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CBS fights 'The Good Fight' online to boost streaming service

Published February 20, 2017 9:17 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

During the seven year run of "The Good Wife," one of the best things about the show was the supporting cast and the guest stars.

Not that three-time Emmy-winner Julianna Margulies wasn't great as Alicia Florrick, the title character in the 2009-16 series. But what about a series that starred, say, Christine Baranski or Cush Jumbo, that picked up, say, a year after we last saw them in "The Good Wife."

That's exactly what we're getting in "The Good Fight" — a new series that stars Baranski as Diane Lockhart and Jumbo as Lucca Quinn.



"There was a real reluctance on my part to let go of what was a great job, a great role, great writers," Baranski said. "One of the first things I did was say to Cush, 'Come on board with me. Let's do this.' "

They're back, along with creators/writers/producers Robert and Michelle King, who created, wrote and ran "The Good Wife."

Jumbo said she watched the first six seasons as a "fangirl," and "the last thing I'd want to do is a diluted version … because I love 'The Good Wife' that much."

Fans of "The Good Wife" won't be disappointed. As "The Good Fight" begins, Diane decides to retire. She resigns from her law firm just as disaster strikes.

"Halfway into the pilot, I lose everything," said Baranski. "It turns very dramatic very quickly."

Diane loses all her money to a Bernard Madoff-like Ponzi scheme perpetrated by one of her friends. Worse yet, she unknowingly steered others toward the fraudulent fund. Her old firm won't take her back, and other big Chicago firms steer clear.

White, liberal Diane lands at a firm where Lucca is an associate.

"Michelle had this epiphany — what if we send Diane into an all-African-American law firm?" Robert King said. "Suddenly, you could see playing all the old tropes of 'The Good Wife,' but in a completely different cultural setting."

Also making the move is Diane's goddaughter, Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie, "Game of Thrones"), a newly minted lawyer whose father (Paul Guilfoyle, "CSI") is the man behind the Ponzi scheme, and whose mother (Bernadette Peters) may also be complicit.

The cast includes Delroy Lindo and Erica Tazel as partners at the new firm; Justin Bartha as Lucca's love interest; and Sarah Steele, returning as Marissa Gold.

While the first episode of "The Good Fight" airs on CBS (Sunday, 7 p.m., Ch. 2) as well as streaming on CBS All Access, the rest of the series will be online only. (Episode 2 will also stream on Sunday; episodes 3-10 will stream one per week beginning on successive Sundays.)

Asked if "The Good Fight" is too hot for broadcast, Robert King replied, "That would make a good headline. So — yes."

But in the first couple of episodes, the biggest difference is some R-rated language.

"You're going to hear people talk the way they speak in life," Michelle King said. So the always-elegant Diane drops an f-bomb when she learns that she's been swindled.

Well, that's what you'll hear if you watch it online. On CBS, you'll hear Diane say, "Son of a b——."

Robert King said "The Good Fight" is operating "with standards and practice [that] have been reduced to nil." He and his wife "kind of wanted the frankness of sexuality" offered online — although, other than a glimpse of a sex tape, that's not much in evidence in the first two episodes, which, other than a handful of f-bombs, are pretty PG-13.

The good news for fans is that the new series is structured like its predecessor. There are serialized stories — the effect of financial scandal on Diane and Maia — but each episode includes legal cases-of-the-week that generally involve bigger issues.

"We wanted to hold on to some of that 'Good Wife' thinking," Robert King said.

In Episode 1, it's about police brutality. In Episode 2, the case of a shoe-store salesman accused of theft turns into something much bigger.

"One of the things I've always loved about the show was that no issue is ever just black and white or right and wrong," said Jumbo, who joined "Wife" in its final season. "And the joy of [the] script is that it always flips on its head at the last minute. You think you're on the right side, and then it turns out you're on the wrong side."

And there are a lot of actors/characters returning from the earlier series — a list that includes Jerry Adler (Howard Lyman), Jane Alexander (Judge Morris), Michael Boatman (Julius Cain), Gary Cole (Kurt McVeigh), Zach Grenier (David Lee), John Benjamin Hickey (Neil Gross), Denis O'Hare (Judge Abernathy), Christine Lahti (Andrea Stevens), Matthew Perry (Mike Kresteva), Carrie Preston (Elsbeth Tascioni) and Rita Wilson (Viola Walsh) — just to name a few.

The one character you're not going to see — at least not in Season 1 — is "The Good Wife." There will be an occasional reference to Alicia Florrick, but Margulies will not appear.

"We talked to Julianna about the show and her relationship with it," Robert King said. "And we agreed that 'The Good Wife' ended that story."

You don't feel her absence in "The Good Fight." And that speaks to just how good this spinoff is.

spierce@sltrib.com

Twitter: @ScottDPierce —

CBS All Access

CBS All Access — www.cbs.com/all-access — is the network's online streaming service. It features current CBS programming and thousands of episodes of classic series. It does not require a cable or satellite subscription, and costs $5.99 a month (with limited commercials) or $9.99 (commercial free). "The Good Fight" is the first original scripted show for the streaming service, which featured an online-only season of "Big Brother" last fall and will be the home of "Star Trek: Discovery" beginning this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

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