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Tag Archives: Josh Charles

Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set

14 Jun

A day earlier than the usual Behind the Insta-Scenes posting time and that’s because it has been jam packed with the ATX Television Festival in Austin delivering on the TV reunion front. Plus the Tony Awards and other great TV related hangouts.

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Clear Eyes, Full Hearts… @atxfestival

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The ATX Television Festival provided a whole lot of feelings all over Instagram (I would be a mess if I was there IRL) and the Friday Night Lights reunion was the number one source.

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reunited and it feels pretty good #husbands

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Also from Austin we’ve got Mae Whitman bringing together two parts of the Jason Katims TV map. I really like her glasses.

 

In more excellent TV reunion photos with the ladies from Ugly Betty and one boozy hangout dream scenario; Vanessa Williams AND Judith Light.

 

Posing up a storm and the UnREAL cast continues to crush all things on Instagram (also this week’s episode is SO great).

 

Danai Gurira was one of our Tony Awards red carpet faves and not only is she delivering on the excellent Insta multi group shots, but she’s also given us a getting ready photo diary over at Vogue.

 

In non-shocking news to regular readers, but I adore this selfie. And everything about this friendship. Michelle Williams’ lipstick looks even better in close up.

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One last one from last night.

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This is also really wonderful and showcases the hell out of Busy Philipps’ amazing frock.

 

More in the Tony selfie stream and Lucy Liu was one of the yellow frock delights from the night.

 

Lupita gifts us with a Tonys dress and accessories still life; such exquisite and detailed work.

 

Glenn Close looks amazing and in a ‘stars they’re just like us’ moment she’s seen her clutching heels rather than wearing them after a big event (I normally last 2 hours, maybe 3 if/when the booze kicks in).

 

Busy Philipps has the Jane Eyre Olympia Le-Tan book cover clutch and this Bell Jar one (as mentioned in this Tonys post) is my ultimate clutch wish list item.

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When Lucca met Will 😉 #TheGoodWife

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They didn’t get a chance to work together on The Good Wife, but I am so here for this.

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Dazed and bloody… Ep10

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A well earned coffee break on the set of Outlander.

 

You’re the Worst is now shooting season 3 and I cannot wait for more. Love the slippers, Kether.

 

BrainDead started last night and I liked the pilot a bunch; the leads are great and former Good Wife costume designer Daniel Lawson is giving me a whole new blazer wardrobe to covet.

 

Behind the scenes of this fantastic New York Magazine Tracee Ellis Ross photo shoot gives the bonus of seeing Ross dancing to Beyoncé.

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Needing to be Needed on The Good Wife or Why “End” is Disappointing

9 May

Alicia didn’t become a lumberjack and nor did she end up with someone other than the mother, but The Good Wife’s finale sure did burn everything to the ground in a way that was incredibly disappointing. I am sitting here staring at my screen wondering what on earth I just watched and why coming full circle means leaving Alicia with nothing. And no you can’t throw in Ghost Will to appease all those other very bad Diane related decisions because it doesn’t work like that and “End” has left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

Ultimately if Alicia Florrick needs to be needed what does it mean that she ends up alone?The Good Wife 7.22 Alicia and DianeLet’s start with THE thing that really spun the whole finale on its head and that is Alicia’s decision to zealously represent her client with no regard for her partnership at work. A couple of weeks ago Alicia watched Diane and Kurt looking all happy and asked them what their secret to good coupledom is; at the time I mentioned that Alicia pretty much screamed RELATIONSHIP GOALS  at them. While I am in no way suggesting that getting Lucca to ask about an affair was through jealousy, I do think she went in hard on Peter needing her when a couple of scenes before she was whatevering the whole thing.

There was no looking for another option and while Alicia and Diane were screaming at each other it appeared that Lucca was trying to suggest there was another way; one that didn’t get a follow up and instead Alicia asked Lucca to ask Kurt about a possible affair. We never get to hear the answer because when Diane gets up and leaves the courtroom showing her public disgust and humiliation at this question, we also leave the courtroom too. Considering this evidence is then thrown out I think it is safe to say that Kurt said yes this affair (oh, Kurt) and I don’t get why the torpedoing of Diane’s marriage was the necessary course of action for this finale.

One thing I did get was this idea that Alicia can’t be happy at this place of work which holds so many memories particularly as she refers to this office as having gotten sad and it probably is time for Alicia to move on; but did she have to go out in such a self-destructive and alienating fashion? And while Alicia and Diane are far from the martini drinking besties I wish they were, there is a strong level of respect and going for the jugular like this seems too selfish even by Alicia’s standards this season.

What she has done is dished out a version of her story to Diane all in the name of getting Peter’s plea deal down to probation when he was willing to do two years last week. Some of this is about protecting Grace and her path to college as somehow she was meant to be leaving for Berkeley in the midst of all of this; convenient timing and all that. Grace has deferred for a year and now she doesn’t have to worry about years of visiting her dad in prison. The Good Wife 7.22 Roosevelt hotelIt looks like Lockhart, [insert name here] and Associates is going to need new letterhead paper and signage as that slap suggests Diane is dunzo with Alicia. This puts Alicia in the Peter position mirroring the pilot opening sequence and is that what we are meant to take away from The Education of Alicia Florrick? Everyone is corrupt and will stoop to the lowest level to be left with nothing? We don’t know if Alicia will divorce Peter or if she will go for Eli’s political plan* or if there will be a positive response to her running for office again. God knows I am happy I never have to watch another campaign storyline again.

*I did enjoy seeing The Roosevelt Hotel popping up in the above scene as I got to play New York, not Chicago bingo and because I have stayed there on a couple of occasions. 

