Fall TV First Impression: NBC's State of Affairs

State of Affairs PreviewThe broadcast networks have more than two dozen shows debuting this fall, including a new Shondaland drama, and a trip to Gotham, a third NCIS and a Flash-y Arrow offshoot. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

PHOTOS Fall TV Preview: Your Guide to What’s New!

THE SHOW | NBC’s State of Affairs (Mondays at 10/9c, premiering Nov. 17)

THE COMPETITION | ABC’s Castle and CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles

THE CAST | Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy), Alfre Woodard (Desperate Housewives), Adam Kaufman (Without a Trace), Leslie Odom, Jr. (Person of Interest), Sheila Vand (Cult), Cliff Chamberlain (The Mob Doctor) and Tommy Savas (The Last Ship)

THE SET-UP | Meet CIA analyst Charleston Tucker (Heigl), the recipient of one of the most unflattering TV character introductions in a while. See, “Charlie” was engaged to the president’s son at the time he was killed during a terrorist attack. Now, she soothes her pain with drinking, random hook-ups, fruitless shrink sessions and the crooning of/shimmying to pop tunes while compiling the CIA’s daily briefing for POTUS (Woodard).

RELATED NBC Fall Premiere Dates: Parenthood‘s Farewell Run, Blacklist and More

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | There’s a compelling-enough series here somewhere, as evidenced once Woodard shows up. But up until then, far too great of lengths are gone to prove to us what a wild card Charlie is, including the arrival of a new yet conspicuously “old” hire (Kaufman) who in the pilot is mainly on hand to register shock at her bold behavior. Once intros are out of the way and the plot takes hold — ultimately, Charlie is forced to make a difficult (and rather incredible) call — State of Affairs becomes a drama I could like, though that just might be my well-chronicled blind love for anything D.C.-related speaking. For arguably good measure, the pilot plants the seed for a serialized mystery element.

Heigl (also an executive producer) is served best when Charlie talks smart versus snide, but the consensus here at TVLine is that her wardrobe is frankly a bit too much, whether she’s arriving for work at 2 am in jeans and stilettos or hours later clambering onto the back of a truck in a high-end dress. In addition to the wonderful Woodard, there are some nice picks among the supporting cast/guest stars, including Odom Jr. as the White House Chief of Staff, TV vet Dennis Boutsikaris playing a slithery CIA Director and James Remar (Dexter) popping up as an industrious ally of Charlie’s.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Seeing as it is claiming The Blacklist‘s time slot (when the James Spader heads into hiatus before moving to Thursdays in February), State of Affairs will be subject to much scrutiny, from viewers and critics. The Heigl Comeback factor should draw some solid sampling/lookee-loos, but stronger subsequent episodes are needed to secure any longevity.

Watch a video preview for State of Affairs, then vote in our poll below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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85 Comments
  1. George says:

    Actually, the Heigl Comeback factor is exactly why I won’t be watching…

    • Butter says:

      Exactly what I was about to say…

      • Whatevah says:

        Why did NBC allow Heigl to be in this show? It would have stood a better chance with someone else playing her role. I feel bad for everyone associated with this. Now they are going to have a failed show added to their resume because of her. I won’t watch her in anything.

    • B says:

      Oh wow, hating on Heigl is so so original. She’s a fun celebrity to hate for a lot of people because of the Grey’s controversy, but taking a shot on her is just so obvious and uninspired.

      • S. says:

        Since when does someone’s opinion of a celebrity have to be original? If a lot of people feel the way they do, should they elect a leader so you only have to hear the opinion once? How obnoxious. If they feel she’s unlikable, and unlikable for a reason you even mentioned (among a few other reasons), that’s their right. Their dislike has to have layers and not appear obvious? Since when? It’s fine to state what one thinks in a simple way. They’re not doing it for you, they don’t need notes on how to express their attitude about Katharine Heigl. They won’t be watching because they don’t like her. I bet that’s exactly the kind of thing TVLine thought people might say, and they probably don’t want someone like you shutting down the conversation. You’ve said nothing that defends her, you just attacked someone else for having an opinion in complete line with the tone and point of the article. She’s the one putting herself back on tv and the media’s bringing up whether she’ll be able to redeem herself and how she’ll handle public perception of her. It’s part of the story. It’ll be commented on a lot. Get used to it. Nobody’s ‘taking a shot’ at Heigl. She put herself in the cross-hairs.

