Veep: The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray]

Veep: The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray]
9
For anyone familiar with Armando Iannucci's farcical, deadpan send-up of the Blair administration, The Thick of It, the caustic, frenzied style of Veep won't come as a surprise. Just as frustrations about the lack of air conditioning and staff emails in parliament buildings led to dissention amidst the P.M.'s staff in the acclaimed British series, the conflicts in the office of Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), the Vice President of the United States, involve signing the wrong name on an office card for a dead rapist senator or deciding what flavour of frozen yoghurt will give Meyer a positive image in the press during a publicity photo opportunity. As usual, these situations degrade the Vice President, whose ambitions and Senate success have been quashed in her role as mere figurehead. She spends most of her time toting around her assistants, Amy (Anna Chlumsky) and Gary (Tony Hale), along with her communications manager and speechwriter, Mike (Matt Walsh), who help her organize clean air committees and give speeches at fundraisers or public schools. And while the aggressively stated, highly acerbic insults — all blurted out with impeccable comic timing — ensure consistent laughs throughout each episode, the realistic, straight-faced approach to the material is what makes it all work. Even though plot lines pivot on incidental issues like Amy discreetly buying a pregnancy test at a local pharmacy for the Veep, whose single, working mother image could be tarnished by such a scandal, they're all handled plausibly and with more truth than most serious dramatic takes on the inner-workings of Capitol Hill. Iannucci has a knack for injecting the idiosyncratic human element into these situations; his characters are flawed but also highly intelligent and aware that what they have to do to maintain an image for an undiscerning public is ridiculous. As Selina says, "I've met people, okay — real people — and I gotta tell you: a lot of them are fucking idiots." Hilarious, on-the-nose dialogue like this also helps keep the show kinetic and engaging for the duration of the season. Comments like, "Using Jonah for intelligence is like trying to use a croissant as a fucking dildo: it doesn't do the job and it makes a fucking mess" are peppered through each episode, shocking with self-conscious, casual crudity. There's even an episode where Selina has to handle the fallout after accidentally saying the word "retard" during a speech at a charity dinner, which has a hilarious follow-up discussion on the deleted scenes of the Blu-Ray box set, where Amy tries to pawn it off as a playful colloquialism. Many of the deleted scenes included with the set are furiously funny, which isn't a surprise since the show rarely has a quiet moment. The many commentary tracks discuss incidentals like the mismatched furniture and poor office planning in the White House, while the "Making of" mostly details the improvisational approach to the material. The only real downside to the first season of Veep is that there are only eight episodes. (Warner)