The number of loose ends is longer than my quest to find out exactly where Robyn went. Even the things I liked about this final season were given a short shrift with Lucca continuing her role of relationship coach and getting used by Alicia to stick it to Diane. Guess someone else is probably out of a job now.

Random aside alert – if there were to be a spinoff can I suggest a college set series with Cary as a guest lecturer at various institutes where he ends up helping solve cases. Maybe the hoodie can make a return.The Good Wife 7.22 AliciaOne big aspect of “End” is the conversations with dead people aka here is what you could have won. This is the Alicia Florrick version of the exceptional episode “The Giving Tree,” but this not two seasons ago when The Good Wife was creatively on fire and it ends up being wish fulfillment of the worst kind. Don’t get me wrong as I loved seeing Will Gardner on my screen again and the chemistry between Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies crackles as much as it did before; however all this did was underscore where this show has gone wrong over the last two seasons.

Ghost Will (or really Alicia’s imagined version of Will) appears when Alicia is pondering who she would like to see when she gets home from work offering a glass of wine to her. First Jason, then Peter and sadly no surprise appearance from the other one that got away with Finn Polmar. It surprises her when there is magical option number three and as with other Alicia memory pops or in this case fantasy pops she remarks on how stupid it is before leaning into the fantasy and Will. It is a little fan servicy, but I have to admit as someone who was sailing on the Will/Alicia ship this was an all the feelings moment as soon as I realized the Josh Charles returning for the finale rumors were true. Yes I even got teary because that’s what this pairing does.

And it didn’t just end in the kitchen and Alicia’s venture into old files led to a conversation about the law, college and life. It is very cute and there’s no denying how much I enjoyed seeing Alicia flirting with Will, but it also feels like a bit of an emotional cheat. A distraction of sorts and also a way to try and explain Alicia’s thought process without really explaining anything; “It was romantic because it didn’t happen.” The Good Wife 7.22 Alicia and WillAlicia’s asks “What do I do now?” and this is when Ghost Will tells her to go after Jason as her Peter fever is done with and this is what she does at the press conference the following day. Unfortunately she is chasing a guy who isn’t there and this is when the corridor of slapping gets another hit.

Alicia is left showing those emotions she has been stealing away from and faking in hilarious ways and this crumbling is followed by wiping tears and giving fierce face because Alicia is forever a master at putting on this mask. Or she can give you a demure smile if you want.The Good Wife 7.22 Alicia demureIn the immediate aftermath of watching this finale I am angry and disappointed; for how things went for Diane and that ultimately Alicia burned it all down for a man she is leaving anyway. It makes no sense and I am all for ambiguity, but this ending feels like it is trying to be too clever for its own good and I can see why they put out the ‘not everyone will be happy‘ signals before this even aired. Alicia going all in on getting what she wants after years of sacrifices for Peter is something I am here for, but this version where she blows up everything for Peter is far from satisfying and right now all I want to do is bask in the glory of season 5.

The conflict between Alicia looking out for her interests versus her ‘good wife’ mantle is something season 7 has been striving for and sadly it hasn’t always hit the mark. Part of this I think is due to the decision about whether this was the final season coming in late, which left this season unfocused for large periods of time and it has generally been ticking along. Spending the last 3 episodes covering Peter’s trial has felt like a rush job and really much more time on this rather than his presidential run would have made this storyline/season a lot more cohesive (once again I wonder if this was related to the late announcement). Instead what we are left with is cramming so much ‘goodbye’ plot into such a short space of time giving very little time for character reflection.

The astute comment by Jason about why Alicia has stuck with Peter followed by Ghost Will commenting on how little self-awareness Alicia has also speaks to some of the issues; we still don’t really have a grip on exactly who Alicia is after seven years and this ending certainly doesn’t help out in answering these questions.

One last thought and what feels like my Good Wife mantra, but where is Robyn?

Paranoia Runs Wild on The Good Wife

22 Feb

The big Good Wife Super Bowl announcement has put a countdown clock on this season and with each passing week it becomes clear that Alicia Florrick’s journey is going to come full circle; with Peter accused of a crime he may or may not have committed, resignation and the question of whether his wife will stand by him. The Education of Alicia Florrick is not going to see her making the same mistake twice and I have a strong feeling that Peter might be standing alone the next time this kind of press conference takes place; especially if she take Ruth’s advice to put herself first and get out while she can. The question is what charges are they going to bring against Peter and Eli is scrambling to get ahead of the FBI. Now there happens to be a big Elsbeth Tascioni shaped obstacle in his way.

Ah yes! It is always a pleasure to see Carrie Preston as Elsbeth and while there is a danger that things could tip into overly kooky territory; Preston manages to walk this very narrow line stopping her from appearing too cartoony. Plus it is always fun to see characters interact with Elsbeth for the first time and now we get to meet her equally disarming ex-husband. Plus it helps that she isn’t always sickly sweet and is very protective of her clients and her duties as a lawyer.The Good Wife 7.15 ElsbethThe question of who the redacted name is and how Elsbeth connected the dots has apparently been answered in the episode and yet I have a feeling it is someone else entirely who Elsbeth is keeping attorney/client privilege with and I’m pretty sure that person is dead. Yep I think Will Gardner is the one and it goes back to the stuffed ballot box from Peter’s election at the end of season 4. Will showed Peter a video of said ballot box and was being pursued by the Office of Public Integrity just prior to his death.

