OK, granted, it's not so much Katherine Heigl that's replacing James Spader; rather, Heigl's new show, "State of Affairs," takes "The Blacklist's timeslot until February. And as an avid fan of "The Blacklist," I have to admit, I'm kind of grateful for the break. (The series has been in over its head for a while, particularly the character of Lizzie, who has bitten off way more than she could chew with Tom as her secret prisoner. She's been the loosest of cannons and has only made viewers -- or just me? -- question her sanity, not to mention her competence. So, yeah, I say a much-needed break is needed.)
But you know who's not incompetent? Heigl's character, CIA analyst Charleston Tucker. She heads a team of other analysts, all of whom prioritize the biggest crises facing the United States and supply POTUS with their daily briefings. OK, that's not the most glamorous description but I swear, "State of Affairs" (which also isn't the greatest of titles) is worth watching. President Constance Payton (Alfre Woodard, in fine form, as usual) also happens to be Charlie's almost-mother-in-law, but a terrorist attack killed the son/fiancé they loved dearly. So aside from balancing the day-to-day politics, it's their mission to bring down the people believed to be responsible for Aaron's (Mark Tallman, seen often in flashbacks) murder.
Of course, Charlie isn't all business. She has a great, believable relationship with her co-workers -- Maureen Jones (Sheila Vand), Kurt Tannen (Cliff Chamberlain) and Dash Greer (Tommy Savas) -- and the show also features a nice supporting/recurring cast including David Harbour as White House Chief of Staff David Patrick, with whom Charlie often butts heads; Dennis Boutsikaris as smarmy CIA Director Skinner; and James Remar as Sid, a slick ally of Charlie's. The big mystery is new "old" guy Lucas (Adam Kaufman), whose first day is in the premiere and the timing of everything just seems a little suspect. That wink? What is up with that, or am I reading too much into it? You'll see when you watch it.
Charlie also lets off steam by drinking like a sailor and bedding man after man. This part seems a little much (we get it, Heigl's a sexy beast) but personally, I find her competence her best quality. Of course, no one's perfect and Charlie has secrets; a spectacular one that drops at the end of the pilot will definitely have you wanting more.
A lot (too much?) has been said about Heigl and there's certainly a bandwagon which many haters have boarded. But why should we care about the reports -- true or not -- that the actress is a pain to work with? Do any of us have to work with her? Nope. As long as she puts out quality work (and make no mistake, Heigl will be out to prove something here as she serves as one of the series' executive-producers), then that's all that matters. A female-led, high-stakes drama with all kinds of twists and turns? I'm all in.
"State of Affairs" premieres Monday, November 17 at 10 p.m. ET on Global and NBC.