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Veep: The Complete First Season(TV) (2012)
Vice President Selina Meyers and her staff manage various crises.
For more about Veep: The Complete First Season and the Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 26, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons
Director: Armando Iannucci
» See full cast & crew
Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
"Has the President called?"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 26, 2013
Political farce is all the rage these days, and for good reason. With partisan bickering at a comical high and the 24-hour news cycle a three-ring circus, there's plenty of easy shots to take and plenty of targets who deserve every tomato, cabbage and stone hurled their way. And then there's the vice presidency. Long a consolation prize and the butt of many a late-night talk show host joke, the second highest seat in the land amounted to very little for centuries, suddenly and aggressively ascended to House of Cards-esque heights of power during the Bush/Cheney administration and, over the course of the last five years, crashed to Earth again as the likes of Joe Biden, Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan have left both sides of the aisle laughing and shaking their heads.
It's this glaring insignificance that Veep exploits with cruel but deserved indifference, often to hilarious ends. Showrunners Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell and Christopher Godsick aren't interested in playing Democrat or Republican Red Rover, going so far as to redact a crucial piece of information: the political party of their VP, Selina Meyers (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). In fact, familiar office politics take precedence over anything resembling more pointed national politics as Meyers and her staff are left to contend with the mundane concerns of public office: an unseen, absentee Commander in Chief, finicky bloggers and journalists, unfortunate slips of the tongue, image crises, department leaks, dismissive Congressmen and stubborn colleagues. There's even less in the way of genre gerrymandering; Veep is pure comedy of errors, and doesn't hold any loftier ambitions. It's all a bit too lightweight, mind you -- the pregnancy scares, personality conflicts, parental misgivings, snarky office wranglings and shaky romances -- but the freedom HBO affords Iannucci and company makes Veep a sharper satire than it might have otherwise been.
Once upon a time, Selina Meyers was a promising young senator being groomed for bigger and better things. But then tragedy struck: Meyers agreed to run as Vice President, hoping it would further her career and make her a shoe-in for her party's presidential candidate eight years later. Instead, she discovers the vice presidency is little more than a glorified holding queue. Her relationship with the President is strained at best (non-existent really), media scrutiny has left her reputation in tatters and the day to day rigors of the office include jumping when POTUS says jump and asking... well, the President would prefer Selina didn't ask questions at all. POTUS doesn't even talk to his not-so-second second in command, relying on arrogant White House liaison Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) to deliver orders and see that they're carried through. And so begins Selina's hopeless quest for significance in a role that offers none. At her side: frazzled chief of staff Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky), dim-witted director of communications Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh), no-nonsense assistant and gatekeeper Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw), personal aide and dutiful lapdog Gary Walsh (Tony Hale), and smarmy deputy director of communications Dan Egan (Reid Scott), ever looking to get ahead whatever the cost.
Looking for a more scathing satire or exacting indictment of U.S. politicians? Best look elsewhere. There are plenty of other series better equipped to scratch that itch. Veep, a single-camera sitcom in the vein of Iannucci and Blackwell's The Thick of It and In the Loop, scurries in the opposite direction, mining comedy and digging up laughs in Meyers' misery. She knows how much she's been minimized. She realizes how rapidly her clout and influence are being drained. She understands the folly of her chosen path. But she's locked in and doing everything she can to earn the respect of her peers and the voting public. It isn't easy, though, with a President whose interests often depart from her own, a staff one step behind whatever crisis is erupting, and cameras anywhere and everywhere a mistake rears its head. She struggles, bumbles, slips and slides her way from appearance to appearance, interview to interview, and the hilarity is always, always at her expense.
The source of that hilarity? Iannucci's wry ensemble cast. Louis-Dreyfus treads water brilliantly as the first female Vice President, and without necessarily referencing any specific VPs or candidates. There are shades of Biden and Palin in her performance, sure. But Meyers is her own creature, subject to her own flaws and failures. Chlumsky and Hale kill as her innermost circle -- one headstrong, the other submissive, both fiercely loyal -- even though they set up far more laughs than they have the chance to knock out of the park. Walsh provides the missteps and miscues, Scott the pride and tension, Simons the jabs and sneers, and Bradshaw the unflinching gaze, all of which Iannucci and his writers wield to great effect. And, with well-timed improv that injects much-needed spontaneity into the ever-contrived subplots, it all clicks together nicely, making the most of the eclectic eccentrics orbiting Meyers. When Veep falters, it's almost always the fault of a dead-end script (Meyers' pregnancy scare is a particularly aimless detour) and rarely the failing of the cast, who keeps the series propped up even when it seems to run out of steam midway. Still, the series manages its own crises -- few as they are -- with relative ease. Count me among those who will be tuning in for the first episode of Veep's second season on April 14th.
Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
With Veep, what you see is what you get... no flash, no sizzle. HBO's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation falls in line with Iannucci and DP Jay Feather's ordinary, humdrum, day-in-the-life intentions, with both the VP's office and affairs favoring a rather drab workplace palette. Colors are largely restrained (even though patriotic reds and blues occasionally flood the frame), skintones are natural and lifelike, and black levels are satisfying (albeit a touch muted here and there). Contrast is nice and consistent, if not a tad dull, and delineation is decidedly decent. Detail is quite good too, with well-resolved textures, revealing closeups and clean edges. Better still, ringing, aliasing and macroblocking aren't at play, and only a hint of banding and intermittent noise undermine the proficiency of the encode. All told, Veep pulls off a solid Blu-ray debut.
Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Likewise, Veep's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track presents the series' flat, conservative sonics faithfully. Dialogue is clean and clear, and voices only become muffled or unintelligible when it serves whatever comedy of errors happens to be unfolding in any given episode. The LFE channel is reserved, with little in the way of low-end oomph, and the rear speakers aren't tasked with any strenuous activity, handling subtle ambient effects, restrained acoustics and not much more. Not that any of it spoils the experience. HBO's lossless track is underwhelming because Veep's sound design is underwhelming, and Veep's sound design is only underwhelming because it helps sell the ho-hum trivialities and minutia of Meyers and her staff's day-to-day grind. Ironically, anything more would be disappointing. Long story short, Veep's lossless track delivers exactly what it should. Nothing more, nothing less.
Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Veep gets a lot of mileage out of its ensemble; enough that I'm looking forward to the series' second season. I'm not sure the show can thrive for another eight episodes on its actors' talents alone, but for a first run at the vice presidency, Season One drums up enough laughs to warrant a second term in office. HBO's Blu-ray release is even better, with a faithful AV presentation and a hefty supplemental package that includes twelve audio commentaries, a half-hour of deleted scenes and more.
Veep: Other Seasons
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Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-ray - December 7, 2012
HBO has announced the Blu-ray release of Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Armando Iannucci's Veep: The Complete First Season, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus (as the nation's first female vice president), Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Timothy ...
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