Elizabeth McCord is the best thing since sliced bread
WHEN I grow up, I want to be Elizabeth McCord.
She's the Madam Secretary in the Ten drama of the same name (returning in 2015, find it on TenPlay).
I think she is the best thing since sliced bread.
Others have tried hitting home runs with tough-broad women leading US politico-dramas, notably State of Affairs with Katherine Heigl, Commander In Chief with Geena Davis and to a lesser degree Shonda Rhimes' Scandal with Kerry Washington.
But they limped to second base, and Katherine Heigl has a strange reverse Midas touch-thing going on, while Madam Secretary bashes it out of the park.
Not as funny as Veep, of course, and not as clever as The West Wing, MS is first class entertainment.
I almost stopped watching a few weeks ago, but then an underlying subplot - and a sinister one at that - suddenly hit top gear and I was hooked again.
I am someone who believes the success or failure of a TV show is dependent on the saying "layers aren't just for onions". Dimensions! Viewing audiences need more than one when it comes to character and script.
It's not perfect. Elizabeth's teenage kids are neck-wringingly annoying but I understand their purpose, her staff's banter is too polished and her pillow talk with husband Henry is sugary surreal (but if you thought their chemistry was real, you get an A plus: People Magazine this month reported Tea Leoni is dating her on-screen husband Tim Daly).
They are too cute as a couple, and I almost wished the daughter was right a few weeks ago when she thought she'd caught out her dad in an affair.
The writing is at its best when Elizabeth is speaking: dressing down a dishonest staff member with devastating wit, schmoozing international VIPs with charm or directly challenging POTUS.
Her words are more carefully chosen than the moves of a chess grandmaster; her turn of phrase a thrilling form of verbal poker.
She is whip-smart, endearing and seemingly always a step ahead. I particularly like that the writers have avoided the lazy route which would have pegged her as a whiney working mum just trying to do her juggling best.
This woman is ex CIA, thankfully the focus is more on terrorism and security breaches than soccer practice and homework - even if the incidents are stitched up too neatly by episode's end.
Supports are strong here, and why wouldn't they be?
Frasier's old girlfriend Bebe Neuwirth is inscrutably great, while Željko Ivanek (AKA the scary little guy who committed suicide in Glenn Close's office in Damages) takes intimidating menace to a new level.