Julianna Margulies, Alan Cumming
In a sudden, shocking (and heaven be praised, unspoiled) twist, this tremendous fifth season of CBS's The Good Wife has shifted from the dueling-firms spectacle of Alicia-vs-Will to the gut-wrenching reality of Alicia — and everyone else in her universe — grieving Will. Her former lover and boss-turned-rival (a succulent role for Josh Charles, who will be terribly missed) was the victim of a courtroom shooting, which in a savage irony was perpetrated by the vulnerable young client (Hunter Parrish) Will was busily defending. Will died doing what he loved best, you might say with his boots on — although one of his shoes was blown off in the violent melee — and now it's time to mourn.
Is there a more perfect Lifetime movie property than Steel Magnolias? This tragicomic celebration of female bonding through gossipy good times and bad, all while getting their hair done at Truvy's Beauty Spot in suburban Louisiana, has been a crowd-pleaser since its first incarnation as an off-Broadway stage play (my preferred version, where the men are kept entirely offstage). The epitome of a leave-'em-laughing-while-weeping heart-warmer, Magnolias reached its pop-cultural apex in the all-star 1989 film version, but its can't-miss universality is underscored in Lifetime's oddly genteel but ultimately affecting new TV-movie (Sunday, 9/8c), whose big twist is in the casting of an all African-American ensemble.
Let's hope you didn't have much else planned for this weekend, because there's so much excellent TV on tap it's hard to know where to begin.
Let's start with the winners' circle. You couldn't ask for better timing, or a more satisfying result, than Homeland's sweep of the top drama Emmy prizes last Sunday — exactly one week before Showtime's launch of what's shaping up to be a remarkably taut second season (Sunday, 10/9c). Expectations couldn't be higher. (If you missed any or all of the first season, with the deservedly Emmy-winning lead performances by Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, Showtime is replaying all 12 episodes in a Saturday marathon starting at noon/11c.)