There’s almost nothing that The Good Wife gets right more than Michael J. Fox. Many of us grew up watching him on Family Ties where his Alex P. Keaton felt like a gamechanger. He was solid for years. The BTTF franchise. Spin City. Just a pro. When he got Parkinson’s it was tough to see him have to step away from it all. It just felt like he was one of us, I guess.
When he reappeared on Rescue Me, it was like seeing an old friend. Then he got his own show on NBC, which — shockingly — didn’t work out. A show on NBC not making it? HOW?
When he arrived on The Good Wife it felt like they really figured out how to tap into something personal and important for Michael J. Fox. A former power player who gets sidelined by illness, but who maintains his abundant self-awareness and roars back to the center of the American entertainment hive mind. Sorry, that was the logline for the NBC show. I may have editorialized a bit. That show was shit. I tried. I really did, but no.
On The Good Wife he’s a manipulative douche. A smart, manipulative douche, and he’s sooooo good at it. He’s cagy and self-serving and wins at all costs. His portrayal of a man who not only refuses to capitulate to a debilitating disease but to use the societal implications of it to his advantage, demystifies it, and moves it into the public forum for consumption. He’s removing a taboo with a knowing wink. What he’s doing, and what the show is doing has real depth and is impressive and powerful.
This week, we almost lost him when the showrunners reduced him to a caricature. Every time the prosecution made a good point, Canning would drop his crutches loudly or rattle a bottle of pills or pull an esophageal breathing tube out of a hole in his neck as a “subtle” form of distraction. You’d think that Judge Lee Donowitz from True Romance would have picked up on that.
Side note 1: That’s two weeks in a row I’ve referenced True Romance
Side note 2: I really wanted to call him “Judge W.W. Beauchamp” from Unforgiven and use the gif where Beauchamp has to make a decision between Richard Harris and Gene Hackman and he rolls his tongue across the FRONT OF HIS TEETH but under his lips. Top and bottom. I thought that would be all over the internet, but I couldn’t find it. If any of you lovers have it, throw it into the comments section and know that I will scrawl your name in crayon in the Pajiba bathroom and strongly suggest that you are excellent at fornication.
Anyway, he doesn’t make a big deal about the crutch-dropping. Because he’s a good man and it’s a difficult situation and trying to reprimand Canning at all would be truly heartless.
Enter Stormy Weathers from Short Cuts.
He sidles up to Diane, who’s watching the circus with only mid RBF and he’s like YO, ANDY SERKIS UP THERE IS USING PROPS. And Diane is like I DON’T KNOW YOU, PISS OFF I’M IN LOVE WITH A GUN FANATIC.
And Stormy is like MY PILGRIM NAME IS ETHAN CARVER AND I’M YOUR BOSS
And the saliva returns to Diane’s mouth and she’s like YOU’RE REESE DIPPLE’S GENERAL COUNSEL? ::raise eyebrow, head tilt, smile::
And Stormy is like YA GURL AND YOUR BOY UP THERE IS EFFING UP THE WHOLE OPERATION (try to hear this in your head like Keegan Michael Key is saying it. Nobody in the history of the world has said the word ‘operation’ as well as he does.)
And Diane is like EMOJI SHRUG NOT MY DEPARTMENT
And Stormy is like IT IS NOW B/C YOU’RE TAKING OVER AND GOING UP AGAINST THAT LYING TWO BIT FAKE CRUTCH DROPPING CHARLATAN LOU CANNING
And Diane is like I HAVE PRINCIPLES I HAVE SELF-RESPECT
And Stormy is like REESE DIPPLE.
And Diane is like NO, I DON’T AFTER ALL. PLEASE PUT IN A GOOD WORD FOR ME WITH MR. REESE DIPPLE AND ALSO YOU HAVE LIKE BORDERLINE UNFAIR HAIR
And Stormy is like I GET THAT ALOT.
Then Diane is like it doesn’t matter that I was planning to work as a crossing guard today, I’m wearing pearls and that means I can argue a Republican core issue. So she picks up Canning’s crutches fo’ real and uncaps his pill bottle fo’ real.
She really does this, and it’s enough to convince the fair-hearted W.W. Beauchamp. Canning is like “Oh poo, without crutch dropping, I have no skills.” Obviously, Diane wins, after which, Canning is like, yo, Diane, you don’t even agree with these fucks and she’s like if you speak to me again so help me god I’ll bury my pen in your face you little shit. And Canning turns to his clients who would probably be like “wait, having you on this is a liability?” And he’s like “No, she talks like this to everyone. Don’t worry, I’ll get louder crutches.”