In “A Few Words” Will approaches Elsbeth at a conference in New York and asks her to represent him in this case as he is being pressured to break attorney/client privilege and threatened with jail time if he doesn’t. It meets all the criteria as to why Elsbeth has to excuse herself from working for Peter; a grand jury case (tick), against Peter Florrick (tick) and Will was a client of Elsbeth’s (tick). At the time it looked like this was going to be a huge story arc and that it might spell the end for Peter, but then the courtroom shooting happened effectively killing two birds with one stone for Peter and his Will problem. Not that I think Peter welcomed this solution, but you can’t say he hasn’t benefited from it.

This isn’t the conclusion Eli comes to as after following Elsbeth (oh hi Jason!) they see her meeting with one of Peter’s top donors (and dairy owner) Lloyd Garber and assume he is also being investigated. But Garber is also very close to Gardner and maybe I’m being David Lee/Cary Agos levels of paranoid, but I think Garber is a big red herring here. Now Will is dead (*sob*) so where this leaves Elsbeth in terms of lawyer duties is something I am not clear on. Regardless I kinda like the idea of Will bringing Peter down from beyond the grave. There are some things like the Russian in The Sopranos or the outrigger in Lost that never come back regardless of these shows ending, but I have a feeling we have not seen the last of the stuffed ballot box.

Over at Lockhart, Agos and Lee all the years of takeovers, schemes and power plays – Derrick Bond, anyone? – have taken their toll and David Lee takes the interest in the female lawyers for a profile piece to mean that Diane is intending to turn this into a female run firm. Because of course he does. And because Cary has been involved in several of these plots he is easily influenced in believing this is a thing. There is a lack of trust at this firm from all angles and it is hard to imagine a time when it will settle down and the major players won’t suspect that there is someone working against them. As outsiders both Lucca and Jason thinks this is kinda insane and Lucca questions Alicia about why they came here in the first place. Money. The answer is always money.The Good Wife 7.15 Alicia and JasonWith Jason, Alicia has a whole different kind of interaction going from elevator smooches to late night office hookups and finally Alicia has thrown caution to the wind in what looks like the same office where she had a very chaste moment with Finn Polmar. I know there was some John shenanigans as well last season, but eh there was nowhere near the heat as with either of these other potential suitors. Jason has concerns about where this might be headed and those concerns begin with Peter; Alicia explains the situation and that Peter is fine with it. Jason intuitively knows this is far from the case so Alicia tries another tactic first by playfully and emotionally manipulating him about her drinking followed by being direct; she wants him.

We don’t get to see where this leads as we cut to the NSA dudes who are not only listening into Alicia’s calls but also any conversation that happens to take place near her phone, which is pretty much all of her conversations. The episode ends abruptly and with a sense of uncertainty about what the NSA’s role is other than being an audience stand-in and how their investigation will impact the FBI’s investigation and Alicia’s work seeing as they did influence Alicia’s top secret case. I loved the look of pride/happiness that came across Alicia’s face when she was told that Judge Leora Kuhn was the one who recommended her and if Linda Emond isn’t coming back before the end then I’m glad they gave a nod to one of my all time favorite Good Wife judges in this manner.

I was hoping that with Alicia’s return to the firm there would be more for Christine Baranski to do; alas this week she was just dealing with paranoid dudes. Looking fabulous in the process (standard).The Good Wife 7.15 DianeIn a similar vein Lucca also got dealt the short straw this week as Cary tried to get info from her about this possible all lady takeover and getting booted from Alicia’s office when she wanted a word with Jason. There is also the small matter of a Top 5 Lucca Quinn outfit with this colorful dress.The Good Wife 7.15 LuccaAnd for a random Lockhart, Agos and Lee observation – I wonder why they have to spell out what is in this jar. Is it so people don’t think it is decorative?The Good Wife 7.15 candyI think it would be in Cary’s best interest if he did not align himself with David Lee even if he has cockroach levels of survival skills at the firm. The pieces are falling into place and it will be interesting to see where loyalties lie and who is willing to stand by who when it comes down to it.

Alicia Florrick’s Funk and Friendships on The Good Wife: How One Can Stop the Other and Save the Season

1 Feb

The reason why I haven’t written about the last couple of episodes of The Good Wife is in part to do with the award shows which have aired against it and the subsequent red carpet posts which have followed. The other part is because this season has been such a bizarrely paced and plotted mess that it has felt like I have been repeating myself on a weekly basis as Alicia grapples with her firm and the election. Thankfully Peter’s bid for president has been put to bed as he crashed and burned in Iowa; this went on for far too long and I think the writers think we care much more about election storylines than we do (see also Alicia’s bid for SA last season).

The Good Wife is about the education of Alicia Florrick and season 7 has been about an unmoored Alicia. In season 1 Alicia was entering a world she had been absent from for a substantial amount of time with her husband’s discretions hanging over her. Cut to the present and she has her own election scandal to add to this list and she’s out on her own again floundering. This is no longer to do with lack of experience and her stubbornness is standing in the way of her going back to the firm that kickstarted her legal career.

The Good Wife 7.13 AliciaThere are two episodes “Judged” draws from in terms of Alicia’s journey and they happen to come from The Good Wife’s best season with “The Last Call” and “All Tapped Out.” Alicia wants to know exactly what Will’s deleted voicemail said and Eli provides the answer remembering certain parts exactly while getting the general gist of the rest – Will had loved her since Georgetown – and this clarity is what was missing from Will’s final voicemail that he left just before he was killed. Alicia will never know exactly why he was calling that morning and plenty of scenarios played in her mind, including one which sounded a whole lot like the message he sent years before.

