The CBS Home Entertainment September 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018-19 S5 of the CBS drama series "Madam Secretary" lets current and new fans alike catch up on this ripped-from-the-headlines series ahead of the October, 6, 2019 premiere of the sixth and final season. That one is set in the not-too-distant future of two years from where S5 ends. A big change is that titular Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni of the tabloid-based sitcom "The Naked Truth") has left her corner office for one that lacks any right angles.
Watching these episodes of this femalecentric series just ahead of diving into the CBSHE DVDs of "Gunsmoke" S15 for a post next week is a good reminder of the cost of judging a series by its cover. Only getting into Westerns in the past five years has prompted regret as to missing out on the compelling storylines that classics like "Gunsmoke" provide for so long. "Secretary" and the (reviewed) "Good Fight" show that soccer moms and cat ladies have good taste in television dramas.
Both "Fight" and "Secretary" present entertaining cerebral tales on topics that should greatly concern all of us. In the case of "Fight," we witness the grimy underbelly of out legal system in the context of "this filthy world" in which dirty politics rule the day. in "Secretary," we see fictional Hillary Clinton (who makes a cameo with two of her real-life predecessors) Elizabeth McCord try to avoid strong-arm diplomacy at the same time that she often must do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason.
The support system of Elizabeth includes spouse/former Marine/former CIA operative/former religious scholar/current presidential advisor Henry McCord (Tim Daly of "Wings"). She also has a diverse quirky staff of wonks who all bring things of value to the table in their own neurotic or otherwise odd ways.
The constant ripped-from-the-headlines vibe begins with a twofer in the season premiere. Elizabeth is trying to get India and Pakistan to enter a treaty at the same time that domestic terrorists that want to make America great again pull off a major attack that creates significant physical and national psyche damage. The international element of this both is not surprising and pops up in other ways throughout the season.
We also see Elizabeth doing her best to be diplomatic regarding overseas sweatshop labor, a magnificent gift that will require hardship-inducing upkeep, a regime change that seems sure to erupt into war, etc. The issue of legalization of marijuana both provides some of the best humor of the season and shows how it can aid good international relations.
A two-episode story that hits almost as close to home as the aforementioned attack is the issue of indefinitely detaining the children of illegal immigrants separate from their parents. This one sees Elizabeth taking an especially strong stand. The bonus is an interesting debate on the issue of states' rights.
"Secretary" creator/writer Barbara Hall skillfully pulls this off by keeping an even keel. No one really gets worked up in even the most tense moments, and we are spared piercing looks and overly dramatic moments.
We merely see people in a world that is otherwise closed off to most of us doing the job for which their natural intelligence, formal education, and extensive on-the-job learning has prepared them. The sad part is that their current real-life counterparts do not follow their example.
The bonus features consist of several deleted scenes.