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Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 1:25 a.m.
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The TV Column

CBS' Good Wife still hot despite cable's allure

By Michael Storey

This article was published August 21, 2014 at 2:00 a.m.

the-good-wife-starring-josh-charles-and-julianna-margulies-is-up-for-five-emmys-on-monday-the-cbs-drama-returns-for-season-6-in-september-but-without-charles-whose-character-was-killed-off-last-season

The Good Wife, starring Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies, is up for five Emmys on Monday. The CBS drama returns for Season 6 in September, but without Charles, whose character was killed off last season.

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards air from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday on NBC. Note the earlier date this year and the Monday broadcast instead of the usual Sunday.

One of the most highly honored broadcast network programs (an increasing rarity in the cable-heavy Emmy universe), is CBS' The Good Wife. I could not agree more. It's one of the best shows on TV despite the fact it was snubbed (again) for a Best Drama nomination.

Good Wife did make the Best Drama nominations in 2010 and 2011. Being overlooked ever since speaks more to the strength of the cable contenders and not to a lack of Good Wife quality.

Honored? The series was named one of the American Film Institute's Top Television Shows of 2013. The AFI said, "The Good Wife raises the bar in its fifth year with an audacious act of reinvention. Creators Michelle and Robert King upset the status quo with the dissolution of the series' core legal team -- making politics deeply personal in a delicious dance played out by a sparkling, sophisticated ensemble led by Julianna Margulies."

In addition, the series won the coveted 2014 Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama, earned two Golden Globe nominations (for Margulies and Josh Charles) and five Emmy nominations this year.

The Emmy nods are for Outstanding Casting; Outstanding Guest Actor (Dylan Baker); Outstanding Supporting Actor (Charles); Outstanding Supporting Actress (Christine Baranski); and Outstanding Lead Actress (Margulies).

The Good Wife will return for its sixth season at 8 p.m. Sept. 21. It will be the first time without Charles.

In the series, Margulies plays Alicia Florrick, a disgraced wife who returned to work as a lawyer after her state's attorney husband (Chris Noth) was sent to prison following a sex and corruption scandal.

After four successful years with the prestigious Lockhart/Gardner firm, Alicia started a firm with her colleague, Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry). That launched a nasty feud with her former bosses, Diane Lockhart (Baranski) and Will Gardner (Charles).

Good Wife fans were stunned -- stunned -- in Episode 15 last season when Will, Alicia's former flame, was gunned down in a courtroom by a deranged client.

No cliffhanger. No last minute medical heroics in the hospital. No shower scene where it was all a dream.

Will was dead. And not only merely dead; he was really most sincerely dead.

There was a fandom hue and cry. I got as many emails as when Games of Thrones beheaded beloved main character Ned Stark in Season 1.

For the season's remaining seven episodes, viewers followed mesmerized as the drifting Alicia grappled with how to proceed with her life.

We last left Alicia separated from husband Peter (now the governor of Illinois) and considering a couple of interesting options: She could run for state's attorney herself, or lure Diane to her new firm.

But many viewers are still in mourning for poor dead Will.

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Charles said fans tell him they're sad about Will's death, "but they're also really excited about where the show's going. We knew going into this season it would be my last. We were able to plan for it and structure it and kind of knew where [the death] would lead the show."

And Charles, who had wanted to leave at the end of Season 4, knew early that Will would be killed off.

"I knew before we finished the fourth season. I mean, what are your options, really? Will leaves and then he's always kind of still hovering."

About moving on, Charles explained, "I wanted to make sure that I left [the show] in as good a spot as I could ... being able to give the character a more proper goodbye and really write something special for him.

"It's a hard thing to articulate when you feel like you want to just have new experiences. You're working long hours where you're seeing people on the set more than you're seeing your family. And sometimes it doesn't allow you to really have other experiences."

We'll see plenty of Charles in the future, just not on The Good Wife.

Meanwhile, catch him at the Emmys on Monday. As the only broadcast network representative, Charles faces some impressive competition in the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama category:

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad; Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones; Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan in Ray Donovan; Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey; and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 08/21/2014

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