Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pilot Thoughts: Mysteries of Laura and Madam Secretary

Yesterday, I talked about a couple of new FOX shows and today I'll go into two shows which highlight that a woman can be a mother AND something else. Whoa, whoa, WHOA talk about suspension of disbelief. Onwards...

The Mysteries of Laura has already been raked through the coals for its pre-premiere marketing campaign hammering the fact that Debra Messing's character is a cop AND a mom with the emphasis on the word and. The pilot doesn't help matters since it really did try to magnify how motherly she has to be in her job and how much of a cop she has to be in her personal life, the latter of which includes two twin boys who are obviously the spawns of Satan. In any case, everything about the show feels formulaic and forced and as delightful as Messing is, she just doesn't have the presence to shoulder this largely by-the-numbers show alone. She'll need help from the ensemble which isn't making much of an impression so far with the exception of her investigative aide/babysitter. With that said, they smartly take advantage of shooting on location in New York City and the case-of-the-week featured in the pilot had a nice twist in the end, but overall it all just feels a little too been-there-who-cares?

Grade: D+
Willingness to continue:
I really shouldn't, but there's nothing else on at the same time so maybe I'll catch an episode or two or just catch up on my reading.

First of all, I misrepresented Madam Secretary earlier since unlike Mysteries of Laura it's not at all underlining the fact that Elizabeth McCord, played by Téa Leoni, is the Secretary of State AND a mother. Her being a mom is not ignored as we see her interact with her husband and kids, but it's just a natural extension of the character rather than a prominent schtick (at least not yet). The President, an old CIA boss, calls her up from her civilian life as a professor to be Secretary after the current one dies in a plane crash. The first part of the pilot had to go on hyper speed to bring us to two months after she has agreed to the job so it felt slightly choppy and rushed, but then the rest of the episode focused on showing how McCord was still adjusting to the job from entertaining foreign dignitaries to handling personnel issues, namely trying to figure out how to leverage her friendship with the President against the antagonizing Chief of Staff (played by none other than Zeljko Ivanek, because of course). From there, the pilot goes on auto drive with McCord deftly handling International Crisis #1 through her connections and brilliance. There's also a possible Big Conspiracy reveal in the end, because of course. Overall, the show is solid if slightly unremarkable for now with a pedigreed cast full of Tony/Oscar/Emmy winners who seem to be overly qualified for what's being asked of them so far. Now, was anyone else distracted by the number of House of Cards actors in the episode? I counted three.

Grade: B-
Willingness to continue:
Yes and no. Yes, based on the show's quality, but no based on its time slot. It would be approximately the 1000th show I watch on Sundays and I'm just not sure if my DVR is up to the task especially since it'll also be surely affected by football overruns.

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