Then Stormy is like “What does DTF mean in text language? Texting is the worst language.” and Diane is like “it feels so good to be a complete whore and believe in nothing.” LAWYER FIRST. PERSON SECOND. THE WAY THE FOUNDING FATHERS ENVISIONED IT.
Then we spend the rest of the episode trying to get a read on her next move, but she’s wearing a turtleneck so it’s impossible to. No character in the history of television has a greater tell than whatever necklace Diane wears. Ultimately none of that matters because Diane gets to roll in the verbal hay with Peter Gallagher, who couldn’t be more handsome and winning if he were Jeffrey Dean Morgan. (If we hear that somewhere in Los Angeles a casting agent has masturbated themselves to death we’ll know instantly that they worked on this show. This show brings the fucking hot, and we haven’t even got a rabbit’s sniff twitch of Cush Jumbo yet.) Also, Diane is relieved because she gets to stay in the benevolent good graces of the most important person in the world: Reese Dipple.
And if you remember the famous jingle, and I’m paraphrasing here, but I think it goes:
“Ain’t no party like a Reese Dipple party cuz a Reese Dipple party’s got…..SWORDS.”
In the end, Reese Dipple wants something something malpractice and the people Lou Canning is whoring for want something something insurance. There’s a version of me that used to kind of care about these issues and would appreciate the writers for elucidating the bullet points of a trigger issue, but that was before I considered Sunday “Date Night” with Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
While this was going on I kept thinking, yes, there are worse things than being the Liverworst in a Peter Gallagher/Jeffrey Dean Morgan sandwich, but I’d like to know if I’M GOING TO BE STOOD UP AGAIN. IS THIS JUST AN OPEN-FACED PETER GALLAGHER SANDWICH? No sign of JDM in sight.
Thankfully, before I could really worry about that, we were back to bond court. I’m sitting in my living room thinking thank you. This is where I want to be every Sunday night. Thank you god. Aaaaaahhhhh. Breathe in that stale, prison air! You can almost smell the rural-bus-level bouquet of B.O. through the tiny holes in the triple-reinforced plexiglass.
So, as the hardworking, lowest possible rung of the ladder bar attorneys flit about lying and coercing to the great pleasure of almost-imprisoned Judge Ron Scharkowski, Saint Alicia is like I see an actually honest woman in the midst of all of these vagrants and ne’er-do-wells and she mucks up the proceedings by ‘unintentionally’ stealing her from Bernie.
Fuckin’ Bernie. Fellow attorney Cush Jumbo doesn’t like it either, but Alicia is like “you don’t like the taste of my exhaust, don’t stand in my wake, baby.”
Judge Ron is like you are accused of stealing thirty Fabergé eggs and also a brinks truck full of Fabergé eggs: HOW DO YOU PLEAD?
And the client Alicia stole (played by actress Marsha Stephanie Blake who was compelling and has a great face) was like:
YEAH I DIDN’T DO ANY OF THAT EVEN REMOTELY AND I HAVE TO GET HOME SO CAN THIS PREPOSTEROUS MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE BE DONE RIGHT NOW AND STUFF?
And the judge is like:
And Matan is like:
And the judge is like:
And all the other bar attorneys are like oh look at Saint Alicia, why don’t you just believe everyone who clearly actually didn’t do anything wrong, huh? Why don’t we actually treat people like human beings now? Are we in the fucking justice business all of a sudden? This is a slaughterhouse, bitch, not a petting zoo! And then all the bar attorneys, led by a pissed off Cush Jumbo are all like HERE SAINT ALICIA ALL MY CLIENTS WANT YOU NOW SO WAY TO BE EVITA PERON IN A TINY SHOEBOX COURTROOM WHERE NO ONE IS SUPPOSED TO GIVE A SHIT.
And the judge is like:
And Alicia is like gosh! None of this is my doing, you guys! You guys? Come on you guys! I can’t help it if I’m the most caring person ever! Just ask my son who doesn’t speak to me or my husband who had ninety-six extramarital affairs or my daughter who I drove directly into the arms of the Bishop of Rome! You guys! Seriously? I can’t help it! Just ask any of my forty-three ex law partners! Or like, the idiot fireman character from Rescue Me who on this show was a ‘hot’ campaign guru!
