State of Affairs

Pilot: NBC is taking a gamble with this new series, not only because Katherine Heigl is in the lead (for the record, I personally think she is a good actress with on-screen presence and I do not really give a damn about her PR-drama), but because how do you properly do a spy-drama when there will be inevitable comparison with the revitalised Homeland and consistently excellent The Americans over on cable? Nonetheless, the premise is interesting enough and at least the showrunners show us a different aspect of the CIA: the President's Daily Briefing. But herein lies the biggest trouble. Heigl is too glamorous and inappropriately dressed for her supposedly high-security clearance character (according to Wikipedia, she should be the Director of National Intelligence). and consequently, she lacked that necessary gravitas to give her role and credit. Nonetheless, Heigl has screen presence and is relatable but not convincing. Alfre Woodard, on the other hand, eased into her role as the first black female president with all the necessary gravitas and some. Everybody else in the show seemed to be there to support Heigl and will need to be crafted out more. Adam Kaufman looks like an exposition tool; Sheila Vand is the best friend. Pity James Remar is only listed as recurring. But the final act placed a thread for a continuing mystery which may be rather interesting.

Episode 2, "Secrets & Lies": Heigl is still too glamourous for her role which now seemed like she was/is (?) an operative. Her makeup is too thick and way too Botox-ed. Let's hope the MO of the show is not really turning it into a case-of-the-week with the ongoing mystery peppered throughout until Sweeps month. This may turn out better if they keep it serialised. Woodard needs more to do. As does Remar. The other briefers need to be more fleshed out. Nestor Carbonell is an interesting addition and David Harbour as the Chief of Staff seemed to know something. 

Episode 3, "Half The Sky": A much improved episode. With much less make up, Heigl is finally looking less glamourous and more like a CIA operative. They are also finally bringing more of the backstory to the foreground and shining a bit more light on the supporting cast/briefers. Both of which help to smooth out the edges. But most importantly, Woodard has a much larger role here which she tackled with vigour. Similarly, her interactions with Heigl and the First Gentleman are the highlights, especially the former which should be the central driving force of the series. One thing the show needs to explore is Heigl's character work-relationship. How does Charleston relate with the Director of CIA?


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