New show: Madam Secretary
When: 8 p.m. Sundays on CBS
Cast: Téa Leoni, Tim Daly, Bebe Neuwirth, Željko Ivanek
Premise: Téa Leoni plays Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst-turned-college professor who is called into duty by her old CIA boss, now the president, after the serving Secretary of State is killed in a plane crash. Though happy with her stress-free life on a Virginia horse farm, McCord buys the president’s “together we can affect change” line and takes the job. Imagine her frustration when she finds that being Secretary of State means dealing with a lot of aggravating distractions (should she use a stylist?) and the self-serving machinations of colleagues (creepy, autocratic Chief of Staff? Check!). She learns to play the necessary games, but with her own touch. Before you dismiss this as just a feel-good ripoff of “House of Cards,” know that the show also inserts an underlying mystery involving possible conspiracies – including murders – involving CIA leaders and perhaps even someone in the White House. It’s a nice twist. Rounding out the very fine cast: Tim Daly plays McCord’s husband, a popular religious studies professor; Bebe Neuwirth plays McCords capable, stoic chief of staff; and Željko Ivanek plays the president’s furtive Chief of Staff (I never trust any character he plays!). The president, by the way, is played by Keith Carradine. Not. Too. Shabby.