One of NBC’s most anticipated fall shows heads into the dangerous waters of remakes, but this one has a lot going for it thanks to a top-notch leading lady.
Maria Bello stars as tough NYC detective Jane Timoney in NBC’s update of “Prime Suspect,” which premieres tonight at 10/9c on NBC.
While the show is inspired by the 1990s British series that starred Helen Mirren as brilliant detective Jane Tennison, executive producer and writer Alexandra Cunningham says her version will make its own mark, and as such, she finds her own inspiration for the vibe of the series in some other TV classics.
“I’m a big fan of ‘Hill Street Blues’ and ‘Barney Miller’ and shows like that, and I don’t know that there’s anything necessarily like that on TV anymore, so we want to bring it a little bit back to that,” she says.
Still, this won’t a completely unknown “Suspect.”
“There’s so much great stuff in there that we obviously want to use as touchstones and we want to use it because we can … to make our own show great, but we also want fans of the original to be able to tune in to ours and enjoy it on its own level,” Cunningham says.
This adaptation will, of course, feature a tough-as-nails Jane – and a great deal of physicality for Bello – but also a few more laughs than the original, darker series.
“I think that our character has all the qualities that made Jane Tennison so watchable, but also, we’re trying to incorporate maybe a little more humor than the British version,” Cunningham explains.
And what does the first Jane think of the do-over? Mirren reportedly gave her blessing earlier this year, when she was overheard at an Oscars party saying that Bello was “the best possible choice for the role.”
Bello says that, while she is familiar with Mirren’s version of the role, she has not studied it, per se.
“I had seen it some years ago and remembered it a bit (as) being really dark,” Bello says. “But when I read the script it was such a different show…because of the humor and because of it being modernized and set in New York City, so I haven’t gone back to watch it.”
Oddly, one of the few criticisms from TV reporters about the pilot episode didn’t concern the police force sexism, the violence or the fact that it’s yet another “remake” — it was about a wardrobe choice made by Bello. If you’ve seen the many NBC promos for “Prime Suspect,” you’ve seen that hat.
Some have found the dark fedora rather distracting or unattractive, but Bello is “obsessed” with the hat.
“I feel like it’s my magic hat,” she told reporters when it was brought up during the press conference. “When I put it on, I was this character. It felt right to me. It felt like this is who Jane is.”
Hats off to the leading lady for sticking to her guns.
The new “Prime Suspect,” which also stars Aidan Quinn, airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC, beginning Sept. 22.