Russell Brand took charge of MSNBC show Morning Joe when the anchors weren't up to scratch.
TV review: Veep
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, star of Veep - Image. Sky
After lampooning the inner-workings of British government in hit series The Thick Of It, Armando Iannucci and his mates have teamed up with HBO to give Washington and the Vice-President (the 'Veep') the same treatment. Sky Atlantic has signed the series up as a part of their new comedy-packed Monday night schedule, but will the stateside satire work?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is excellent as bumbling senator-turned-VP Selina Meyer. "Get me out of here," she hissed at her entourage after one balls-up. "Surround me like a human motorcade!"
Veep is vague on which party Meyer belongs to (although if I had to bet I'd go with the Democrats). Let's hope that changes because I'd love to see Iannucci having a playful dig at Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.
Some years ago, the bosses of Disney-owned US television network ABC decided to make an American version of The Thick Of It. As we all know, Malcolm Tucker and his gang are about as far from Disney territory as pornography so the idea of a US version by ABC is nearly as ridiculous as the UN making Robert Mugabe their leader of tourism.
"But is Veep as good as The Thick Of It?"
Suffice to say, the resulting show was worse than Wayne Rooney's haircut and after a tragically unfunny pilot, everyone involved vowed never to speak of it again.
Fast forward five years and HBO are having another go. However, unlike ABC, they've realised that ripping the X-rated soul out of a hit show probably isn't the best approach. This explains why the mercurial Armando Iannucci got the call to create Veep last year.
But is Veep as good as The Thick Of It? Nearly, but not quite...
There are some great lines ("Glasses!? They're like wheelchairs for the eye!") and the cast have taken to Iannucci's rapid ad-lib culture with ease, yet while the Vice President and her team stumble from one PR shambles
"Of course comparisons with The Thick Of It are inevitable, but they're not really fair"
to the next, you never feel like they're clinging on the way Nicola Murray is back at the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship (DoSAC).
When Nicola says she feels like she works in a fan factory and someone's just walked in with a excrement-spraying machine, you really believe her.
The shadow of Malcolm Tucker also looms large and although objectively it would have been very dangerous to try and replicate such a viscerally-unique character, the all-swearing put-down machine is sorely missed.
Having said that, for my money there isn't a show in the schedule that wouldn't be improved by Peter Capaldi's foul-mouthed communications officer. Just imagine if he showed up in Made In Chelsea. Now THAT would be great TV.
Of course comparisons with The Thick Of It are inevitable, but they're not really fair. After all, there's no shame in being slower than Usain Bolt.
In Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Veep has a very capable lead to hang a show around and she shines as the much
"Anna Chlumsky is excellent as a female Ollie"
put-upon Vice President Selina Meyer; she's lost none of her comedy instincts since those good old Seinfeld days.
The opening episode begins with one of her "Twitter monkey" interns accidentally alerting the all-powerful plastics lobby to her plan to replace their products with bio-degradable substitutes.
This sets off a chain of events which ends with her speech being "pencil-f*cked" (ruthlessly edited) at the last minute and the VP telling a gob-smacked audience that she's been "hoisted by her own retard".
There are plenty of disasters along the way and as her incompetent team pull her further into the mire, we start to see some character roots emerging.
Anna Chlumsky (best known for My Girl) is familiar with this territory after appearing in Oscar-nominated spin-off In The Loop; she's excellent as a female Ollie.
Most of The Thick Of It's other characters are also represented and it's not too difficult to spot a couple of Glenns, a Terri and even that annoying bloke from the opposition.
In Veep, there's a good deal of smug White House people that look down their noses at the Vice President (a position once described as not being worth a "bucket of warm p*ss") and her hilarious entourage. On this evidence you can't really blame them, yet it makes for great comedy.
Verdict: top-notch satire with a superb cast
The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft
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