“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” introduces Edie Falco as the titular Tommy, the first female police chief in LA.
This recap of Tommy Season 1, Episode 1, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities”, contains spoilers.
The ever-watchable Edie Falco both stars in and elevates the new CBS procedural Tommy, in which she plays Abigail Thomas, the first female police chief of Los Angeles, hired from the NYPD by LA mayor Buddy Gray (Thomas Sadoski). She’s replacing a man with eight different sexual harassment allegations and running a department blighted by a scandal, and one of her first actions in Tommy Episode 1, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities”, is to intervene in a politically touchy case involving the LAPD and – who else? – ICE.
Tommy has a problem – several, in fact. She’s a woman, and she’s a lesbian, and she’s holding a position that, if she messes up, won’t be given to anyone but a man for another two decades at least. The previous chief Milt Leakey (Corbin Bernsen) is ready to retake her position, aided by Deputy Mayor Doug Dudik (Joseph Lyle Taylor), and even if she is successful her prominence as a gay woman will likely overshadow her abilities as a dedicated cop and competent chief.
Luckily, at least in Tommy Episode 1, Tommy has allies, including an assistant (Blake Sullivan) and a fellow New Yorker (Vladimir Caamaño), and a daughter, Kate Jones (Olivia Lucy Phillip), whom she has consistently chosen her career over and wants to reconnect with.
Created by Paul Attanasio and anchored by Falco, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” works as the study of a woman thrown into a police department run amok in a city that’s slightly alien to her; it has a good sense of forthright morality, funny patter, political undercurrents, and sincere emotion, and it balances them effectively. It’s the procedural framework that proves rickety in Tommy Episode 1, littered with thin supporting roles, an overload of exposition, and slightly cartoon villainy which positions Tommy and her trusted contemporaries against what seems to be an entire city of snarling, self-serving misogynists, racists, and homophobes.
Subtlety, though, is not the way of the CBS procedural and you have to take these things on their merits. A slightly unusual setup and the dependable presence of Falco are the major takeaways from Tommy Season 1, Episode 1, which promises to capably fill a Thursday night slot in your schedule. But Falco herself isn’t quite talented enough to convince you that she isn’t above the material.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.