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Tara Ariano

S01.E04: Just Another Normal Day

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Elizabeth is working to successfully broker a peace treaty between China and Japan when a Chinese student seeking political asylum threatens the deal. At home, tensions break out between Alison and Stevie during Alison's sleepover party.

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Right in the opening scene we once again have The Secretary of State reporting to The Chief Of Staff as if he was her boss. (and then again, even moreso a few scenes later)

 

Oh well.

Edited by Kromm

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I am quite enjoying this.  It isn't very deep, so I can watch while preparing or eating a meal and not miss anything vital.  If it isn't the least bit realistic, I'm not terribly surprised and I don't give a toss.  If I was interested in seeing a realistic portrayal of the machine of government working, I wouldn't go looking at some light weight, political drama on CBS.   And I very much doubt that I'll ever run into the Secretary of State sitting on a bench, in the dark, outside the Lincoln Memorial.

 

But I happen to like Téa Leoni and the cast, with some exceptions (and especially excepting Evan Roe who I'm hoping will soon be smothered by a cat as he lays asleep in his bed) and I've got room in my viewing schedule for a lightweight show I can watch that doesn't actually involve zombies.  (Got two of them already, but one is on shaky ground.)

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I like the show, unrealistic as it is.... such as the Secretary of State sitting in the back of the room, giggling, at a funeral, then making plans for drinks later.

 

In what world would a Secretary of State female wear a black bra under a white shell, and then a thin white sweater at home?  I could see her college daughter doing that, but her, really?  It distracted from the serious conspiracy conversation they were having about her deceased friend.

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This is the level of unreality I can cope with.   All I want is to watch Tea Leoni, the good relationship they've created with Tea and Tim Daly, more forceful Bebe Newirth, and nice scenery.  Apparently we're going to have to worry about SoS's male aide (the one picking up her clothes) and daughter due to the Unmotivated CloseUp (TM Roger Ebert).  That's fine.  Just keep being pretty without bringing Mr. SoS into the international fray like last week.

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American TV shows have an unfortunate tendency to paint the Chinese government as ridiculously thin-skinned. China is not going to get into a shooting war with Japan over the mineral rights to some islands. And if they really would risk a hot war with a first world country over such a small thing, they wouldn't torpedo a deal to avert that war just because some girl was refusing to return back to the country.

All of that being said, they handled the story about as well as they could.

The staffer who was questioning SOS's ethics over using the girl as a bargaining chip was way out of line. It was the Chinese who were turning her into a pawn, not the US Secretary of State. In any case, questioning your boss's ethics in front of the other staff and implying that the previous boss was more ethical is way unprofessional. Raising the issue once or twice is one thing, but when she kept bringing it up, I wanted Madam Secretary to fire her ass.

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A story of the former SoS about to announce candidacy before his death.  Now the POTUS is a potential suspect.  But this is probably just misdirection.  If this series is going to be yanked mid season, the show can pin the death of the SoS on Nadine (Bebe Neuwirth's character).  This episode just revealed a possible motive: she was having an affair with him and was obviously deeply love with him.  His wife didn't even notice the affair. And he probably didn't want to leave his wife.  Nadine felt scorned and so she arranged for the plane accident.   Sounds like a role Bebe Neuwirth would savor.

Edited by Beach Party

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China is not going to get into a shooting war with Japan over the mineral rights to some islands.

 

Smacks of the Kuril Islands dispute, with China standing in for the Russians.   Because we all love the Russians, now!  As for avoiding a shooting war... I'm not so sure.

 

The staffer who was questioning SOS's ethics over using the girl as a bargaining chip was way out of line.

 

Agreed.  She should have had her ass handed to her, good.

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The Secretary of State reporting to The Chief Of Staff

 

There does seem to dearth of Presidential activity around these seemingly critical world events. 

Now the POTUS is a potential suspect.

 

This ain't Scandal.  Not yet, anyway.  In this universe things always get wrapped up in 47 minutes.

 

I had to laugh at the smackdown Miss Noble College Dropout got.  You want to find yourself?  Your sister has the directions.  Now, the both of you sit down and start learning to live together.

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The dispute between Japan and China could be loosely based on the Senkaku Islands.