There is of course the notion of the road not traveled or fig tree element with finding out something this vital years after the fact, particularly when the other person is no longer around. The ‘what ifs’ are endless and after moving on from this idea of her grand romance with Will everything is brought to the surface and it has sent Alicia spiraling. What Alicia does is push people away when there is a whiff of betrayal and her list of meaningful relationships has decreased throughout the seasons. Kalinda was first to go after the Peter reveal and this friendship never recovered (off screen and green screen shenanigans did not help either), things have always been pretty patchy with Diane no matter how much I long for them to be martini drinking buddies, Cary has been both confidant and rival, there was flirtation with Finn, but he was too close to what happened to Will (and Matthew Goode left for Lady Mary) and Eli is the most recent person to feel her wrath and cold shoulder.

Basically Alicia has always needed more friends (her brother does not count) and for every potential there has been a reason – sometimes work, sometimes romantic – that these haven’t panned out. Also guest stars can only hang around for a finite amount of time. Enter Lucca Quinn and Cush Jumbo has been this season’s shining star. Okay, her character is underwritten and everything we do know about her is pretty surface level and yet Cush Jumbo is selling it and making Lucca vital. And not just for fabulous outfit reasons. *Cue screenshots from this episode*
The Good Wife 7.13 LuccaThe Good Wife 7.13 Lucca QuinnThe Good Wife 7.13 Alicia and LuccaLucca is the one who is putting up with all of Alicia’s shit; her terrible moods and refusal to consider the Lockhart, Agos offer from the previous episode. After pulling a lot of concerned faces and a drink with Jason (because why not) Lucca calls Alicia on her DGAF attitude asking “Seriously, are you gonna hate the whole world right now?” Instead of giving Lucca the same throwing plates treatment she gave Eli or simply telling her that she is fine, Alicia lays it all out and I mean all of it. Lucca doesn’t know the Will story so Alicia gives the super abridged version – “I was in love. He died” – and then everything else comes pouring out. The message she didn’t get, how she hates everything, her increased drinking habits and out of nowhere her not too positive feelings about her kids. Now come on Alicia, Zach I get but Grace has been nothing but amazing this season.

This is the same Alicia we got a glimpse of after Will died; the person who stayed in her sweats and did pull the covers over her head. But she got fired up and went back to work after initially wondering whether she had made the right choices with her life.

Those same questions plague her once again and this time she has someone to tell her that she is needed. Not Peter wanting her to snap out of it so she can attend a function, but a true partner and friend. This is the relationship I have been waiting to see Alicia have ever since the very bad Kalinda break up and it has been a bumpy road getting to this point. Both Julianna Margulies and Cush Jumbo crush this scene and me in the process and I just hope this is a sign that this season is headed in a stronger direction.

Alicia is now in a position financially and legally where Lockhart, Agos is the best option and if this means Diane gets to come play rather than being out on some random case then I am so here for it.

An accurate representation of my reaction to the B plot this week. #SaveDianeThe Good Wife 7.13 DianePart of the problem this year is how fractured everything has been, which I guess has been the point in having Alicia out on her own but it doesn’t make for the best structure or strong storytelling overall. Team Everyone at Lockhart, Agos.

Forgiveness doesn’t come easily to Alicia (just ask Kalinda) and last week she told Marissa there was no way she could forgive Eli. Luckily for Eli he comes to say his piece after Alicia has had her breakdown and elevator smooch (finally!) and he tells her that he didn’t prevent Alicia getting together with Will; it happened anyway. Fate is not something they can control and deleting the voicemail didn’t have an impact on what eventually happened to Will. All very logical and Alan Cumming nails the emotion when he tells her that he never apologizes or confesses to anyone. And with that Alicia gives him the thing he came for, but probably didn’t expect.

This is very much a step in the right direction for Alicia and The Good Wife getting her out of her apartment and back to her former workplace and hopefully this last season for the Kings (and maybe Julianna Margulies) will end on a triumphant note. The first step has happened, the rest needs to follow.

Masters of Sex 3.12 “Full Ten Count” Review: Save Yourself

28 Sep

The strongest episode of Masters of Sex to date is still “Fight” and this messy third season ends with a nod to this magnificent two-hander offering some semblance of hope despite the many missteps. It is far from a perfect finale and suffers from the weight of storylines that have come before it, but it finally feels like there is some forward momentum instead of entertaining the same back and forth dance we are accustomed to.

Due to other work and travel commitments I haven’t reviewed MoS for a few weeks now and my general view of those episodes is the strong (mostly Betty) moments have been overshadowed by the repetitive nature of Bill and Virginia’s disagreements; it’s not only Virginia that feels like she is suffocating.

Masters of Sex 3.12 BillBill is controlling and single minded and his recent behavior, particularly during the dinner sequence last week has been hard to justify or even tolerate. Virginia’s decision to flee is one that is easy to understand and yet I can’t help but feel the pull of Bill when he lays it all out to her in his last ditch move to get her to stay. His first attempt comes when Bill tells Virginia he is dropping the MD so they will be equals and this gets a brief consideration before the swirl of everything else going on takes center. Not the reaction Bill was expecting, but the drama levels at the clinic are probably far higher than he was anticipating. This idea of telling Virginia how he really feels came from Virginia’s other suitor and this romantic dilemma is part of what has been bugging me this season; Virginia has essentially become the center point of a love triangle and her role in the work has taken a backseat position.

The love story has always been part of Masters of Sex and I am so here for a good romance and yet it feels like Virginia has been reduced to the love prize between a man who is far too good to be true and the man with many flaws. Charming Dan is in part so charming thanks to the person playing him and Josh Charles has been selling the shit out of the perfume man and yet I can’t trust a character that is this good; Dan is the guy who makes bold gestures and then follows through. When he says he will leave his wife (the always amazing Judy Greer) for Virginia he does leave his wife for Virginia.

