Fall Pilot Season 2011: Prime Suspect

by Ethan Alter September 23, 2011
Fall Pilot Season 2011: Prime Suspect

Dinner at an upscale joint. Matt and a dolled-up Jane are sitting across from his ex-wife and her new S.O., discussing all the child-proofing they've done to the apartment. Ex-Wifey clearly has no intention of changing her mind about their son staying over, so a frustrated Matt pushes back from the table for a bathroom break. Left alone, Jane engages in some not-at-all awkward chit-chat about the bruises on her face and some dead bodies that washed up on the beach on Long Island. But Jane is more interested in talking about Ex-Wifey's new man's rap sheet, which includes a burglary charge from the time he broke into his ex-fiancée's apartment to steal back his engagement ring, engagement camera and engagement coat. Ex-Wifey tries to change the subject back to how much Jane sucks, but Jane instead brings up the drunk driving charges Ex-Wifey hasn't told Matt about. She then launches into an awesome monologue about how tough her job is and how tough she is and that she may not be a divorce lawyer, but as a homicide detective, she knows all about going to court. Having checked and mated her opponents, she takes a victory swig of booze and sets the glass down with a satisfying clink. "So what day is Owen coming to our house?" she asks, innocently. "Thursday?" Ex-Wifey offers, clearly afraid for her well-being. Matt rejoins the table and is given the happy news. Jane tears into crab leg as we cut to black as Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings tear into "Nobody's Baby."

So what's the verdict? Reader, I liked it. A whole lot. It's not the British Prime Suspect, but it's wisely not trying to be. I like that this Jane is more of a scrapper than Mirren's world-weary soldier and the inter-precinct politics are nicely handled. My only quibble is that the crime is completely unmemorable and almost an afterthought in an episode that's more devoted to establishing the characters and the various rivalries between them. The advantage the British series had was that it was able to follow one crime over multiple episodes. This version appears to be going for more of a case-of-the-week approach, which could work, provided the crimes get more interesting. But, based on this pilot at least, I'm happy to say that Prime Suspect is one of the rare British shows that didn't get lost in translation on this side of the Atlantic. And may I just mention that Maria Bello rocks that porkpie hat like nobody's business. Viva Jane Timoney!

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