MADAM SEC­RE­TARY

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Star­ring: Téa Leoni, Tim Daly, Željko Ivanek, Bebe Neuwirth and Keith Car­ra­dine Premise: A for­mer CIA agent, com­fort­ably re­tired to a life in academia, is called to duty by the U.S. pres­i­dent after his sec­re­tary of state is killed in a sus­pi­cious plane crash. Low­down: With­out ques­tion, one of the strong­est pi­lots in this fall’s new­drama crop. Leoni is rock-solid in the ti­tle role, and the sup­port­ing cast — par­tic­u­larly Daly as a hus­band who’s sup­port­ive with­out sac­ri­fic­ing his own iden­tity, and Neuwirth as a chief of staff whose loy­alty must be hard won — is im­pres­sive. There’s a po­lit­i­cal­con­spir­acy sub­plot in the opener that could be­come a dis­trac­tion if it isn’t han­dled well, but for the most part, this is com­pelling stuff. Quotable: “What I re­ally wanted to do was to cre­ate a (show with a) suc­cess­ful mar­riage, be­cause I be­lieve they ex­ist. I’ve seen them. I think that the chal­lenge of try­ing to cre­ate a woman in a strong po­si­tion of lead­er­ship is to not show her life be­ing bro­ken ev­ery­where else. That is sort of the common theme (on TV), and it is some­thing that we, as women, have to over­come. To de­pict some­one who can man­age a home life, who has a suc­cess­ful ac­tive and re­al­is­tic mar­riage — not a per­fect mar­riage, but one that works — a work­ing mar­riage, not a dys­func­tional one, and be able to do the job — that’s the real chal­lenge.” — writer/ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Bar­bara Hall, on build­ing the blue­print for Madam Sec­re­tary. Bot­tom line: A well-struc­tured and well-cast show; if sub­se­quent episodes live up to the pi­lot, CBS may have found a very com­fort­able sched­ule mate for its Sun­day stal­wart, The Good Wife.

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