He can’t quite compromise with her work situation, but luckily for him everything is imploding and this is the ideal time to sweep Virginia off her feet, but how long can this perfect man act keep up? And if it isn’t just an act, how long will Virginia feel complete? I believe her when she tells Bill that happiness outside of the work is her goal, but her constant checking over her shoulder for Bill at the airport is a telling sign that this is still not enough.

Masters of Sex 3.12 Virginia and DanPieces of Virginia’s past have given further insight into her psyche from her contentious relationship with her mother to the impact of her long ago broken heart which was first alluded to in “Fight.” Dan is the chance to do things right while going against her mother’s desire to see her with Bill and if we’re breaking everything down into their base components then both Virginia and Bill’s behavior goes back to their parents. Bill’s father is the person who informs his desire to rail against authority no matter who else gets hurt in the process. As the not so subtle dream sequence shows at the start of this finale, Bill is incapable of staying down because he doesn’t want to be seen as weak. However weakness can be the inability to admit when a situation has spiraled out of control as this one has.

There are times to fight and times to fall and Bill ends up choosing the latter instead of running through the airport and catching Virginia just in time. Masters of Sex has already done the big rom-com ending back in season 1 when Bill showed up on Virginia’s doorstep in the rain and it is Bill’s decision to stop which gives me hope that this show is not a lost cause. If Bill had made it to the airport and won Virginia’s heart with a flowery speech then the cycle would just be repeating, now there is a chance they can build on the ruins Virginia has left behind. Okay so we don’t see Virginia get on the plane, but every time she looks back it acts as a warning sign to Dan that their union might be less than perfect and it wouldn’t be a shocker if she ditched the Mexico plan.

Masters of Sex 3.12 Libby MastersThe status quo has been altered in another much bigger way and the conversation between Libby and Bill is the one which truly excites me because now Bill knows that Libby knows and has known for a very long time. It is scenes like this one which draw me back into MoS and it must be said that for all the bumps and missteps this season, this cast has been doing some incredible things with what they have been given. Caitlin Fitzgerald’s reaction as Bill vomits out his ‘big secret’ is amazing from uncontrollable laughter to her taking no shit as this really is not the time to unburden his soul and feel better in the process. Libby was so close to finding happiness (for a second time) and instead she chose her family (again) and not just because of some ideal image she has cooked up in her mind. Libby is so much more than this and her anger at Bill after he points out how awful this must have been for her and how she deserves something better is justified; “You don’t get to decide.”

Bill is shocked not only in finding out that Libby has known for years, but that Virginia has been in on it. This is where Libby gets to twist the knife telling Bill they have a pact conjuring up images of kitchen table plotting of Virginia agreeing to never taking Bill away from his family. It is all too much for Bill to take in and Libby gets to sashay away leaving him stuck in jail without his bond paid. And she does so in a fabulous camel coat and pants which shows how far Lib has come from pastel dress wearing housewife. See also these sunglasses from earlier in the episode which make her look fierce and like she is on a glamorous mission, even though this is far from the case.

Masters of Sex 3.12 LibbyLibby’s reason for breaking things up with Paul last week also go a long way in showing why she is so adamant at keeping her family together; she doesn’t want the cycle of bad father/son relationships to continue forever on but by the end of this finale her usually resolute spirit has been broken. It is like the Virginia secret is the very frayed string that was keeping everything together and she doesn’t even lock the bathroom door to hide her tearful breakdown, which Johnny of course walks in on.

Bill is not a mirror of his father, but he has been so afraid of repeating this pattern that he is not a presence at all; even if they did split up it probably wouldn’t be that different really. I hope next season sticks to this separation because it will allow the show to explore so many more possibilities beyond Poor Libby and this character does deserve more; so does the audience when it comes to seeing this same old storyline on repeat.

Plenty of characters who have hovered on the sidelines are complicit in Bill’s current fate and when Bill threatened Dennis earlier this season he mentioned that everyone trusts doctors, which as it turns out is not always the case. Bill has been backed into a corner by not only Dennis’ mother, but also Nora who is working with religious fanatic and lobby loiter Ronald Sturgis (another person Bill has threatened). Bill has been somewhat naive in both cases and both have come back to destroy his career. He plays the kind card with Libby and instead of telling him what he wants to hear, Libby instead points out that this is indicative of his controlling and reckless behavior.

Early in the episode Ronald tells Virginia to save herself acting as an early warning about what is to come. The only warning Bill gets is rather abstract pointing to the broken nature of things as his suspender snaps and he has to wear Lester’s belt. Bill is very anti-belts which once again goes back to his father and his choice of weapon against him. I don’t know if we needed the beating flashback even if it underscored that it is not a fashion related decision. Virginia gets a sermon from Nora and in return she smacks her with a box. Nora is a character who is clearly deeply troubled, but she definitely deserved that from Virginia and I maybe (okay definitely) cheered.

Masters of Sex 3.12 Barton and JonathanIn happier romance news Barton and Jonathan (Richard from Felicity!) have acted on their feelings and got over their disagreements regarding how they want to present themselves – with a lot of help from magical advice unicorn Betty – and have a romantic birthday meal out. Well it is romantic and then Bill’s in jail predicament briefly interrupts things. When Jonathan mentions he isn’t getting younger it is hard to not picture him in college because he pretty much looks the same as he did almost 15 years ago.