        • Temperance says:

          That’s the problem – people ARE taking a shot, after being pretty much misled by the e-press a while back. I’d suggest actually watching the video when people were griping when she was talking about having a rough first day back. The e-press was blatantly lying, which was pretty much perplexing to me since I’d been watching the original event, and the report didn’t bear a bit of resemblance to what actually happened.

        • Eran says:

          This shouldn’t be about whether “Heigl” is likeable! She’s not playing Katherine Heigl now is she?! She’s playing a character, and that’s what she ought to be judged on. e.g. Brett Butler and Roseanne Barr, the stories say, were absolute horrors on the set, but true or not, we the viewers don’t have to work with them, just get the end result, for better and for worse, and that’s what we should all be judging.
          This isn’t a reality show, nor is it the Emmys. I don’t care about who Heigl is. I care about solid performances, and top notch writing.

          • Imzadi says:

            No, but she is simply not that good an actress to make viewers not care about her personal drama queen.

      • Leonie1988 says:

        I agree with you “B”! It’s old news and people should get over it.

    • DW says:

      Me too. Might be one of the season’s first cancellations.

    • greysfan says:

      Oh come on. Not a fan of what went down with Grey’s but Heigl is a great actress and i will be watching. I hope it does well. The preview looks good.

      • Ally Oop says:

        She is a good actress and that’s probably why so many fans were angry when she left Grey’s, because a lot of people liked her character so much which shows she’s good. People just need to forgive and forget.

    • Temperance says:

      It’s a bit ridiculous that you are buffaloed so easily by the nonsense the e-press put out. Perhaps you should check the facts.

  2. C says:

    Maybe…. I’ll check it out once or twice

  3. jo jo jo says:

    She needs to go back to Grey’s finish what she started and then come back in a new show that isn’t this. My prediction canceled by Thanksgiving

  4. Julio says:

    You know, I can never get enough of political drama shows but Heigl doesn’t really do it for me. I’ll give it a few episodes but I’m not making any promises.

  5. para says:

    No Heigl please

  6. J says:

    Considering people don’t like Katharine Heigl and the trailer makes it look like a Scandal reject, I don’t see this lasting long on NBC. Its ashame because I love Alfre Woodard.

  7. leigh says:

    There has been nothing in the last six years that has been tempting for me to change the channel from Castle Mondays at 10. The Blacklist almost made me use my DVR. This does not look interesting in the least. And I can see what you mean about the wardrobe. Is she wearing black stockings with a pink dress?

    • S. says:

      Yeah I’ll be watching Castle. Mondays at 10pm has always been fairly rough on new shows (I’ve lost a few I’ve tried to follow at that hour to the point that I didn’t watch Castle initially because I was gun shy about it). That’s one reason I bet they haven’t moved Castle to a different slot. ABC doesn’t want to have to re-break another series. They found a show that works well and they wanna keep it there. State of Affairs might work out, I dunno, but it feels very self-aware. What gets on my nerves is that cliché these days, the ‘mess in personal life, great in professional one.’ She even straight up says it. Can you get more on the nose? Geez. It’s so overdone. Did someone forget to put ‘beautiful but doesn’t know it’ in the character description?

  8. Pat says:

    Nope, doesn’t look interesting at all and rather boring. Heigl or not.

  9. Amanda says:

    I kinda feel that Washington DC has become the newest it thing in Drama Land and that every other new show will be based there.

  10. Tran says:

    Don’t know why a lot of people are getting mixed reactions on State of Affairs nor Katherine Heigl’s return to prime time TV. I really don’t care if State of Affairs is going to be a hit or a miss for NBC.

  11. ann says:

    That seemed a whole lot longer than 4:23. Not too promising when I lose interest and get bored in just over four minutes.

  12. Shuayb says:

    Oh my word you people are way too harsh!!!
    I totally wanna watch this not only becauase its Hiegl but it seems interesting…
    Scandal Reject? Really?? Apart from it being set in DC whats so similar about it?

