The story of how I watched the pilot of Prime Suspect (US)

Once upon a time several months ago, I watched the pilot of “Breaking In” and took notes as I went along.  It was fun to do and people seemed to like it, so I am going to do this again for several Fall 2011 series premieres.  I will allow myself to look things up, but for the sake of purity of first impressions, I will not go back and watch it again before writing this.

Please note that it is spoilery in nature, as it is my recap of the entire show.

In the interest of full disclosure, screenshots were apprehended after this entire piece was written.

The only thing I know about this show going into this is that it is based on the UK Helen Mirren show of the same name, which I never watched.

Famous-looking blond actress (Maria Bello) is running through a park in the late fall or early spring, coughing a lot.  Maybe she recently quit smoking.  She seems miserable.  She just hocked up a lugie.
She calls her man friend, and the second he answers the phone with his accent we know she was just in Central Park. He confirms my suspicions that it is not, in fact, that she is out of shape that she is so miserable, but that she just quit smoking.

She is still on her cell phone with the dude when she hails a cab.  The window in the cab is down and it is blasting music.  She tells the cab driver (apparently from some Eastern bloc nation) to turn down the music and that it is broken.  She presses some screen on the back of the front seat that has a touch screen with weather on it.  How futuristic!  The cab driver is a cell phone too, and is being kind of a dick.  He lights up a cigarette and she loses her shit and throws up a gun against the plexiglass.  He flips out and stops the cab, which thankfully has no other cars around it so no accident ensues.  With her other hand she slaps a badge against the glass.  The cab driver flicks the cigarette out the window, and is understandably upset with the psycho hose beast in the back seat.

Pay attention, cab driver!

In the first two minutes of this show we have established that the protagonist is a lady cop who just quit smoking, is rude, and kind of a bitch.  Delightful.

Next scene a detective rolls up to a fancy townhouse, is given gloves and has a voice so scratchy he makes Tom Waits sound like Barry Manilow.  He heads up to the penthouse suite and there’s a dead lady on the floor with blood Jackson Pollocked all over white furniture.  Always white furniture.  Do rich people actually have white furniture or just on TV so it looks good under the blood?  Man, it is on the ceiling and everything.  Where’s Dexter Morgan when you need him?

It is determined that children were in the closet for the duration of the grisly murder, and … one of the  three detectives declares he needs to take a dump.  Oh my heck, that is damned classy.

Next scene, everyone’s back at the station.  Nonsmoking lady cop is at her desk, which seems to be in the middle of a fort made of file boxes. The detectives from the crime scene, who all seem to have eaten sandpaper-coated gravel flakes for breakfast, are discussing the male neighbor who found the body, and was friends with the husband who is a surgeon who is apparently very hard to get a hold of.

Lady cop overhears and, as her character has so far predicted, is super pissed off.  She bitches at them because her name was supposed to be next in line and so she should have a case and not them right now, since it is her turn on the board.  It sounds like this is not the first time such shenanigans have transpired.  Also, the names on the board are the first time that anyone’s name has been mentioned on this show at all.  The detective who took the dump at the crime scene house then calls her Jane, and explains the chain of command when a homicide is called in, and essentially blames it on the Sergeant calling the homicide detective of his choosing, who was not her.

As soon as she was assigned to the case, the boxes disappeared.


Aidan Quinn comes in, looking like he had a rough night, and Det. Jane wants to talk to him.   The most graveled of the trio of man detectives is named Jay, and he calls his daughter Rosie for her 4th birthday phone call.  In Aidan Quinn’s office, Jane is pissed, and the victim of being the girl in a fort made of file boxes, while all the boys are playing in a fort made out of Awesome Homicide Investigations!  No girls allowed!   Now she is being sent off on a field trip to Brooklyn to pick up the personal affects of some dude they’ve got cuffed up in an interrogation room.

