DAVID BIANCULLI

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Reports of the Death of Broadcast TV Dramas Are Premature: Just Watch These Three Outstanding Series
April 12, 2011  | By David Bianculli
 
good-wife-top-A12.jpgCable TV dramas may outshine their broadcast counterparts, but major-network broadcast dramas aren't dead yet -- not so long as CBS's The Good Wife and NBC's Parenthood are battling it out on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET, and not when Friday Night Lightsbegins its final-season NBC run this Friday at 8 p.m. ET...

FRIDAY-NIGHT-LIGHTS-Finale-.jpgI've already seen the entirety of this last lap for Friday Night Lights, and can attest to its overall continued excellence, even with a smaller budget. Those who have followed this series from the beginning will be pleased to see so many familiar faces from past seasons popping up for one last visit.

Meanwhile, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, as Eric and Tami Taylor, face one last gauntlet of parental and marital challenges. And face them, as always, with dignity, intelligence, and mutual respect, but also with recognizable and relatable flaws. What a show. What a final season.

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NBC's Parenthood, of course, is all about surviving that same gauntlet, and this show invests three generations of characters with the same dignity and complexity, from Craig T. Nelson's grandpa Zeek to Mae Whitman's granddaughter Amber, who tonight gets in trouble with the law -- and in even more trouble afterward.

This series has gotten richer with each episode, as its characters triumph, fail, impress and disappoint. They're human, and their relationships are sometimes strong, sometimes fragile. If you haven't seen this show, you should. Really.

But if you aren't watching Parenthood, it may be because you're addicted to The Good Wife, which is shown at the same time on CBS. This series, more than any other, gives me hope for the future of broadcast television. Yes, it's a legal drama -- but it's so, so much more.

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It's so smart, about the law, its characters, and their complicated pasts and motives and relationships, that it constantly throws out surprises that shatter the status quo. Right now, we're in the middle of a huge one, as more and more characters are learning that Alicia's husband, senatorial candidate Peter Florrick, had a one-night stand with Alicia's workmate and confidante, Archie Panjabi's Kalinda.

Will it all come to a head tonight, as Alicia (Julianna Margulies) appears on live TV as her husband's election nears? Probably. But with The Good Wife, it's difficult to predict.

Which is exactly what makes it so easy, and so much fun, to watch.

 
 
 
 
 
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