    • Jenna says:

      agreed! The only thing I found similar to scandal was that there is a white house element to the show. I’m a fan of the blacklist and think Heigl is a good actress so I’ll definitely be watching the first couple episodes

    • Guest says:

      You can tell which people have really short memories when they act like the TV show they’re watching at the moment invented everything.

  13. Drew says:

    Ain’t Hollywood a funny place? Celebrities can break into strangers’ homes while in a drug enduced stupor, wave guns around the middle of crowded areas, sing about the joys of killing people, and commit all manner of sex crimes, and then be loved and adored by the masses… But if one of them dares speak impolitic, they must wear their sins forever.

    Heigl was a b-word. She even said so herself, more or less. But since when is that even unusual in Hollywood? I’m not saying that I like her as a person, but the only reason why people hold this grudge against her and not the countless other celebrities who act like entitled brats or say stupid things is because the tabloids loved her story enough to run it into the ground. What does a prolonged tantrum several years ago have to do with this new show?

    • Temperance says:

      I’m mostly shocked that the ladies are participating in the usual smear of a smart, intelligent, honest, loyal person that actually dares to show it. It’s smacks of jealousy, honestly.

      • Sara says:

        Loyal person? She has bashed at least 2 of her major projects publicly and one could argue she recently bashed more by talking about how she shouldn’t have done so many rom-coms because they ruined her career. Please explain to me how that is anywhere near the definition of “loyal.”

        • FaRaz says:

          For good reason! I love grey’s but her character got the worst treatment with making her sleep with her brother-like best friend, moreover making her a cheating person, gave her cancer and then hallucinations of dead fiance! I would complain too if my character went from Emmy winning stuff to this sorta rubbish

          • Maybe the writers just hated her, and couldn’t be bothered wasting good storylines on her.

          • Sarah says:

            What’s funny about that is that Katherine Heigl (and TR Knight) pushed for that storyline where Izzie sleeps with her brother-like best friend. If there’s something to learn in this it’s that the writers shouldn’t listen to Heigl because even when they go out of their way to please her she’ll eventually just publicly humiliate them and throw them under the bus.

        • Cas says:

          She didn’t bash them. She said she loved doing them but that she should have taken a leap basically. Let’s face it you don’t get noticed doing the same thing over and over. Eventually Hollywood tires of rom coms, even Kate Hudson’s haven’t been all hits recently. Of course these are the only stories we hear about and they are all one sided and probably edited to make her sound bad because that is what sells.

    • S. says:

      What she says is far more toxic to the working environment. Nobody knows when she’s gonna take what you worked hard to do and crap on it publicly, and she did it to a hit show and movie of all things (those projects had fans and they feel like she crapped on them by extension). There’s so much more to it than the Grey’s and Knocked Up situations, but they’re a symptom and people think she doesn’t quite get what the problem is. She thinks she does and she’s saying what a publicist told her to say. They had a hard time getting a showrunner for a reason. I’d like the Heigl I thought she was from the first season of Grey’s. She seemed pretty special then and was one of my favorite things about the show in the beginning. I’d like that person back so I actually hope things work out for her.

      • Drew says:

        I agree that it was a bad idea to say what she said, the way she said it. It isn’t unusual for actors to make negative comments about projects that they’ve been involved with. They usually just wait a while and do it with a smile on their face… It doesn’t make what she said any worse than what they do, but the delivery keeps people from hating most of those other actors. And again, the tabloids loved the “We hate Heigl” stories, which drove much of the public backlash.
        I am a person who appreciates when people just say what they think and don’t BS me, so part of me appreciates some of the things that she said, even if I disagree greatly. But a spoonful of sugar would have helped the medicine go down with more of the public.

        • Angela says:

          Not to mention, acting is a job for her…and don’t we all complain about our jobs at some point and time in our lives? She’s just unfortunate enough to be in a line of work where whatever she says will get quoted and discussed in public, and she will therefore have to answer for whatever she says as a result. But I imagine if one were to quote many of us out there who go on and on about aspects of our jobs we can’t stand, or that we think are ridiculous or dumb, we’d probably come off sounding ungrateful and offensive, too.
          I’ve no opinion on her or her work in general for the most part one way or another, but I do think it is strange that people are still harping on about this stuff all this time later. Especially since, as Drew so aptly notes, there are celebrities who’ve done and said far, FAR worse who don’t seem to get nearly this level of criticism.

