As the third season of the CBS All Access original series The Good Fight came of a close, attorney Roland Blum was defending himself against those at Reddick, Boseman, & Lockhart. Maia Rindell, who had been let go from the firm, had helped Blum launch his own practice, and utilized information former colleague Marissa Gold had accidentally slipped to help Blum’s case. Diane Lockhart tried to counter by offering Maia a guaranteed partnership of at least 5 years to come back to the firm. Even though Blum lost his case and was disbarred, Diane told Maia the offer was still good, but she still refused, heading off to DC with Blum. Meanwhile, associate Lucca Quinn was disappointed that she was passed over for the partner promotion, and Julius Cain announced he was leaving the firm to take an appointment as a federal judge. Last season, Diane had gotten mixed up with “The Book Club”, a secret organization that first ploted to hack voting machines to ensure that Donald Trump lost the election, and then turned to even more violent means, possibly killing one government official and plotting to kill others. As the season ended, Diane was laying in bed with husband Kurt when they heard their door creak—a S.W.A.T. team was about to make their entrance.
The writers of The Good Place have always had an unhealthy obsession with Donald Trump, weaving his latest scandal, or just their general hatred of the man, into many of the show’s storylines. They take that to a new ridiculous level in the fourth season premiere. As the season opens, the show doesn’t yet address the events of the third season finale. Instead, the premiere is a fantasy episode where Diane wakes up to discover that Hillary Clinton actually won the election, and that things are so much better. However, she also learns that things like the #MeToo movement never happened, and that one of the firm’s clients is Harvey Weinstein. This fourth season also ends with another fantasy0like episode where the firm is hired to investigate the Jeffrey Epstein case, to determine if it was suicide or murder—this episode ends in one of the most ridiculous and absurd visuals the show has done yet.
The Good Fight‘s fourth season was cut short due to the COVID-19 shutdowns, so the season is just 7 episodes, and if you eliminate the two oddball episodes that bookend this season, that just leaves 5 episodes of actual story. As the second episode opens, we learn that Diane has been on leave for the past 9 months after the events of the third season finale. In that time, the firm has lost the Chumhum account, but has been acquired by STR Laurie, making them a division of the seventh largest law firm in the world. Their new corporate overlords reside on the mysterious floor above them in the building. In charge is Gavin Firth (John Larroquette), an odd man who seems to always have some story about a zen master and his student to relate to any situation.
Diane dips her toes back in the water by taking on several Pro Bono cases, while Julius is also getting used to his new role as a federal judge. In fact, one of Diane’s cases is being presided over by Julius, where she finds herself up against the despicable Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox). That is, until the case comes to a sudden and inexplicable end when Julius receives the mysterious “Memo 618”. Soon, all traces of the case start to disappear from the records, and Diane makes it her mission to figure out what this “Memo 618” is. Meanwhile, Lucca and David Lee (who is now part of the firm) are working on a divorce case with billionaire Bianca Skye (Chasten Harmon). Bianca takes a liking to Lucca and the two become fast friends, but the line between business and friendship quickly becomes blurred. Part of the original agreement with STR Laurie was that the Reddick, Boseman, & Lockhart would be allowed to operate as its own entity for the first 2 years. However, someone seems to be feeding information about what’s going on to their corporate overlords upstairs, and all signs point towards an aspiring young lawyer with a photographic memory, Caleb Garlin (Hugh Dancy).
This fourth season of the series felt a little more serialized than the previous seasons, and less case-of-the-week. There cases tended to be more drawn out over multiple episodes, and included topics such as a swimmer who lost her spot on the women’s Olympic team to a biological male, a play by a former disgruntled associate that makes fun of the firm and one of its clients, a military court trial, and the DNC hiring the firm to look into ways to mobilize African-American voters—which leads into a discussion of reparations. While this is happening, there is also the season-long arc of What is Memo 816?, which ties into some of the other cases. The fourth season also sees the return of some familiar faces such as Gabriel Kovac (Fisher Stevens), Judge Josh Brickner (Rob Reiner) and Frank Landau (Mike Pniewski), as well as some fun new guest stars like Rachel Dratch.
Before receiving this fourth season for review, I had seen all of The Good Wife (of which I was a huge fan), but only the first few episodes of the first season of The Good Fight, and so I caught up on the other seasons first. One nice thing about this season (ignoring the oddball opening and closing episodes) is that the writers seem to have finally toned down the Trump mentions and bashing. In previous seasons, I found this constant obsession with our president to be quite off-putting—we get enough of that in the daily news and all over social media, and don’t really need it invading our scripted entertainment as well, which is supposed to be an escape from all of that! The writers’ obsession with Trump also has the effect of dating the series—five, ten years from now all these “timely” political references aren’t going to mean anything, and will ultimately affect the rewatchability of the series. I found this season to be somewhat more enjoyable than the previous seasons for that reason, though the series still feels heavily biased at times, especially this season when it comes to finally explaining Memo 618 and its history. And of course they have to throw in a clip of Diane watching an SNL-like sketch on her laptop involving Trump.
This fourth season of The Good Fight gives each of the main characters an interesting character arc, and introduces some great new characters—though Marissa Gold will probably always be my favorite, and she has some great comedic moments this season. I really enjoyed the addition of John Larroquette and Hugh Dancy this season. Their characters are both interesting and have the right level of quirkiness to fit in perfectly on the series. I also enjoy how the show always finds fun ways to bring back other quirky judges, lawyers, and clients from the extended The Good Wife/The Good Fight universe. Those who enjoyed the Schoolhouse Rock-like musical segments in the previous season can also look forward to one more of those this season, this time about secret laws.
There were a couple of casting changes announced for the upcoming fifth season. Those characters that should have been written off this season didn’t really get any kind of send-off or closure due to the shortened production. It will be interesting to see how their exit is handled and explained next season.
The fourth season’s 7 episodes are split across 2 DVDs, which are placed inside a clear multi-disc DVD case with a cardboard slipcover. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no bonus material included. I typically only watch things in HD or 4K these days, but unfortunately CBS tends to only release their TV shows on DVD. The picture looks pretty decent, but still somewhat duller than your typical HD broadcast or streaming presentation. The audio track feels a bit off balance, with the music being very loud in comparison to the dialogue. It is also front center heavy, though does make some use of the stereo channels, like when a pack of dogs runs across the screen.
- All 7 episodes of the fourth season:
Disc 1: “The Gang Deals with Alternate Reality”, “The Gang Tries to Serve a Subpoena”, “The Gang Gets a Call from HR”, “The Gang is Satirized and Doesn’t Like It”
Disc 2: “The Gang Goes to War”, “The Gang Offends Everyone”, “The Gang Discovers Who Killed Jeffrey Epstein”
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital Stereo Surround
- Subtitles: English SDH
No bonus material.
I think those who are already fans of The Good Fight will enjoy this fourth season. However, I think this DVD release is only for die hard fans as it has a relatively high MSRP for just 7 episodes, incudes no bonus material, and only offers an SD presentation. I also question the longevity and rewatchability of a show like this due to a lot of the cases and discussions being centered around very timely and specific political issues. I would suggest the HD digital release for fans as its currently on sale on iTunes for about half the price, or sign up for CBS All Access for a month and check out the episodes there.