This week saw the return of a bunch of great TV shows from their winter hiatuses. Sunday’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine took all of its characters on a weekend trip, and The Good Wife featured a huge sigh of relief for Cary while tensions rose around Kalinda. Monday gave us the return of The Bachelor with farmer Chris looking for love. Tuesday staked its claim as a fantastic night for television in 2015 with an excellent series premiere for Agent Carter and our first look at Mindy’s time at Stanford on The Mindy Project. And there were plenty of things for sports fans to cheer about as the NFL playoffs kicked off.
This may have been one of the most difficult choices I’ve had to make yet for the best thing on television this week—between Captain Holt eagerly playing a game designed to poke fun at him on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Peggy threatening a sexist jerk with just a fork on Agent Carter, and Cary’s sentencing on The Good Wife. Ultimately, though, I went with what moved me the most—and that came from The Good Wife.
Matt Czuchry’s performance as it dawned on Cary that the case against him was being thrown out was so incredible that I want him to get an Emmy nomination this year for that moment alone. The pure relief and gratitude on his face was paired with a deeper sense of exhaustion that made the relief feel even more powerful. Playing “overwhelmed” can lend itself to overacting, but Czuchry proved that he has taken lessons from the Christine Baranski/Julianna Margulies playbook with the subtlety he brought to that moment. Being able to convey so much emotion in just a facial expression is something every member of the cast of The Good Wife excels at, and Czuchry’s reaction provided perhaps the most earned and cathartic moment I’ve seen on television this season.
The way The Good Wife balanced the relief Cary felt and we felt for him with the fear Kalinda felt and we all felt for her just added to the brilliance of that scene. Nothing on The Good Wife is ever simple; everything is layered. And that kind of emotional complexity made what was already a fantastic scene even better by showing that Cary’s freedom and happiness has a cost, and that cost is one Kalinda is going to have to pay.
This week in television started off with a very emotional hour of Once Upon a Time, a fantastic Halloween episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and another strong episode of The Good Wife. Monday’s Castle basically gave all of us everything we never knew we always wanted: Nathan Fillion interacting with a room full of cute kids. On Wednesday, Black-ish addressed a controversial issue in a way that was both sensitive and genuinely funny, and Nashville introduced another “dad who didn’t know he was a dad” storyline. Finally, Thursday’s episode of Scandal was the most tense and dramatic of the season (and that’s saying something), and it was followed by another master class in acting from Viola Davis on How to Get Away with Murder.
It was impossible for me to pick just one thing I saw on TV as the best of the week, so I’m going to cheat and pick one night. Sunday nights are a TV lover’s dream this season, and this Sunday was an exceptionally great night. Once Upon a Time‘s much-hyped date between Hook and Emma exceeded even my high expectations with just how genuinely sweet and romantic it was (especially that “goodnight” scene outside the loft’s door). Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Halloween episode had me laughing from start to finish, and Holt’s description of how he pulled one over on Jake was another highlight reel moment for Andre Braugher and made me love that character more than ever before. And the showdown between Alicia and Peter on The Good Wife had me thinking Emmys already in the middle of October. There’s nothing better than ending a weekend with some excellent television shows, and Sunday TV is exactly what I need to put me in a good mood to start the workweek.
This week in television featured another group of strong season premieres, which began with a great first episode of Once Upon a Time‘s fourth season on Sunday. That night also saw Brooklyn Nine-Nine return with just as much humor and character development as ever, and it gave us an episode of The Good Wife with almost an embarrassment of riches in terms of great moments. Monday’s “movie night” on Dancing with the Stars was just the kind of light entertainment I needed before the season premiere of Castle broke my heart as it kicked off the season with a great mystery. Tuesday’s series premiere of Selfie was cute enough to keep me tuned in for another week, and both New Girl and The Mindy Project had their fair share of funny moments (and, in the latter’s case, one very sweet one involving a nightstand). Wednesday’s Black-ish was a strong follow-up to its hilarious pilot, and Nashville tugged at my heartstrings with some wonderful moments between Deacon and Maddie. Finally, Thursday’s night of Shonda Rhimes was once again impressive, with a standout, fearless performance by Bellamy Young on Scandal and another fascinating episode of How to Get Away with Murder.
In a week of television filled with great moments, the most satisfying came from The Good Wife. Watching Diane leave Lockhart/Gardner the way she did reminded me that no one does elevator scenes better than this show. It was also such a great parallel to last season’s exit by Cary, Alicia, and those they took with them. Christine Baranski’s ability to captivate with her subtlety was used perfectly in that scene. Her whispered “Goodbye” as she left for a fresh start was incredibly powerful in the myriad of emotions that crossed her face in that one short moment. My campaign for “Baranski for an Emmy” has begun once again.
This episode of The Good Wife also can’t be discussed without bringing up Cary and Alicia’s hug. After seeing so much tension between them and so much tension in Cary’s story in general, it was such a beautiful moment for both the characters and the audience. Sometimes you just need to see something warm and happy on television where you’d least expect it, and that hug was the most pleasant surprise imaginable.
With the 2014 Emmys right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about who we think will take home the night’s big awards (which will be the topic of a post over here this weekend), as well as who we think should be given an Emmy this year. Although I found myself fairly disappointed with this year’s group of nominees (surprise, surprise), there are still some names on the list that I will be crossing my fingers for on Monday night. Some of those names don’t have much of a shot at winning, but I love a good dark horse.
