In the competition between Madam Secretary and NBC’s State of Affairs, this one wins hands down. Téa Leoni plays Elizabeth McCord, an ex-agent of “The Company” drafted for the job of Secretary of State when her predecessor dies in a suspicious plane crash. Her husband Henry (Tim Daly), currently a professor of Theology at Georgetown and former Marine corps pilot, also has ties to the covert intelligence community and while both parties are forced to keep secrets from one another, their marriage appears to be quite strong. The show strikes a nice balance between the McCord’s home life and the international arena obligatory for Elizabeth’s job. Never sensationalized even when doing plots based on recent events, this has a quiet dignity to it. I particularly like the small group of professionals working for the Secretary, with all their rapid-fire banter and amusing personal lives. Bebe Neuwirth plays a character with very close ties to the previous Secretary and the writers do a great job of giving her loyalties just the right amount of ambiguity. Also well done is pompous White House Chief-of-Staff Russell Jackson (Željko Ivanek), a micro-manager with an inferiority complex.
There’s a flood of pithy lines delivered with throw away panache, such as “How do you say ‘sanctions aren’t working’ in Russian?” (deadpan answer: ‘Crimea’) and “Jason, you’ve got to finish your Italian government paper, and it should not be about how Italy is run by a masonic shadow government” (response: “um, it is.”). The host of issues bombarding the Secretary are varied and interesting, not solely focused on any particular one such as the war on terror. The show has given me a new appreciation for exactly what the Secretary of State does but thankfully is not modeled on any particular person (*cough* Hillary Clinton *cough*) nor supports any specific political ideology. Enlightening and riveting while still being unbelievably entertaining, I’ve got to reiterate what one major news outlet said, albeit slightly sacrilegiously: ‘In Téa Leoni We Trust’. I’m also thrilled to say Madam Secretary has been renewed for a second season, which I am enjoying every bit as much as the first one, if not more. – BETHANY
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Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni), rolling up her sleeves and getting the job done.
Russell Jackson (Željko Ivanek), White House Chief of Staff and Elizabeth McCord
Elizabeth and Nadine Tolliver (Bebe Neuwirth) adopt expressions of spurious interest at an official function.
Elizabeth and husband Dr. Henry McCord (Tim Daly) out for for a stroll.
Impressionable and oh-so-earnest Stephanie “Stevie” McCord (Wallis Currie-Wood) asks questions like whether the almond milk contains GMOs. Her brother Jason’s expression shows his patronizing amusement (Evan Roe).
Left to right: Daisy Grant (Patina Miller), Blake Moran (Erich Bergen), Matt Mahoney (Geoffrey Arend), Nadine Tolliver (Bebe Neuwirth), and Jay Whitman (Sebastian Arcelus). Nadine is the Secretary’s Chief of Staff and the rest are the squadron of speechwriters and press coordinators working for the Secretary of State.
Photos courtesy of Barbara Hall Productions, Revelations Entertainment, CBS Television Studios and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (unless otherwise credited in clickable form)