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Prime Suspect [US], “Episode 1” (1.01)

Jane Timoney (Maria Bello) surrounded by her ensemble of sexist, bullying cops.

Look after the jump for spoiler-free highlights, and a spoilery review, of the episode written by Alexandra Cunningham and directed by Peter Berg

Spoiler-Free Highlights:

  • Maria Bello is awesome, here, as Jane Timoney. She’s tough and brash and makes mistakes, and she’s smart and hard-working. She’s not perfect, far from, but that’s one of the things that makes her so much fun to watch. And it also means that when she’s good, she’s good.
  • The supporting cast is also excellent. Aidan Quinn, Kirk Acevedo, Kenny Johnson and especially Brian O’Byrne as the cop most aggressively in Jane’s way.
  • The standalone case is alright. It’s mostly a way to explore Jane and her interactions with her colleagues. In that sense, it’s a success. To hook me, a cop show needs either a great ensemble, or a great lead with potential in the ensemble around them. This definitely has the latter.
  • The name, as far as this pilot goes, is kind of a misnomer. Jane Timoney is square and center, and the suspect is as underplayed as in any other cop drama.
  • My verdict: Watch, keep watching. I don’t know whether it will be necessary weekly viewing, or fall into the standalone trap, but it’s worth watching for Maria Bello alone.

Something More Spoilery

I love Maria Bello here, I love the ensemble, I love the look of the show. I’m frustrated a little bit by the overpowering sexism of Timoney’s peanut gallery, but I like that it shifted in the back half to less anger over her being a woman, and more about how she stepped over a ‘good’ cop’s dead body to take his position. I liked both that we saw her reasoning, in that the workplace was so hostile she needed to jump at the opportunity, and yet we also saw the very reasonable fallout both from her getting the job and from her asking for it so soon after his death. Shades of The Closer‘s first season, I think, here.

I like that Timoney is a ‘strong female character’, and yet isn’t Buffy or Xena, particularly in the fight with the suspect. She worries about whether she’s done the right thing. She’s tough and able to argue with anyone on the force, yet she’s also comfortable seeking comfort from her boyfriend when she needs to. And, she’s smart, resourceful, and she works her butt off to solve cases.  I approve.

I’m looking forward to what, say, episodes 5 and 6 look like of this. Eventually they’ll be fleshing out her many support characters, after all. I’ll be watching.

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