Betty has been a strong presence throughout this season even when she is only there to dish out the advice and it would be remiss if I didn’t mention her conversation with Barton from “Through a Glass, Darkly” when she tells him about her relationship with Helen and how “it makes a difference” to be loved like that. Betty is often used as comic relief, but she is also important when getting to the heart of the emotional moments and I hope there will be far more for her to do next season even if she is very good at running interference. Betty also had another fantastic Twiggy inspired dress and wide tie costume moment this week.

Masters of Sex 3.12 BettyAnd this look also works when hiding out smoking in a dark office.Masters of Sex 3.12 Betty smokingTroubled teen plots were absent from this finale and Tessa has been one of the many issues this season and I have gone from a position of defending this story to rolling my eyes at how they have made the teen an irritating obstacle. I don’t think they need to be done with Tessa necessarily, but there has to be a way of exploring Virginia’s relationship with her daughter without this many teen cliches particularly when dealing with the work Virginia does.

Masters of Sex works best when it is Masters and Johnson; this is not to say there shouldn’t be conflict but the writers do need to go beyond the same push/pull we have seen for three seasons and hopefully the actions of Bill, Virginia and Libby in this finale will lead a revitalized show that leads to a return to form.

Masters of Sex 3.07 “Monkey Business” Review: Apeman

24 Aug

The vast number of years Masters of Sex has covered over a three season period and particularly this season does not render it immune from cyclical plot points and “Monkey Business” goes a long way in demonstrating how patchy this season has been. It is disappointing that despite how far these characters have come, they are still falling into certain traps.

Bill is showing off his unpleasant side as he still can’t fathom why his son is so distant (don’t befriend the kid who beat him up for starters) and he unleashes his controlling side all in the guise of helping broken men (and apes) like himself. The gorilla that was introduced at the end of last week’s episode comes into focus this week as Bill and Virginia are asked to help with Gil’s mating issues. What goes from being a flight of fancy and nothing more than a whim for Bill becomes a huge metaphor for all the suffering dudes on this show, but with a strong whiff of manipulation revealing Bill’s competitive and jealous streak.

Whereas Libby Masters, forever on the periphery has been languishing in her own illusions and it is hard to see quite how she will break free without ever leaving Bill. One step towards freedom does take place this week as she acknowledges just how terrible her personal life is; now if she can move forward rather than backsliding as we have seen her do in previous seasons.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Virgina and BillInitially Virginia is the one who champions the gorilla project with Bill scoffing at how ridiculous it is. They later switch positions with Bill linking his own performance problems to both the impotent (and human) Keith to gorilla Gil. With Gil it is all about point scoring and a good anecdote to tell Newsweek magazine if they are successful. Human patient cases can’t be spoken in any detail due to confidentiality and the one which leads to the interview is pure fiction. Isabella and Al were papped on the way out of the clinic and so they have spun this into a good PR story for their broken relationship, but they can use the exposure to showcase their real triumphs. Virginia appeals to Bill’s ego by pointing out how he has a soft spot for “suffering males” and this is a point which Bill uses on her later on by reiterating how much she helped him.

While it could be said that Virginia uses manipulation to get Bill on board the ape plan, Bill certainly runs with it when Dan comes calling with plans for a night out. At this point Bill has no idea Virginia and Dan are sleeping together, but that doesn’t stop him exerting his power in preventing Virginia from going by insisting on the gorilla shenanigans. It would have probably made more sense for his jealousy to kick in if he was aware of their hooking up and instead this just comes across as dick measuring pettiness.

One awkward scene follows another as Virginia ends up flashing her boobs to get Gil in the mood with Bill offering directions out of Gil’s sight. It is all just a little uncomfortable although I should point out that we are not privy to what Gil and Bill can see; the use of nudity on Masters of Sex never feels gratuitous. They are successful in getting Gil to mate, but the victory is hollow for Virginia and she sees it as no more than a fluke. Bill wants to tell all and at dinner he teases their ‘ape’ triumph and instead references the celebrity couple lie that led to this interview in the first place. It is disappointing to see him play with Virginia in this way and even though he is focusing on the broken people they have helped he is so narrow sighted when it comes to those he is closest to.

It is no surprise Virginia turns back to Charming Dan after this dinner and despite Bill’s assertion last week that certain people are slipping away I don’t think he realizes just how isolated he might become; his son despises him, Libby is starting to come to terms with her situation and Virginia has a new ape man.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Dan and VirginiaI really wish I could say this is Josh Charles wearing a mohair sweater and not a gorilla suit.

The man who spoke about love in such a powerful and meaningful way is still there and Bill does want to help the broken and in need; however he is also a controlling asshole who likes to bask in his success. It is a credit to Michael Sheen’s exceptional performance that he is still so watchable and sympathetic even when the story doesn’t support this.

Impotence has affected several characters on Masters of Sex with Lester suffering from the condition last season after a very bad break up from Jane. During the several time jumps Lester has got back together with his former gf and had children with her; it was only after overhearing Virginia and Bill discussing her husband that Jane found out about his issue.

#In a roundabout way the original ‘important work’ ethos of the study is utilized to make Lester see why Jane wants to be the surrogate in helping her friend and while I love spending time with these characters (especially with Jane in signature yellow) it all comes across as slightly tenuous.

Meanwhile, Tessa is chatting to Dan about her mother’s extracurricular activities with Bill while never revealing who she is. That is until Virginia introduces them and causes Dan to squint in confusion. Does her believe her more now he knows she most likely has insider info or does he read their interactions as spiteful lies? When really it is a mixture of the two.