When Monday rolls around, I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see if Amy Poehler, Andre Braugher, and Julianna Margulies are rewarded for their stellar performances this season. The buzz around Braugher and Margulies is strong, so I’m hopeful about their chances. And for as much as I love Poehler, I don’t think this was Parks and Recreation’s strongest season. Therefore, I think she might have to wait for a “body of work” Emmy next season. All three of these actors have been deservedly showered with praise far more eloquent than anything I can ever say about them, so I want to turn my attention to the final nominee I’m wholeheartedly championing this year—a woman whose subtly affecting work is often overlooked in favor of others in her category and even on her show: Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart on The Good Wife.
This week in television kicked off with another emotional Sunday night, as death returned to Storybrooke in devastating fashion on Once Upon a Time and the grieving process began on The Good Wife. Monday night’s episode of Dancing with the Stars featured a stunning performance from Meryl and Maks that earned the first 10s of the season. Tuesday gave us the triumphant return of The Mindy Project, which made all of us fall even more in love with Danny Castellano. Wednesday’s episode of Nashville featured huge moments of emotional confrontation between Scarlett and her mother as well as between Rayna and Deacon. Thursday’s episodes of Parks and Recreation, Suits, and Scandal continued to set the stage for their April season finales, as Once Upon a Time in Wonderland had its series finale. And Anna Kendrick’s turn as Saturday Night Live host last night was one of the most purely entertaining hosting performances of the season.
This was another week where the best thing I saw on TV was far from the happiest. And, once again, it came to us courtesy of the brilliant actors on The Good Wife. All of “Last Call” was stunning and compelling—from Cary’s deposition outburst and David Lee’s private moment of grief to Diane unleashing her righteous anger on an unsympathetic client and Kalinda’s showdown with Will’s killer. But the scenes that have continued to haunt me were the scenes between Diane and Alicia, the two women who loved Will more than anyone. Their first hug was punctuated by brutally realistic sobbing, and their moment of quiet, shared grief in Diane’s office was a beautiful showcase for the talents of Christine Baranski and Julianna Margulies. Their performances in this episode should land both of them on the list of Emmy nominees this year, if there’s any justice in this world.
For as emotionally draining as this week in television was, there’s no denying that it was also one of the most compelling in recent memory. Sunday night began with an episode of Once Upon a Time that introduced us to Rapunzel and forced Charming to confront his fears about fatherhood and his guilt over putting Emma in the wardrobe. In the next hour, The Good Wife gave audiences a twist so unexpected and devastating that it’s still haunting fans a week later. On Monday, Castleshed more light on the character of Captain Victoria Gates. Tuesday’sBrooklyn Nine-Ninefinale opened new paths for Jake’s career as well as his relationship (professional or “romantic stylez”) with Amy, and New Girl also featured a new path being taken by Nick and Jess (although this path looks far less hopeful than anything on Brooklyn Nine-Nine). Wednesday’s Nashville brought a host of secrets out into the open, and Thursday’s Suits provided opportunities for both Mike and Louis to think about their futures.
Often, my pick for the best thing I saw on TV in any given week is the moment that made the happiest. But sometimes, the best thing you see is the thing that breaks your heart the most. That’s exactly what happened this week. Although the Brooklyn Nine-Nine finale made me the happiest, nothing else I saw on TV this week (and maybe nothing else I have seen this entire TV season) had the impact on me that The Good Wife had.
(Warning: There are MAJOR spoilers for last week’s episode of The Good Wife ahead.)
I watched this episode on Monday, so I had already been spoiled for Will’s death, but the lack of complete shock didn’t mean I still wasn’t emotionally destroyed by the loss of one of my favorite characters and a partner in most of my favorite relationships on that show. Watching Kalinda and Diane discover Will’s dead body in the hospital made me sob as I watched it unfold from my couch. Archie Panjabi and Christine Baranski gave such raw, horrifyingly realistic performances in that moment. There was such a sense of disbelief in that scene, and it mirrored what the audience was going through so brilliantly. I’m ready to have my heart broken by these two incredible actresses (and Julianna Margulies) once again tonight.
This week got off to an amazing start with quite possibly the best night of television I’ve watched in a long time. Not only did Sunday feature an excellent Once Upon a Timeepisode that gave us a backstory and a kiss many fans have been waiting a long time to see; it featured what was quite possibly The Good Wife‘s finest hour. Monday’s Dancing with Stars and Castlewere both fun episodes until their unexpectedly sad conclusions. Wednesday’s Nashville saw everyone pairing off and hooking up, and Thursday’s Scandal was one shocking twist after another (and was once again a fantastic episode for Mellie Grant). Finally, the latest episode of Saturday Night Live proved that Kerry Washington is so much more than just Olivia Pope; she’s incredibly funny and charming on her own.
As entertaining as the rest of the week was, nothing could compare to Sunday night. It began with a bang, as we learned the tragic story of how Killian Jones became a pirate alongside the inspiring story of how his feelings for Emma are reawakening the sense of honor he’s always held close to his heart. But even excellent acting by Colin O’Donoghue and one heck of a kiss couldn’t surpass what I saw an hour later on The Good Wife. It’s rare that an entire episode is good enough to be the best thing I saw on TV in a given week, but that’s exactly what “Hitting the Fan” was.
This episode was an hour of nothing but incredible moments after incredible moments. Kalinda’s loyalties, Diane’s impending judgeship, the animosity between Peter and Will, the complicated relationship between Will and Alicia—this episode took storylines that have been building since the beginning of the show’s run and brought them to a head in the most explosive, dramatic way possible. Everything in this episode was brilliant—from the acting and directing to the script and the score. I found myself holding my breath at more than a few points; that’s how tense it was.
The best example of that delicious tension came in the episode’s very first scene. Will’s confrontation with Alicia took all of the dynamics of their relationship and used their history to create a moment that was as powerful as anything I’ve seen on television this season—a moment I’m not sure can be topped in terms of its drama on both a plot level and a character-driven level.