The Good Fight Review

The Good Fight Review: The Verdict on the Spinoff Is In (and It's... Good)

TV Review Grade B+In the opening scene of The Good Fight (premiering Sunday, Feb. 19 at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access), liberal warrior Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski, reprising her role from The Good Wife) is watching a playback of President Trump’s inauguration on TV, and the horror and disgust on her face is unmistakable. It’s a timely and darkly amusing sequence that also proves to be the premiere’s weakest. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, series creators Robert and Michelle King acknowledged that the scene in question was a last-minute add. “Like most pollsters, we thought Hillary Clinton would win, so we wrote scenes about Diane retiring from the law because she ‘broke every glass ceiling,'” they said. “Obviously we needed to rewrite [it].”

Fair enough. The problem, however, is that while a Clinton victory would’ve served as the perfect springboard for what happens next, a Trump win does not. So it’s jarring when, immediately following that ominous, demoralizing introduction, we cut to the South of France, where a happy, sated and all zen-like Diane is plunking down a 1.5 million euros to buy her dream villa, after which she triumphantly announces her retirement to her fellow partners at the now-ginormous Lockhart Deckler Gussman Lee Lyman Gilbert Lurie Kagan Tannenbaum & Assoc.

On the bright side, the rest of the opening hour is so strong that you quickly forget about the continuity-challenged start. It helps that a Trump presidency quickly becomes the least of Diane’s worries. Just as she’s preparing to launch her lavish, low-key second act, she gets word that her entire life’s fortune — including her retirement fund — has been Madoff’d by her accountant, leading her to drop the episode’s first of many wonderfully liberating F-bombs. (CBS All Access, baby!) It also propels her into the unusual position of underdog, which, in turn, allows Baranski to show us her alter ego at her most broken and vulnerable. Not surprisingly, the actress rises to the occasion, thereby confirming what many a Good Wife fan suspected going in: Baranski makes a helluva leading lady.

And the Emmy winner is in very good company. Fellow Good Wife standout Cush Jumbo is back as steely Lucca (whose shoulder chip has become considerably more pronounced in the intervening year), and Game of Thrones‘ Rose Leslie makes a solid first impression as Diane’s goddaughter Maia, who also happens to be the offspring of Diane’s allegedly duplicitous accountant. The scandal enveloping Maia’s dad casts a shadow over the nascent lawyer’s first week as an associate and essentially sets her up as the Alicia of the story.

Suffice it to say, Diane is forced to call off her retirement and continue practicing law, but not at Lockhart Deckler Gussman, etc., where her plea to rescind her resignation is flatly denied by that weasel David Lee (Zach Grenier). Without giving too much away, she takes a job with the only firm that will hire her (hint: it’s the one that also employs Lucca) and brings Maia along with her.

The premiere spends a fair amount of time laying pipe, so Episode 2 provides a more accurate picture of what the series will look like moving forward. And it looks really good. As with The Good Wife, the offshoot juggles a case of the week with several serialized — and thus far compelling — story threads (one of which is the mystery over what really happened to Diane’s fortune). Good Wife fans will also recognize the dramatic score and the Kings’ signature breakneck pacing, as well as additional familiar faces, most notably the sublime Sarah Steele as Eli’s no-nonsense daughter Marissa.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: The Good Fight stumbles a bit after the bell but quickly recovers to deliver, if not a K.O., at the very least a victory by unanimous decision.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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55 Comments
  1. Steven says:

    Can’t wait for the premiere! Still contemplating if I wanna subscribe.

  2. Baileigh says:

    I know its way to early to even be thinking about the DVD release, but will there be a DVD release of The Good Fight?

  3. meleliot says:

    Still not paying for CBS.

    • Big Mike says:

      1 – Wait patiently for all eps to drop
      2 – Sign up for free trial
      3 – Binge watch
      4 – Cancel sub

      You’re welcome.

      • Misha says:

        Unfortunately, other than the first two which are available at once, CBS is releasing them one at a time on Sunday night’s.
        Probably to keep us from doing that.

      • KLS says:

        People are assuming that they can catch up for free or for $9.99 at the end of season 1. Never trust the networks when money is involved. If CBS was smart they won’t “drop” the entire season at the end on All Access and instead strike a deal with Netflix for the entire stack.

      • Beth says:

        Isn’t the free trial only a week long though? How many eps will S1 be?

