September 25, 2011

TV: Prime Suspect (NBC, Thu 10)

Very pleasant surprise here, a smart police procedural that does a good job of updating the original. Maria Bello is terrific as Detective Jane Timoney, the lone female homicide detective in her squad; most of her colleagues believe that she's only gotten there by sleeping her way up the ladder, and they're doing all the can to avoid giving her any real responsibility.

The sexism isn't quite as blatant as it was the original BBC version of the series 20 years ago (unless the men are drunk, in which case it's pretty damned explicit), but it's just as real. The boss keeps skipping over her name when it's time to assign a chief detective to a case; her theories are dismissed as foolish.

The cast is filled with fine character actors like Brian F. O'Byrne and Aidan Quinn, but it's Bello's show all the way, and she commands attention. Timoney takes no nonsense from anyone, and has no qualms about using unconventional tactics when questioning potential witnesses, or using her police connections to get what she wants in her private life.

I'm not a huge fan of police procedurals, but I like the fact that this one is less interested than most in showing us the brutal, gory details of the crime, and Bello's performance alone is enough to keep me watching for at least another week or two.

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