Fall TV First Impression: CBS' Madam Secretary

Madam Secretary 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 | CBS’ Madam Secretary (Sundays at 8/7c, premiering Sept. 21)

THE COMPETITION | NBC’s Sunday Night Football, ABC’s Once Upon a Time and Fox’s The Simpsons/Brooklyn Nine-Nine

THE CAST | Tea Leoni (The Naked Truth), Tim Daly (Private Practice), Bebe Neuwirth (Blue Bloods), Geoffrey Arend (Body of Proof), Keith Carradine (Dexter), Zeljko Ivanek (Damages) and Sebastian Arcelus (House of Cards)

THE SET-UP | Retired CIA agent Elizabeth McCord (Leoni) finds her bucolic existence upended when her former boss — and current POTUS (Carradine) — shows up at the rural home she shares with her husband (Daly) and two kids and asks her to serve as his Secretary of State, after a plane crash claims the life of the current SoS. Elizabeth’s low tolerance for bureaucracy and red tape immediately puts her at odds with the president’s scary, Stalin-esque chief of staff (Ivanek), while pretty much everyone else sees her as a breath of anti-D.C. air.

RELATED Fall TV Poll — Evil Queen Vs. Tea Leoni and Sunday’s Other Dilemmas

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | A confident, rousing performance from Leoni and a strong script from Homeland alum Barbara Hall elevates what could’ve been a derivative fish-out-of-water tale. Whether diffusing an international hostage crisis, throwing shade at her personal stylist or brokering a peace treaty with her dyspeptic teenage daughter, Elizabeth is someone you will instantly root for. A strong, believable supporting cast (particularly Neuwirth as Elizabeth’s chief of staff and Carradine as the prez) adds authenticity to the political backdrop.

The show’s biggest challenge will be making Elizabeth’s home life as compelling as her work life (something the pilot struggled to do despite some nice chemistry between Leoni and Daly). Also, the government cover-up subplot will likely elicit a collective eye roll from conspiracy-fatigued TV viewers.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Madam Secretary will serve as the perfect Sunday companion to CBS’ similarly highbrow and female skewing The Good Wife, although the network’s annoying fall football overruns could make building an audience difficult. (Then again, there’s perhaps greater upside here with such delays, as Good Wife fans might catch some of Madam Secretary and get hooked.) Either way, strong critical support should compel CBS to exercise patience.

Watch a video preview for Madam Secretary, 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!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

56 Comments
  1. TraciTV says:

    No interest right now. Ivanek is a wonderful actor but it seems he is cursed. Every show that he is a regular on gets cancelled

  2. Steven says:

    I’m really looking forward to this show, but the timeslot makes me nervous.

  3. L says:

    This show migh get mixed up with the similar sounding Katherine Heigl one.

  4. meatwad says:

    good cast, i’ll give it a few episodes barring any dvr conflicts

  5. Suhail says:

    Didn’t even bother watching the screener for this, not my kinda show.

  6. Sheldon W. says:

    Leoni is marvelous here, and Carradine’s presence elevates the pilot almost as much as she does. Plus Zeljko Ivanek! I’m so there!

  7. Olga says:

    Boring. And Tea Leoni is a wooden actress

  8. Tom says:

    I saw it and I can say it’s my favorite new show of the season.

  9. Mary says:

    I don’t know. My Sundays were ruined after the disaster that was the Once season finale (screwing with one of the best episodes – Snow Falls and altering Snow and Charming’s meeting as well as the very stupid idea that Emma wanted to leave because she wasn’t in the book so she didn’t feel like she belonged. I always feel that way when I look at my parents’ yearbooks. Oh wait no I don’t.)

  10. webly3 says:

    I’m definitely going to try it after this review. I wouldn’t want to miss out on a show that has potential to be as good as The Good Wife.

  11. ziyal says:

    Looks pretty good! Leoni is convincing, and it’s nice to see a female-led “action-ish” show. Awesome!

  12. Ashley says:

    I wasn’t interested in this until I saw the teaser for it – that pulled me in and now I can’t wait for the show!

  13. So says:

    I’ll definitely watch. Tea Leoni looks great in this role, smart and strong. Very glad to see Tim Daly coming back to a regular series — I do hope there’s a real supporting role there instead of a sounding board. The rest of the supporting cast is great too.

