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Your favorite television show is either on holiday break or has one more new episode for 2015 and new episodes will return after the holidays. I thought it would be a good time to give midterm grades to the shows I watch regularly. Today, I’ll start with “Madam Secretary”, now in its second season on Sundays on CBS.
I was not impressed with the show, that stars Tea Leoni as Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst and college professor, who suddenly is named United States Secretary of State, in its first season.
The show felt like it was stuck in the mud. The story lines were ho-hum and the characters that make up McCord’s family were annoying. It felt like the producers were feeling obligated that since McCord is a woman, she has to have a family.
One thing though that viewers like myself and television executives have to realize is that sometimes shows need time. Yes, there are shows that can hit the ground running in their first season. “Hill Street Blues” comes to my mind. But I know many shows in which there is a world of difference between the first and second seasons.
“Madam Secretary” is one of them. Leoni’s Secretary McCord has found her footing in the job. The intrigue in the story lines has been increased a few decibels and you actually feel you are inside the White House Situation Room as a crisis is dealt with or inside her office as she deals with an ambassador from another country.
And the writers have improved McCord’s family. Husband Henry (Tim Daly) is no longer an extra piece of furniture. He is now involved in some of the intrigue as he is back an operative for the National Security Agency.
The children are no longer an annoying intrusion. In the Nov. 30 episode, I loved the story line where their son Evan (Jason McCord) finds himself in the starting lineup on the football team and worried that he won’t be any good due to his smaller size. It’s a great scene where Elizabeth and Henry McCord are at the high school game in the stands talking about the current U.S. versus Russia conflict while wanting their son to do well and not get hurt.
Zelijko Ivanek continues strongly as Russell Jackson, the White House Chief of Staff who knows how to play the political game rough, as does Keith Carradine as President Conrad Dalton.
The only continuing negative is I would like to see a story line this season thrown to Bebe Neuwirth, who plays Elizabeth McCord’s Chief of Staff Nadine Tolliver. Neuwirth is not given enough to do.
The last new episode of 2015 airs this Sunday (Dec. 13) and will continue the cliffhanger that ended the Nov. 30 episode where the tension between the United Sttes and Russian was increasing by the hour.

MIDTERM GRADE — B+

UNTIL NEXT TIME. . .

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