 

The islands are disputed in the between China and Japan and between Japan and Taiwan.[18] Despite the diplomatic stalemate between the China and Taiwan, both governments agree that the islands are part of Taiwan as part of Toucheng Township in Yilan County. Japan regards the islands as a part of the city of Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture, and acknowledges neither the claims of China nor Taiwan but has not allowed the Ishigaki administration to develop the islands.

Wikipedia

 

And yes, it's about mineral rights.

 

hmm I lost my edit

edited to add -  Tea Leoni is the only reason I'm watching this show.  I don't think it will ever rise to "The Good Wife" type writing or directing and that's fine with me as long as I can see Tea Leoni.  I can be more than a bit shallow and fickle when it comes to why I like or dislike certain shows. 

Edited by AlwaysWatching

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I'm enjoying it, too, solely because of Tea Leoni and Tim Daly. I'm even managing to overlook "their" annoying children. I guess charm is not an inherited trait?

Me too. Though the two younger children do not bother me during their minimal screen time. It is the oldest daughter that irritates me. If she could find her calling somewhere far away I would be perfectly fine with this fluffy show.

 

 

This ain't Scandal.  Not yet, anyway.  In this universe things always get wrapped up in 47 minutes.

Don't give them any ideas. I do not want to see Tea Leoni and the POTUS reminiscing about jam.

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I'm confused, the SoS is mourning her friend who died suspiciously but he's different from the previous SoS, who also recently died and that might be suspicious too? Are they two different people or the same guy? Are both death suspicious?

I like the dynamic between Elizabeth and Henry. I like that he's not jealous of her position but really understanding and supportive. He's even a great dad. It was funny when Elizabeth came home at the end of the show and her oldest daughter was leaving all grumpy and Henry was just , sisters were fighting, it happens. I just like his easy going attitude.

Then when she started crying and sat on his lap, I just thought, poor guy, sleep overs with teenage girls, fighting daughters and now his wife needs comfort, he's never going to get that St. Thomas Aquinas joke done.

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I'm confused, the SoS is mourning her friend who died suspiciously but he's different from the previous SoS, who also recently died and that might be suspicious too? Are they two different people or the same guy? Are both death suspicious?

I like the dynamic between Elizabeth and Henry. I like that he's not jealous of her position but really understanding and supportive. He's even a great dad. It was funny when Elizabeth came home at the end of the show and her oldest daughter was leaving all grumpy and Henry was just , sisters were fighting, it happens. I just like his easy going attitude.

Then when she started crying and sat on his lap, I just thought, poor guy, sleep overs with teenage girls, fighting daughters and now his wife needs comfort, he's never going to get that St. Thomas Aquinas joke done.

 

Both deaths are suspicious.

 

The SoS died in a plane crash in the pilot.

 

The friend died in the... first or second episode - he was a former CIA operative made into an analyst.

Edited by bros402
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I'm confused, the SoS is mourning her friend who died suspiciously but he's different from the previous SoS, who also recently died and that might be suspicious too? Are they two different people or the same guy? Are both death suspicious?

 

Correct, correct, correct, two different people, correct.

 

The previous Secretary of State died in a plane crash.  Tia was asked to take on the job.  Her friend (George?) from the CIA privately tells her that the plane crash may be suspicious.  By the next day, he is also dead in an inexplicable car crash. 

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Thanks so much for clearing that up for me. That mystery aspect makes the show even more interesting to me, particularly if the President himself might be involved. I just hope it's not Zelijko Ivanek's character who caused the whole thing, the actor always seems to be the bad guy in everything I watch!

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In the airport scene, did anyone else wonder if the snow globe was a bomb?  I wondered about carrying so much liquid through security so I looked it up.  TSA allows a small snow globe, about the size of a tennis ball, but that one was considerably larger.  At least they are consistent about being unrealistic.

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In the airport scene, did anyone else wonder if the snow globe was a bomb?

 

Yup, that's the first thing I thought of too.

 

This one was better than last week's, but still - the idea of Elizabeth having to avert a war between China and Japan is somewhat ludicrous. They need to dial back the scale of these weekly crises. If not for Elizabeth, we would have World War III on our hands!!!! I think a crucial treaty for mineral rights is sufficient to service the plot without adding some impending nuclear catastrophe. 

 

I also think a big problem with this show is that, perhaps by necessity, they go out of their way to avoid issues the current SoS would actually be dealing with: namely, the middle east. So far it's been Russia, China, Japan and Pakistan. I know that last one is technically part of the middle east, but John Kerry right now is spending all his time trying to secure support for the fight against Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Russia, China and Japan really aren't top priorities right now.

