‘The Good Wife’ – ‘Net Work’: Ripped from the Sorkin

A few thoughts on last night’s “The Good Wife” coming up just as soon as I take off my shoe…

The “Law & Order” franchise popularized the idea of doing episodes that are “ripped from the headlines,” but Dick Wolf and company’s approach was to always start with something that was clearly a fictionalized version of a tabloid story and then quickly take a sharp left turn into something that bore only a passing resemblance to the real story. That approach always seemed to make sense, both from a “protect yourself from being sued for defamation” standpoint and from a creativity standpoint. If you take a well-known story and change the names but none of the other details, where’s the suspense? What’s the point?

Last night’s “Good Wife,” on the other hand, presented the Mark Zuckerberg/Aaron Sorkin/”Social Network” story more or less as it happened in the headlines from which it was ripped. The only tweak was the lawsuit itself, but the firm’s client was clearly Zuckerberg, the douchebag screenwriter was clearly Sorkin, etc. The show tried to get around that by having a character compare their client to Zuckerberg, which was just silly; a universe in which this guy and Zuckerberg co-exist makes as much sense as a universe in which the fictional “Studio 60” and “Saturday Night Live” co-exist. It’s there as an attempt to place some distance between you and what you’re imitating, but it’s a distance nobody buys.

So because there was no real change, the whole thing played out like the show both trying to glom onto the success of “The Social Network” and just bashing Sorkin for an hour. I’ve bashed Sorkin a time or 20 in the past (go read my old “Studio 60” reviews), but it got to the point where I was wondering exactly who on the show hated Sorkin this much. (Other than Josh Charles, has anyone in the cast or crew worked on a Sorkin show or movie?) So unless you just enjoy Sorkin being called out for his less endearing qualities, I found the whole A-story an example of how not to do this particular trick.

As for the rest of the episode? Clearly, Julianna Margulies needed a light schedule that week, and the Kings also wanted to keep drawing out the whole voicemail business as long as they possibly can. And while Kalinda is definitely the show’s most entertaining character, I thought the whole strip interrogation scene between her and Blake was both ridiculous and maybe not the best approach to a scene in which two characters are explaining key details of the show’s most complicated story arc. Putting two characters in their underwear is an easy way to make an expository scene seem more interesting, but in this case it also made the exposition so beside the point as to be instantly forgettable.

What did everybody else think of this one? And since I only write about the show on occasion, how are you finding season 2 at this point?