The Good Wife

In some episodes this season, the number of guest stars on The Good Wife has outnumbered the cast — headed by Juliana Margulies, Christine Baranski and Josh Charles — but with good reason. Having a seasoned group of characters that the mainstays can play off of lends The Good Wife something extra, even as it must work through a procedural quandary each week.

This is no Law & Order. Instead, it’s a tapestry of characters working through high-pressure legal cases. Their actions also influence a gubernatorial election, the financial health of legal firm Lockhart/Gardner and central character Alicia Florrick’s personal life.

To wit, creators and exec producers Robert and Michelle King have built a showy roster of featured players who have, from the beginning, become a force to be reckoned with. Sure, fans have seen Michael J. Fox as the conniving but physically challenged attorney Louis Canning; witnessed Matthew Perry as the intimidating political opponent Mike Kresteva; and marveled at Dylan Baker as the brazenly salacious wife killer Colin Sweeney.

There was also Gary Cole as the calm-and-collected forensics expert involved in a cat-and-mouse courtship with partner Diane Lockhart (Baranski); Martha Plimpton as a conniving opposing counsel who uses her infant as a courtroom prop; and Nathan Lane as a tough-love accountant given the thankless job of bringing order to the firm’s balance sheet.

More recent appearances have included such actors as Stockard Channing, Carrie Preston, Dallas Roberts, Amanda Peet, Morena Baccarin, T.R. Knight and Mamie Gummer.

Familiarity with the guest stars, each of whom is given a meaty part to chew on, means the viewer can focus more intently on the complex and fast-paced plots that have become a hallmark of the show.

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