May 11, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15 Trailer Review: NBC’s “State of Affairs”


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STATE OF AFFAIRS:  Monday 10PM on NBC (starting November 17)

THE FACTS:  Katherine Heigl is the CIA agent in charge of putting together the President’s (Alfre Woodard) daily list of the nation’s Top 10 threats.  She’s also the quasi-widow of the President’s son, who was killed in an apparent terrorist attack overseas.  Except, guess what–it wasn’t a terrorist attack.  Written by Joe Carnahan, who was instrumental in the launch of The Blacklist.

WHAT’S IT SAYING:  Heigl is Olivia Pope, more or less–the person in charge of steely calm while government conspiracies rage around her.  Just like Olivia, she has a personal (if less intimate) tie to POTUS, and she’s the only one the President can really trust.  She’ll solve the crisis of the week, while trying to find out what really happened to her lost love.

WHAT’S IT REALLY SAYING:  The trailer works overtime to try and create excitement, with jump-cut editing and thundering music.  When it’s not suggesting Scandal, it’s hitting The Blacklist chords, as Heigl’s character is smuggled mysterious files and has strangers tell her cryptic information at bars.  The problem is that at first glance, Heigl doesn’t look like she could survive 30 seconds in the ring with Kerry Washington, and although Woodard is a superb actress, she can’t be the focus of this series the way James Spader allows Megan Boone to ride in his shadow on Blacklist.  All that obvious heavy lifting in the editing suggests State of Affairs may be less thrilling than it’s trying to pretend.  (For one thing, despite all the combat footage loaded into the 4 minute trailer, Heigl’s character is the person who watches the battles, not a participant.)

THE OUTLOOK:  State of Affairs will have plenty of viewers to start, thanks to its lead-in from The Voice.  But Heigl lost a lot of goodwill after her exit from Grey’s Anatomy, and keeping that audience will be a challenge–especially if CBS upgrades its woeful performance in the hour from last season.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."