Tommy

4 out of 5

Created by: Paul Attanasio

covers season 1

Perhaps you weren’t around or actively watching TV when Sopranos was a thing, but besides the (at that point) kitschily grabbing setup, one of the main selling points: Edie Falco.  For similar or other reasons, you may have then missed Falco’s next big splash in Nurse Jackie.

I’ll be frank: I wasn’t a diehard fan of either show.  However… Edie Falco is fantastic.  While her terse, tough, New York edge is often worked in her various roles – including as the star of Paul Attanasio’s ‘Tommy,’ in which she plays the newly elected Chief of the LAPD – she brings such an amazing range of emotions to each character she’s played, all within the confines of various iterations of that toughness, that you can dive in to series that might otherwise be rather standard fare.

And Tommy flirts with that.  It’s a procedural, pinging off of it’s first-female-and-is-a-lesbian police chief POV for some episodes that play with the politics of that, with Falco’s character straight-shooting and contraried-opinionated the whole while.  Modern concerns of social media mix with takes on gun control and ICE and the like; Tommy must navigate working alongside a politically savvy mayor (Thomas Sadoski) and the double-talkers around him, juggling her tricksy personal life with her daily responsibilities and a newly fomenting relationship with her adult daughter (Olivia Lucy Phillip)…  You’ll recognize these setups, in other words, from any given procedural, but the show finds a rather appreciatively smart balance throughout that doesn’t feel like it’s too clearly tut-tutting any particular side – a willingness to allow for some gray moralism – and, of course, weighted by Falco’s presence and performance, even the standard fare gets a boost.

The additional plus, as the season starts to trail out some longer plotlines, is that the core cast gathered around Falco is equally engaging.  Her speechwriter (Michael Chernus); her communications director (Adelaide Clemens); her chief of staff (Russell G. Jones); these are all quality actors who bring a lot to their roles and make our time with them worthwhile – worth dedicating screentime to, in other words.  And even when these actors are rough around the edges – such as her bodyguard, Abner (Vladimir Caamaño) – there’s the sense that their work is elevated by the general quality of the show and the surrounding cast, still making their contributions very enjoyable.

So yes, it is, of course, great to see Edie Falco back in an ongoing series.  But it’s even better that Tommy works as a better-than-average police / political procedural on its own, and then gets the added boon of a fantastic leading woman and great supporting cast.