Spoiler Alert: Judge Gordon Sullivan's season-long arc runs through this review.
Our reviews of The Good Wife: The Fifth Season (published November 1st, 2014), The Good Wife: The First Season (published September 14th, 2010), The Good Wife: The Second Season (published September 7th, 2011), and The Good Wife: The Third Season (published September 11th, 2012) are also available.
Don't let the name fool you.
Several changes rocked the world of The Good Wife between the end of Season Three and the end of Season Four. Perhaps the biggest was the death of executive producer Tony Scott. Though the show doesn't show the same hands-on approach that a show like Numbers does, the folks behind The Good Wife dedicated the season to his memory. Another big change was the 2012 presidential election; although no power changed hands on the presidential level, the election fervor seems to have spilled over into this season, with Peter's campaign taking an increasingly prominent role. Though personal relationships are reconfigured, not much about the approach changes, making The Good Wife: The Fourth Season a consistent show sure to appeal to fans.
Alicia (Julianna Margulies, The Newton Boys) is still a great attorney, but her firm may be in trouble even as she's set on the path to promotion. She's also dealing with the gubernatorial aspirations of her philandering husband Peter (Chris Noth, Sex and the City), her personal relationship with colleague Will (Josh Charles), oh, and being a mother and The Good Wife for the cameras. All twenty-two episodes of the season are spread across six discs.
The last season ended on Alicia standing beside her husband as he announced his candidacy for governor of Illinois. That decisions contributes one of the bigger threads to the plot of this season of The Good Wife. Fans of Chris Noth will, of course, appreciate his appearances, but this plotline also gives Alan Cumming even more time to shine as the behind-the-scenes fixer trying to keep Peter's media image pristine despite his indiscretions. Cumming's Gold spends much of the season putting out fires caused by negative articles that would reveal the extent of Peter's indiscretions and also put the lie to just how wholesome his relationship is with his family. It's the perfect election-year arc.
Meanwhile, the other major storyline involve Alicia more directly; she's been so successful in her return to law that she's in line for a promotion. Of course, that's not a terribly interesting story in itself, so this season spices things up by revealing to us just how deep her law firm is in debt. This ensures that Alicia must navigate her own promotion while helping to keep the law firm afloat. If there were any justice in the world of the show, Alicia would win the lottery and never have to keep anyone but herself from drowning for the rest of her life. As it is, she has to stand by and support yahoos to ensure her own opportunity at success. However, the ups and downs of her shenanigans with the law firm keep Alicia on her toes in a good way this season.
Of course, the show is still a "case of the week" legal drama as well. Though some of the headlines are a bit dated, the show still strives to take cases beyond the usual "whodunit?" variety. This season we get a woman trying to get out of an FCC fine after her breast was exposed on TV, a couple of computer types fighting over software rights, along with a few more run-of-the-mill murder cases. Some of the twists are a little less twisty this season, but overall the cases stay compelling.
The Good Wife: The Fourth Season continues the creators' commitment to excellent DVD releases. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfers included on this set are nice. We get lots of good detail, colors that are appropriately saturated, and black levels that are consistent and deep. This is pretty much what standard def broadcast television is supposed to look like. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks keep dialogue audible up front, with some surround use to establish atmosphere in certain scenes.
Extras start with four featurettes that cover the show's direction, sex, fashion, and relationships. These are EPK-style featurettes that combine clips from the show with interviews featuring the talent. My favorite moment occurs in the featurette on the show's sex scenes when we get to see a comparison between the scene as shot and the scene as it aired. All but a handful of episodes feature deleted scenes.
The end of the season is satisfying, but it leaves the writers in the position of having only a few directions to go. Only time will tell if the show can continue to capitalize on the cast it has built to continue telling interesting stories both week-to-week but also over season-long arcs.
The Good Wife: The Complete Fourth Season is a fine example of the legal/political drama that admirably raises the stakes for all the characters while telling some interesting one-off stories. The presentation is great and the extras are informative, making this one worth a purchase for fans of the show.
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