Game of the Walking Good Wife

Not every TV show has to be Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. I’m sure it’s exhilarating to watch it trend on Twitter and fill the blogosphere with reactions to the latest shocking death. “The Rains of Castamere” episode of Game of Thrones and its shocking Red Wedding scene changed the role of Twitter in television. I have no doubt that the writers’ room now includes conversations about how to get Twitter participation during the show, and fostering the “two screen experience.”

Author Lee Child wrote that if you can see the bandwagon, it’s too late to climb on. No one told The Good Wife producers Michelle and Robert King. Nor apparently the EP of How I Met Your Mother.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor. What I dislike, even as a teacher, is doing the same thing over and over in exactly the same way. I don’t know how an actor can tolerate doing a play for weeks, months, or sometimes years. At least a series has new episodes, but perhaps playing the same character is tedious. I have trouble doing the same lesson twice in a row. It therefore doesn’t surprise me when actors decide they want to leave a popular show and find something else to do. From the perspective of an audience member, it’s shocking. Shelley Long leaving Cheers? To do what? David Duchovney is tired of Fox Mulder? What does Clooney think is out there for him besides Dr. Doug Ross?

As a fan, I hate it, but as a performer, I get it. I’ve been lucky in my career to have assignments with variety so I don’t grow bored. My most challenging year was the one where I taught four periods of junior English and one of AP junior English. Four shows a day, five days a week put my creativity at an all-time low.

The problem with Josh Charles’ exit from The Good Wife versus one like Katherine Heigl’s from an ensemble show like Grey’s Anatomy is that TGW’s central plot is a love triangle among Julianna Marguiles, Charles, and Chris Noth. It is only Noth’s onscreen likability that keeps the audience from rooting unanimously for an Alicia/Will partnership.

I say “onscreen” because I have it on good authority from a number of people in the food service industry that Noth is an amazing actor.

Michelle and Robert King ruined my Good Wife viewing experience by posting a letter on Facebook within minutes of airing the infamous episode 515 where Josh Charles’ character dies. The first words are “We, like you, mourn the loss of Will Gardner.” It’s like the college acceptance letter where the words “congratulations” or “unfortunately” in the first sentence cinch it. The first words should have been: major spoilers ahead if you’re trying to meet your grading deadline and you DVRed the episode. I give the Kings a tip of the hat for including “send him off to Seattle” as a jab at the unsatisfying way Dr. Ross ditched Margulies’ Nurse Hathaway, leaving her to parent their twins alone. In your face, John Wells.

The letter went on to justify their choice to kill the character.

I don’t believe a word of it.

Michelle and Robert King killed Will Gardner because they couldn’t kill Josh Charles. He left their hit show, a show revolving around his character’s relationship with the titular one. I’m surprised they didn’t have him shot in the face. Or the nuts.

I worked in television my first job out of college. My dad’s work war stories from television sets were the soundtrack of my childhood. He once pitched the idea that all actors be replaced by puppets. No producer would be that believably benignant about a lead actor quitting an Emmy winning show. Choose any euphemism you want, but Josh Charles quit. His contract expired and he walked away.

The Kings and Julianna Margulies (also a producer) did not raise their glasses “to Mutt!”

Thank goodness for the Sunday night program schedule, because after watching The Good Wife episode 515, I was able to cheer myself up with The Walking Dead.


About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
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9 Responses to Game of the Walking Good Wife

  1. mrsk6 says:

    I love the title of this post!

  2. LaFawne says:

    Agree on the revenge killing.
    And isn’t it silly how we actually gasp and say OH NO when watching a tv show? As if this just actually happened in real life!
    Wait, I am not the only one who does that, am I?

  3. CamLoMV says:

    Great piece. Nice DPS reference.

    • Mrs Odie says:

      Thank you! It took me a minute to figure out “DPS” stands for Dead Poets Society. I am too steeped in acronyms in public education.

  4. Though I have not read the GoT books (yet), I was not surprised by the killing of certain beloved characters, mainly because of my husband’s emotional “Noooooooooooo!” at a crucial moment while reading the first book of the series. (Come back, Ned Stark!) GRRMartin seems not to want any character to become “too precious” and seems to dispatch them with a lifelike randomness. (Those who deserve it as well as those who don’t). Not so with the death of young Mr. Gardener. I sat there in front of the television and blinked uncomprehendingly while trying to wrap my brain around the courtroom scene. When Kalinda takes it upon herself to pull aside the ER curtain to see the one-shoed Will on a gurney, I still could not take it in. Even if Mr. Charles believes there is life for him after the Good Wife, it may take the viewing public some time to accept him as anything other than Alicia Florrick’s old flame.

    • Mrs Odie says:

      What a fantastic analysis. I just read it out loud to Odie.

      I’m sure the Kings have forgiven (they will never forget, and Charles is lucky they are not Lannisters), now that time has passed and the plot twist made them the first story on every program for a 24 hour news cycle at least. My wicked mind enjoys picturing their imagined conversation when they first got his resignation.

      “Does he actually think he’s going to ever get a better job than this? Have you seen his nose? In profile?”

      The circumstances are bullshit. I think the scene in the hospital was fine. A nice misdirect (if I didn’t already KNOW he was DEAD, thank you LETTER on FACEBOOK) with the mistaken patient thing. The kid from Weeds grabbing a gun during the trial and shooting up the place felt incongruent with the style and substance of this show. If they wanted Will Gardner dead, Eli Gold should have had him killed. He was involved in corruption. If we don’t want to see Eli go all the way to the shadows for Peter, surely Gardner’s thug life could come in handy. Hell, Lemond Bishop is always a sight for sore eyes. I imagine Will could get himself into all kinds of fatal trouble with Mr. Bishop as a client.

      Still, I like Eli for this. There is nothing Eli wouldn’t do for Peter. Nothing. It would have been true to the show and the characters. They could have kept their ER shock moment with the one shoe off, one shoe on, diddle diddle dumpling and all of that.

      Thank you for reading and contributing. Much appreciated.

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