    • SMcMary says:

      I agree so much with this. It seems the only unforgivable sin in Hollywood is ingratitude or what the public perceives as ingratitude. I’ve only seen Grey’s Anatomy a few times so I can’t really judge her as an actress but I think it’s unfair that she’s still being judged for her offscreen behavior which compared to other actors was fairly mild. I don’t agree with what she did but I don’t condemn her for it either.

  14. Rick Katze says:

    I responded with a maybe as it was the closest answer although not totally accurate.

    Castle and NCIS: LA are both givens. Will dvr it and watch it. Have hopes but, at this time, I suspect it will be determined by the writing. Admittedly I do like Katherine Heigel from Grey’s Anatomy which is the main impetus to see the first few episodes.

  15. Jenna says:

    I never payed much attention to the negative comments re: Heigl. I liked her on GA, and I’m looking forward to seeing her back on TV. I hope this is good!

  16. Tran says:

    State of Affairs may have potential but with The Blacklist jumping ship to Thursdays at 9 p.m. come February 2015, looks like the Katherine Heigl led series should stay put in the 10 p.m. Monday night time slot depending if it gets a full season pick up and how the series’ ratings holds up. I will watch it on how well the performances are and how strong the episodes are going to be.

  17. Dino says:

    Kind of off-topic but I heard that Hieroglyph, on FOX, got cancelled mid-production. Is that true? Will they ever broadcast it? Or it simply got shelved?

  18. Ashbash says:

    I’m gonna pass on this show. I’m not a fan of Katherine Heigl she always plays the same character the “slightly damaged professional woman with the messed up loved life”. I wish she would play a different type of character for once. Even without the fact that Heigl is the lead the trailer and probably the show too looks boring and badly written. My prediction is that it will probably debut high and then have super low ratings and if it doesn’t get cancelled before the end of the season, NBC will wind up putting the Blacklist back on Mondays and this show will probably get burned off. I have zero faith this show will get a season 2.

    • helixro14 says:

      “Heigl – she always plays the same character the “slightly damaged professional woman with the messed up loved life”. I wish she would play a different type of character for once.”
      Ya mean, like she did on Roswell, maybe?

      • RichieS says:

        “slightly damaged alien girl with the messed up love life” … yeah, big difference.

      • Ashbash says:

        I actually liked her character Isabel on Roswell. She was fierce and unapologetic. She wasn’t a constant victim. So if she could find a role more similar to her Roswell one I’d watch. But since Roswell she has tended to play the same type of character which is my point. Honestly if this role doesn’t work out for her I think she should try a tv comedy next she’s really good at comedy.

  19. Missy Kelly says:

    your description makes it sound like a run of the mill NBC show and one of the reasons I fall off them rather quickly (although Blacklist & Taxi Brooklyn are good). NBC has a habit of over doing their dramas, over produced, over dressed, over written – they just seem to be too much of everything except good stories well told; a good actor shouldn’t need a million dollar wardrobe to make you believe their character is wealthy. Thanks for the warning.

  20. Mare says:

    I want sure about it at first, but the end of the preview with Katherine and Alfre sold me. They should concentrate on that relationship and on two strong female characters and drop the sleazy aspect of her character. More appealing.

  21. I was going to be a watcher on the reg, but if Remar isn’t staying around for more than an ep or two, forget it. He’s my whole reason for coming.

  22. Tom says:

    It’s awful. It’s trying to be Homeland-lite made for Broadcast meets Scandal. Never thought Heigl would play a character less likable than her own persona.

  23. I’ll check it out at the very least. But tbqh, I’m here for Alfre Woodard and Adam Kaufman. I’ve never been a major KH fan, but I’ll give her the benefit of an ep or two.

  24. Sophod says:

    I was actually pleasantly surprised by the video. To me, the show looks like it has some good stories to tell. The only thing with these political drama’s is that it will get ruined by the 24 episodes season on NBC. Story lines will get stretched, it will get boring. If this show was on a cable, like showtime, TNT or anything i would give it more change.
    My guess: won’t survive 1st season. Too bad because it really could be something

  25. N says:

    Yay Katie!

