Roush Review: Edie Falco Returns to TV as ‘Tommy’

Tommy CBS Edie Falco
Sonja Flemming/CBS

With network TV losing so many of its best and brightest to the lucrative new frontier of streaming, how refreshing for one of TV’s finest stars to tackle a meaty part on an old-fashioned broadcast network.

In CBS’s Tommy, the celebrated Edie Falco (winner of Emmys for HBO’s The Sopranos and Showtime’s Nurse Jackie) instantly elevates the title role of Abigail “Tommy” Thomas, Los Angeles’ first female police chief, with emotional intelligence and sardonic wit. (She’s a lot more believable than Stephen Dorff’s macho L.A. County sheriff on Fox’s Deputy.)

With a cool head, tough skin and a penchant for straight talk, the transplanted New Yorker cuts through the spineless and dirty politics—Life in PiecesThomas Sadoski is amusing as the ethically skittish mayor—to get the job done in solid procedural fashion. “I’m a cop. I gotta see for myself,” she says during her first crisis.

As you’d expect, she has enemies inside and outside of the department; Corbin Bernsen is especially venal as the resentful chief she replaced, second-guessing her every move in the media. Quippy and irreverent, Tommy endures criticism and praise with equal ambivalence, knowing that “If I fail, it will be 20 years before they give another woman this job.” Her backstory is certainly of the moment, having accused a New York deputy chief (whose nose she broke) of attempted rape a decade earlier, only to see her career sidelined.

Edie Falco Tommy Pilot

Cliff Lipson/CBS

Happily, Tommy’s time has come, in more ways than one. She is also openly but not yet actively gay, too weary to even flirt much, though she’s not hiding it anymore. Where she suffers most is on the family front. This self-described “B-minus mom” has to put up with a tiresomely estranged grown daughter, Kate (Olivia Lucy Phillip), an unhappily married school psychologist who never misses a chance to point out Tommy’s maternal shortcomings.

Nobody’s perfect, but Falco somehow makes even this flaw compelling.

Tommy, Series Premiere, Thursday, Feb. 6, 10/9c, CBS