Every week I have been lamenting about the lack of Betty besides her fabulous costuming and amazing advice; the return of Helen prompts her own subplot and yet this is also on the dissatisfying scale because it all revolves around getting pregnant. Seeing Annaleigh Ashford and Sarah Silverman bouncing off each other is always a treat, but I wish there was a way to feature them without resorting to biological clocks. We already know Betty can’t have children so it is Helen with all the bunny infested dreams and how do you find a surrogate in the 1960s? Tap up Dr Austin Langham that’s how.

The fabulous Betty costuming continues in her late night adventure with paisley prints and silk head band (which is making me reach for this one again) coupled with Helen’s leopard print delight.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Betty and HelenBetty did also get to hold my favorite props from “Monkey Business” (no not the artificial insemination equipment) and old magazines whether mock ups or real hold an instant appeal to this magazine aficionado.

First up Betty’s face while showing the Isabella Ricci Newsweek article (and accompanying fake Lord Harry ad which made an appearance in season 1 – would a company really use the same copy work for 10 years?)

Masters of Sex 3.07 NewsweekAnd then I fell down a Google image black hole looking at Photoplay covers and this plays right into my recent You Must Remember This inspired interest in 1960s (and all those earlier decades) Hollywood.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Photoplay magazineThis season is far from a disaster and there is still plenty to enjoy as the performances are always solid even if the storytelling has been on the bumpy side. They just need to get out of some of the character ruts and show progress beyond the work of Masters and Johnson.

Best of TV Costuming 2014: The Good Wife and Grieving

9 Dec

Welcome to TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2014″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

One of the biggest TV moments for me this year was the death of Will Gardner on The Good Wife and how this took what was already a thrilling season and upped the ante to new levels as everyone dealt with the aftermath of this tragedy. This story resonated for a number of reasons and the unexpected and sudden nature put us in the same position as Alicia as they somehow managed to keep this story under wraps; this was not an expected departure – even if it was common knowledge that Josh Charles’ contract was up at the end of the season – and because Will and Alicia’s relationship was unresolved this death hit hard. It is definitely the first time I have ever cried while writing a review.

The Good Wife 5.17 AliciaThe education of Alicia Florrick is at the center of The Good Wife and Will’s death is a stab to that heart. Even when they were fighting for the majority of the fifth season there was still a spark and the reconciliation of sorts in a New York City diner hinted at the next phase of their relationship. This was not to be the case as Will was gunned down by his own client at the end of the next episode. The wardrobe of grieving can be many things but when Alicia finds out that Will has been killed she is in appropriately somber clothing and she spends the episode with her zip done all the way up and shrouded in her black coat. As I said it is appropriately somber. This is followed by more black clothing for the funeral (and post funeral drinks with Diane) but color isn’t completely lacking in these episodes as you can see in this shot of Alicia with Grace’s old tutor Jennifer.

It’s after the funeral in “A Material World” where there is a shift in Alicia’s attire as she goes from her usual well put together fancy suits and reverts to sweats. Climbing beneath the sheets – initially while still wearing her court clothes – and contemplating only the heavy handed drama on Darkness at Noon is pretty much where Alicia is at. This move is not surprising as she needs to escape the pain of her own world by watching manpain on her favorite show. Alicia is all about control (it is why she likes the law so much) and this experience allows her to let go of everything she has known to be true for as long as we have known her. On one hand there was Will – the real love of her life where bad timing played its part in keeping them apart – and then there is Peter. Peter is the disappointment, the facade of a marriage that has always been broken since we entered Alicia’s life.

Alicia ending things with Peter when she looks at her least put together is entirely appropriate and this is a conversation that has been a long time coming. It is a rehash of the same argument we have heard countless times as both Alicia and Peter use their past indiscretions to hurt the other. The main difference now is that Alicia doesn’t hold back screaming that her affair meant something and we’ve reached the point of no return for the broken Florrick union. Now she is acknowledging how their coupling is a benefit professionally to both of them, but anything else is completely off the cards. They are done. No going back this time and Peter doesn’t get a say.

The Good Wife 5.17Seeing Alicia take control in this manner all while wearing her sweats is a fist pump eliciting moment and something I have been longing to see. Okay maybe transfer super swanky red gown for the sweats in how I envisioned it, but the lounge wear is actually far better because this look is so unexpected. Peter has no patience or empathy for Alicia’s pain, he thinks his wife is being dramatic and maybe she is, however this is what happens when your heart gets ripped from your chest. Peter belittles her loss by inferring that Will’s death isn’t like losing a child or a husband; this is the point where she realizes she is done with his BS and passive aggressive comments about the political function she has missed. He is now free to screw around with whomever he wants to, as long as it doesn’t hurt either of them professionally.

While Peter has indeed invoked the ‘sleep with whoever you want’ clause (and by the sounds of it with someone who he has previously cheated on Alicia with), Alicia is yet to do anything beyond flirtation (with Lost’s Nestor Carbonell and Finn). One thing that is worth noting about Finn is that he saw her in her most vulnerable state and it is not just because he saw her in sweats over her well put together wardrobe. Rather than avoiding Finn, which would have been easy to do as Grace was about to turn him away, Alicia says it is okay for him to come into her bedroom. Her inner sanctum of hiding away from the world. This conversation reinforces not only how much Will meant to Alicia, but also creates this connection between Finn and Alicia that goes way beyond the insane chemistry they share.

Will’s death is a shocking moment and what could have been a cheap twist has been used to propel the characters forward in unexpected ways as well as exposing Alicia’s vulnerability and strength in equal measure. These days away from work allow Alicia to respond to this event in the privacy of her own home, but when she becomes aware of how little privacy there is thanks to the NSA surveillance it gives her a reason to get back out there and kick some ass. The comfy home clothes are discarded for now and the sharp suits are back; the wine cardigan will return but this renewed focus and sense of determination means the sweats have been banished for now.