 

I realize it would be repetitive and and perhaps depressing if every week Elizabeth was chasing after the latest ISIL crisis but the sheer lack of middle eastern terrorism, or the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, divorces this show from reality in a way that's almost jarring.

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Yup, that's the first thing I thought of too.

 

This one was better than last week's, but still - the idea of Elizabeth having to avert a war between China and Japan is somewhat ludicrous. They need to dial back the scale of these weekly crises. If not for Elizabeth, we would have World War III on our hands!!!! I think a crucial treaty for mineral rights is sufficient to service the plot without adding some impending nuclear catastrophe. 

 

I also think a big problem with this show is that, perhaps by necessity, they go out of their way to avoid issues the current SoS would actually be dealing with: namely, the middle east. So far it's been Russia, China, Japan and Pakistan. I know that last one is technically part of the middle east, but John Kerry right now is spending all his time trying to secure support for the fight against Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Russia, China and Japan really aren't top priorities right now.

 

I realize it would be repetitive and and perhaps depressing if every week Elizabeth was chasing after the latest ISIL crisis but the sheer lack of middle eastern terrorism, or the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, divorces this show from reality in a way that's almost jarring.

 

China and Japan get in the news on occasion when tensions over the Senkaku Islands flare up.

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I enjoy this show for the weekly crisis, as averted by Super Secretary of State. I don't know much about how the American political system works, so crazy unrealistic stuff doesn't bother me.

Tea Leoni is great with Tim Daly, who is doing a bang up job here. Nice to see all the Wings alum getting steady work (except for the cute little gal - whatever happened to her?). Tea Leoni and Julie Bowen could play sisters.

What is with Bebe's awful '80s perm? I remember having that curly do with the bangs, didn't know it was back. So unflattering.

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Dear Madam Secretary: Please advise your staff (and yourself) that the "INS" was abolished in 2003. One would expect that after more than a decade, other parts of the Executive Branch would be aware of this fact.

 

Thank you.

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Dear Madam Secretary: Please advise your staff (and yourself) that the "INS" was abolished in 2003. One would expect that after more than a decade, other parts of the Executive Branch would be aware of this fact.

 

Thank you.

Well this is from the same writing staff which thinks that the Secretary of State works for the White House Chief of Staff. Them not knowing there's no such thing as the INS for more than a decade?  Par for the course.

 

I know a lot of people have said this is an okay show to shut your brain off for and enjoy, but would a little basic fact checking about political power structures and what departments actually even still exist hurt the writing staff?  Come on.

Edited by Kromm
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...In what world would a Secretary of State female wear a black bra under a white shell, and then a thin white sweater at home?  I could see her college daughter doing that, but her, really?  It distracted from the serious conspiracy conversation they were having about her deceased friend.

I was wondering about that too. Is it a new look? Or was it supposed to indicate she was too frazzled to select the right undergarments?

...What is with Bebe's awful '80s perm? I remember having that curly do with the bangs, didn't know it was back. So unflattering.

On behalf of my 3 curly haired daughters, I have to say: Do you think she would do that to her hair on purpose??? No. It's not a perm. It's her hair. But the product/styling is all wrong, so yes: What is up with it?

Dear Madam Secretary: Please advise your staff (and yourself) that the "INS" was abolished in 2003....

We've heard mention of ICE on TV before, right? I mean, it's not against the law or unPC or going to cause sponsors to flee if they name the real alphabet agency, is it?

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would a little basic fact checking about political power structures and what departments actually even still exist hurt the writing staff?

 

I wouldn't object to a more accurate portrayal, but I'm not going to abandon the show due to trivial (WRT the plot) inaccuracies.  When a cop show scans the fingerprint database in 4 seconds with actual images flicking past on a monitor, I don't give up on the show, otherwise I wouldn't have any cop shows to watch!

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This has turned out to be a decent show to watch. Not really enamored with the POTUS character or the head of the CIA but the rest of the cast I like. I do like the Tia and Tim characters. As for the kids they seem normal by todays "me" generation, whiney and precocious.

 

I like the Chief of Staff character as he is the slimy person one would expect in this position. As for the SOS reporting to him I don't see that but just someone who has POTUS ear and really likes to screw with the SOS.

