“Madam Secretary” made its debut last night on CBS pairing with “The Good Wife” for a Sunday night drama. It was an asserted move if you take into consideration that both Elizabeth McCord and Alicia Florrick are birds of a feather: both of them are strong, independent women, unwilling to follow the rules of others. The comparison between the two should stop here as the worlds in which they both live is as different as night from day.
Elizabeth McCord is a retired CIA officer who is now an university professor, happily married with two children and a past she managed to put to rest. She is balancing life at home with life at school. She’s in charge.
The pilot episode is an average one, complying with the sacred rule of scriptwriting of introducing the characters and setting the premise as clearly as possible. Madam Secretary is nothing like Scandal – the current show focused on the political scene in D.C. and the conspiracies behind it. Nor is it “The West Wing” Aaron Sorkin’s beautiful political utopia. Everything about this pilot is by the book: Elizabeth’s ordinary world is challenged by the President’s request that she should join his staff after his previous Secretary of State died in a plane crash. She accepts and once back into the game, Elizabeth must solve an anti-American and international terrorist crisis which is made difficult by the president’s chief of staff and budding nemesis to Elizabeth, Russell Jackson. You can imagine the outcome of the pilot, not a surprise here either. She saves the day, and gracefully tops it with the State Department dinner in honor of a distinguished guest.
What’s good about this pilot are in fact the actors – almost all of them believable – and spot on. Tea Leoni is convincing both as a Secretary of State and as a mother who’s in charge. Tim Daly is her supporting husband always ready to be at her side. I like the chemistry of these two and I hope the story will further it to a deeper level as both of them are talented actors, worthy of quality screen time.
The show is created by Barbara Hall (Judging Amy) and airs each Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS.