While a sexy new ad campaign for “The Good Wife” is sure to intrigue those who weren’t wise to the CBS series in its first two seasons, every little bit will help to get more viewers on board. So the Eye is taking the unusual step of programming a half-hour special, “The Good Wife: A New Beginning,” with the intent of providing some backstory for those who aren’t acquainted with the series. “Beginning” will air Sept. 4, a few weeks before “Wife” will premiere on Sunday having switched over from its Wednesday time slot.
It’s a terrific idea considering “Wife” has serialized storylines, the TV equivalent of a double-edged sword: While these plot intricacies hook a subset of viewers who will hang on every twist, there’s probably an even bigger pool of viewers who don’t go along for the ride because if you haven’t watched from the beginning, the show is impossible to follow. The “Beginning” special will provide the kind of recap that allows viewers to jump in midway and still understand what’s going on.
ABC has used this strategy previously with “Lost,” another series with plot convolutions impenetrable to the uninitiated. We’ve also seen some serialized cable dramas try a variation on this technique earlier this year by posting online an entire series’ worth of episodes in order to let viewers catch up. That didn’t help TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age,” which has since been canceled, but AMC may have gotten a slight boost when it did same for “The Killing.”
That said, a recap special is probably a smarter hook than just opening a series’ vaults, which is asking viewers to make a considerable time investment. If “Wife” sees a nice audience lift as a result of its own special, don’t be surprised if we see this practice become more common in the future.