Edited by CaptainCranky
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This episode was my favorite thus far, other than the irritating children. But when is the Sec of State going to leave the country? Or are they saving a "Secretary of State kidnapped/shot at in foreign land" for November sweeps?

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Nice touch that when the SOS was working late on the China/Japan crisis, she was eating Chinese takeout.  Hard to tell with the writers on this show whether that was intentional.

 

Agreed with other posters that the SOS spends a ridiculous amount of time in her office.  Kerry and Clinton and others before them seemed to spend most of their time in the air traveling from one country to another.  They could write some great story lines about foreign trips, accompanied with some of her staff and in communication with the office, the President and her family back home.

 

Want to see more of the President and interaction with other cabinet members, not the president's chief of staff.

 

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...Agreed with other posters that the SOS spends a ridiculous amount of time in her office.  Kerry and Clinton and others before them seemed to spend most of their time in the air traveling from one country to another.  They could write some great story lines about foreign trips, accompanied with some of her staff and in communication with the office, the President and her family back home....

I don't recall: Have we seen a set for the interior of a plane she would be using? Have we seen her using FaceTime or Skype with her kids?

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I like the Chief of Staff character as he is the slimy person one would expect in this position. As for the SOS reporting to him I don't see that but just someone who has POTUS ear and really likes to screw with the SOS.

I dunno.  We get "make it happen" type statements from the CoS to Elizabeth.  "Contact the xxxxxxx Ambassador and see what you can do".  "We can't do that--investigate other options".  Maybe not literally those words (I haven't been writing them down) but close to those.  Those sound like orders from a superior to someone who reports to them.

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The older daughter just bothers me.  Way to pick an argument with one of your little sister's friends at her slumber party.  Oh, and college?  Why not enroll online if she doesn't want to be around other students but still pursue her education?  Her pity parties are getting to be a bit much.

 

I, too, enjoy Tea Leoni and Tim Daly.  

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The older daughter just bothers me. Way to pick an argument with one of your little sister's friends at her slumber party. Oh, and college? Why not enroll online if she doesn't want to be around other students but still pursue her education? Her pity parties are getting to be a bit much.

I, too, enjoy Tea Leoni and Tim Daly.

They better be going somewhere with the oldest kid and pronto. If she's just hanging around to be the world's most entitled brat, I'm over it. Please, please ship her off to college somewhere outside of DC. She might like Brown or Oberlin maybe?

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From czaristic behaving Russian high politician and official now to Chinese control mania. Well, I hope with show finding some footing it might get a bit away from such cliche, although it was not a stretch with the islands in dispute (thanks AlwaysWatching for the info) Access to resources, mineral rights, oil, drinking water, to central trade lines are issues in a lot of conflicts, see as well Congo, Middle East (the fights in Iraque are not just about religious and cultural domination, never have been just about that, and control of water might be more important than access to oil, Kurdistan is the water reservoir of the region, feeding Euphrat and Tigris).

 

But thankfully they didn't make it an easy thing, and McCord didn't want to grant political asylum, saving this plot while giving it a personal touch. As I liked that they brushed a quite rigid population policy as questioning eventually individual human rights, and not made it just about political activism.

 

While last week  husband was encountering some powerful politician trying to use his power to get something of personal interests, this week eldest daughter encounters the politician trying to use a personal connection to push her own political agenda. I mean, wow, not only did Senator Fletcher try to misuse the situation of the Chinese teenager for herself ("poor little girl" - no, she didn't really care), but she also went to try to get her point of view through to Madam Secretary via her daughter. By all means (do sense some negative pattern here concerning view of established politics and politicians).

 

But had to laugh when the Senator called Nadine a gatekeeper (what Jackson is for the President), which Nadine quite sure was for March, and should be now for McCord, but I think, though Nadine still does her job, high work ethics, she might have her doubts if she should stay. Find it interesting if these two strong women, Nadine Tolliver and McCord, find a way to work with each other (I would love that, but for creating drama it might be not the way to go). Though there is Blake, as McCord's confidant, and there could be bit of potential for conflict between him and Nadine.

 

 

A story of the former SoS about to announce candidacy before his death.  Now the POTUS is a potential suspect.  But this is probably just misdirection.  If this series is going to be yanked mid season, the show can pin the death of the SoS on Nadine (Bebe Neuwirth's character).  This episode just revealed a possible motive: she was having an affair with him and was obviously deeply love with him.  His wife didn't even notice the affair. And he probably didn't want to leave his wife.  Nadine felt scorned and so she arranged for the plane accident.   Sounds like a role Bebe Neuwirth would savor.

