Fall 2011 Review: Prime Suspect

22 Oct

Girl power isn’t just found in sitcoms (girl power sounds patronizing – woman power?) this fall TV season.  It’s also in dramas.  Prime Suspect is a police procedural but with more of an attitude than the standard CBS version.  Maria Bello plays a cop looking to move up the ranks, who has just been transferred to homicide somewhere in New York (from somewhere else in New York).  She’s a damned good cop, but apparently due to something she did (an affair with a senior officer? It wasn’t mentioned specifically in the pilot) the squad’s old boys’ club view her as an outcast who cheated her way up the ranks.

The homicide detectives in her new squad keep skipping her name when homicide calls come up, which seems pretty disrespectful to say the least, and while the boss of the unit seems to genuinely respect Bello and feels sympathetic, he doesn’t want to rock the boat and tells her she’ll just get the next case.  Only thing is, this particularly case she was skipped on was a brutal murder getting lots of press, and she thinks she has a novel theory – that it’s connected to an existing series of rapes, – which no one else believes, including the current detectives on the case.  So she’s both isolated and unable to solve anything until one of the detectives on the team, a veteran to the force, keels over and dies unexpectedly.  She makes a poorly timed request to her boss to take the detective’s place on the case, and though the boss is displeased by her timing, he gives her the shot.  She is curt and bosses her way around the investigation, getting respect from some but resentment from others, particularly the dead cop’s best friend on the force, but through it all eventually solves the case proving her theory correct.

The show has more going for it towards making it a weekly watch than an average procedural.  Maria Bello is certainly the biggest factor going for it.  She’s rough around the edges and a little bit irritable but effective, and I think it’s well played that even in the first episode, while you’re mostly on her side, you can understand why she gets under some of the detectives’ skin, aside from the one who really hates her.  She acts only as barely respectful as she needs to be and isn’t willing to cut anyone any slack, especially right after the death of the other detective.  The best parts of Maria Bello on the show though are still when she’s making things happen solving the case though.

It seems a little bit much in terms of the way she’s treated so poorly, particularly just because she’s a woman, in this day and age.  It’s one thing to have some minor resentment, but the cops in this episode definitely go farther than that, particularly the one cop that really, at this point, just seems like a jackass.  It’s one thing to forgive him at the beginning of the episode after the loss of his friend is so fresh, it’s another towards the end when he gets on her case for no real reason.  That said, it would only require a little tweaking to solve that problem, and move the resentment to focus on her attitude and demeanor and less solely on her identity as a woman.

Will I watch it again?  Again, probably not.  But I’m also considering it.  I could make up a middle tier of shows this season, and this would be right there.  I can see it growing up better and I think the characters could be fleshed out well.  These are all good things and it makes me think about it but it’s hard for me to really get into a show like this with at least a little bit of a more serial element.  Maybe if it was on USA.

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One Response to “Fall 2011 Review: Prime Suspect”

  1. Beardface October 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    You forgot to mention her hat.

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