- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Alicia Florrick is having a bad day. Actually, she’s having a bad couple of months, but that’s the back story.

Julianna Margulies returns to television in CBS’ “The Good Wife,” (premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m.). She plays the aforesaid Mrs. Florrick, who’s back at work as a junior law associate after 15 years at home with the children.

Precipitating the return to the work force: Her husband, Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), state’s attorney of Cook County, was caught in an all-too-familiar scandal involving public money, ethics and prostitutes. We see Mrs. Florrick standing by her man in the show’s opening sequence — the press conference of shame.

“Give us time to heal,” Mr. Florrick pleads with the media. “Respect our privacy.”

Behind closed doors, Mrs. Florrick hauls off and slaps her man. Then he goes to jail, and his disgraced family has to carry on.

It’s now six months later: House sold (at a loss), husband behind bars, adolescent children not coping well, steely mother-in-law acting as at-home parent, and Mrs. Florrick gets a much-needed job. She’s in competition with eager young lawyers, finds the YouTube clip of her husband’s mea culpa playing in the office and is matched with a two-faced mentor, played with theatrical bombast by the always-entertaining Christine Baranski.

Oh yeah, and her husband’s political enemies in the legal world are eager to undermine her and see her fail.

“The Good Wife” should appeal to a wide swath of working women, who will recognize the co-workers and the juggling act any working mom must perform. Miss Margulies pulls it off well, and viewers will be reminded of why she was an Emmy winner (and six-time nominee) for her work on “ER” in the 1990s.

With the lack of roles for over-40 actresses that aren’t cartoon-character representations of cougars and housewives, this role is manna for Miss Margulies. At 43, she is still very good at playing serious but emotional.

That soft side is central to her character, who uses her motherly touch to help the defendant in a murder case, as well as chat up potential witnesses crucial to the case.

Hey, whatever works.

The real plot of “The Good Wife” pilot ventures into CSI territory after a while, but that’s not such a bad thing. Domestic strife and public humiliation are probably not enough to carry a whole series anyway.

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