Every TV season, networks bring out a new crop of shows, in hopes that they'll be the next big hit. Pilot Talk is devoted to figuring out whether these shows are worth your time based on the first episode.
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State of Affairs desperately wants to be Homeland. It opens on Katherine Heigl's CIA analyst character Charleston Tucker (yes, you read that correctly) at a session with her therapist, intercut with scenes of her in Afghanistan, witnessing her fiancee dying in a chaotic firefight. Spy with mental scars as a result of war? Check. Later in the episode, she receives intel that convinces her that her fiancee may actually be alive after all these years. Nick Brody stand-in? Check. The pilot even slips in a mournful jazz song near the end. Even when it's not trying to, it shares DNA with Homeland, seeing as the hostage trade scenario that dominates the first episode is exactly the same as a plotline in this most recent episode of Homeland. The problem is that it takes that series and puts it through a network strainer, leaving behind a dry noodle of a show and none of the juice that would make it interesting.
Not even direction from Joe Carnahan (and a script co-written by him) can liven things up. There's a nicely edited sequence near the middle of the episode that zips and pops, but otherwise the show is a hollow machine, making lots of motions but not producing much. This pilot is just so busy. Nothing exciting happens, despite the overbearing score and caffeinated editing insisting upon the contrary. State of Affairs doesn't commit any outrageous sins, but it also doesn't do anything worthwhile either. It's the very definition of a C show.