Thursday, February 6, 2020

REVIEW: 'Tommy' - Tommy Delves Into a Political World While Still Serving as a Cop in 'In Dreams Begin Responsibilities'

CBS' Tommy - Episode 1.01 "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities"

Emmy Award-winner Edie Falco stars as a former high-ranking NYPD officer who becomes the first female chief of police for Los Angeles.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of CBS' Tommy.

"In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" was written by Paul Attanasio and directed by Kate Dennis

Tommy views herself as a cop. She states that on several occasions in this premiere. However, she's in an inherently political position now. It's something she says she is accustomed to because she has been a visible face of the feminism movement for the past decade. She says she lost so much in her career because she came forward with a sexual assault accusation against a superior. The man who attacked her was protected and she was the one who suffered even more consequences. But now, she is the chief of police in Los Angeles. That is a huge accomplishment. One that should be full of respect. However, no one especially treats her with the sense that this job now belongs to her. They still have a reverence for her predecessor even though he was wrapped up in a major corruption scandal that included officers running a prostitution ring that included young girls. It's absolutely horrifying. And yet, there is still the perception that men think the old chief of police could come back to the role because he had no inherent knowledge of the corruption happening in his department. That isn't a good look though. People in positions of power should be trusted to know what's happening and respond accordingly and responsibly no matter what. Tommy's sheer presence makes a statement now. She doesn't want to be a political symbol. However, her driving down to an escalating situation where a LAPD officer is refusing to let ICE take a young mother comes with the perception that she supports that decision. She speaks for the entire government of the city now. That means she has to have a personal relationship with the mayor. He can't have been forced to hire her either. That was what was required of him though. He bemoans the fact that a judge had to specify that the new chief of police had to be a women. He thought that was an incredibly limiting pool of candidates. It doesn't matter that it would come with the positive buzz of being the first female chief of police in the city's history. That too is an incredible statement. There is still a glass ceiling. There is still rampant discrimination throughout the world. Tommy has fought against that her entire career. She no longer wants the women who work in her department to feel like they have to play the game to appease the men of the world. That too is an important conversation to occur. But it may just be an abstract observation of the pressure that is put on women in society. It's a fascinating and important dynamic. It doesn't quite feel like a cohesive television show though. For a show titled Tommy, it's important that the titular character stand out. In Edie Falco's more than capable hands, she does. She pops on the screen and offers a ton of fun to the proceedings. But she's also a character who still finds herself exploring new opportunities and struggling with how much to let others in. It's easy when it comes to finding a personal security detail. It's difficult when it's mending her estranged relationship with her daughter. All of that stems from the perception that she was a bad mother who pushed Kate away. Instead, it was because Tommy spent a lifetime being confused about herself. She didn't feel confident until she released she was gay. That was an epiphany of immense value to her. And now, it can be reduced down to yet another statistic to check off the box in terms of diversity for the position. She wants to maintain her privacy. That has prevented her from even being honest with her daughter though. Right now, Kate is struggling and needs her mom. Tommy is there for her just like she is there for the people of her new city. She has no problem making waves and clashing with influential figures. Everyone is playing the game trying to figure out the best way to gain political influence. Tommy wants to get the lay of the land and accept what she can do in this position. She wields power now. She can make a huge difference with that. It's ultimately up to her to decide what happens. Right now though, that is the only engaging character journey as the rest of the ensemble just fades into the background whenever Tommy is not directly engaging with them.