Maria Bello is 'not in the mood' on 'Prime Suspect'
September 23rd, 2011
10:27 AM ET

Maria Bello is 'not in the mood' on 'Prime Suspect'

In NBC's reboot of the British crime drama "Prime Suspect," you learn everything you need to know about Detective Jane Timoney (Maria Bello) in the first three minutes.

The show kicks off as Detective Timoney is finishing a run. She hails a cab, and after a brief rude interchange with the driver, Jane’s had enough – and expresses this by slamming her gun against the cab's partition as the cab screeches to a halt. She’s not in the mood.

A female homicide detective in NYC, Jane isn't afraid to resort to attitude when it comes to those who write her off, but Bello certainly isn't the first woman to play a strong female law enforcement officer. (Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson on "Law & Order: SVU" will always be my favorite.)

What makes Bello's character different from almost every other female cop on television is that Detective Jane Timoney is an a--hole – and she has every right to be.

When a woman is raped and murdered in front of her children, the case should land on Jane's desk. But when her fellow detectives swipe the case from her, it becomes abundantly clear: None of the other detectives believe she belongs there.

When the lead detective on the case keels over from a heart attack, Jane sees an opportunity – for better or worse, and some may say in decidedly poor taste – she goes straight to the captain to take back the case that was rightfully hers.

It’s almost painfully transparent some of the opportunities the writers took in making the sexism theme an obvious one. Even when Detective Timoney is interviewing one of the children who saw their mother killed, the kid gets a jab in about her being a woman. "You don’t have those, you're a girl," the kid says after Timoney describes the assortment of guns she owns.

And when subtlety won't do, we get to witness blatant chauvinism at work from Timoney's colleagues. A fellow detective on the case decides to drown his grief in alcohol at a boxing match held in honor of their fallen friend. He spouts his disapproval of Timoney as a person and as a cop at the first wobbly opportunity, saying she’s kidding herself if she expects any of the other detectives to respect her.

Later that evening, Jane follows a tip that leads her and her team to the suspect. After a brief foot pursuit, we see something we rarely get to see in a pilot: the lead character gets her ass unceremoniously handed to her before a fellow detective catches up and subdues the suspect.

I actually think Timoney getting bested by the perp (she was chasing him alone, after all) showed us a vulnerable human side to an otherwise heavily guarded character. The weak moment is short-lived however, when she responds - without even having gotten up from the ground - by asking someone if they have a cigarette.

Remember how I said you learned everything you needed to know about Jane Timoney in the first three minutes? If you had any remaining questions, they’re answered in the last three.

When Jane and her divorced boyfriend Matt join his ex-wife and her husband for dinner, Matt excuses himself to go to the restroom, giving Jane a perfect opportunity alone with Matt's ex and her spouse.

She and Matt had been trying to accommodate the ex-wife's demanding list of requirements to make the home safe for Matt's son to spend the night. At dinner, Jane reveals that she was well aware of all of their previous transgressions against the law, and to lay down some law of her own:

"I work terrible hours. I often have to leave things early, and I arrive for things late. I get phone calls in the middle of the night, and all day long. Never been shot, but I have been stabbed. I had lye thrown in my face once. And I'm a homicide detective ... not a policeman, or policewoman."

Suddenly, having Owen over to the house for a sleepover wasn’t an issue.

Did you watch? What'd you think? A little heavy on the sexism? Or is "Prime Suspect" a refreshing variant on the ever-popular crime drama? Weigh in below in the comments.

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Filed under: Fall TV • television • TV recaps

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. jo

    Prime Suspect was one of my favorite shows to watch. Don't tell me that it was cancelled. I' ve been looking forward to watching it, even searching for it in the guide, but not finding it. Only the one with Helen Mirren on the PBS station. Why do they always cancell a lot of the shows I like? They cancelled "Life on Mars" and that was a good one. Bring back Maria Bello in "Prime Suspect". I loved her rawness, and saying things like they are.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jennifer Forest

    "Prime Suspect" is the BEST show on television and my best friend and I were sooooooo happy to get to watch two episodes back-to-back tonight 01/22/12. Maria Bello is the perfect actor for this role and fantastic! I also really appreciate the rest of the cast and they seem to be congealing very well to make a dynamic, mesmerizing show. Please, please, PLEASE keep this fabulous show on the air! It's a much-needed breath of fresh air in a huge stifling field of television mediocrity.

    January 23, 2012 at 4:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. eileen vandernoot

    This is a quality script with exceptional actors..I look for it every night but it's gone...where is it?? This is what television needs more of...and Maria is sensational (as is the cast) Please keep it on the air!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Judith Marulli

    I absolutely love this program! Maria Bello plays a real person who is a detective with real problems & feelings, as do the rest of the cast. Fantastic show & I can't waait to see it every week! My friends & I wait eargly to see what will happen. ....

    December 6, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jencleveland

    awesome. i hope they don't cancel the show. Great writing, not stupid or silly like other crime shows. Great to see a strong but flawed female lead, cheers to Bello.

    December 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tim

    Great show! Caught up with all episodes On-Demand. Writers appear to be going for realism here, no fluff. Great casting. They need to show more of the connection between Maria and Kenny's characters.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. suechef64

    I just love the show. The female lead is fascinating. I marvel at all the dialog she has to learn and say. She is so convincing as Jane Timoney. I've never seen her before in anything so she is the detective for me. Chauvinism is what it is. I'm sure it still exists in all male enclaves when a woman first enters as an equal. I am hooked and look forward to the show each week. Her struggles are real.

