Starring: Téa Leoni (“Fun with Dick and Jane”), Bebe Neuwirth (“Cheers,” “Frasier”), Geoffrey Arend (“Body of Proof”), Patina Miller (“The Hunger Games” trilogy), Erich Bergen (“Jersey Boys”), Tim Daly (“Private Practice”), Katherine Herzer and Evan Roe
Genre: One-hour drama
Premiere Date: Sunday, September 21, 8:00 p.m., CBS
Direct Competition: Sunday Night Football (NBC), “The Simpsons”/”Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox), “Once Upon a Time” (ABC)
Premise (in 140 characters or less): A former CIA agent turned college professor is asked to fulfill the role of Secretary of State after an unforeseen tragedy takes place.
Initial Reaction: I like Téa Leoni. I like this cast. I wish I liked this show.
Conclusion: FWIW, there’s little doubt in my mind that “Madam Secretary” will do exactly what CBS needs it to do, ratings-wise. Unfortunately, I found very little to enjoy in its first installment. Much of the cast is superb, but the set-up to get Leoni’s character the job is reliant on a bigger conspiracy that will build over the course of multiple episodes, if not an entire season. Episode one is aggravatingly toothless, and it makes it difficult to conceive how the show will deliver on the cliffhanger it sets up. The difficulty I expect its writers to have is only reinforced by the case of the week aspect of episode one which somehow manages to take all the tension out of a hostage crisis.
Watch Live, DVR or Skip?: In a world where Sundays have become the busiest night on television, I can’t bring myself to recommend “Madam Secretary.” I’d watch a more intriguing version of this show every week, especially one featuring Leoni, Neuwirth, Arend, and recurring guest star, Zeljko Ivanek, but this just isn’t up to par. Skip this one.