 

Too much soap opera for my taste. Still think it would be great if the plane crash was just an accident. But because it was the Secretary of State in it, on a mission unknown, probably shady or looking shady, and because there were people seeing him as threat for their own political agenda, standing and power, there is talk, speculation, people hidding things, missunderstandings, wrong assumptions, things getting dirty because too many people expect something dirty going on. I have experienced that kind of paranoia and whispering in politics, ugly, drama, tragic, you can get it all with just that. Politicians and people in political administration can be drama kings and queens. But knowing TV my story idea is the least likely to happen.

 

The staffer who was questioning SOS's ethics over using the girl as a bargaining chip was way out of line. It was the Chinese who were turning her into a pawn, not the US Secretary of State. In any case, questioning your boss's ethics in front of the other staff and implying that the previous boss was more ethical is way unprofessional. Raising the issue once or twice is one thing, but when she kept bringing it up, I wanted Madam Secretary to fire her ass.

 

Agree, that was no good form. Daisy as someone with experience in public images should know specifically better, but guess learning curve with the new boss. But she would deserve at least a yellow card for this, not for being passionate but discussing it out in the open. Maybe though McCord is still not all settled with her new position, so giving more leeway than she maybe should. As probably these people used to a certain view on politics are not sure what to make of McCord.

 

In the airport scene, did anyone else wonder if the snow globe was a bomb?  I wondered about carrying so much liquid through security so I looked it up.  TSA allows a small snow globe, about the size of a tennis ball, but that one was considerably larger.  At least they are consistent about being unrealistic.

 

 

Making it larger  than airline allows was maybe just for the better visual memorability. Unrealistic but for good filming reason, visual story telling.

 

 

Well this is from the same writing staff which thinks that the Secretary of State works for the White House Chief of Staff. Them not knowing there's no such thing as the INS for more than a decade?  Par for the course.

 

I know a lot of people have said this is an okay show to shut your brain off for and enjoy, but would a little basic fact checking about political power structures and what departments actually even still exist hurt the writing staff?  Come on.

 

While I have a different take on the portrayal of CoS on the show, adding some fictional freedom, agree, the INS thing can be seen more as basic fact checking. Nothing to make a plot right or wrong, but something giving the feeling of them doing some research of the actual enviroment they are writing about. Sometimes such details can make a difference.

 

The older daughter just bothers me.  Way to pick an argument with one of your little sister's friends at her slumber party.  Oh, and college?  Why not enroll online if she doesn't want to be around other students but still pursue her education?  Her pity parties are getting to be a bit much.

 

Stevie and Alison are like four, five years apart? A family where disussing politics seem to be normal family time? Sisterly rivalry showing up while family has to adjust to quite a new situation? Think that was dead on.

 

I find Stevie as character for the moment okay. She is the eldest, she feels some responsibility for making it work for their mother being in such a power position while having family, no surprise there. At the same time I guess she had some different ideas for her life when this change hit them, that she was writing a novel tells me that maybe not even her study at college was quite what she was into, already questioning things.

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I just caught a re-run and that scene between Alison and Stevie when Alison has the sleepover and that Henry isn't stepping in is still making me mad. Alison is such a brat in that moment, and Henry should definitely have pointed out that she was way out of line in talking down her sister because she had dropped out of college. A college degree has nothing to do with smartness or with what kind of person you are. Some of the smartest people in the world didn't even finish high school.

I also would have liked for someone to point out that it doesn't matter the least where Senator Flatcher went to college. Stevie hinted at it but then Alison's friend went on about what college the Senator went to and no one said a word. The Senator could have attended all of the elite colleges in the US and her politics could still suck. One has nothing to do with the other and I wish someone would have said so.

 

Otherwise, this episode contains so much fun scenes: the beginning with Russell cracks me up every time and the mess Blake walks in when he wants to pick up some clothes for Bess is hilarious. I also like how they're taking this important step for Bess and Nadine in that episode, and, of course, I'm loving all of those Henry-the-"house-husband" and man-beside-the-woman scenes in those early episodes. It's just so perfect.

And if Daisy never questioned Marsh's ethics, she definitely needs to question her people's skills ;-)

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