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Monday, November 17, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: State of Affairs


Starring: Katherine Heigl, Alfre Woodard, Adam Kaufman, Sheila Vand, Cliff Chamberlain, Tommy Savas, David Harbour

State of Affairs is a new political/conspiracy drama that brings Katherine Heigl back to TV. Heigl plays Charleston Tucker, a CIA analyst who is in charge of preparing the US President's daily security briefing. The President is the nation's first black woman president, Constance Payton (Alfre Woodard). Oh yeah, and her son died overseas and was also engaged to Charleston. Rounding out the main cast are other CIA employees and Chief of Staff David Patrick (David Harbour).

THE GOOD: In theory, this type of show should be right up my alley. It is rooted in the political world and it has conspiracy overtones. As far as I'm concerned, those are two of my favorite types of dramas. It should work for me...

THE BAD: ... but it didn't at all. It was trying so awfully hard and unfortunately came across as a parody of a show like Scandal or The Blacklist (and I'm sure that was not the writers' intention). It all starts with Katherine Heigl. I didn't buy her at all in the tough, no-nonsense role she was playing. When someone like Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, or Tea Leoni do it, I'm right on board with them but Heigl, not so much. She just doesn't have the gravitas and/or acting chops to pull it off. Even if she could pull it off, the character is poorly written and a cliche: the woman who is tough as nails at work but can't get her personal life together. I kept hoping things were going to get better when Alfre Woodard appeared (half an hour into the episode) but she was given next to nothing to do in the pilot and didn't make much of an impression. Nor did any of the other series regulars. The whole show was just so blah for me. And how many times does a drama pilot have to start with the lead character talking to a psychiatrist? And were they intentionally saying "potus" or "the president" to surprise us with the fact that the President was a black woman? Because I'm pretty sure anyone could easily find that out without watching.

BOTTOM LINE: The last fall premiere is probably the biggest disappointment of the fall season for me. I thought this might be one I would like after seeing the trailer but I was skeptical of Katherine Heigl. Heigl unfortunately did not exceed expectations but the show was also a lot more boring than I thought it would be. Maybe we've reached an oversaturation with this type of show or maybe it's just a swing and a miss. Either way, I don't think it'll be NBC's next big Monday 10pm show.

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