I let him put his tubesteak into me and if you could find him he’d probably tell you that the temperature in my body isn’t like a sub-arctic ice trough. Please? Anyone? UGH NOBODY GETS ME.
Side Note 3: That’s the second time I called back to Rescue Me. It’s now tied with True Romance. Don’t look now people, but we got ourselves an old fashioned reference-off!
But, of course, there was one person who gets her…
Ohhhhhhhhhh yeah. He gets her where the sun don’t shine these days: her wallet. He gets eighty-five bucks an hour and she can afford…three hours. Mmmmmmm. THAT’S SO HOT. Isn’t that the premise of Pretty Woman?
So we finally get Jason Crause at the 18 minute mark. My heart. (DO I LOOK OKAY YOU GUYS? OH MY GOD I’M SO EXCITED. YOU THINK HE LIKES ME?) He’s leaning on her door rocking the everliving shit out of a V-neck and reading a book and she’s like YOU COULD HAVE GONE IN, GRACE IS INSIDE And Jason Crause is like NAH-UH. I AIN’T GOIN’ IN WITHOUT YOU, DOLL. I just read books in hallways and shit. Right now I’m reading “Deep as Fuck” by Casual McSexypants.
And Alicia is like IS IT PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE TO CROSS MY APPENDAGES MORE THAN ONCE TO COVER ANY POTENTIAL SEX ORGANS? BODY….WANTS….TO….BE….RAVISHED…..MUST…LOCK….BODY…..UP.
Then they do a bunch of, y’know, whatever court stuff where blah blah blah they figure out the girls mom did it and she gives up so her mom doesn’t have to be subjected to Judge Ron Sharkofsky. Because when he gets super angry his face inflates and his jowls get full of re-appropriated urine.
More importantly, Judge Ron forgets that but for Alicia’s disbarrable conduct, he was almost a plastic box trashperson himself and he just re-hates Alicia and is like “How dare you bring justice into a courtroom, lady?” And everyone’s like “yeah!”
And he’s like “Why is it so goddamn hard for people to just be shat upon by the system and accept it? Why can’t they just take their lumps and keep their benevolent private prison owners in Dolce & Gabbana, huh? WHY DON’T YOU FUCKING PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT YOU BELONG IN STEERAGE? STOP TRYING TO USE THE RESTROOMS IN THE FRONT OF THE PLANE.”
Elsewhere there was this fantastic, complex, multi-tiered plan that Eli came up with. I’m not saying it was as difficult as the unilateral underwater submarine handoff in The Hunt For Red October but it was pretty close.
Basically, it involved his tiny office and something about Jackie’s cleavage, which thankfully didn’t have Howard’s confused head popping out of it. In true The Good Wife fashion, we had to suffer through another Jackie sighting, but we were paid off in Peter, thank god. It’s pretty nutty when you think about it that Peter is the most stable person on the show. Basically this whole thing takes place in the chaos myth of Greek legend.
Anyway, Ruth diffuses Eli’s junior varsity attempt and she’s like, NEXT TIME BRING YOUR A GAME LIKE I DID WHEN I HAD YOU AT A MEETING WITH NO CHAIR, SON!
This subplot is preeeeeeeetty crappy. Here’s the thing: Alan Cumming is truly awesome at Eli, but they’ve made him an emotional eunuch. He has nothing to champion. He has no eleventh hour deals to make because he’s now out of the Peter Florrick business and into the Eli Gold business. And when you take his personal brand of pit viper and use it to promote yourself rather than someone else, the resultant odor reeks more of sociopath than of trusted lieutenant. I’m sure Alexander’s General Ptolemy was far different than the Ptolemy that ruled Egypt, even though, y’know, they were the same dude.
The point is that the show hath madeth a choice, and I don’t think it’s a good one so far. The small office is a real stinker that just keeps stinking. I’m not seeing the dazzling upgrade that Ruth provides, though, obviously, I’m not faulting poet laureate Margo Martindale. And next week, Alicia fires Eli (if the trailer isn’t jerking us around) and then where will Eli be? I’m a fan. I like Eli. I like when he shows us he’s more than just a rabid dog. But I also want to see him really bring his A game because right now it’s fucking bush league. Next week there better be a goddamn horse head in Ruth’s bed or gtfo.
Two more important beats:
One, Cary shows up at Alicia’s house and he’s like REMEMBER ME? He actually says that.
