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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.
Writing Credits:
Various

Tagline:
Diplomacy In Action.

Synopsis:
HBO delivers a new season of the Emmy-winning comedy series created by Armando Iannucci (Oscar nominee for co-writing In the Loop) that takes a sharp, satirical look at the insular world of Washington politics. Veep follows the whirlwind day-to-day existence of Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her Emmy-winning role) as she juggles her busy public schedule, puts out political fires, and defends the president’s interests, even as she tries to improve her dysfunctional relationship with the chief executive. Over the course of ten Season 2 episodes, Veep hilariously skewers the nuances of everyday office politics – set against the backdrop of the second highest office in the land.

MPAA:
Not Rated

DISC 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: 278 min.
Price: $49.99
Release Date: 3/25/14

Bonus:
• Four Audio Commentaries
• Deleted Scenes


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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 Second Season [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 4, 2014)

After a fairly solid first season, HBO’s Veep comes back for another round of shows about the adventures of America’s first female vice president. The Blu-ray set spreads all of Season Two’s 10 episodes across two discs. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray menus.

Midterms: “Fresh off successful campaign appearances for midterm elections, Selina (Julis Louis-Dreyfus) sees an opportunity to expand her role but must first curry favor with the president’s icy senior strategist Kent Davison (Gary Cole). Meanwhile, the staff’s personal lives have some new developments.”

Season 2 gets off to a rapid-fire start with the pretty good “Midterms”. I can’t claim it delivers constant laughs, and it does nothing to stretch S1’s “insult, insult and insult some more” style of humor. That said, it brings us a lively start to the year and entertains pretty well.

Signals: “Selina attends a pig roast in North Carolina as part of the president’s ‘Listen to Rural America’ initiative. Dan (Reid Scott) takes up Pilates to get face time.”

After the somewhat hit or miss “Midterms”, “Signals” hits the series’ sweet spot. It continues the brisk pacing of the prior episode but manages more dynamic comedy. Only a few lulls occur in this solid show.

Hostages: “As a hostage crisis in Uzbekistan heats up, Selina and Secretary of Defense General Maddox (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) have trouble getting on the same page at their joint appearance at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico. Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) testifies at a Congressional hearing on governmental efficiencies; Dan and Gary (Tony Hale) jockey for the Veep’s ear.”

After the heights of “Signals”, “Hostages” becomes a bit of a disappointment. It lacks the same bite as its predecessor and isn’t quite as funny. That said, it still moves along the season’s general arc and has enough spark to make it worthwhile.

The Vic Allen Dinner: “Selina is rankled when the White House releases an unflattering picture of her. Mike (Matt Walsh) and Kent bond over sailing. Jonah (Timothy Simons) gets an executive parking space; Sue has a job interview. Selina takes steps to keep her staff happy as they prepare for her appearance at the Vic Allen dinner.”

Veep fares best when it picks on the details of the DC experience, and “Allen” shows that side best. It focuses on a lot of the small neuroses and bizarre fixations of the inside the Beltway sorts and delivers quite a few laughs along the way. This might be the best episode of S2 so far.

Helsinki: “Selina and her staff head to Helsinki to finalize a world trade agreement, but are worried whether Selina will be received warmly in Europe. Dan calls Mike for advice on charming the press and Mike leans on Jonah for help. Kent and Ben (Kevin Dunn) argue over how to deal with new intel.”

S2 seems to be a bit on the “even/odd” plan, as the even-numbered episodes have been considerably better than the odd-numbered ones. That doesn’t mean the odds – like “Helsinki” – are bad; they’re just not quite as delightful. “Helsinki” moves along some plot elements and has decent laughs but it’s not a great episode.

Andrew: “After an allergic reaction shuts down her budget negotiation with Majority Leader Mary King (Mimi Kennedy), Selina moves the talks to Catherine's (Sarah Sutherland) 21st birthday bash. Meanwhile, Amy (Anna Chlumsky) and Gary fret over how Selina will handle seeing her ex-husband Andrew (David Pasquesi) at the party; Mike fields press inquiries on Selina’s role in the Uzbek hostage crisis.”

So much for the even/odd trend! That’s not an indication that “Andrew” flops, but it doesn’t soar like episodes two and four did. I’m not wild about the Andrew character and his integration into the show; Selina’s personal life tends to be less than fascinating, and since that becomes a major part of the program, it leaves us with a hole at the center.

Shutdown: “With DC in the midst of a government shutdown, Selina is forced to furlough some of her staff. A damaging story leaks about Selina’s ex-husband Andrew; Danny Chung (Randall Park) takes advantage of the shutdown; Gary and Jonah go on a run to retrieve Selina’s trash.”

