So far this week,The Good Wife has already made four casting announcements regarding recurring guest stars for its upcoming fourth season and it’s only Thursday.
ER vet Maura Tierney has been tapped to play Maddie, a self-made billionaire, who will be contributing to Peter’s gubernatorial campaign. Tierney is set to be in at least 10 episodes. GCB star and stage vet Kristin Chenoweth has signed on to play a political reporter, who wants to get the goods on the Florrick campaign. Nathan Lane, also a vet of screen and stage, will be joining the show as a bank representative, who is assigned to help Lockhart & Gardner deal with some of their financial issues. Finally, TV Line is reporting that British actor Marc Warren has been cast in the role of Kalinda’s estranged husband, Nick.
Enough is enough with the recurring guest stars. TGW used to be one of my favorite shows. I loved the first two seasons and then season three happened and the show went from appointment TV to something that felt like a chore to watch. One of my biggest complaints about the show last season was that there were too many guest stars and not enough focus on series regulars. Season four hasn’t even started filming yet and it already looks like it’s going to be more of the same.
I’m not against guest stars in general. TGW is a procedural show and that means there are going to be court cases which need judges, lawyers, plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, etc. Denis O’Hare, Peter Riegert, David Paymer, Ana Gasteyer and Bebe Neuwith have all popped up as judges more than once on the show over the first three seasons. Each judge has his or her little quirks and biases that add to the overall awesomeness of the show. The same can be said for the actors who have recurring roles as other lawyers, including Carrie Preston, Mamie Gummer, Martha Plimpton, Rita Wilson and Michael J. Fox. It’s fun to see those characters every once and awhile and it makes sense that Lockhart & Gardner would be going up against them in court on a regular basis.
My problem with recurring guest stars comes when it feels like stunt casting, which all of these do, except for the role of Kalinda’s husband. Last season, TGW brought on Amy Sedaris, Anna Camp, Lisa Edelstein, Matthew Perry and Parker Posey for multiple episode arcs and all of their characters had huge storylines while Cary, Kalinda, Eli, Peter and more often than not, Will, sat on the sidelines with nothing to do.
TGW has an amazing cast in its own right and the show does not need to keep writing plum parts for guest stars. The writers need to focus on writing parts for the cast they already have. There were so many episodes last season where Cary only had a few minutes of screen time or Kalinda had a few lines in passing. It was obvious the show didn’t know what to do with Eli and having him go to war with the partners at Lockhart & Gardner was a waste of time and a misuse of Alan Cummings’ talents. Amy Sedaris’ and Parker Posey’s characters were both solely involved in storylines with Eli, but they were so isolated from the rest of the cast, I found myself looking at the time and wishing I could fast forward through their scenes. It doesn’t matter how talented an actor is when the scenes feel like filler.
I wouldn’t mind the guest stars as much if the show made more of an effort to use them to advance the stories of the core characters. But I still don’t know what the point of Lisa Edelstein’s character was. She was an old girlfriend of Will’s and she showed up during the (ridiculously) brief time Will and Alicia were secretly seeing each other. Her character did nothing to further the plot and once she was gone, everyone forgot she’d ever existed. The Caitlin (Anna Camp) storyline went the same way. It seemed like she was going to be a big rival for Alicia and then she decided she was going to have a family and she left the firm. Again, what was the point?
As for Matthew Perry, his arc started out small and seemingly random, but then his character announced he was running against Peter for governor and he was manipulating Alicia to try and make Peter look bad. There is potential for a good story there, assuming the show can work something out to get Perry back for season four even though he will be starring in his own show, but if they can’t and the writers need to give Peter a different opponent, the entire arc will have been a complete waste of time like the other big name guest stars from season three. I’m worried that all of these season four guest stars will suffer the same fate and the show will continue to go downhill.
What do you think about the latest round of casting announcements? Do you enjoy big name guest stars or would you prefer to see more from the series regulars? Feel free to hit the comment section below.