The Fall Preview season of 2011-2012 of new network shows has begun and one show that has been marketed heavily is NBC’s ‘Prime Suspect’, starring Maria Bello (‘The Cooler’, ‘Coyote Ugly’,’ A History of Violence’) playing the lead role as Detective Jane Timoney. The program is an American version of the popular British police crime drama series ‘Prime Suspect’, played by the main character Dame Helen Mirren (‘The Queen’,’ The Madness of King George’, ‘The Debt’) as Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Jane Tennison. The mimic adaptation is produced by Peter Berg (NBC’s ‘Friday Night Lights’) and Alexandra Cunningham (‘Desperate Housewives’). The show premiered on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10pm on NBC.
The British Prime Suspect aired that same night on WETA (PBS) at 10:44pm. One of the best stories in the Prime Suspect series is Series Four’s ‘Scent of Darkness’. The plot involves a series of murders resembling those of serial killer George Marlow, investigated in the original Prime Suspect that encourages Tennison’s subordinates to reopen the case. Marlow is still in prison when the new crimes take place. Tennison is suspended during this process and continues the investigation on her own; in which she is sure Marlow is guilty and whether the crimes are committed by a possible copycat killer. Her boss brings her back on the case due to her knowledge but insists for her to change her behavior due to political motives. Part Two continues next week.
The new Prime Suspect involves Jane Timoney being transferred to a Manhattan homicide squad where she is the only female but considered a top notch detective. Timoney’s arrival to the precinct is anything but friendly; the male detectives display hostile and sexist behavior towards her. A new murder case comes in and although her name is on the crime board as assigned to the case, she is ignored and another detective takes the case. Timoney holds her ground, goes to her new boss and becomes part of the case. The head supervisor in charge of the male infiltrated group then dies of a heart attack, which puts Timoney in charge of the group. As the case rolls on, the suspect is caught by Timoney in a runner’s chase and when she finally grabs the suspect, he beats her in the face mercilessly and tries to choke her. Timoney’s life is at stake but the suspect is finally stopped and apprehended by her colleagues. Despite proving herself as competent, she still has a lot to prove to earn respect in her sexist-tinged environment.
The program has potential and in a sense it is unfair to compare a show that originally ran for fifteen years (April 7, 1991 to October 22, 2006) and won numerous awards to a redeveloped program of the same name that starts as a pilot. However there are many similarities between the two – both women have the same first name (Jane), both are no-nonsense women in their craft, both are in charge of a male-dominated environment and victims of sexism, both work in very large cities (New York, London) and despite their love relationships, both are married to their jobs. Much success to the new series, however the original is the real “prime” program to watch.
Original Prime Suspect fans can watch the series on WETA26 Thursdays from 10:44pm to 11:39pm and a rebroadcast of the new Prime Suspect seen on Saturdays at 9pm on Washington DC’s NBC4.