TV REVIEW: Season 3, Episode 7 of CBS’ The Good Wife brings back a Good Actress.
By Robbie Woliver
Carrie Preston (left) is a truly welcome dose of new blood alongside Julianna Margulies on The Good Wife. (Credit: David M. Russell/CBS)
After a very unsatisfying, anemic arc starring House’s Lisa Edelstein as Will Gardner's scheming old flame, Celeste Serrano (Gardner's now a new flame of the spectacular Julianna Margulies' Alicia Florrick), True Blood’s Carrie Preston has shown up, pumping new blood into The Good Wife. Preston’s (re)turn as Elsbeth Tascioni, the seemingly befuddled but bewitching Colombo-like attorney, has revived the slick procedural after a very disappointing and infuriating couple of episodes featuring an over-acting Edelstein as an obnoxious lawyer in a role that set female TV characters back decades.
The Good Wife could always pride itself in strong acting, across the board, with characters tending toward the unexpected more so than predictable TV types. But as Serrano, Edelstein was an error all around (I blame the writer and director, more than the actress). Edelstein’s character was so annoyingly brash and intrusive that it made me rethink my TV viewing habits for a few seconds. But Good Wife’s strong, twisty plots and convincing characters played by actors with compelling, laser-focused technique kept me faithful.
In this week’s episode, Alicia needed to hire a lawyer outside of Lockhart-Gardner, to protect her interest against a pushy Department of Justice attorney regarding a highly classified terrorism case her firm was handling. She hires Tascioni, who had once handled work for Alicia’s husband, the philandering district attorney. On first appearance, Tascioni seems like she can barely manipulate a phone, let alone a crafty DOJ counsel, but the sly-as-a-fox redhead proves to be brilliant, with Alicia eventually pleading with her, “I want to learn from you.”
Preston, who plays True Blood’s wild, white-trash waitress Arlene, could use a lawyer of her own on The Good Wife to defend her from theft charges—she stole every scene she was in. (Rim shot.) Here was a performance that was over-the-top but still believable, as opposed to Edelstein’s unredeemable Celeste. Preston is a deft comedienne, pulling pathos and believability in every assertive scene, as well as every subtle, understated moment. Funny, likable and with a hint of evil, fans of Wife can only hope Preston will be brought aboard full-time. She should thrive in Chicago, seeing how it has as many bloodsuckers as Bon Temps.
IN OTHER WORDS: The Good Wife has an incredible collection of strong female characters, and while Lisa Edelstein’s Celeste tried too hard, Carrie Preston’s Elsbeth is easily up there with the best.
CUDDY/WIFE RATING: 3/10
ARLENE/WIFE RATING: 9.5/10
CARRIE PRESTON'S RANGE RATING: Wide/10
WOULD JULIANNA MARGULIES EVER CONSIDER MARRYING ME RATING?: Hahahaha, Yeah Right/10
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