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HBO

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, Sufe Bradshaw, Nathan Ferguson
Writing Credits:
Various

Tagline:
The buck stops somewhere near here.

Synopsis:
Former senator Selina Meyer was a rising star in her party, a charismatic leader with White House potential. Then she became Vice President. Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in Veep, a new HBO comedy series created by Armando Iannucci that follows the whirlwind day-to-day existence of the Vice President as she puts out political fires, juggles a busy public schedule and demanding private life, and defends the president’s interests, even as she tries to improve her dysfunctional relationship with the chief executive. In eight Season 1 episodes, Veep hilariously skewers and satirizes both the nuances of everyday office politics and the political world in an environment where even the most banal decision – from a yogurt flavor to choice of the VP pet – can have unexpected and far-reaching consequences.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 2.0
French DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 221 min.
Price: $49.99
Release Date: 3/26/13

Bonus:
• 12 Audio Commentaries
• “The Making of Veep” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “Governor Chung Retraction”
• “Governor Chung Outtake”
• Anti-Obesity PSA
• Anti-Obesity PSA Outtake
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Veep: The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 4, 2013)

Washington politics gets the comedic treatment via 2012’s HBO series Veep. As stated in the press materials, “former senator Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) was a rising star in her party, a charismatic leader who seemed to have unlimited potential. Some pundits thought she might even occupy the White House someday. Then she became vice president”. The Blu-ray set spreads all of Season One’s eight episodes across two discs. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray menus.

Fundraiser: “Vice President Selina Meyer and her staff – chief of staff Amy (Anna Chlumsky), spokesperson Mike (Matt Walsh), right-hand man Gary (Tony Hale) and executive assistant Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) – are still finding their footing in Washington, DC. Selina decides to make the Clean Jobs Commission a pet project, but a series of missteps causes her staff to work damage control.”

Veep launches into its characters and situations without much backstory; beyond a quick media montage in the opening credits, we’re left with little discussion of Selina’s past. That’s fine, as I prefer it to the semi-expected scenario in which we meet the Veep at the start of her tenure and see developments from there.

Not that I’m sure how much real development will arise from here, as I get the feeling the template established here will probably continue to dominate the rest of the series. “Fundraiser” seems joke/one-liner heavy and does little to give us more than that in terms of character depth. Perhaps I’m wrong and the series will grow in that way, but I sense that it’ll be heavy on wisecracks and political events.

That said, “Fundraiser” provides a pretty satisfactory launch to the series, though I have to admit I’m not sure Louis-Dreyfus makes sense as a successful politician. Awkward neurosis is her stock in trade, and that doesn’t fit the mold of a career politician. However, she’s funny in the role, and “Fundraiser” offers a good array of laughs.

Frozen Yoghurt: “The Veep’s office is revived by good news that her task force is likely to be green lit. With the President (conveniently) out of the country, Selina looks to make headway on filibuster reform and meeting with some ‘normal’ people.”

While we’re only two episodes into Veep, I get the sense that my initial impressions of “joke heavy/character light” will come true. Through these two shows, I’m enjoying the series, but I wonder how long that’ll last, as I fear the rapid-fire batch of cynical insults/wisecracks won’t continue to amuse. Well, it’s fun through two programs, at least; even with the potential monotony on the horizon, we get enough wit to entertain.

Catherine: “Faced with a trumped up story of a rift between the Veep and the First Lady, Selina quells accusations that everything is about her – even though it is. The Veep’s office goes into spin control about the appointment of an ‘oil guy’ to the Clean Jobs task force. Gary selects candidates for the VP dog, though Selina’s daughter Catherine (Sarah Sutherland), who is visiting from college, gets final say.”

When I said the series wouldn’t develop its characters, I was wrong in one way: it does allow joke-related paths to progress. For instance, Mike’s fake dog looks like it’ll turn into a real canine. Even with the new presence of Selina’s daughter, though, you won’t find a surfeit or emotion or depth here, as “Catherine” continues to focus on caustic yuks. It’s still amusing, at least; in particular, I enjoy Jonah (Timothy Simons), the epitome of the smarmy political staffer who attempts to use his connections to bag any babe he can find.