    October 15, 2011 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. sgman

    Good show, great actress. I didn't expect to like it, previews were corny, but I was wrong. Writers sometimes corn it up with cheesy dialog to make her seem tougher, but overall this is a really good cop show. I will keep watching it!

    October 13, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alfa Female

    OMG what is wrong with all of YOU???? Finally a female cop who does't look like she sat in make up & hair chair for hours; even looks a little gritty and you're all loosing intrests. that's why we have shows like CSI Miami, because people rather watch this bull (cuz it looks all colorful and glitzy and has CSI running in 6" heels) instead of a shows that looks as real as HILL STREET BLUES and Cagney and Lacy. I am not bored at all. Thank God I speak a different language too and can watch good european (british, french, etc. shows on satelite.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Glenn Allen

    Wow!! Double Wow!! She is some kind of actress. Emmey? More then one. When she spit blood. Wow!

    September 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alex

    I had not watched a current tv program in many years and now I know why. The characters are always perfect/cool even whether they're good, bad or evil. The rapist is a violent machine who perfectly executes his violence against the detective. Everybody is too pretty for the NYPD (no offense NYPD). The worst of it is that no one ever really stumbles if they're supposed to be cool. When Bello is beaten to a pulp she has every right to lie there and be miserable and incoherent; instead she keeps her cool. The hat and melodramatic entrances into the squad room (or whatever those rooms are called) have go to go. We get it. She is cool. She just doesn't have to be "that" cool.

    September 30, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tom Meyer

    I will watch every episode. I hate pablum. This is the best broadcast cop show since Homicide, Life On The Street.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. frank w

    I'll give the show a try for a few episodes. If it isn't completely ruined by the blatant, boring and predictable political correctness that permeates most TV cop shows, I would be a happy viewer.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. E

    Good show.

    September 29, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. mcblanc

    Sad To Say...
    Bad To Say...
    This Show IS–
    True To Life.

    It's on my Thursday nite calendar.

    September 29, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  16. gc58

    I like the show. The chractures are good. Maria Bellow teamed with Kenny Johnson is a good match. I know it will get better with time, if the writers don't mess it up, and continue to gain fans.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
  17. ear79

    We recorded the show so I didn't see it until last night. The premier episode did nothing for me and did not give me any reason to watch another episode. I was a fan of the British Prime Suspect which grabbed me right away and made not missing an episode a must. Perhaps I will give it one more chance but only one more.

    September 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Sharonrs53

    Liked it- hope it stays on. I enjoyed the original and this is a good re do of that one.

    September 24, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  19. rd350

    Excellent show. You understand her drive to be a good detective and how her singlemindedness makes her crass and insensitve. And you see clearly how this common male strength is interpreted by the guys she works with "aren't you afraid someone's gonna drop a house on you"? And that's from someone who kinda likes her! Bello can do it,and with the excellent supporting cast (Aiden Quinn, Peter Garrity and the guy from "the Shield") this show could get REAL good.

    September 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  20. mb

    i really liked it.. good story line and some great one liners... entertaining .. i will waatch it again.. other cop drama's are boring this has that something extra.. .. good job Maria!!! i'm a fan..

    September 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Elizabeth

    Amazingly awesome start. Love the way the writers moved away from the usual cookie cutter cop dramas.Sadly I dont think the show will last, it's too smart for American viewers, lots of dialogue, and takes thought and effort to watch. I am a fan of the British Prime Suspect, Jane's character was deep and complicated, this Jane less complicated, but still complicated. I will keep on watching as long as the writers do not relent and give us Business as Usual. Im a fan!

    September 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Lifelister

    I Like Maria Bello but "Prime" was ho hum , sleep inducing for me. And that silly hat they put on her! The mold was broken, IMO, after Holly Hunter's "Saving Grace". I think Kenny Johnson as Bello's divorced boyfriend in "Prime" is typecasting: he played that same role (achingly well) with Holly Hunter in "Grace". I wish some network would get down on their knees and beg Holly Hunter to come back.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Rosa

    Disappointed, Peter Berg go home.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Ally T

    I liked it. A little violent but then crime is isn't it. I just loved the tough female cop. The story was believable. The characters didn't over act... I hope it does stick around.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  25. sue

    Great show. Great csting. Maria Bello and Aidan Quinn are fantastic. This is a winner. Very different from CSi etc.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  26. LFG

    Great casting. When they all walked away from her at the bar – ouch! – even her boss, I actually felt sorry for her. I thought it was a good show – it reminded me of Hill Street Blues. You have to watch L & O for three years to learn anything about those characters.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  27. starrfire

    It didn't hold my attention long enough to remain awake...

    September 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  28. J

    The best part was when they showed her with a piece of poo hanging out of the side of her mouth.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  29. J

    I really liked it. I thought there was enough personal softness (with her Dad, her boyfriend, etc.,) to make her complete, tough but complete. I'll watch it again!

    September 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  30. beautykim

    it was a boring ... I literally watch most of TV series..this is a bad one to start.. there is same drama at TNT,,she even looks like her and their show ( forgot the name of show)..are actually more interesting than this one..

    September 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Bob

    Not a believer that the show will make it. The writers didn't do too good of a job with the premiere.

    September 23, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Alfa Female

      OMG what is wrong with all of YOU???? Finally a female cop who does't look like she sat in make up & hair chair for hours; even looks a little gritty and you're all loosing intrests. that's why we have shows like CSI Miami, because people rather watch this bull (cuz it looks all colorful and glitzy and has CSI running in 6" heels) instead of a showthat looks as real as HILL STREET BLUES and Cagney and Lacy. I am not bored at all. Thank God I speak a different language too and can watch good european (british, french, etc. shows on satelite.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |

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