CBS Sunday: Madam Secretary & The Good Wife

Madam Secretary promises to be good. What it does not seem to be is some kind of pre election exploration, either good or bad, of Hillary Clinton. It’s more of an underdog story.

Téa Leoni in Madam Secretary
Téa Leoni in Madam Secretary

Téa Leoni as Elizabeth McCord is not a politician. She comes from a background in the CIA. The President (Keith Carradine) came from a background in the CIA himself. When the current Secretary of State dies under mysterious circumstances, the POTUS asks Elizabeth McCord to take over. She does. If the first episode is any indication, she’s a rule breaker who finds ways to do what she knows is right whether the political machine – in the person of the President’s Chief of Staff (Zeljko Ivanek) – likes it or not.

She comes to Washington from a bucolic life on a horse farm. With her are a husband (Tim Daly) and her two teenaged kids (Kathrine Herzer and Evan Roe). The relationship between Elizabeth and Henry McCord seems solid. The family dynamics seem solid. Son Jason has declared himself an anarchist, yet seems awfully interested in politics. We didn’t see much of the daughter in the first episode.

The series is a great concept. We’ve had several female Secretaries of State. It’s not such a shocking idea as a female president. It’s a good place to put a smart woman who can exercise power and write stories around what she does with it.

The Good Wife

Returning for a 6th season, The Good Wife gets off to a rip-roaring start.

Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski in The Good Wife
Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski in The Good Wife
  • Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) is tossed in jail on trumped up charges and the police and the judge seem out to get him
  • Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) decides to join Florrick and Agos
  • Alicia Florrick ( Julianna Margulies) gets pestered to run for State’s Attorney while trying to raise Cary’s bail and bring Diane Lockhart into the firm
  • Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) misses a date with Cary, but gets hit on by Sophia (Kelli Giddish), who hasn’t been around for two years and whom Kalinda no longer trusts

The fast paced, multiplexed stories go on with this series. I do hope we get to see more of Kalinda. Diane made it a condition of her coming in with Florrick and Agos that Kalinda come too. Much as I love Alicia and Diane, Kalinda is so much more interesting. The possibility of Kelli Giddish coming back is exciting. Kalinda and Sophia were good together and more fun than Kalinda and Cary’s current romance. Having said that, Sophia’s contact with Kalinda in this episode was 100% hidden motivation, so there’s a lot to process before it could happen.

There’s potentially a very interesting turn on The Good Wife because Taye Diggs is joining the cast in the next episode. If he stays around all season I have my fingers crossed that he and Alicia will make sparks. Not sparks. Fireworks. Will is gone. Alicia has stopped boffing her hubby and kicked him out again. Bring on Mr. Diggs!

Watch This: Two More Women Led Shows Coming to TV

I keep discovering more upcoming TV series with women in leading roles. Just when I think I’ve brought them all to your attention, I find more. This is a great problem to have!

With the Madam Secretary series going into the schedule on Sunday as a lead up to The Good Wife and Shonda Rhimes new drama How to Get Away with Murder set on the Thursday (which I shall henceforth refer to as Rhimesday) night schedule, I think we can safely predict what the two biggest female-led hits will be. Don’t overlook some of the less blessed-by-scheduling offerings I’ve mentioned lately, though, because some of them look very good.

Madam Secretary

The first trailer is Madam Secretary. It looks fabulous. If it is supposed to be some kind of play off Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, that’s just fine by me, but I don’t see a lot of Hillary in the way this is played in the previews.

Téa Leoni stars as Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst turned college professor who gets recruited to fill a vacant Secretary of State job. Her husband is played by Tim Daly. Bebe Neuwirth is in the cast.

Madam Secretary was created by Barbara Hall, who has written for Homeland and Judging Amy. Morgan Freeman is one of the producers. It starts in the fall on Sundays right before The Good Wife, a piece of prime TV real estate if there ever was one.

Extant

Extant stars Halle Berry as an astronaut who returns to Earth after 13 months alone in space, inexplicably pregnant. Her husband John is played by Goran Visnjic. John is a scientist who created their robotic son. The son is played by Pierce Gagnon, who despite his young age, has had a lot of roles to his credit. Camryn Manheim, Sergio Harford, and Grace Gummer also appear. Steven Spielberg is producing.

Extant begins in July. According to one account I saw of the plot, the astronaut’s “experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.”

Extant looks very mysterious. Do you like the mysterious ones?

Tea Leoni image via CBS.com