        • Allegra says:

          What are you saying? That a person can’t binge watch a, say ,25-episode season in a week? ;)

          • Billy Bob Johnson says:

            The assumption is that CBS All Access is going to leave the entire season available to watch after the final episode of Season 1 is dropped. They’re not dumb. They know people will just wait, pay one month (or one week free, if they’re still offering it), so they’ll probably only have the last four or five episodes available. The earlier ones will fall off at some point.
            They have a worldwide deal with Netflix. The assumption is that the show will eventually make it to North American Netflix (cannot show it at the same time as All Access in North America).

    • Bobbie says:

      I pay for Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, I would pay for CBS, but I have no interest in any of the work from the Kings. They ruined The Good Wife, not interested in their next work. Admit a mistake and I will give them another shot, but for now not interested even though I really like the actors involved.

      • gary l harms says:

        Just curious, how did they ruin The Good Wife? It was my favorite show right up to the finale ……which sucked.

        • David Graf says:

          I think the show went downhill after Will’s character “died”. It sure didn’t help that the character of Kalinda got minimized and then written out of the series. It just seemed like too many characters existed just to jump into bed with Alicia. And some of the situations were just ridiculous like her son deciding to fly off to Paris and work on his memoirs. The well had run dry.

          • Sandy Z. says:

            Agree 100 percent!! The final season was rushed and just horrendous. Will, Kalinda and Diane WERE The Good Wife!!

          • Ana Emilio says:

            I agree 110%… Until season 5 it was the best show on TV, after that… A MESS!!! =S

          • gary l harms says:

            Reading what you listed I guess I have to agree. I was very receptive at the time to the introduction of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character and I enjoyed the whole Mensroom eavesdropping of the Grand Jury proceedings by Eli Gold episodes. I think maybe I was in denial not wanting a favorite show to die when it was already flat-lined.

          • Billy Bob Johnson says:

            What could the Kings do, though? Josh Charles quit the show. Archie Panjabi was pushed aside by whatever drove Margulies to not like her.

  4. Ken says:

    It’s only 10 episodes, so 2 -3 months at $5.99 then you can cancel your subscription. They also had a “first month free” for signing up. Not sure if thats still going on. While I’m frustrated to pay for it, I can spare $12+ for some Christine Baranski.

  5. Jane says:

    Lots of us can’t view CBS ALL ACCESS on our Amazon Fire. Charged $9.99 by CBS and it’s non refundable. I would love to watch the show but we can’t

  6. Wyngate says:

    Have no desire to watch this, and won’t. Without Alicia?

    • Wyngate says:

      And I also will not pay for yet another streaming service. I have three, and that’s 2 too many.

    • Dietrich Buxtehude says:

      Here, here! Juliana Margolies was the straw the stirred the juice on The Good Wife for me. Without her, the show is just another gussied up procedural that adds nothing new to the genre. Baranski is a powerful actress who needs someone who can go toe to toe with her. Based on the cast list, I don’t think any of them can provide this needed balance. I would love to see Baranski in a comedy or a dramatic show with a different premise. Finally, paying CBS a fee for any of their less than riveting programs, is something I will never do… My list which includes: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, PBS Passport, HBO, Shotime, Starz et al. is already too long. Enough already!

    • Billy Bob Johnson says:

      Try watching an episode or two before you pass judgment. I couldn’t stand Margulies in the last couple of seasons specifically because of the freeze-out of Archie Panjabi.

  7. Red Snapper says:

    I’m cautiously optimistic about this. I barely got through the last couple of seasons of The Good Wife. I liked Alicia in the beginning but by the end she was my least favorite character. I couldn’t stand her constant scowl and how bitter she was. I loved Diane and thought Lucca was a nice addition. I like the cast they put together for this and hope there will be appearances from the original, especially Cary. I’m hopeful that this will be good or at least better than The Good Wife was towards the end.

  8. Lauren says:

    I don’t know if I can trust Ausiello anymore since he told us the Gilmore Girls revival was good…but I’ll be checking it out.

    • Shru says:

      Lol the amount the revival was praised here! I mean I get if you’re a fan, I am too, but that revival wasn’t that great. It was okay. It had some good parts and some parts that were just bad. The faults in the revival were just wayyyy too many and glaring enough for it to be soooo good.

      • huana says:

        I agree, the GG review was clearly written by a fan not a journalist. But I do hope it was just this one time:)

      • David Graf says:

        I quit watching the revival when the character played by Paris jumped over the shark in the scene involving surrogate mothers. You’d never tell anyone that some surrogate mothers are “bargain basement breeders” and the characters in that show would never be as callous as they were in their treatment of Rory’s boyfriend. It just seemed to me like an exercise in how witty they could make the dialogue and lacked the warmth of the original series.