Chung: “Dan and Amy attend a book launch for Governor Danny Chung (Randall Park), a charismatic Asian-American war hero, who Selina worries could be a political threat. Meanwhile, Selina preps with Mike for a Meet the Press interview, landing on football as her ‘regular people’ talking point, and later, Gary and Amy discover that Selina has a lover.”

Lather, rinse, repeat? Yeah, pretty much, as the same strengths and weaknesses of the first three episodes recur here. I still think Louis-Dreyfus – as funny as she is – seems too bumbling to be a career politician; she makes me laugh but she never causes me to believe she could be a senator or a vice president. If I ignore that flaw, I continue to find laughs here.

Nicknames: “Selina becomes obsessed with the (many) unflattering nicknames given to her by bloggers, and after being snubbed from a Senate briefing by the POTUS, assigns Dan to get White House intel from Jonah. Later, Dan’s political maneuvering puts the fate of the Clean Jobs bill on the line.”

As usual, I find Jonah’s scenes to be the best; how can I not like a character who’s fructose-intolerant? The “nicknames” theme seems more Seinfeld than anything to date; I’m not sure if that’s smart, since it’s a mistake to draw comparisons with that series. I do think the show’s getting less jokey-joke, which is a good thing; it still emphasizes the barbs but it’s trying harder to follow a political through-line. There’s not a lot of true character development, but at least more consistent themes have begun to emerge.

Baseball: “Selina attends a healthy eating event at Camden Yards with some very grumpy fast-food executives, where she also confides a secret to Amy. Mike holds a press briefing for some local news pals, save for the inquisitive Leon West (Brian Huskey). Later, with the Veep delayed, Amy and Dan are forced to entertain elementary school children.”

The episode’s secret acts as a form of character development, something usually in short supply. It feels somewhat artificial, but the show itself works pretty well. The “secret” delivers funny moments, and I also like Selina’s perplexing inability to understand the notion that baseball teams need multiple starting pitchers. This becomes a better than average program.

Full Disclosure: “With the Veep and her staff taking flack over a pregnancy rumor and the firing of a Secret Service agent, Selina orders a ‘partial’ full disclosure of all office correspondence. Later, Selina dispatches Dan to make sure the Macauley Amendment (ie, the toxic Clean Jobs bill) cannot be traced back to her. And with the perception growing that her office is increasingly nonfunctioning, Selina threatens to fire a key staffer.”

As the season progresses, Veep gets darker and darker. I’m not sure I’d refer to it as “serious”, as it still comes with a lot of the usual caustic humor, but it definitely delivers a more dramatic feel. That actually makes it fare better, as the joke-joke-joke structure of the earlier episodes could be a little wearying. “Disclosure” becomes a balanced, quality show.

Tears: “Selina finds herself in Ohio to support Rep. Roger Furlong (Dan Bakkedahl) for governor, but given the Veep’s low approval rating, he no longer wants the endorsement. Meanwhile, the Clean Jobs bill comes back to haunt Dan – in the form of a possible Congressional hearing. After Selina tears up in her meeting with Furlong, Mike and Amy decide to play up Selina’s tears even more, but have no idea how big a floodgate it will open.”

S1 comes to an end on a high note. It allows the political threads to come to a head and also push toward S2. Add Bakkedahl’s hilarious guest turn as the congressman and “Tears” becomes a satisfying finish to the year.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Veep appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. Across the board, the shows looked attractive.

Sharpness was usually solid. A few wider shots showed a little softness, but those instances remained minor. Instead, the majority of the movie seemed accurate and concise. I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as I witnessed no specks, marks or other debris.

Colors looked fine. The series went with an amber tone that could make shots look a bit underlit at times, but the hues represented the original material well. Black levels were appropriately deep, and shadows seemed clear and well-rendered. Across the board, the visuals proved to be pleasing.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack suited the shows pretty well but won't win any awards. The soundstage appeared nicely broad at the appropriate times and could be moderately engulfing on occasion. It's a talky little series, so the focus was mainly up front, but the audio expanded when necessary. This occurred mostly via gentle environmental ambience, so the surrounds didn’t have a lot to do. That said, the imaging made sense for the story, and street/crowd scenes provided pretty good involvement.

