September 23rd, 2011
10:27 AM ET
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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