  14. Tran says:

    Can’t believe the TV world is at it again with political style dramas with some of the Homeland and Scandal mix in between. Madam Secretary may have potential just like State of Affairs was yesterday in the “Fall TV First Impressions” topic but it’s not going to be tough when CBS has football overruns to deal with. It’s too early to tell if Madam Secretary is going to be a hit or miss for CBS but it’s great to see Tea Leoni back on TV in a long time.

  15. Jenna says:

    i’m not all that interested in the premise but will probably give it a couple episodes as a lead in to good wife

  16. tebe says:

    Can anyone tell me the name of the last song in trailer?

    Also, premise doesn’t sound very original, but Leoni seems to be wonderful from the trailer, so I think I’ll give it a chance :)

  17. bj says:

    I admit I’m one of those conspiracy-fatigued TV viewers. I was looking forward to this as I love political shows but it seems like no one can write one these days without some underlying conspiracy that will no doubt go on for years. It tends to make everything a no win situation and I can’t see myself getting into it. What happened to story lines that end in an episode, or two.?

  18. Boiler says:

    May check out thru DVR due to cast but OUAT still one of my top shows. The football thing drives me nuts though

  19. tp says:

    I’m looking forward to this show.

  20. Karen C. says:

    I love football, but here in Eastern time in order to record consecutive programs which have been delayed because of overtime football games, we have to schedule the DVR to record for 3 hours after the end of the last program to capture all of each episode. Not conducive to a long-lasting relationship with a new or old program. I finally gave up watching The Good Wife because of this frustration, and am leery of becoming attached to new or old programs scheduled on CBS on Sundays. Why don’t they just throw some reruns in those time slots until after the Super Bowl?

  21. Rick Katze says:

    Again, a show that offers promise and could be interesting. You really need something between wildly enthusiastic and might take a look. Apart from Football, I haven’t watched any of the other shows.

    If it pans out, likely to watch especially where the football game is a blowout (Patriots excepted).

  22. Robby Horine says:

    One big problem. This show will suffer due to NFL overruns. This will continue as long as CBS insistent on running 60 minutes in full on those overrun nights.

    Push back the premire of 60m until after the season and fill the time with NFL Highlights like Fox does with their “The OT”.

    Besides, this show is nothing but a weekly ad for a former Sec. of State future political plans.

    • jj says:

      I find the hilary clinton comparison amusing since its the exact same thing that was said before the good wife’s premiere

  23. Babygate says:

    I cannot overstate how much I’m looking forward to this. The most anticipated Fall new show for me. Even more than How to Get Away with Murder. Tea Leoni is phenomenal. And Bebe Neurith is the icing on the cake. I think this is the perfect companion to The Good Wife. Although chances are I will not be watching live since CBS is always so screwy with their Sunday schedule.

  24. herman1959 says:

    I’m a DC-based show lover from way back, the show’s production values are high, and the cast is out of this world, BUT Scandal, House of Cards, and The Blacklist got to me first and I am officially full! It’s sad to see so much talent and money wasted on copycat shows. The show looks good, but I’ll pass for something more original, plus I am not missing Brooklyn 99.

  25. Dani says:

    This and The Good Wife double feature every Sunday. I just hope it sticks around considering Sunday shows are tough competition because of cable shows.

  26. tvguesser says:

    I think this show might work as long as it handles certain topics just right. I’m not sure I’d watch it as i probably wont understand a lot of whatever is being said politic wise. However I know the rest of my family will probably love this and I kind of think other people will quite enjoy this show. I’m pretty sure this will last the full season and I think it will be renewed for season 2. Beyond that I’m not sure how much further it will go but who knows.

  27. Maryann says:

    I am not a fan of The Good Wife and the fact that the network thinks the shows go well together does not bode well. And besides, I refuse to watch anything on CBS Sunday nights during football season. I may check it out online if it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

  28. NP says:

    Why doesn’t Cbs address the football overrun problem? Start the game earlier or stop 60 minutes or something? It’s a known problem and ridiculous that they just let it go. Very interested in this show and was going to DVR before I was reminded of football. Can’t DVR it as I can only record one thing at a time while watching elsewhere – wont waste hours because a network can’t schedule properly

  29. Dan says:

    This is what they are moving Amazing race for? Frees me up to watch Once Upon a Time.

  30. Rain388 says:

    I had no intention of watching this but the trailer just sold me on it. Looks like I’ll be having to record around stupid Sunday Night football again.

  31. Nit Picker Jr says:

    Leoni, Heigl. Heigl, Leoni…
    I miss Burn Notice.