Sound quality seemed fine. Dialogue always appeared crisp and natural, and I had no trouble understanding it. The low-key music that acted as the score was warm and distinctive. Effects also seemed realistic and adequate for the tasks at hand. The shows delivered unexceptional but appropriate soundtracks.

We get 12 audio commentaries here. With eight episodes, that means multiple tracks for some shows. Here’s the list:

“Fundraiser”: creator/executive producer Armando Iannucci, executive producers Chris Godsick and Frank Rich, producer/actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and writer Simon Blackwell;

“Fundraiser”: actors Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh and Sufe Bradshaw;

“Frozen Yoghurt”: Iannucci, Godsick, Rich, Louis-Dreyfus, and Blackwell;

“Frozen Yoghurt”: Chlumsky, Hale, Scott, Simons, Walsh and Bradshaw;

“Catherine”: Iannucci, Godsick, Rich, Louis-Dreyfus, and Blackwell;

“Catherine”: Chlumsky, Hale, Scott, Simons, Walsh and Bradshaw;

“Chung”: Iannucci, Godsick, Rich, Louis-Dreyfus, and Blackwell;

“Chung”: Chlumsky, Hale, Scott, Simons, Walsh and Bradshaw;

“Nicknames”: Iannucci, Louis-Dreyfus, Chlumsky, Simons, Walsh, and Blackwell;

“Baseball”: Iannucci, Louis-Dreyfus, Chlumsky, Simons, Walsh, and Blackwell;

“Full Disclosure”: Iannucci, Louis-Dreyfus, Chlumsky, Simons, Walsh, and Blackwell;

“Tears”: Iannucci, Louis-Dreyfus, Chlumsky, Simons, Walsh, Blackwell and writer Tony Roche;

Across the various tracks, we learn about story/character elements, cast and performances, sets and locations, and some different series components.

While these commentaries tend to be engaging enough, they’re not tremendously informative. They give us some basics but often degenerate into laughing at jokes and telling us what the participants like about the episodes. Though I think they’re pleasant, in terms of content, the commentaries seem average at best.

Most of the remaining extras show up on Disc Two, but we get a few on Disc One. From the third episode, Governor Chung Retraction runs one minute, 17 seconds and shows Selina’s attempt to undo damage. Governor Chung Outtake also lets us see a one-minute, 28-second “behind the scenes” look at the retraction. Both amuse.

With that, we head to Disc Two and The Making of Veep. It lasts 13 minutes, 24 seconds and includes notes from Louis-Dreyfus, Iannnucci, Chlumsky, Hale, Bradshaw, Simons, Scott, Godsick, Walsh, Roche, Rich, Blackwell, producer Stephanie Laing, consulting producer/writer Roger Drew, and costume designer Ernesto Martinez. We get some notes about narrative/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, costumes, shooting with two cameras, and general thoughts. Though brief, “Making” has some good moments. It tends to be somewhat superficial/promotional but it comes with enough interesting tidbits to merit a viewing.

63 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 24 minutes, 52 seconds. That’s not a misprint: they really do cram 63 cut pieces into less than 25 minutes. Five episodes include seven or fewer scenes, while three go into double digits. “Tears” becomes the one with the most sequences, as it brings us 17, but “Baseball” comes close behind with 15. (“Fundraiser” throws out 10.)

With an average running time of less than 24 seconds, one shouldn’t expect much substance from the scenes. The vast majority come and go quickly and just throw out minor additions to existing sequences. While we get nothing important, we find a lot of amusing material, so the collection of scenes offers fun footage.

Connected to “Baseball” - and also seen at the launch of this disc – an Anti-Obesity PSA 44 seconds. We get a one-minute, 10-second Anti-Obesity PSA outtake as well. As with the Chung components on Disc One, these deliver decent entertainment value.

A separate platter offers a DVD Copy of Veep. Unlike many bonus DVDs, this double-sided disc includes bonus features.

As a series, Veep comes with its ups and downs. While it’s usually funny, it can be a little too joke-oriented for its own good, as it doesn’t draw in the viewer with much other than its barbed one-liners. Still, these often amuse. The Blu-ray provides good picture, audio and supplements. I can’t say I’m wild about Veep, but I think its strengths definitely outweigh its weaknesses.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main