April 21, 2021

Madam Secretary: Season One on Netflix

Madam Secretary on CBS received only so-so reviews so I did not bother to record it when it premiered in 2014. Netflix, now carrying season one allows me to rectify my initial error in avoiding the show.

Reminiscent of The West Wing and The Good Wife, Madame Secretary stars Tea Leoni as a former CIA analyst and college professor Elizabeth Faulkner McCord who is tapped to become the U. S. Secretary of State after her predecessor is killed in a dubious plane crash. President Conrad Dalton, who used to be McCord’s boss at the CIA, is played with gravitas by none other than Keith Carradine.

Bebe Neuwirth is cast as McCord’s chief of staff at the State Department. Tim Daly (Wings, Private Practice) plays Elizabeth McCord’s husband Henry who is currently a theology professor at Georgetown, with the NSA and U. S. Marine Corps being his previous employers. Tom Skerritt turns in a cameo role as Henry McCord’s steelworker/unionist father.

Zeljko Ivanek who has been in everything from True Blood, Oz, 24, Big Love to the original Heroes is cast as scary presidential chief-of-staff, Russell Jackson. Elizabeth McCord tries to figure out whether he is a good or bad guy throughout much of Season One.

There are other on-going story lines in the initial 22 episodes, but the format is predominantly one international problem per program which can seem a bit formulaic. Leoni is the strong female character at the helm of this show, but the acting ensemble is filled with both seasoned and newer actors that bring heart and wit to their roles.

The series creator is Barbara Hall with well known names listed as directors: Eric Stoltz (4 episodes), Morgan Freeman (2 episodes), Eric La Salle (1 episode) and Tate Donovan (1 episode.) Madam Secretary is decidedly a network show, but the “of the moment” international topics and the snappy dialogue plus some fine work by veteran actors make this a show worthy of your viewing time. I vote “yea” on Madam Secretary.

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