S2 bounces back well with the top-notch “Shutdown”. It focuses more on the political nitty-gritty that’s the series’ bread and butter, and it does so with bite. I don’t think it’s the year’s best show, but it’s a very good one nonetheless.

First Response: “After being prepped for a ‘puff piece’ interview at the VP residence, Selina is thrown by Janet Ryland’s (Allison Janney) ‘gotcha’ questions.”

“Response” highlights one issue with Veep: Louis-Dreyfus’s inability to portray a convincing politician. She pulls off the comedic aspects of the role well, but I never buy her as a politician; no one who rises so high in public office would be such a consistent stumblebum in front of the cameras, and that seems more obvious when she screws up her interview so badly. This concern aside, “Response” mostly amuses, and it’s nice to see Janney as the reporter.

Running: “Undeterred by a message that POTUS wants Selina to limit her public appearances, the Veep continues her plans. Dan attempts to play both sides of the Selina/Danny Chung rivalry.”

With S2’s penultimate show, we need to build its story and lead toward the finale. “Running” does this pretty well, as it mixes its plot elements and comedy in a satisfying manner. It doesn’t deliver the best laughs of the year, but it works.

DC: “With the administration in full crisis mode and Selina’s future in doubt, the entire staff goes on a frenzied job search.”

S2 comes to a solid end with “DC”. It gives us a mix of funny moments while it sets up Season Three in a lively way. S2 gives us a satisfying year that makes me look forward to its next set of shows.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Veep appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. No issues arose in terms of visuals.

Overall definition was very good. Any softness that occurred appeared to relate to the “on the fly” style of photography; otherwise sharpness seemed positive. At no point did jaggies or shimmering interfere, and I noticed no edge haloes or other distractions. As expected, the image lacked source defects.

With a fairly natural palette, colors seemed pleasing. They didn’t quite leap off the screen but they demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy. Blacks were deep and firm, and low-light shots gave us positive delineation. The shows consistently looked sold.

No one would expect a slambang DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack from a series like Veep, and the material remained restrained. Various exteriors added some pep at times, as street scenes and other public moments offered mildly involving settings. However, this remained a chatty show without much in terms of effects, so those elements lacked a lot to make them memorable.

Audio quality worked well. Little music appeared, but when it did, the score sounded full and robust. As mentioned, effects didn’t have much to do, but they remained accurate. Speech was the most important factor and the lines always came across as natural and without edginess. The sound complemented the material in a satisfying – if unmemorable – manner.

We get four audio commentaries here. Here’s the list:

“Midterms”: creator/executive producer Armando Iannucci, co-executive producer Tony Roche, producer/actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and actors Kevin Dunn and Tim Simons;

“Hostages”: Iannucci, Roche, Dunn, Louis-Dreyfus, and executive producers Chris Godsick and Frank Rich;

“First Response”: Iannucci, Godsick, Roche, Louis-Dreyfus and actor Matt Walsh;

“DC”: Iannucci, Roche, Louis-Dreyfus, Walsh and actor Gary Cole.

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

Back in Season One, we got 12 commentaries for only eight episodes, so the reduction to four tracks for 10 shows disappoints on the surface. However, the quality of the S1 commentaries varied enough that I’d prefer fewer tracks as long as they’re more informative.

Does that occur here? Yeah – sort of. None of the four commentaries scintillates, and at times, they turn into minor love-fests. Still, they usually offer a reasonably good look at the episodes, so we learn a mix of nice details along the way. I wouldn’t call the chats indispensible, but they’re informative enough.

84 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 39 minutes, 48 seconds. Nope, that’s not a misprint – the set really does include more than 80 cut sequences. (Season One followed a similar path, as it gave us 63 deleted scenes across less than 25 minutes.)

With so many sequences and so little time, one would guess most of the clips are short, and one would guess correctly. A few go for a couple of minutes or so; for instance, we get an extended chat between Selina and the Finnish Prime Minister at their photo op, and there’s a longer wrap-up to Catherine’s birthday party.

Nonetheless, many – most? – fill a mere 10 seconds or less, so thank God for the “Play All” function – if I’d had to go back to a menu after each and every one of those 84 snippets, I’d have killed myself.

I’d be hard-pressed to cite any cut sequences that seemed significant, as most offer minor jokes or alternate takes. Still, they’re fun to see, as plenty of extra laughs materialize across them.

I found Season One of Veep to be funny but inconsistent, and I’d make the same claim about Season Two, though I think the series manages the ups and downs better this year. While it retains its joke-oriented, caustic sensibility, the gags feel better integrated and less gratuitous; this results in a more enjoyable package of shows as a whole. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture, satisfying audio and a few useful bonus materials. Veep brings us edgy but amusing comedy and improves in its second year.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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