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“Good Wife” Cliffhangers Only Fair to Good


I will miss “The Good Wife”’ this Sunday. It is the first prime time series that I watch regularly that has had its season finale since NBC’s “Parenthood” left the air in February.

I will say the trials of attorney Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), her estranged husband Peter (Chris Noth), her secretive sometimes friend Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) and her bosses Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and Will Gardner (Josh Charles) haven’t been as interesting this season as seasons past.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30:  Actor Julianna ...

Julianna Margulies

It has been an uneven year that was largely saved by the occasional appearances of Michael J. Fox as a scheming attorney, Louis Canning, who has the mind of a chess master. The comedy provided by an old lawyer (played by Jerry Adler) whose idea of a key job interview question is to ask prospective hires which two people they would bring to a deserted island also was a welcome diversion.

Truth be told, I almost gave up on the series a few weeks ago because I didn’t care if Alicia got a big enough raise to buy back her marital home and who Will was sleeping with after he and Alicia broke up earlier in the season.

But last Sunday’s finale was decent even with three so-what cliffhangers: 1) Will Alicia give in and have pizza with Peter and the kids in the family home and possibly give her a marriage a second try? 2) Will Kalinda blow away her mysterious former husband as she awaits his appearance at the door? 3) Will the law firm survive another scheme by Fox’s character that appears to threaten its survival?

None of the cliffhangers will cause me to lose any sleep over the summer, but if I was on a deserted island “The Good Wife” still might be one of five network series I would bring with me even in an up and  down year.

Speaking of lawyers and trials, I’ve been asked by a few people why television cameras haven’t been able to be at the manslaughter trial of Dr. James Corasanti after the opening statements. Apparently, it has been long enough between high-profile cases to remind readers and viewers of camera-in-the-courtroom rules.

So I asked representatives of Channel 2 and Channel 4 to remind us how such a thing is decided.

Channel 2 News Director Jeff Woodard wrote: “A law had allowed, subject to specific limits in certain types of cases and with respect to certain trial participants, the televising of trials in New York State. In 1997, the Legislature failed to renew that law, so previous bans applied. These days, essentially, judges will often allow cameras in for court proceedings that do NOT involve testimony (openings, closings, sometimes verdicts and/or sentencing). It’s the judge’s discretion …”

Channel 4 General Manager Chris Musial wrote: “I am told (by his news managers) the judge took defense arguments into account against cameras in the court except for opening arguments.”

If past trials are a guide, it is quite possible that Erie County Judge Sheila DiTullio will allow cameras in the court for the closing arguments and the verdict.

I found an interesting 11-year-old quote from Judge DiTullio about cameras in the court after she allowed television coverage in a 2001. Back then, she called the ban on broadcast coverage of trials “an anachronistic vestige of a bygone era.”

“Advanced, state-of-the art technology, together with the promulgation of guidelines designed to ensure that victims, witnesses, parties and their families are protected, has made this a very different world from what it was in 1952,” DiTullio said in her decision.

Of course, each case is different and opinions can change over 11 years. The absence of cameras in the court has made it somewhat difficult for the local TV stations to cover the Corasanti trial since they need video to better tell the story.

Ideally, cameras would be allowed to record Corasanti’s anticipated testimony, which would be must-see TV and could have an impact on the verdict. But I don’t know if it would be fair or legal just to carry that. If any lawyer who reads this blog wants to weigh in, please do.

Similarly, there haven’t been any cameras in the North Carolina courtroom of the John Edwards federal corruption trial for trying to cover up an affair. ABC’s over-the-top “Scandal” is using a pregnancy plot line involving a sitting president that would be a lot more interesting if it didn’t appear to be at least partly inspired by the Edwards case.


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5 responses to "“Good Wife” Cliffhangers Only Fair to Good"

  1. Randy says:

    seasons past

  2. Excellent, concise explanation of New York State’s laws on cameras in the courtroom.

  3. So true, Alan, especially compard to last year’s revealation about Kalinda and Peter. That said, “The Good Wife” is still better than most shows on network TV and I remain an avid fan. Even the kids seem real and aren’t stereotypically obnoxious.

  4. Bob says:

    You mentioned Edwards — cameras are never allowed in federal court, including the U.S. Supreme Court. State courts vary.

  5. Jlessord says:

    It’s pretty much up to the discretion of the judge, and some (in New York State)do allow for the video taping of testimony. New York is one of the very few states remaining which does not have an established law allowing cameras in the courtroom… (nor does it have one banning them, which is why it’s up to each judge).
    By the way, Federal Courts NEVER allow cameras in the courtroom, which is why you don’t see them in the Edwards trial

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