Veep: Season 1 - DVD Review
Today, US underdog-trashing political comedy Veep season one is released in take-it-home DVD and blu-ray editions. The show was created by Thick Of It mastermind Armando Iannucci for HBO, and although it doesn't feature any direct cast/character crossover action (well, Anna Chlumsky was in In The Loop), it brings over a lot of the writers and continues that show's mission statement of reminding us just how petty, small-minded and self-obsessed the people in power really are.
With the first season coming out on disc, second one airing on HBO right now and a third run already commissioned, this show seems to be a hit. But for those of us living back in the UK, is it worth checking out Veep despite the strange foreign politics? Don't forget you can enter our competition to win one of three Veep season 1 blu-rays, open until Thursday!
The premise of Veep is a simple one: Vice-President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld) is trying her best to defeat the old adage about the vice-presidency not being worth a bucket of spit, but her own ego and ambitions, along with those of her staff, constantly lead her into humiliation and failure.
For those of us who did see Thick Of It, the sense of pretty much every character being some kind of arsehole is a familiar one. Indeed, pretty much the only character who isn't an ambitious, amoral egomaniac is Gary, Selina's bodyman, who is creepily devoted and sychophantic instead, and treated like pond scum by the rest of the cast.
The mutual dislike between every character, though, does keep the one-liners flowing. The more they hate each other, the more creative the insults, which is one reason why many of the funniest moments involve Jonah, the gloating, creepy Presidential liaison. But, to be fair, Jonah isn't just funny because he's universally loathed, he also a great bloated, detestable comic creation. Not quite an iconic comedy machine on the Malcolm Tucker scale (and yes, I sometimes feel the show could use one of those), but still a good character, well-acted.
Indeed, the cast, the characters and the one-liners are definitely the main appeal of this show. The actual plots are occasionally a little forgettable - I kinda feel it would be nice to have the episodes build up to more of a painfully cringey/funny comic crescendo, when instead they often cruise along and then finish. Noteable exception would be the episode where Selina visits the frozen yogurt shop. Yeah, they had to go to a fairly, um, dirty place to get their memorable conclusion, but they definitely got it.
Still, Veep season one is a very polished product, and I'm happy it got a second season, as all the pieces are definitely in place for the show to get good. By the final few episodes, they brought in the pregnancy and tears storylines, which seemed a more interesting vehicle for the characters than the slightly dry political material of earlier weeks. Good show, even if it could be improved - if you've been suffering from Iannucci withdrawal since Thick Of It finished, give this a go.