Friday, November 21, 2014

Pilot Review: State of Affairs

State of Affairs (NBC)
Premiered November 17 at 10pm

Every season, it usually happens that two very similar shows premiere around the same time. In this case, “Madam Secretary,” a show about a female political player fighting chauvinism around her as she advises the president, got a two-month head start. The crucial difference between the CBS drama starring Tea Leoni and this show is that Katherine Heigl’s Charlie Tucker has the ear of the president already as a trusted confidante and the former fiancée of her late son, and she’s struggling to keep that pipeline open in the face of some secrets that might damage their relationship. As a result of that different setup, Charlie doesn’t have the same appeal as Leoni’s Secretary of State since she hasn’t undergone a major transplantation to her new role. Instead, Charlie is a determined woman who fights hard for what she thinks is right, which involves pissing off more than a few people in the process. This marks Heigl’s return to television after her departure from “Grey’s Anatomy,” and this role is considerably more mature in a way that doesn’t exact suit her. Alfre Woodard, who can adopt any part without much effort, is able to chew her share of scenery, but it’s not the best showcase of her work. This show is far from exciting politically, and the subplot of Charlie covering up CIA secrets related to her fiancée’s murderer being an asset isn’t all that enthralling. I didn’t have high expectations for this show, and, predictably, it didn’t exceed them.

How will it work as a series? Charlie has made her enemies, and she managed to get herself filed and flagged for detainment in the span of the show’s first episode. That doesn’t bode well for her future, especially considering the fact that the President likes her but isn’t particularly warm. At least she’ll be able to execute some solid operations, provided she can stay focused without letting her skeletons distract her from doing her job.
How long will it last? That all depends on NBC’s metrics. The pilot managed to win its timeslot but still fell short of the impressive numbers that “The Blacklist” was pulling in. I think NBC will want to stick with what should still be considered a hit if it can find more than one of them, and this show may actually have a promising future.


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