Reviews

State of Affairs (2014) TV Pilot Review

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The series follows a CIA analyst whose job is to present the most urgent security issues facing the country to the President. She also has to deal with her personal relationship with the President, having been engaged to her son before his death from a terrorist attack a year earlier. Warning there may be spoilers.

There’s been a lot of hype and press coverage for this show, mainly because it is meant to be Katherine Heigl’s big return to television. Heigl doesn’t disappoint and brings us a smart, action packed show with big entertainment value despite its serious tone.

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Heigl stars as CIA analyst Charleston Tucker. Charleston is a powerhouse in her professional life, being both smart and intuitive. However her therapist worries about her personal life questioning the way she deals with grief over the loss of her fiancé. It is this that makes her more human, more realistic enabling us an audience to connect with her. The idea that she is putting up a wall and blocking out her pain feels very real and something that a lot of people will relate to. The only problem with Charleston is that she seems a little unlikeable; the tough exterior makes it hard for the audience to warm to her. Sure we can connect but are we rooting for her? Hopefully this will be improved upon in forthcoming episodes. Heigl herself looks very comfortable in the role, playing Charleston with ease.

Alfre Woodard as the President

Alfre Woodard as the President

 

Her scenes with the very talented Alfre Woodward (playing the President) were great to watch, I only wish there were more of them. But then again that’s the whole story with Woodward. She is incredibly underused in the pilot. When you have someone of Woodward’s acting abilities and calibre it just seems silly not to utilize her. What we do see of her is brilliant though and despite her lack of screen time she steals the show.

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Other characters include CIA staff Lucas Newsome (Adam Kaufman), Maureen James (Sheila Vand), Kurt Tannen (Cliff Chamberlain), Dashiell Greer (Tommy Savas) and Chief of Staff David Patrick (David Harbour).

Adam Kaufman as Lucas Newsome

Adam Kaufman as Lucas Newsome

 

Not much was found out about these supporting characters in the pilot as is the cases with many shows, however they all seemed to have chemistry together, especially Charleston’s CIA team. Perhaps most intriguing was Kaufman’s character Lucas, the new guy of the team. It seems like he’s hiding something and it’s clear that Charleston doesn’t completely trust him. His storyline will be interesting to see play out.

What I love about this show is how fast paced it is. The first episode flies by and honestly I felt like I had only been watching for 15 minutes before the credits rolled. The quick pace really suits a show dealing with terrorism and security threats so it worked very well. It also gives the show a more exhilarating feel about it, the “race against time” theme keeping us as an audience drawn in. Of course, there were pauses allowing for deeper character interaction which is needed in any series but it flowed well and didn’t fragment the fast nature of show. It will  be interesting to see in future episodes how they maintain this balance of speed and character development.

Full of twists and turns, State of Affairs opened strongly giving the viewers excitement and intrigue. The mystery surrounding Charleston’s fiancée’s death and her involvement in it will certainly be interesting to see develop. Heigl and Woodward perform well and it’s refreshing to see two women on television supporting and encouraging each other instead of sniping or bickering as is so often portrayed. State of Affairs has definitely laid a solid foundation for the potential of a brilliant series.

Rating: 4/5

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