Friday, September 23, 2011

TV PILOT REVIEW: NBC's "Prime Suspect"

This police procedural, about a tough female detective who has to fight every day to be treated as an equal in the boy's club that is the police department, is actually a remake of a 90s British series that starred Helen Mirren. That version was heralded as groundbreaking for its attempt at maintaining its gritty and hardcore style in spite of the estrogen fueling it. It was an open letter to the male gender that not only could women do what they do, but they could do it better. The American version is tasked with recreating that same intensity and sustaining its feminist agenda.
Saddled with said pressure is Maria Bello, an actress who's never shyed away from intense, testosterone-filled films (History of Violence, Assault on Precinct 13, Abduction, etc.). Not many actresses are known for shedding their femininity to play a somewhat androgynous character. Bello has to walk a fine line between being a fearless, thick-skinned detective who isn't afraid of a little opposition, and a sweet, supportive girlfriend and daughter.

The men who surround her are also an important part of the dynamic. They're under the impression that her relationship with her former boss is what got her transferred to their precinct. They think she's entitled and willing to put-out to get ahead. So they steal her cases, insult her behind her back and to her face, and they disregard her case theories. They're so blinded by their egos that they're willing to convict the wrong suspect and allow a rapist to run free just so they don't have to share the spotlight or give her the respect she deserves. They make rooting for her easy. They're a pack of wolves nipping at a newborn.
I'm drawn in by this constant conflict. But even more so, I'm eager to find a replacement for "The Closer," another series with a powerful woman leading a squad of men who learn to respect her after she proves time and time again that she's damn good at what she does.

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