  32. mike says:

    If there’s one thing I find that brings these types of shows down quick is the home life nonsense. Good Wife does it well in that we barely ever see the kids for more than 5 mins an episode, if even that. that stuff is just not as compelling as what goes on in the office. This I think will be much the same. I may check out the first couple eps.

    • M3rc Nate says:

      I think your kinda right kinda wrong…i dont think its that kids/family/husband/wife is always boring and brings the show down…i think its just done wrong. I feel the exact same way about “The Unit”…the show was badass and military and on missions shooting people…then at home the wives are nagging, fighting, cheating, melodrama, neurotic, etc….it was unbearable. BUT…it doesnt have to be that way….if say on this show, they have the husband be a smart supportive husband, and the kid is an actual pretty cool sweet kid (obviously sometimes bumps come up like in real life regarding family)..then i think they can show it and the show not dip when doing home scenes. But no one wants to see a kid being a brat, and a husband being a d*ck and say cheating on her or w/e….they can be written in a way that is supportive of whats compelling while shes at the office. The scenes at home can be times she is supported and loved and there are small bumps and that she gets perspective on how to tackle a certain problem at work.

      Like with all things on TV…if its written really well…it will be good to watch. Most shows are not written well, ESPECIALLY not the husband/wife/kids of the lead(s)…so in turn they suck to watch.

  33. sara says:

    Considering that The Good Wife ratings have fallen to about 1.2 (and I am predicting further fall next season), I don’t see how this show can benefit from TGW.

  34. M3rc Nate says:

    Cant….flippin….WAIT!!!!!!!! GAHHH lol. I love these types of shows..it reminds me of Flashpoint….classy, smart, a hint of funny, realistic, no melodrama (not cheating, no sleeping with the president, no horrible lines/characters/plots etc), heart….im so excited for this show. Seems like a good, old fashioned awesome show…and hey looky there…its got a female lead over 40 years old and she is someone (from this trailer) you can look up to, respect, is smart, is leaned on by the President, is a problem solver…that sounds like a great show for feminists to get behind. (not being sarcastic).

    I just love when a show says “you know what? Real life…its good enough, its exciting enough, its got wild stories to draw upon that would blow your mind. We dont need to add cheating, melodrama, and all of that soap opera crap that has floated its way into primetime television…this is a old fashion classy TV show that is written well, and acted well”. Cant wait!

  35. cycworker says:

    I cannot wait to see this show.

  36. H.Houston says:

    It looks so good – I am excited

  37. GeoDiva says:

    This along with How To Get Away With Murder are my top shows I’m looking forward too!

  38. Phyllis says:

    Can’t wait its about time we have female leads like good wife on serious drama tv Thank you CBS

  39. D.R. Symonds says:

    A love letter to Hillary just in time for her presidential run from CBS. Gee what a suprise. I wouldn’t watch it on a bet.

  40. Robb7 says:

    Like Tea Leoni as a comedic actress. Interested in seeing her in a dramatic role — but the invincible, smarter-than-everyone-in-the-room female leads are getting rather tiresome. Just as boring as the males who’ve done it for decades. Hope the writers give her a fair amount of flaws and losses!

  41. me says:

    Based on the commercials, Leoni’s character is bordering on obnoxious. I get to see that on Monday morning when I go to work; I don’t need to see it on Sunday night.

    And in the name of all that is holy, let’s retire the phrase “throwing shade”.

  42. Based on the preview, it looks like a classy, intelligent show attempting to portray realistically the drama the State Department deals with on a daily basis. A good idea, since most of us have no real idea what it does. Perhaps the show might actually inform the citizenry such that, who knows, could actually raise public discussion beyond the bedroom. Also, given the creator/show runner is Barbara Hall whose 30-year track record of writing for the best shows from Northern Exposore to Chicago Hope to Homeland. Morgan Freeman is co-executive producer with Hall. It looks like a winner to me.

  43. Trina says:

    Sorry not a fan of Tea Leoni’s acting or her graty voice, like Tim Daly and will tune in for him….as for the plot and back story to patriotic and unoriginal.

  44. Cheryl says:

    If the commercials are reflective of the show I’d NEVER watch Madame Secretary. The writing and acting are so weak I thought it was meant to be a comedy not a drama. Hope I’m wrong.

  45. Tea Leoni perfect! Move over Good Wife.

  46. Brad Patton says:

    Makes me remember the awesome Condoleeza Rice who was the second female secretary of state. She served a full term scandal free!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,478 other followers