“Prime Suspect”: Not Bad At All

I don’t know why they bothered to call the hour-long procedural starring Maria Bello (pictured) that premiered last night on NBC “Prime Suspect.” The network must have known that at least a portion of the potential audience will forever associate the title with the groundbreaking 1990s British series starring Helen Mirren — the series that plucked Miss Mirren from the legions of arty actresses and into the select company of the Hollywood A list. (So much so that every time you enter the multiplex Miss Mirren is playing the sixtysomething babe with a lethal kick left in her heels.) What’s more, the new American version has virtually nothing to do with its precursor except star a strong female cop in the lead role. However! If you can blot out that marketing mistake of a title you will see a promising start. Bello’s good. She’s got a rakish hat. She takes a punch. She gives a punch. She could become the kind of character you look forward to watching, someone who carries a series despite the rest of it just being middling.

Bello plays a detective named Jane Timony -– not Tennison. She is the victim of sexism in her squad, which was pretty much the cornerstone of the original. But the producers have said they will ratchet down the pilot because it played that card too hard (and obviously -– which it did). This Jane has a smoking problem, like Mirren’s Jane. But she’s going to wear a patch. Maybe struggle with it. This Jane is not going to be an alcoholic, another immense difference from the original. Her love life will be a lot more settled and normal than the British Jane. And so on. I’m going to tune in next week.

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