The Good Fight

3 out of 5

Created by: Robert King and Michelle King

covers season 1

The Good Fight is the odd duck happenstance: A spin-off, character-centric show that gives no indication of its spin-offiness and doesn’t actually end up being very character centric, but pulls out ahead to be generally entertaining, with a bite of intelligence that puts it a notch above its peers.

Christine Baranski reprises here lawerly role from The Good Wife, Diane Lockhart, post a post-Wife financial scandal that has her essentially starting over with a new firm: Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad, an almost exclusively African-American run firm which has made a point of taking on police brutality cases.  So the show will most certainly focus on Baranski’s climb back to financial stability, along with the change in perspective of no longer being a senior partner and perhaps being on a different side of cases than she was used to.  …Except Baranski seems to just be our stepping stone to Rose Leslie, playing Maia, her goddaughter, whose father was a major player in said scandal.  Maia joins the Diane’s new firm as well, fresh out of law school, and then finds herself navigating the politics of her job mixed with the attention she gets from her father’s actions, meanwhile stepping through the depths of her family’s deceptions over the years.  …Except Maia ends up being another featured player in the ensemble cast, comprised of Delroy Lindo, Cush Jumbo, Erica Tazel and more.  And while Baranski and Leslie definitely get the most screen time, it’s still not exactly their show, with the other characters fleshed out with their own storylines that end up affecting the main thrust of the season.

Meanwhile meanwhile, The Good Fight is a law procedural, using the stepping off points of the Saunders-like Ponzi scheme that sets things in motion and race relations at Reddick, Bozeman & Kostad to poke and prod at some very topical subject matters: the Trump administration; diversity; social media and more.

And somehow, it all works, without over-twisty turning the scandal angle, and without getting too moralizing cute with its adapted-from-headlines cases and commentary.  Producers / creators Michelle and Robert King seemingly encourage a baseline of respect for their viewers’ intelligence: While the show might not make any really bold or deep statements on its subjects, it does tend to approach them fairly openly before leading us toward whichever point of view.  This means the actors get to wield mostly believable dialogue and concoct realistic plans, and get appropriate responses from those around them: Maia’s mousiness seems like a bid to endear her to us, while making her an unconvincing lawyer; however, soon enough, she’s getting feedback to be more assertive and up her game.

On the flipside, without a real central character or plot focus – despite juggling the aspects well – it’s hard to walk away from any given episode with a craving to watch more; there’s no real hook.  It is eminently watchable – smart, funny, and thoughtful – but perhaps a bit too casual and pleasant in its approach.  Smart, then, for CBS to have made it an online on demand show, not competing for airtime and allowing us to enjoy it at our leisure.