Alicia (Julianna Margulies) in the sixth season premiere of "The...

Alicia (Julianna Margulies) in the sixth season premiere of "The Good Wife." Credit: CBS

THE SHOW "The Good Wife"

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 9:30 p.m. on CBS/2

CATCHING UP At the end of the fifth season, the principals of Florrick Agos & Associates learned what the principals of Lockhart Gardner (and Canning) were secretly plotting. (They may all be good lawyers, but no one knows how to turn on -- or at least off -- the conference room teleconference system, remember?) Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) does not want to merge with his old firm, LG, but Alicia (Julianna Margulies) does. Meanwhile, at LG, Canning (Michael J. Fox) and David Lee (Zach Grenier) are secretly plotting the ouster of Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski.) Or maybe not so secret (the teleconference room system ... ). Diane end-runs the palace coup by taking an offer to Alicia and company: "I've come here to ask you if you will take me -- me and my $38 million a year in client billings."

The tumultuous season wrapped with Eli Gold's (Alan Cumming) spur-of-the-moment offer to Alicia -- would she like to run as Peter Florrick's (Chris Noth) State's Attorney? As the sixth season begins Sunday ("The Line"), a major plot twist -- no spoilers here -- threatens to completely upend all these best laid plans of mice and men. (Of note -- Sunday begins at a special time to accommodate a double-run of the new series "Madame Secretary" at 8:30 and 10:30.)

MY SAY Good shows, great shows and bad shows all eventually end -- that's TV's unbreakable law of mortality -- but predicting when the end should arrive is tricky business. (And it is all about business, too.)

Nevertheless, "Good Wife" co-creator Robert King did muse about this during one of those pretaped "Ask the Showrunner" segments that streamed on Amazon Prime when the fifth season was posted on the service. Seven seasons seemed about right, he said, or to quote: "If we got the call from CBS which said the only people watching are you and your relatives, we'd be able to wrap it up pretty quickly, but I think we know what seven years are about."

What the first five have been about are endlessly inventive verbal gymnastics that cloak intricate plot and character developments that require a heavily marked-up flowchart just to keep track of them all. But they generally flow in one major direction -- Alicia's, as she adjusts from crisis (Peter Florrick's infidelity) to greater crisis (Will Gardner's -- Josh Charles -- death toward the end of last season.)

Now she must respond to Eli's pointed question -- State's Attorney or not? -- and the answer conceivably pivots on the entire endgame. To run for office means not only a career redirection but a personality one, or as Peter Florrick shrewdly observes of his wife, the reason she is so popular in Chicago is because she is not a politician.

As the sixth season begins, it may be helpful to keep Eli's question and the possible answer in the back of your mind. (Sunday does open with one, and fans can easily guess how Alicia responds, at least for now.) What's especially intriguing -- for fans, potentially exciting -- is that Alicia isn't alone in grappling with a life-altering decision. The showrunners of a classic series already know how all of this will end. Will we too get a fleeting hint of the final chapter Sunday?

BOTTOM LINE Good, crackling start that -- as the old saying goes -- changes everything and may even point to the end.


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