    • apaulaemilio says:

      LOL… He really dropped the ball in this one (and I’m also a super Gilmore Girls fan).

  9. gary l harms says:

    I would love to see this show but I’m not subscribing to a streaming service that I already get 99% of the content OTA from my outdoor antenna for free. I’ll see it eventually on Netflix, or Hulu, or Amazon, and it will be new to me then. Or I won’t.

  10. Ronny says:

    People. Give. Me. A. Break. $9.99 is cheaper than a ticket to the movies. It´s like two Starbucks Lattes. It´s like…nothing. Stop this ridiculous whining about the CBS All Access fee. It´s stupid.

    • meleliot says:

      Ronny, must be nice to NOT to be on a budget. We don’t go to Starbucks, we make our coffee at home (how uncivilized), and only go to 2 movies a year. However, we have doled out our entertainment budget to Netflix and Amazon, and pay for HBO, Starz, Cinemax and Showtime…certainly enough entertainment value to absolutely not miss CBS Access. Not whining…just putting our foot down to any more raiding of our wallets.

    • Andrea says:

      No Ronny, it’s not. It’s not about the $9.99 fee. It’s about what this could mean. When you pay for Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix, you are paying one fee for a whole lot of content from multiple networks. If this CBS experiment succeeds, that will a) encourage broadcast networks to put everything behind a paywall and b) People will end up having to pay $9.99 for CBS, 9.99 for ABC, 9.99 for NBC, and so on and so forth. Networks will realize they can get away with that, and unless people have very narrow viewing tastes for only a few networks, they will end up paying a fortune. So, I’m absolutely going to “whine,” and I’m not paying either.

    • dean says:

      Movie tickets are $6.50 though.

    • gary l harms says:

      Ronny…it has little to do with the $9.99 as it does with the value. What other shows does CBS offer on their All Access that I don’t already get for free OTA on my antenna? I canceled my Dish subscription a year ago because my bill had crept up to $145 a month for many shows I never watched. Now I get Netflix, Sling, Hulu and Amazon and I have a Roku all for $65 a month. Why add another $9.99 for what essentially would be one show? Why would anybody who most likely already gets CBS elsewhere? Seems dumb unless they add more exclusive original programming, or already have that I don’t know about.

  11. Kelly says:

    Can’t wait for this!! FYI for my fellow Canucks–W Network will be airing it

  12. Luli says:

    Do I hace to watch The Good Wife first or can I just start with this one???

  13. richard says:

    I’d really like to watch this, but I’m not paying for more TV.

  14. Ws says:

    Do they explain why Diane dropped her plan of an all-woman firm?

  15. Sandy Z. says:

    Sure wish we ALL COULD ACCESS this show. Paying $150 per month for basic cable leaves no room for this senior citizen to pay more for a spinoff of show I dearly loved. Very sad…I would’ve loved to watch this.

  16. Justin says:

    Sweet baby Jesus! Enough with the whining. Don’t pay for it and be done with it.
    The way some of you go on about TV one would think it’s a pint of blood that you absolutely must have.
    SMDH

  17. Kathy cooley says:

    You completely lost me at “wonderfully liberating F-bombs.” NOT gpong tp watch it now. I’m sick and tired of that sort of language being shovel down my throat. It’s completely UNNECESSARY.

  18. Luis Roman says:

    I feel terrible that TGW lost me with that ridiculous State Attorney’s race plot line, and now CBS wants to soak me soak me so I can watch the sequel? I’d sooner watch a second season of “Brain Dead.”

  19. Mark Calki says:

    The dangerous intersection of politics and entertainment only needs a hospital and a funeral home to be complete.

  20. Closetou says:

    I managed to catch the free month. I plan on watching the entire season and when it’s over. Cancel the subscription. I figure that’s about $12.00 (lunch money). I’ll bring left-overs an extra day. Easy. People just love to complain.

  21. june says:

    If the premieres on CBS, are they going to bleep out the F-bombs?

    • Billy Bob Johnson says:

      It’s still broadcast TV. No dirty words. I’m sure they shot the scenes twice and will use the non-profane take for the CBS broadcast.

  22. Billy Bob Johnson says:

    Not paying for another streaming service. I’ll wait until they finally release it to Netflix-North America. It’s not like this is going to be “Must See TV”.

  23. Daniel McDonald says:

    Subscribing to this will only give all the networks the idea that they can take their top shows off cable and sell them as individual subscriptions. Do not let them start this rip off. We are already paying a fortune for our cable subscriptions.

  24. Sylvia says:

    I’m a fan of Christine Baranski but not this spin-off