Julianna Margulies is on the case in 'The Good Wife'

"The Good Wife" is a CBS drama starring

"The Good Wife" is a CBS drama starring Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies as a wife and mother who assumes responsibility for her family and re-enters the workforce after her husband's very public sex and political corruption scandal lands him in jail. (Credit: CBS Photo)

THE SHOW "The Good Wife"

WHEN | WHERETuesday at 10 on CBS/2

REASON TO WATCH Top-notch cast, and shot in NYC.

WHAT TONIGHT'S ABOUT Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) must stand by in humiliation while her husband, Peter (Chris Noth), the attorney general of Cook County, resigns from public office in the wake of financial and sexual misconduct; he denies the former but cops to the latter. Six months later, Alicia is back in the work force, as a junior associate at a fancy-pants Chicago law firm where a $1,000-suit dress code is mandatory and so is zippy-zappy dialogue that would make Aaron Sorkin's head spin.

This is a shark-infested place, where one of the other associates, Cary (Matt Czuchry), a snotty Harvard punk, is looking to topple her, and where the firm's partner, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), takes other females under her protection - to control them. Fortunately, Alicia's got a protector, good guy Will Gardner (Josh Marshall), who went to law school with her and is now running the place. Then there's fellow associate Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), who may or may not be an ally.

BOTTOM LINE First thing you should know about "Wife" is that this is a big canvas framed specifically for one major TV actress, Margulies. Second thing is that it's produced by Tony and Ridley Scott. The Scott boys are not known for subtlety and you won't get that here. Everything on this canvas is slathered in blacks and whites; grays have been sent to their room without supper. The men, for the most part, are evil, stupid, horny louts. The women are wronged, spurned, abused. It's heavily predicated on audience assumptions, which is another way of saying it plays to its audience's prejudices.

That's OK (TV does that), but Margulies - beautifully, sumptuously filmed here - can't quite sell it. She's a little too cool, a little too frosty. There are many enjoyable performances by many wonderful actors, including Baranski, Panjabi and, the nicest surprise of all, David Paymer, who plays a judge. But you've seen much of this before.

GRADEB+

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