Friday, September 23, 2011

Series Premiere: PRIME SUSPECT

Prime Suspect
Where: NBC
When: Thursdays @ 10PM

I'm not sure what compelled me to tune into this show last night. Based very closely on the British show of the same name (starring Helen Mirren), "Prime Suspect" is the new procedural cop drama lead by Maria Bello as Jane Timoney, and my first thought was that there couldn't be a whole lot that would separate this from all the other case-of-the-week detective shows out there. And I'm perfectly content watching "Castle" every week, thank you very much.

Well, let me start this off by saying: this show sure as shit ain't "Castle." Or "SVU" or "The Closer" or "The Glades," etc. No, "Prime Suspect" brings a grittiness that I haven't seen on primetime in quite awhile, and a lot of that credit is given to Bello, who not only looks like she can throw a few punches, but that she can take some as well (which the pilot makes sure to exhibit graphically.)

The crux of the show centers around Timoney and her fellow homicide detectives, who we quickly learn are very much not on her side. She's blonde, she's hot, and she doesn't belong there. Period. Therefore, these foul-mouthed, misogynist, Irish cops can only assume she slept her way in. With battles like that to fight, Timoney has her work cut out for her.

Mario Bello slips into this role with such grace and power, I really couldn't look away from her. Her years and maturity show on her face, and it adds legitimacy to the character. She's beautiful, but not because her hair is done or her makeup is perfect. It's because she's a bad-ass.

What I also love is the level of vulnerability she exhibits. Already, we can tell there's a lot going on in this story, and the show does a fantastic job dropping the viewer into a "world already in progress." Dynamics are established, relationships are already complicated, and Timoney already has a lot of shit she's dealing with, so don't get in her way. And her tough-as-nails attitude is then softened in a scene where she returns home from the precinct, takes off her clothes, and tells her boyfriend to be quiet and hold her - and she just cries. Not melodramatically, but necessarily. Very strong.

While much darker than most procedural shows I tend to be drawn to, I know I'll be tuning in every week. There's so much rich character development already, the dynamics can only get better. Of course, with a Helen Mirren vehicle as your inspiration, how can you go wrong?

****/4 stars

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