Josh Charles Discusses The Good Wife and Golden Globes

2 Jan

The supporting actor/actress TV categories at the Golden Globes include comedy, drama, mini-series and TV movie. This is a lot of different types of shows to cover and it often resembles a strange mix of genre and quite often famous faces. This year is no different and The Good Wife’s Josh Charles is the only network representative with comedy getting completely shut out – the other four nominees are Aaron Paul, Rob Lowe, Jon Voight and Corey Stoll – and he sat down with Gold Derby to chat about this nomination and this excellent season of The Good Wife.

The Good Wife Network vs. cable is discussed and Charles explains that he goes back and forth on the notion that it’s unfair to compare the two. What he does mention is that “good writing is good writing” and The Good Wife has been consistently on top of their game, with season 5 taking it to the next level. Time and structure are two constraints as cable has far fewer episodes and tend to shoot the bulk, if not all of them before they air. Whereas typically The Good Wife is only four episodes ahead of what has aired. This does work in their favor sometimes as they can respond to current news events and the references don’t feel stale by the time it is broadcast.

Individual episodes like “Hitting the Fan” and “The Giving Tree” are reference and both serve as series highlights. Getting into Will’s psyche was a fun experience for Charles as it’s rare for Will to drop his mask and from this Sunday’s preview (which you can watch below) it looks like Will has put the defenses back up and is using arrogance once again as a coping strategy.

Josh Charles has already directed two episodes and he reveals that episode 19 is his next time at the helm. When talking about guest stars he mentions Victor Garber. I am beyond excited that Spy Daddy is showing up on both Sleepy Hollow and The Good Wife in the coming weeks.

Watch the full interview and promo for this Sunday’s episode “Goliath and David” below.

Costuming on The Good Wife’s 100th Episode: Color, Memory and Perception

3 Dec

The Good Wife likes to play with an episode format; from the type of courtroom a case takes place in to the different multimedia they use to enhance a story. The 100th outing is not a disappointment in this department and it includes an experimental sequence that plays with reality and perception. Costuming plays a big role in this as we see Will grappling with his heartbreak in an incredibly raw, sad and dark manner.

The GoodMultiple shows use flashbacks – Lost used them as part of their weekly narrative structure – and so it is hard to produce anything particularly innovative with this device. These scenes are generally very matter of fact and a good representation of past events. In “The Decision Tree” we are offered slight variations on the same scene, on both occasions Will and Alicia remember him sliding his hand in between her leg; yes The Good Wife knows how to make the slightest hint of skin the sexiest thing. This memory catches them both off guard and these momentary flashes are used as an emotional prompt. There is one visual cue that emphasizes their different memories as Alicia is wearing royal blue in her version and for Will it is red.

the good wife 5.10 red teamRed is the color Good Wife costume designer Daniel Lawson tends to put Alicia in to represent her power and sexuality; it makes sense that Will associate’s this color with this period of intense passion. Blue suggests loyalty and trust, something that is absent in their current relationship. It’s also a visual reminder to the episode that started it all in terms of the big Cary and Alicia split, with last season’s “Red Team/Blue Team.” Will is wearing the same suit in both scenes, though not the same quizzical look.

The Good Wife 5.10 Will's imaginationThe sequence that follows is equally challenging and impressive as Will prepares for court with an imaginary cross examination of Alicia. Fantasy Alicia is all big smiles and fluttery eyelashes; Julianna Margulies delivers her lines with a girly flirty quality and plays up the feigned innocence of Will’s projection. It’s top notch editing as we cut between Will in his office at home, the close up on imagined Alicia and the memories in New York. Alicia tells Will “this is the happiest I’ve ever been” and if this was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind this would be the memory that Will would want to keep, even if it is destroying him in the present. How much can we trust this sequence? This is the brilliance of showing conflicting memories as we can’t trust the veracity of these moments. I would even argue that Will has transferred a statement that he made onto Alicia, as Alicia did hold back emotionally during their time together in season 3.

The Good Wife 5.10 yellingIn Will’s fantasy cross examination he’s picturing Alicia in a suit of white innocence and this is a different play on Madonna/Whore complex. This isn’t about sex, even if a lot of their relationship was based on a foundation of passion and this sequence does include intimate moments. No, the idea of betrayal is how she portrayed herself at work as ‘the good wife’ while in his mind she was stealing Lockhart/Gardner’s clients. Will hasn’t really outwardly dealt with Alicia’s departure and instead he has thrown himself into work and hooked up with yoga girl (who sadly makes an appearance at the end of this scene, clad only in one of Will’s white shirts because of course). This decision tree process gives him an opportunity to question ‘Alicia’ and rage against her decision to leave which he can’t disconnect from their personal relationship. It’s a surreal scene full of pain and one of the best this show has produced featuring A+ work from both Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies.

The Good Wife 5.10Will tells his imagined Alicia “I don’t like it when you’re weak” and the real Alicia in court the next day is anything but.  Dressed in a dark suit, devoid of any color Alicia doesn’t get teary eyed as he projected. Instead she is calm in her responses and shows her inner strength; this episode includes some of the best death stares I have ever seen and I’m surprised there aren’t corpses littering the courtroom floor. Alicia won’t allow Will to emotionally manipulate her by using part of a conversation that occurred when they were at their most intimate.

It’s a bold episode and one that plays with the idea of emotional connections through memory. Costuming gives us a reason to doubt Will’s recollections and The Good Wife continues to use this aspect to enhance and add to an episode beyond ladies looking good in suits.

Julie Hammerle

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