Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 1 Review: News Cycle

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Well, Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 1 didn't waste any time jumping into thorny current events.

It's just that it didn't directly tackle a foreign diplomacy or terrorism-related current event, but something closer to home. A lot closer to home. And oh boy, did it get some of the characters riled up.

Fake News - Madam Secretary

The highlight of "News Cycle" had to be Nadine losing it on Russell after Elizabeth's interview. Honestly, if it hadn't been established last season that there was a Mrs. Jackson that Russell was very happy with, I would've thought he was turned on by her display.

I'm still not convinced he wasn't. 

Bebe Neuwirth is always excellent, but that scene was simply stupendous. Her cojones with Russell were amazing enough, but her ability to turn on a dime with the line apologizing to Elizabeth took it to an even higher level. 

Russell: You throwing patriotic temper tantrums on live TV isn't doing you any favors.
Nadine: Neither is sitting there mute after she's been ambushed by someone pretending to represent legitimate journalism. Instead of throwing your own tantrum and blaming the victim for this latest tool of terrorism, why don't you grow a spine and do something about it?!

Really, the supporting cast is what makes this show work for me.

Don't get me wrong, Tea Leoni and Tim Daly kill it on the home front. The kids are great with their one-liners, even if the more involved arcs with them could use some work. 

But it's the staff that makes the State Department scenes soar. The international incidents have become somewhat predictable, if not in the exact detail, then in overall form. The plot usually becomes overly complicated to cover up the routine-ness of things. 

Henry's meeting - Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 1

That brings me to the low point of "News Cycle": Henry's spy job. Now, I love me some Henry, but seriously, I am so, so, so sick and tired of the writers and producers trying to make Henry have storylines outside of the family. 

I don't know if it's the team at the show or CBS execs pushing the idea, but it needs to stop. Immediately. This attempt to rewind to the last time Henry's outside work was pertinent, and even a little interesting is likely going to be ruined by this "twist" of Dmitri having a drug problem.

Plus, I'd really like a break from Russia somewhere in my life. Minister Chen and the Chinese were the major players on Madam Secretary Season 3, couldn't they just continue with that?

Yes, the former Soviet Union is a major problem player in international  politics, but we could all use some escapism, and it's not like China is some dream state.

Elizabeth: What Senator Morejon is doing by legitimizing this baseless story is not just immoral and unethical. It undermines the stability of democratic government.
Host: That's an overstatement.
Elizabeth: Reliable information is the bedrock of any institution, be it science, government, or private enterprise. If citizens can't tell the difference between fact and fiction, then the project of civilization turns to dust.

I'm willing to concede the commentary on the latest and largest moronic and offensive statements actions of the real world president, mostly because the team does a good job with that. But do we have to bring Russia back into it?

I admit I had mixed feelings about the attempt to tackle "fake news." That's mostly because I hate how that term gets thrown around and has lost all meaning. It's been co-opted to mean any news story that certain individuals don't like; you, me, whoever.

But I can admit that Madam Secretary manages to mostly tackle the issue and get it right. I mean, they didn't exactly address the misuse of the term, but they did properly explain what a fake news story is

Here's what I know already -- In this brave new world of scattered partisan media where unscrupulous outlets are desperate for any juicy news story and political plot twist that they can find, I believe I can chip away at Dalton's approval ratings quickly and efficiently.

Senator Morejon

As much as I live and breathe politics, I'm not super stoked about the foreshadowed arc involving Senator Morejon. About the only thing I liked about that was hearing Morgan Freeman's pronunciation of the name come out sounding like "Senator Moron."

So now I'm in a quandary: Do I hope that a story I'm not thrilled about at least be done well or cross my fingers that poor writing makes things fizzle out? I think I'm screwed either way.

A quick aside to focus on something positive; mainly the appearance of Morgan Freeman. With the diversity problems at CBS recently, now would be a good time to ask for that Supreme Court spinoff again. Feel free to spitball your title suggestions in the comments! 

The Most Interesting Man in the World - Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 1

Unfortunately, Justice Wilbourne won't be making another appearance on Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 2 ("Off the Record"). Elizabeth and her team will be in Libya trying to end a civil war, no big deal. But Elizabeth's plot to win a Nobel will be derailed when her car strikes a little girl.

If this were any other show, I might be worried that Elizabeth was going to displace her almost empty nest worries onto the girl by trying to adopt her or something, but I'm pretty sure we'll be spared that fantastic melodrama. She will go to extreme measures finding treatment for the girl though. 

Back in the States, we will be seeing more of Dmitri (and his sister). I'm confident Henry isn't going to find out about what I assume is an opioid issue just yet. Maybe the paint fumes from redoing the kitchen are interfering with his super observant spy skills.

Angry Knock - Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 1

If you missed the broadcast, not to worry, you can watch Madam Secretary online with us here! And if you need to dig deeper, there are always our Madam Secretary reviews for the true Fanatic.

Storyline suggestions for the Supreme Court show are welcome below as are theories on what the big diplomatic issue of the first half will be. Oh, and who wants to lay money on Jareth and Stevie getting married? Let us know what you thought of "News Cycle" and where you think the season is heading in the comments section!

News Cycle Review

Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
  • 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (16 Votes)

Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.

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Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Ah, the familiar rustle of Capitalism at work.

Jason [seeing the shopping bags]

Elizabeth: I love Bed Bath & Beyond.
Allison: Yes, you do.
Elizabeth: Because they have everything, they have things you didn't even know you wanted. That's where the "Beyond" part kicks in.