Series Premiere: State of Affairs Review

Series Premiere: State of Affairs Review

State of Affairs bills itself as The Blacklist with little bit of Homeland spice and just a touch of that Scandal flair. On paper, that sounds like a show of epic, legendary proportions; almost too good to be true. Which is probably why State of Affairs fails at its attempt.

Now, that’s not to say it’s a bad show. On the contrary, the pilot showed a lot of promise. It’s just that sometimes the sum isn’t as great as its parts.

State of Affairs centers on Charleston Tucker, who, in spite of having a name that could only ever be conceived in a writers’ room, is a chief briefer for the President of the United States. This would be the procedural portion of the show.

But the president also happens to be her almost mother-in-law and Charlie’s fiancé just happens to have died in a terrorist attack under more than mildly mysterious conditions. This would be the serialized portion of the show.

There are worse weekly combinations than domestic threats and shady First Son killings, which is why I think State of Affairs shows promise. The cast is middling to adequate, the direction is higher than average and the story is interesting enough for now. There are worse ways to spend a Monday night.

The trouble is, the shows State of Affairs took as its inspiration (at least The Blacklist and Scandal, I haven’t gotten around to watching Homeland yet, so I can’t speak to that) have proved that balance can be hard to maintain.

The deeper you get into the serial mysteries and plots the less you care about the procedural aspects, but if you don’t spend enough time on the monster of the week, you wring all the drama out of the central plot too soon. These are the pitfalls Scandal and Blacklist are grappling with and they both started out much stronger than State of Affairs. It doesn’t bode well.

But of course, no State of Affairs review would be complete without mention of the prodigal daughter returning. After being essentially shunned by the television industry for getting on Shonda Rhimes’ bad side, Katherine Heigl has returned to the small screen. And she’s… decent. Look, she has a certain set of skills and she doesn’t often stray too far from them. She can do sexy; stressed, but in total control of the situation; swallowing her sadness with a single tear; and she can give epic bitch face. As long as the script doesn’t ask for much more, and it doesn’t appear it will, she’s golden.

Final Verdict: I’ll give it a few more episodes, but that’s mostly because there’s nothing opposite it that I care about. The joys of being a mid-season replacement.

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Filed under: Series Premiere

Tags: NBC, State of Affairs

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