State of Affairs

2015-02-18_2228In her very own TV drama Katherine Heigl is a CIA babe with a background.

More pert than Carrie Mathison in Homeland, less kick-arse than Sydney Bristow in Alias, and not quite as fluent as Annie Walker in Covert Affairs, Charleston Tucker is an analyst who works for POTUS in State of Affairs.

POTUS, in case you didn’t know, is shorthand for the President of the United States. ‘Charlie’ heads up a team of analysts who start their work day in the middle of the night, preparing the President’s Daily Briefing. Like a breakfast radio crew they begin before dawn, assembling pieces of intelligence advising the President on new threats. If it’s worth telling the President it goes into ‘The Book’ every day. As television, it’s a clever episodic device for bringing in new stories.

The first one involves an American doctor kidnapped in Kenya who, in this age of terrorism beheadings, has just hours to live. He also happens to be a dead ringer for Charlie’s fiance who was killed in Kabul when they were on a diplomatic convoy. Charlie, who is not exactly the cold CIA type, has to separate her feelings from the situation at hand.

At the same time there is intelligence on Fatah, the terrorist responsible for her fiance’s death and some remote possibility that he could be captured and killed. But is it a solid enough shot, will he get away, and would it be better to wait to bring down his entire network?

Seven’s promos for State of Affairs give away plenty, more than I am prepared to divulge, but I no longer feel obliged to withhold the plot point that the President is an African-American woman, played by Alfre Woodard (Desperate Housewives). It’s going to be a tough day when Charlie has to tell the President that she did not advise of the opportunity to get Fatah.

Vengeance plays a big part of State of Affairs, undoubtedly influenced by the killing of Bin Laden. I feel a bit uneasy at how much disregard there is for moral questions on this point, especially while there is much local debate about the right to take the life of another. Here it is an unapologetic entertainment.

There’s a bit of espionage and action around the edges of this drama, but essentially it’s a chance for its star to emote.

Heigl, who is a producer on this drama along with her mother Nancy (seriously), isn’t exactly the most complex of performers. In her clothes-horse fashion and make-up Heigl maintains her appearance as much as ‘The Book.’ It makes the plot less convincing.

However she is cleverly surrounded by a good supporting cast, including Woodard, plus James Remar (better known as Dexter‘s ghostly father) in a clandestine, wise owl role (I guess Mandy Patinkin was occupied), and Nestor Carbonell (Lost) as a CIA director.

State of Affairs, cleverly scheduled in a timeslot that may attract viewers awaiting Madam Secretary, isn’t as good as the latter and be advised it may not survive in the US. It’s diverting enough without demanding too much of you.

9pm Thursday on Seven

6 Comments:

  1. The ads from Seven actually make it look somewhat interesting although I know the ratings have been awful in the US. I predict a premiere of 700,000 viewers stBilising around 500k

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