Sigourney Weaver as Elaine Barrish. Credit: David Giesbrecht/USA Network

Air Date: Sunday 7/15

Us Rating: ** 1/2

With the election heating up, this ambitious six-hour series about a powerful, Clinton-esque family is certainly timely. In the Hillary slot: hard-nosed yet conscientious Elaine Barrish Hammond (Sigourney Weaver), a former first lady, now divorced, who serves as secretary of state under a new president (Adrian Pasdar).

The unerring actress clearly relishes the role, especially as Elaine tackles a hostage crisis. In fact, the political maneuvering is consistently well-drawn. If only the rest of Animals roared with such excitement.

The subplots, including her feud with a hungry reporter (Carla Gugino), are too many and too familiar. Elaine's son and chief of staff, Douglas (James Wolk), has a fiancee with a secret, while his gay twin, T.J. (Sebastian Stan), is an addict.

The jarring attempts at satire fall flatter. A randy Russian diplomat grabs Elaine's derriere? Preposterous. Meanwhile, her skirt-chasing, good 'ol boy ex (Ciaran Hinds) is right out of The Dukes of Hazzard! Weaver makes even that relationship believable. Call it a win for this star vehicle. (USA, 10 p.m.)