U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) learns that it’s best to be careful what you wish for as season two of HBO’s Emmy-winning Veep returns for a second season tonight.
As fans will remember, Selina spent most of season one fuming over the fact that she kept being left out of major decisions and activities of the (always unseen) president, but some in the administration have started to notice that Selina’s public appearances score higher with the public than most other elected officials, including POTUS. That becomes an important bargaining chip for her after her party’s disastrous mid-term elections, which see several governors and members of Congress lose their seats. Kent Dawson (new recurring cast member Gary Cole), the president’s new senior strategist, reluctantly concedes that it might not be a bad idea to boost Selina’s profile, but her initial giddiness at this new development soon tarnishes under the weight of an unrealistically punishing schedule, not to mention overtaxing her already erratic office staff.
Tonight’s episode isn’t quite as consistently laugh-out-loud funny as the best Veep episodes are, but it succeeds in bringing us up to date on Selina and her staff (last season’s entire cast of regulars returns) and sets the course for these new episodes. The laughs return in full measure starting next week, which finds Selina uncomfortably trying to work the crowd at a North Carolina pig roast.
And the show moves to a completely new level with the third episode, “Hostages,” written by Sean Gray from a story he co-wrote with series creator Armando Iannucci. The plot finds Selina making a rash decision primarily based on her vanity and ego, a choice she later has cause to regret. The laughs are still there, but the episode has a bittersweet quality we haven’t seen before on Veep and Louis-Dreyfus sells it perfectly. Don’t miss that episode.
In fact, go ahead and set your DVR season pass. Based on the four episodes HBO sent out for review, I feel safe in reporting that if you enjoyed season one, you’re sure to like this new season even more.
HBO’s sublimely snarky political sitcom Veep returns for an expanded 10-episode second season on April 14, but the wait is over today for fans who want to revisit the critically acclaimed season one, which earned star Julia Louis-Dreyfus her third career Emmy Award for her spectacular performance as embattled U.S. vice president Selina Meyer.
HBO Home Entertainment’s new two-disc Blu-ray set includes all eight episodes of season one, as well as a total of 12 commentary tracks by Louis-Dreyfus (who’s also a producer on the show), series creator Armando Iannucci and other members of the creative team, plus the actors making up Selina’s staff: Anna Chlumsky as Amy, Selina’s chief of staff; Matt Walsh as weary spokesperson Mike; Reid Scott as ruthlessly ambitious political aide Dan; Tony Hale as Selina’s feverishly devoted personal aide, Gary; and Sufe Bradshaw as Sue, Selina’s intimidating executive assistant. Timothy C. Simons also is featured as Jonah, the perpetually irritating and inappropriate young White House liaison.
Even if you don’t generally take time to listen to commentary tracks on sets like this, trust me, you’ll want to check these out. They’re a treasure trove of fascinating and funny background info on all the staggering detail that has gone into making Veep look and sound as authentic as possible to inside-the-Beltway life in Washington, D.C.
As Louis-Dreyfus mentions on one such track, that’s one of the reasons the show’s dialogue trends toward the blue so often, to differentiate how these incredibly stressed-out politicos behave and speak when they’re not putting on their best faces for the public cameras and microphones. And Iannucci, who scored a comparable success in his native Great Britain with the similarly themed political Britcom The Thick of It, knows how to elevate profanity to literally breathtaking comic heights (admittedly, fans who know Louis-Dreyfus exclusively from her network TV work on Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine may find themselves a little dazed initially as she drops one f-bomb after another, but while the cursing flies freely and frequently, it’s never gratuitous).
Other extras on this generously packed set include a behind-the-scenes look at how the show is put together, as well as outtakes and deleted scenes.
By the way, if you want to take a look at how Iannucci skewers politics on the other side of the pond, you’ll find all four seasons of The Thick of It and a companion feature film called In the Loop, in which Chlumsky has a supporting role, streaming on Hulu Plus.