Madam Secretary finished its first season with pretty much the same plot as in every other episode: Elizabeth is in big trouble but somehow manages to turn it around. This week, the big trouble relates to the failed Iran coup of a few weeks ago and the revelations about the death of her predecessor, all of which is leading to a Congressional hearing at which a grandstanding Senator with White House ambitions wants to bring her down. And if he can’t do that, he’ll get at Elizabeth’s husband Henry. As ever, though, with a leap and a bound Elizabeth manages to extricate herself, admitting that she passed information to Henry that he wasn’t entitled to have and thus breaching the Espionage Act, yet somehow getting away with it. Just once, I’d quite like one of her Hail Marys to fail, for something to go properly wrong for her, just to see how she – and the show – would cope.
Not the marriage, though; as I’ve said more than once before I get a bit fed up with TV drama always resorting to turbulence in a marriage to crank up the tension, but the writers have left the McCord union alone, and allowed it to be affectionate, mutually supportive, and plausibly sexy. Much of this has rested on the evident chemistry between the two leads, which has now spilled over into an offscreen relationship. I am TREMENDOUSLY excited about this development, incidentally. I LOVE when that happens.
In fact, in general I’ve rather warmed to Téa Leoni’s unshowy but effective performance over the course of the season, and Tim Daly has continued to vie with Željko Ivanek and Erich Bergen for the MVP award on the male side of the cast. Bonus points also for introducing Kevin Rahm – an actor I always like to see – as an eccentric but effective bare-knuckle advisor, and one or two marks off for the final episode snog between Mad Sec’s daughter and POTUS’s druggy son.
The show as a whole remained, as I said at the halfway point, a reliable pleasure, with the occasional ambitious Sorkin-esque flourish which the terrific cast handled well. Ratings remained solid in America, leading to a second-season renewal; I’m still convinced that this show has the potential to fly a little higher, but I won’t be devastated if it simply maintains the standard of the first season. Anyway, Madam Secretary didn’t rock my world, but it wasn’t supposed to. I like it, and if we get the next season in the UK I’ll totally be watching.