The Good Wife Season 5 Review “The Bit Bucket”

Whenever you have a show with a large cast, screen time can come at a premium. Depending on where certain storylines are going, certain characters can casually float on and off screen, or disappear for episodes at a time. Eventually, all shows are faced with the tough issue of integrating characters into storylines or giving them storylines of their own. Too often, characters can feel shoehorned into the proceedings even if the story doesn’t require their involvement. It takes a very strong show to be able to cut ties with a capable actor because they no longer service the story they want to tell. Most recently, Parks and Recreation announced that Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe would be departing midway through this season. Though Lowe and Jones are valuable comedic actors, their stories had run their courses. It was time, everyone involved knew it, and there doesn’t seem to be any lingering hard feelings. Now, it’s time for The Good Wife to follow suit.

While most of the actors in The Good Wife family are well-served, there are a few who should be ready for a change of scenery. I think I’m ready to say we’ve reached that point with Alan Cumming. The reasons to keep him are numerous and perfectly understandable. The guy is straight Emmy bait for a show that trades in its cache, Eli Gold is a fun character to watch, and his relationship to Peter does tangentially ties him to the family. However, the show has continued to struggle to find juicy storylines for him to sink his teeth into. Now, Eli is supposed to be the Chief of Staff for the Governor of Illinois, but we also find him tracking down a missing gavel. Cumming is in an actor that adds to the show’s already sterling reputation. However, if he’s going to be around, then he certainly deserves better than running lines with Dreama Walker about Latin.

This week’s case of the week had the unfortunate distinction of having to go after last week’s case which was The Good Wife functioning at its highest episodic level. Therefore, the show decided to trot one of the better guest stars it has in its vast Rolodex. However, the show kind of muted him this week so it could pull the camera back for a wider shot on the issues of privacy and government interference. It’s definitely a story for our times, but these types of episodes are never the firm’s best look. All of the legal maneuvering involved did seem interesting, but it was the obvious the show was starting to settle in to its 22 episodes of drama inside and outside of the courtroom. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but coming on the heels of the premiere episode, this episode felt like a profound step backwards. Still, the show looked amazing and hummed along like clockwork. It just overplayed its hand last week. The bar has been set, and the next few episodes will likely get measured against it as well. Fair or unfair, the audience of 2013 has demands.