Scene & Heard

Pat Clark: ‘Good Wife’ shocker

pclark@modbee.comMarch 27, 2014 

Pat Clark

JOAN BARNETT LEE — Modesto Bee Buy Photo

No, No, NO!

If you’re saving Sunday’s episode of “The Good Wife” on your DVR for another day, just stop reading now.

Although, there’s been so much Internet buzz about the show’s outcome, it’s doubtful many are in the dark about this wretched plot twist.

Wretched, Wretched, WRETCHED!

Here it is: They killed off Will Gardner.

Oh, why? Why, why, why, why, why?

OK, so I actually know why. Josh Charles, the actor who plays Will on “The Good Wife,” decided to not renew his contract; he was ready to exit this stellar, critically acclaimed series.

The writers made it as final as it could be by having him gunned down in a courthouse shooting. You couldn’t leave the door open for him to change his mind and come back? Really?

With all deference to star Julianne Margulies and her titular character, Alicia Florick, Will was the best thing about “The Good Wife.” Well, Will and Alicia’s sexual chemistry and tension, anyway.

This lawyer drama – one of the top shows on TV – managed to remain fresh in five seasons thanks to clever courtroom antics (most headed up by Will, by the way) and the ability to keep that sexual tension between Will and Alicia going even after it was consummated – usually a death knell.

All that is gone now.

Sure, there are all sorts of other things to love about the show. The clever courtroom antics won’t go away. And the rocky marriage of Alicia and her Illinois governor husband, Peter Florick, is still a go-to for drama.

But without the Will element, who cares?

According to an Associated Press story, I am not alone in my bereavement.

“Once the episode had aired, Twitter lit up with astonished, sorrowful and even irate posts,” according to the AP. “One viewer called for a group hug, while another issued a plea for a counselor to treat jolted fans. Yet another viewer expressed hope that, as with “Dallas” long ago in revealing Bobby Ewing’s death to be only a dream, “The Good Wife” would find Gardner stepping out of his shower next week, alive and well. Other viewers vowed never to watch the show again, as payback.”

I’ll watch for a while, particularly to see how Alicia deals with this loss. But I’m not sure that will be enough for the long haul.

You can’t really blame Charles for wanting to leave the show – it’s his life. Although, on the surface, the idea of an actor leaving a popular show still at the top of its game seems kind of cuckoo.

And, he told David Letterman on Monday night’s “Late Show” that he has no working plans for the near future.

The big question is how this will play out for “The Good Wife.” Will the show lose viewers? Will the loss of that push-and-pull between Will and Alicia wreck the tone?

It’s tough for shows to lose a major character and rebound, although it’s certainly been done.

Decades ago, when Shelley Long decided to exit “Cheers,” I was certain my favorite comedy show would never survive. Again, that chemistry between her character, Diane Chambers, and Ted Danson’s Sam Malone was the centerpiece of the series.

Honestly, I didn’t even want to watch it.

But I did, and Kirstie Alley stepped in, and all was well. Was it ever as good as it was during the Shelley Long years? No, but it was as close as it could be without Diane.

I’m still in shock over the death of Will Gardner. Of course, it’s just a TV show, but my heart kind of hurts. I do hope Charles shows up on another winning series soon.

Or – better still – steps out of the shower on next week’s “Good Wife” episode to let us know it was all just a bad dream.

Speaking of “Cheers” ...

Maybe the “Cheers”/Shelley Long reference popped into my head immediately because I’ve been kind of obsessed lately with watching old episodes of this classic sitcom. I used to try to watch the syndicated episodes on TV, but they cut out so much of the original lines, I just got irritated.

Now, I’m watching electronically, and getting the full episodes as they originally were shown. And even though I could recite the lines along with actors, it still makes me laugh out loud.

I’m just going to put this out there: “Cheers” is the best sitcom to ever hit TV.

Yes, I’m going out on a crazy limb filled with decades of wondrous comedies: “Seinfeld,” “All in the Family,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Honeymooners,” “I Love Lucy,” “M*A*S*H,” “The Cosby Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Modern Family,” “30 Rock” and more that I can’t immediately pull out of my head.

Bold statement, perhaps, but “Cheers” not only was top-notch comedy every week, it pulled off that aforementioned save after losing a major character.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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