  26. Ray says:

    I loved Heigl on Grey’s Anatomy but this show looks like a train wreck waiting to happen.

  27. Klover says:

    I was planning on tuning in and checking it out until reading this article and learning its time slot. The solitary fact that it airs against Castle is a no go for me. After its canceled I’ll prob watch on Hulu.

  28. Daniel says:

    I’ve seen it and it definitely has potential, but it’s not the best pilot of the season (and yes, I have seen others). It also looks a bit similar to Madam Secretary (which I have yet to see) so I’m curious which DC drama will be better.

    By the way, the show has the post The Voice timeslot so I think it will do just fine there.

  29. @supernino21 says:

    I didn’t see the pilot, and I won’t in the fall. The trailer is already enough to get how superficial, full of cliches, not at all compelling the script is.

    NBC has not yet understood that having a celebrity in the main role is not enough to make a good and successfull show.

    I’ll give it a chance to Tea Leoni’s show on CBS instead.

  30. Robinson in Space says:

    I know previews are supposed to be like sloppy trailers, but what I’m seeing here is not very promising, to put it mildly. Cliched sentences, overacting and Heigl’s character already seems irritating, unrelatable.

  31. K says:

    I’ll watch this for Heigl because she’s a huge talent, I don’t care what she says after the cameras have stopped rolling. She was amazing on Grey’s Anatomy and so it infuriates me when people say she chat act.

  32. katedfw says:

    I won’t watch anything with Katherine Heigl. Period! (Exclamation Point)!

  33. Jrs says:

    Awful, just awful. Is this drek really the best they can turn out these days? Why would anyone want to give up an hour if their life every week to watch this crap?! And who cares about her off-camera attitude and all that. She is just a rotten actress and so unwatchable it’s not even funny

  34. Nit Picker Jr says:

    I miss Burn Notice…

  35. Monica4185 says:

    It looks like I’ve seen this before. Look like a run of the mill spy show with a emotional drama.

  36. Jill Smith says:

    You know what I really hate are nay – sayers. What I’m excited about is the story. I am so not interested in tearing down someone just for the sake of being a cyber bully. Because really that’s all I’m reading. Heigl really is a good actress & if a TV show fails it for sure isn’t because of one person. There have been several shows that got cancelled for a variety of reasons that I loved & it takes a “village” as they say to make or break a show. Heigl is a strong, opinionated person. What I have seen of the pilot & Heigl’s character is simply a great fit for her especially opposite Woodard’s character. The storyline is intriguing. Washington, politics, mystery, sex,oh my!

  37. Ally Oop says:

    I may like this show but it’ll depend on how serialized it is. I dropped Blacklist after 8 episodes because it was too much of a procedural.

    • TraciTV says:

      The blacklist procedural? Huh! U sure u watched it. I am anti procedural. If any show starts off with a dead body i never watch again.

  38. tvguesser says:

    I cant say this is something I’m interested in but I think this will work with other people in my family. However I’m not convinced that this show will last more then one season maybe two at a push. Then again I could be completely wrong and it last for years.

  39. TraciTV says:

    Trailer looked amazing. Covert affairs x 2 hopefully heigl wont act up, kill the show, and get sent back to the blacballed list.

  40. Sheldon W. says:

    Once you accept that, getting past the contemporary setting, this pilot is about as realistic as 3rd Rock From The Sun, it’s not bad. I’d be wiling to give three more eps to impress me.

  41. Gabriel says:

    I didn’t take anything from my reading of this article that matters about Heigl one way or the other.

    What I took from it is that it’s a potentially very poorly written script for the character of Charlie, regardless of who might be playing her. That’s enough to make me take a pass.

  42. Alia says:

    I’d be more willing to watch this with someone more believable in the lead role. (And it’s nothing to do with her personal drama; I’ve just never found her convincing in “smart professional” roles.)

  43. Casey says:

    Madame Secretary with Tea Leoni covers similar ground and looks so much better than this. I never watched KH in anything simply because she hasn’t made anything I’d watch but the baggage does make it harder to get excited about any show she’s in. There’s nothing to sell this show to me, it seems derivative and really not that exciting.

  44. Can> wait to see STATE OF AFFAIRS….. Very excited…..

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