009). I didn’t take much notice of it first time around, because it all looked a bit too dour and grown-up for my liking… but following Archie Panjabi’s Emmy win, I was curious to see what ‘Pinky’ had been up to since she went Stateside.
It seems a pretty solid premise for a drama series, and overall I found it engaging enough. I’ve always enjoyed the “battle of wits” aspect of courtroom dramas, although it was a little hard to take seriously here, considering how similar the character’s first case was to the one that ‘Elle’ was fighting in Legally Blonde. An entire police force shown up as fools by one feisty lawyer lady, and her tenacious belief in the innocence of her (pretty, blonde) client! And all it took to break the case wide open was a few stray strands of dog hair, a floating plastic bag, and an in-court outburst! Hah! Take that, you lazy flatfoots! Girl Power! Etcetera! The only upside for me was that the victim’s wife was played by Katharine Isabelle, of Ginger Snaps fame. It took me a few blinks to recognise her, but once I did, I was sorry to see her get so few scenes. I wonder how it must feel to go from being the star of your own cult trilogy to playing bit parts like these? She got to show her range, so that’s something… and the series did go on to be a big hit… but that’s all they wrote for poor ‘Cindy Lewis’.
As for Panjabi… well, it wouldn’t be fair to judge her on the strength of a single episode, but I was a little disappointed. Obviously I’m biased, but I couldn’t help imagining M-Rod in the same role, and thinking that she’d have given it a bit more edge, a bit more grit. I like the character a lot… a snarky, streetwise detective, whose gruff exterior hides a heart of gold… I just didn’t feel it, from Panjabi. She seemed a bit too… um… nice. That’s probably just me wanting the character to be something she isn’t, rather than evaluating Panjabi’s performance on its own merits. Clearly the Emmy judges disagree with me, along with the many fans she’s made over the series, so I’m happy to concede… and I did enjoy her acceptance speech. I’m not sure if she was being deliberately provocative, or if she was just being honest… but really “This is just amazing for my career!” is probably the first thing that most actors and agents think when a win is announced. I’m sure it’s nice to have lots of shiny awards sitting in a display case at home, but generally speaking these things are somewhat subjective… there are plenty of truly great thesps who never picked up an Oscar, for instance… and many more who were given what’s considered a “token” win in later life, as an apology for overlooking previous performances… so, in real terms, the biggest pay-off is the publicity, and the subsequent boost to your profile and wage packet. Fair play to her for acknowledging that, at least.
As for the series… yes, I watched it again today… and apparently Alan Cumming shows up in later episodes, so I guess that I might as well stick around to see how things play out. It’s not what I’d call “essential viewing”, but if I’m in, and it’s on, then I’ll watch it.