I’m a few weeks late watching and reviewing this pilot, but man, it was fantastic. I think I’ve found my favorite new show this season, as well as the best pilot I’ve seen in a very long time.
Maria Bello stars in “Prime Suspect”, a series that chronicles the tough life of a female detective in the NYPD. Jane Timoney is not soft nor is she cuddly; she is rough, gruff, and confident. She has to deal with constant sexist remarks from her coworkers, and is always passed up for cases because of her gender. When her colleague dies from a heart attack, she is given a high-profile case and a time to shine. Except Detective Reg Duffy was best friends with the deceased, and would like for nothing more than to see her fail.
Watching this I would have to say this is the best put-together pilot of this season. I watched it not feeling it was the first episode, but that the series had long been established. It was probably helped along because “Prime Suspect” is a remake of the British series that starred Helen Mirren. Having not seen that series, I could not answer for their similarities. Whatever gave the show its leg up, it certainly worked.
Maria Bello melts into her character, so much so that even her weird penchant for hats and the word yea feel natural. It didn’t feel like an actress, but rather watching a real person and their own ticks that make them who they are (I felt the same way with Viola Davis’s performance in The Help). Jane is honest, which gets on many people’s nerves, but her honesty wins over the viewer. She also does exactly what she needs to do in order to get the job done. Just in the pilot, she deputizes a shelter security guard to gain his trust and information; she brings up past convictions to help her boyfriend gain custody of his son; and she asks for a dead man’s job the day after he dies. The last one felt a bit much, but it wasn’t surprising at all that she did it, either.
I do wonder how true this is, whether sexism is still that prevalent for female detectives. Most other cop shows don’t really touch on it (“Law and Order: SVU” will mention it, but rarely), and most crime fiction has opened up to a lead female detective. But it doesn’t matter if it’s realistic, because the show is played so well. You are never fully in Jane’s camp, because the writers let you see the others side’s point of view. Jane is a carefully crafted character, so you feel sympathy for her, but she’s just annoying enough that you get why her colleagues are miffed by her.
A fantastic start to a hopefully long series, I felt this pilot could hold its own. I know this show has been struggling a bit in numbers, so check it out, watch it, and then spread the word. Of all the new shows I’ve watched this season (I haven’t reviewed them all), this one deserves to thrive.