When the new CBS All Access streaming service debuted two years ago, the big draw was its extensive library of CBS shows. At launch, the only new series was “The Good Fight,” a spinoff of the popular CBS show “The Good Wife.”
Two years later, “Star Trek: Discovery” has hit its stride in its second season, and CBS All Access has a bunch of other highly anticipated new shows in the pipeline, especially Jordan Peele’s remake of “The Twilight Zone.” For me, that $8 a month subscription is starting to make a lot more sense.
And attention must be paid to “The Good Fight,” which premiered its third season last week. Aside from being the trailblazer for CBS All Access, it’s remained a bold show in all sorts of other ways. While it might look a lot like “The Good Wife,” a smart legal drama, “Fight” remains altogether a funnier, angrier, just plain weirder show.
The inimitable Christine Baranski reprised her “Good Wife” role of Diane Lockhart, who saw her easy retirement dashed when a financial scam wiped out her savings, and her dreams of a peaceful progressive future dashed when President Donald Trump was elected. No wonder the opening credits feature shots of wine bottles and handbags exploding.
Lockhart took a job with a Chicago law firm made up mostly of African-American attorneys, giving the show an opportunity to dig into the knottier issues of race and class more than the intricate “Good Wife” did. But “Good Fight” is a legal drama that spends little actual time in the courtroom, instead focusing on the backroom wheeling and dealing of the attorneys.
Those arguments touch on issues of power, responsibility, politics and morality in intriguing and surprising ways. For example, it was inevitable that the show would tackle the #MeToo movement, and it does so in the third season premiere, coyly titled “The One About All The Recent Problems.” But the sexual predator here isn’t some malevolent outsider, but the revered, deceased founder of the firm, a civil rights icon who, it is discovered, raped several of his employees. The revelation, and the partners’ debates over what to do about it, weighs morality against the firm’s future and makes for riveting viewing.
“The Good Fight” is also nakedly, unabashedly anti-Trump in a way that’s almost breathtaking, given how many shows refer obliquely to modern politics. Lockhart is trying to get a woman to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the president. And the biggest laugh of the first episode comes when she learns who her husband (Gary Cole) is accompanying on hunting trips and safari expeditions.
The show has a heavyweight supporting cast behind Baranski, including Delroy Lindo, Cush Jumbo, Rose Leslie and Audra McDonald. A new addition this season is the great Michael Sheen (“The Queen”) as a villainous attorney clearly modeled after Trump’s old mentor, Roy Cohn. He makes a worthy foil for Lockhart.
Then there's unusual flourishes, like animated shorts by Toronto's Head Gear Animation in each episode to explain legal issues like impeachment. You can check out some of the animations for yourself online.
With new episodes of the third season coming out each Thursday, this might be the perfect time to get in on CBS All Access if you haven’t already.
Also on streaming: He may like the idea of playing James Bond, but only if it doesn’t prevent him from DJing. Idris Elba is fanatical about DJing. He’s playing at Coachella next month, and he stars in the new Netflix series “Turn Up Charlie” as an aging DJ who unexpectedly finds responsibility as a male nanny. It sounds like “About a Boy,” but with more bass drops.
The Netflix docuseries “ReMastered” looks at famous musicians and bands, but it’s no glossy “Behind the Music” series. Instead, it’s a serious investigative show looking at notorious episodes in music history. Past episodes have focused on the murder of Jam Master Jay and the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. In March’s installment, premiering Friday, the show looks at the Miami Showband, an Irish cabaret band that in 1975 were ambushed at a phony checkpoint by paramilitary loyalists dressed as British soldiers.