And I’m like, yeah we ALL remember you, dude! You’re the guy who lost in the original mano y mano cage match against Alicia to get the coveted Lockhart Gardner associate position, pissed off to the SA’s office like a bitter little shit, did everything in your power to fuck over Alicia and the firm in your position there, then you came home to the firm, played fast and risky, had Alicia bail your daddy-issues ass out over and over again and then only got a chance at the big leagues because you had the governor’s last name on your letterhead thanks to Alicia. You cross the streams by sleeping with a co-worker, and while you have like three worthy legal ideas, everything you do seems tainted and suspect. Then you make a nearly life-ending lapse in judgement with the most dangerous drug dealer in the city, get your hand cutted the F up, almost go to prison for life while Alicia puts a second mortgage on both your firm and her milky-white legs to get you out. Once she does? You pretend not to know her and whistle past the graveyard when she’s wrongly framed for doing nothing by a bunch of dildos.
DOES SHE REMEMBER YOU? DOES SHE REMEMBER YOU? WE ALL FUCKING REMEMBER YOU CARY AGOS! YOU ARE WHAT’S HORRIBLE ABOUT EVERYTHING! Take a second to imagine where Cary Agos’ life would be if he wasn’t
3) able to smirk
In the shitter, that’s where. He’d be the young white bar attorney tallying Weight Watcher points in bond court. That’s where.
Alicia invites him in, where he’s like IF YOU USE SEX N STUFF TO CONVINCE YOUR HUSBAND TO BE A REPUBLICAN THEN THE DIVINE LIGHT FROM REESE DIPPLE’S URETHRA WILL RAIN DOWN UPON YOU AND SOMETHING ABOUT ROSE PETALS.
Just think about it Alicia! You can come back to the firm! We’ll all meet up outside the office of your deceased lover and make s’mores and we can high five David Lee! Doesn’t that sound awesome? You could actually be back inside of David Lee’s cancer-inducing toxicity aura in no time! And all you have to do is be the kind of filthy, repugnant whore for Reese Dipple that everyone else is!
“No.” Says Alicia. “For I am the queen of bond court. When I enter, small eddies of wind whistle through the tiny breathe-holes of the plastic trashperson box. I am doing important work, and even though I had to transfer my fat stack to a bailiff, I got that fat stack back by manipulation and false caring. It is my reason. It is my purpose. And if Judge Ron Stravinski goes forty minutes without blanching and telling me to approach, I will have failed.”
“And yes, for some reason Eli is in my house Downton Abbeying this whole conversation. I didn’t know he was here and I didn’t know people had that type of plant in their house.”
There was no intro of Eli beforehand and no outro of him after, he was just there. In her house. The only upside of the tiny office might be that it has a Being John Malkovich secret portal to Alicia’s flat in it. I can’t prove this theory — yet — but I’m almost sure about it.
Lastly, and most importantly, Alicia is having her drinkin’ buddy moment with Cush Jumbo and she’s like stay on my good side or I will green screen our little get togethers faster than you can say Kalinda Sharma. They will shoot your shit in Denver? Okay? I’ll have a standing no-contact order against you and you will never sip fake martinis with me in person again? Okay? Aaaanyway, I HAVE KNOWN YOU FOR TWO DAYS. Let’s just timeline this puppy out:
Day 1) I talked you out of a sweet plea for your client, then coaxed you to link our defense then questioned your integrity then severed the defense I asked you to link and you told me “screw you.” Also, I broke attorney client confidentiality secretly. Magically I stole most of yours and everyone else’s fat stack of cases. I somehow got a judge incapable of joy to smile at me. Then I pushed your poverty button so you’d like me again and split my fat stack with you just to curry favor.
Day 2) I made fun of your arcane and un-PC weight-based schedule formula, broke maybe the only three rules of bond court, fucked up a class action lawsuit, accused a sitting judge of unfairness and blackmail, and created a Bastille-Day-like environment in the Magneto cage. Also, I managed to get Bernie to despise me. Bernie, who’s like ¼ human and ¾ potato. A spud hates me.
But anyway, I’m a white woman with a dead soul and name recognition. Wanna buddy up?
And Cush Jumbo is like, I DON’T SEE WHY NOT.
Next week, Howard finds the electric shock buzzer Cary hides in his sleeve.
The Good Wife will Reese Dipple the shit out of you every Sunday at 9pm.