“State of Affairs” starts strong

By Anubhuti Kumar

via A.V. Club
via A.V. Club

“State of Affairs” is NBC’s latest fast-paced drama starring veteran television and film actress Katherine Heigl of Grey’s Anatomy fame. It follows the personal and professional life of Charleston Tucker (Heigl) a CIA analyst who works closely with President Constance Payton (Alfre Woodard). Charlie is a powerful player in the White House and delivers the President’s daily briefing, a summary of the most important U.S. affairs, reliably every morning.

Intense and gripping from beginning to end, this new show definitely feels like the start of something very interesting. Charlie’s faces struggles beyond her profession in that her recently deceased fiancée, Aaron, was killed in a terrorist attack in Kabul when sent there with Charlie and others on a diplomatic convoy. Complicating things further is the fact that Aaron was the President’s son.

The entire premiere episode revolves around the fact that intelligence has been received regarding the whereabouts of the mastermind terrorist behind Aaron’s killing. Yet there is an American doctor being held captive in the same area, and with only one military team in the vicinity, a decision must be made on which situation to handle first.

Heigl plays her role well and creates a truly believable character. She balances the sharp skill and cutting professionalism in her line of work with the role of an aggrieved lover. Within the first episode Charlie is developed with complexities and doubts cast on her character but never her power or skill. Woodard’s character Constance is just as capable, but she carries out her duty with a quiet confidence that reassures everyone that the leader of the free world will not make rash, emotional decisions, but well reasoned ones. In private, it is apparent that she is out for the blood of her son’s murderers and expects Charlie’s full assistance.

This pilot sets up the premise of the many complex storylines that promise to bring shocking reveals and suspenseful moments as the audience is brought deeper into this alternate political world. Racing from one scene and situation to another, this is not a show that can be multi-tasked. A missed moment will mean confusion in the near future, especially because the first episode sets the base for characters who might not be essential in the present, but will become important in later episodes.

By all accounts, this new drama is a home run. Its late start in the fall season might be strange, but with its place in NBC’s Monday night lineup, it should face little to no competition in its genre. Only deeper into the season will it be apparent whether “State of Affairs” lives up to its potential and gains the devoted fan base common to popular dramas, but until then tune in Monday nights at 10 PM on NBC and check it out.

Anubhuti Kumar is a contributing writer.  Email her at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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