One Final Bow for THE GOOD WIFE
Such a critically acclaimed series causes pause to reflect on just what made it so appealing to audiences in the first place.
In a CBS press call earlier this year, the husband-wife writing duo/series creators/executive producers and showrunners Robert and Michelle King met with reporters to dish on the ingredients that make up a successful series.
There’s got to be originality……..
“Early on,” Robert said, “we realized that one of the ways to distinguish ourselves from other series was to explore the digital world. So, in one episode, we had a case where the judge had in the past inadvertently friended a person on Facebook who was on the jury.”
Added to the originality of digital world concepts was the continuity in fresh voices. Robert continued, “In our fourth-ever episode we needed an antagonist, but instead of a mean and angry male lawyer, we thought, ‘What if it’s a pregnant woman, and what if she uses her pregnancy to break up depositions whenever she wants to: i.e., ‘I feel a pain!’ Then, we brought in Martha Plimpton (Patti Nyholm), who sent that idea into the stratosphere.”
“And, we deliberately included comedy,” added Robert’s teammate Michelle.
Robert confirmed, “One of the things that originally sold us on Julianna (Margulies, Alicia Florrick) was her amazing comedic work as a guest star on Scrubs.”
“We also made an effort to be respectful of both sides of any argument and to never dismiss a character who had a different point of view as being stupid or evil,” Michelle continued.
And Robert added, “On our show, no one’s really shooting at each other. Their words are the guns.”
Still, there were challenges.
“If you want to have adult relationships, you have to figure out how to show what’s going on, without getting yanked off the air,” began Michelle.
Robert added, “But we felt that what was sexier than showing what was going on with people making love was to show it on their faces. That, we could show and get away with a helluva lot.”
Script length sometimes presented a problem as well. Robert confirmed, “Our scripts go from 60 to 64 pages, and these episodes are supposed to be around 42. So, we had to try to shrink-wrap our stories to fit.”
And to do that, the series had the help of many guest actors, which in itself created its own set of problems. Michelle said, “It’s really tricky to maintain. You tell serialized stories with not just your core cast, but with ancillary characters who aren’t regular, and you don’t have access to those actors on a regular basis. And, we wanted to be able to tell what’s going on not only with Alicia, but also with her mom (Stockard Channing) and her brother (Dallas Roberts). It becomes a real challenge for everyone in the production to juggle all those actors’ schedules.” Guest cast included the likes of Michael J. Fox, Nathan Lane, Matthew Morrison, and Carrie Preston.
But the pair of EP’s insisted they wrote only seven seasons of The Good Wife from the start, planning their exit from the work.
Robert said, “The story of Alicia Florrick could only support seven seasons.”
“And the story won’t change in the finale from what we were originally intending, but now we can be a little bit more definitive,” said Michelle. “We’re writing now in pen instead of pencil.”
There was talk that the series might be renewed by CBS for an eighth season sans the Kings, but the writing partners are delighted that the network chose to end it with them at the helm.
Robert added, “This isn’t a show that’s ending because anybody hates each other. It’s a show that’s ending because it should be ending.”
Upcoming this summer for the writing duo is the premiere of their first series of a three-year producing deal with CBS, the supernatural thriller BrainDead.
The final episode of The Good Wife airs Sunday at 9 on CBS.