Megan Miller ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
In the pilot of Madam Secretary, a new fall CBS show, Téa Leoni stars as Elizabeth McCord, an ex-CIA analyst turned professor at the University of Virginia. After the Secretary of State dies in a plane crash, the President of the United States (Keith Carradine) personally asks her to fill the position. After uprooting her family to Washington D.C., McCord deals with a hostage situation in Syria regarding two teenage American brothers, a meeting with an African dignitary, and the suspicion that the plane crash that killed her predecessor may not have been an accident.
The best thing about this pilot is probably that Leoni exceeds any possible set expectations as Elizabeth McCord. She is as much of a powerful diplomat as the previews suggested, and plays the role of strategic Secretary of State as well as promised. On the other hand, she is also an anxious parent, a pragmatic spouse, and an invested friend. None of these play out like caricatures; in fact, each of them adds another facet to a believable and ultimately relatable main character, despite her newfound position of powerful.
McCord is by no means the only good character in the episode. The array of supporting characters is dynamic and each have their own individual personalities, which come out even in the short amount of screentime they have. Even the McCord children, who are only seen for a few minutes, make the most of that time; Jason (Evan Roe) is a self-proclaimed anarchist, and offers a wonderful anecdote for Elizabeth while dealing with the parents of the two kidnapped boys. Her husband Henry (Tim Daly) also appears as a supportive spouse, a refreshing change from many significant others on television right now.
Besides these character merits, the plot of the show is well-paced and well-written. The controversy of McCord’s predecessor’s death is not forced upon the viewer, as controversies can be, and instead appears only as an oncoming storm. The main focus of the episode is to introduce McCord and the viewer to her new position and establish her as a Secretary of State who thinks outside of the box and has no problem circumventing the rules.
Overall, the pilot episode of Madam Secretary rose above any hopes one may have had for it, and opened with powerful and compelling characters and stories that drew in the viewer to come back for what will, with any luck, be an excellent first season.
Madam Secretary airs Sundays at 8/9pm.