She deputizes some guy at a shelter maybe?  Fly over of the city and we hear news report that the murder from the beginning of the show also included a rape, and the neighborman is being questioned.  Serial rapist/stabber (one-man Group W bench?) in the 20 block radius of the murder, and Det. Jane surmises they may be related.  However, the other guys think she is a stupid girl so why would that make sense?

Back from the commercial break, and we get a glimpse of Jane’s home life.  Looks like her man has a son named Owen from a previous marriage, but Owen can’t spend the night at her house because of the horrible harpy ex-wife doesn’t want cell phones or guns or TVs that are not wall-mounted (what?!) near the kid.

Back at the station, two of the knuckle-headed detectives are in Aidan Quinn’s office, and they’re all sitting around drinking whiskey out of jelly jars.  Aidan Quinn reprimands them for stealing Jane’s case because she was a pain in his ass, and explains she got the job in this department by being a good cop, not by doing it with her boss, or whoever the other detectives are winking and nudging about.  Jay goes off on this tirade about how lady detectives only want to screw over good cops and how Jane is just another one of them and then goes into convulsions like he is being voodoo dolled in the heart.

This is what Mad Men doesn't show you about drinking whiskey at work.


Come back to the office, and Jay Keating had died from his heart attack while being prepped for surgery.  Looks like he should have been nicer to Jane.  So, now that he’s out of the way, Jane goes into Aidan Quinn’s office to get Jay’s job.  Aidan Quinn looks like crap because he’s been at the hospital all night with his dying friend, and so really, Jane’s timing could have been a little better.  You know, now that I think of it, the scene with Jay singing to his little daughter over the phone for her birthday was totally a first scene handkerchief.  I feel kind of dumb for not realizing he wasn’t going to make it through the episode.  So obvious!

Jane brings all her extra guns to her dad’s house, which is incredibly beautiful, by the way.  Real wood paneling with built-ins, incredible detail … I want to live in that house.  While she’s there we learn that her dad is Irish, everyone loves a pint or four, Jane quit smoking because her dad might have cancer, and she got the job leading the townhouse murder investigation.

I am now half way through this show, and I really just don’t even care that she got the job because she is boring and unlikable, and it is predictable.  I can tell you right now what happens in the second half, then I’ll watch it and we’ll review my score card.  Ok, here we go:  her instincts were correct and the serial rapist/stabber is the same person who did the townhouse murder.  Was it the neighbor-man?  Maybe.  Either he was doing the other rapes because he had the hots for his neighbor and then it escalated because he is a wack-job, or he didn’t do any of it at all.  Maybe it was the dad.  Jane solves the crime with hard work, dedication, and being a bitch, and earns the respect of the other detectives.  Owen gets to stay at her house since she properly mounted all the TVs to the wall, and everyone is happy even though the kid may be more than she bargained for as she is not a mom type.  Her father doesn’t die today, but he might later this season.

Here’s how I fared:

  • Serial rapist/stabber did the murder: Yes.
  • Was it the neighbor or the dad?: No.  It was a guy that she deputized dude from the beginning of the show.
  • She solved the crime with hard work, dedication, and being a bitch:  yes, yes, and yes!
  • Earned the respect of the other detectives: Eh… definitely not one of them (Det. Duffy who was Jay’s partner I think), but yes on some of the others.
  • Owen gets to stay at the house:  He’s coming over Thursday, thanks to Jane being a bitch!
  • Her father doesn’t die: No, he does not.
The bullies don't like your pretty pretty hair, Jane.

Based on the pilot, this show is about gender politics, with a side of crime solving.  It’s a bit weary of a topic, but Maria Bello is a strong actress and pretty to look at, so this show may actually do pretty well, with the additional star power of Lt. Aidan Quinn and the continuing conflict between Jane and Duffy.  I might watch it again, but there are a bunch of other shows out there where I can get my crime procedural fix without being made uncomfortable by all the stereotypes about women, both in general and about strong women in particular.


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I want to knit a blanket of the undersea level of Super Mario Bros.