'The Good Wife' composer talks the drama and comedy of 'Hitting the Fan'

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If you’re still recovering from the Oct. 27 episode of CBS’ The Good Wife, appropriately titled “Hitting the Fan,” you’re not alone. It will be remembered as one of the series’ best — a perfect storm of pitch-perfect writing/directing, acting, and score. You could feel it from the opening moments, when Will (Josh Charles) set the firing of Alicia (Julianna Margulies) in motion after learning she planned to leave the law firm and everyone started scrambling to steal clients or keep them. The mood was tense but fun as the actors reveled in the machinations scripted by exec producers Robert and Michelle King as much as their characters. And the music captured it. Watch a clip below.

Film composer David Buckley, who’s scored the show since midway through its first season, said one challenge was not letting the music get ahead of the drama. “An episode like this one, more than ever, the music has a sort of identity that can rise up and then fall back down,” he says. Another challenge: The different tones. “This cue, more than any in any episode — probably, in fact, more than anything I’ve ever done before — was trying to navigate that intricate path of drama and comedy. It was serious. There was energy. There was propulsion. But it could also find nods and winks to the lighter parts of the scene,” he says. “The scripts are so clever, the story lines are so intricate, that really quite swiftly you can be moving from something emotional and personal and perhaps sad to someone with a twinkle in their eye.”

On a TV show, there isn’t much time to volley with producers. “One’s got to be fairly confident in one’s ideas and just hope that they do work. But this was an interesting one,” says Buckley, who typically has a week to score an episode. There was some temporary music  in the cut — drumming — when it arrived in his hands.

“I was talking to Robert saying, ‘I think it might get a bit annoying because we come back to this theme throughout the episode. Although I like the energy of it. I think we need something a little more complex,'” he says. “Robert was open to suggestions. We tried something a little similar in the season premiere with a slightly faux-classical feel. I wrote something, sent it to him, and he said, ‘I think you’ve got it. Put it up against picture.’ I molded it to picture, and he said, ‘Love it. Keep it coming.'”

You might hear homages to Vivaldi, Bach, Heiden, and Mozart. “I think as everyone’s seeing with The Good Wife, in season 5, it’s almost a renaissance for the show. It’s fantastic to be working on something that has that new life breathed into it. Robert and I have been talking a lot of about music recently, and part of the conversation is, ‘Let’s really go to places that TV music doesn’t go to,'” Buckley says. “He’s been keen to find out what my passions are. Funnily enough, I studied a lot of early music when I was in college. The last thing I thought was that that would come of any use — perhaps ever, but certainly on a legal drama. So it’s really interesting that Robert’s got this open mind and wants to tap into my musical loves. I’m interested to see what I can get away with over the coming episodes.”

Could we hear more of the faux-classical? “I wouldn’t be surprised if we did, given the fact that both Robert and I are a fan of that style of scoring. But I’d also expect to hear some quite different things and new approaches,” he says. “There’s a lot of TV that feels like it’s just trotted out. But this really does feel special and like everything is cared about.  If it were another set of people, you could just sort of think, ‘Well, here we are. Syndication’s on its way. We’ll just sort of coast through.’ But far from it.”

Buckley might have one regret, however, about the events of a stellar season 5. “I’ve really enjoyed tracing Will and Alicia’s relationship through good times and bad. The yearning, the fact that it wasn’t happening, then it was happening — there was all this stuff beneath the surface. Those scenes really appealed to me, just because they gave a slightly more lyrical dimension to the cues in juxtaposition to the slightly more procedural cues used in the legal side of episodes. I don’t know what the future holds for them,” says Buckley. “My own personal opinion is that it’s not looking too good. I think scoring scenes of any romance between them may well truly be over. It looks like it’s fighting and squabbling all the way now.”

Bonus: Matt Czuchry, who plays Cary Agos on the series, phoned in to EW Radio to chat about “Hitting the Fan.” Listen to a clip below.

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