Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 3, 2016)
Given events that ended Season Three, Season Four of Veep should probably be renamed POTUS. Despite its lead character’s ascension to the presidency, however, Veep remains Veep for its fourth year. The Blu-ray includes all of Season Four’s 10 episodes across two discs. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray menus.
Joint Session: “Selina’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) staff frantically works on her first major speech as president; Gary (Tony Hale) questions his worth.” Any fears that Selina’s new position as president would negatively alter Veep quickly dissipate in this excellent season-launching episode. It gives us a new perspective on politics but still packs the usual profane laughs.
East Wing: “The Israeli PM’s visit is overshadowed by a painting.” As good as “Joint” was, “East” improves on it, mainly because it develops some character threads well. I love the expansion of Selina’s daughter Catherine (Sarah Sutherland), and the subplot with Gary actually leads to a nearly-dramatic sequence. All of it adds up to a strong program.
Data: “Selina’s staff tries to uncover the source of a data breach.” After two excellent shows, “Data” sags a bit. While Veep does cynicism well, “Data” seems a little too mean-spirited. Still, it provides more than a few funny moments, so it continues to season moderately well.
Tehran: “A detained US reporter is released during Selina’s historic trip to Iran; Dan (Reid Scott) considers becoming a lobbyist.” After the minor disappointment of “Data”, S4 rebounds pretty well with “Tehran”. It juggles a lot of balls but keeps them in the air, as it mixes plot intrigue and comedy in a satisfying manner.
Convention: “Selina and her staff scramble to avert a crisis at the party convention; Amy (Anna Chlumsky) is rankled by the president’s new advisor Karen (Lennon Parham).” The Amy/Karen tension adds the most flavor to “Convention”, but the rest of it works well, too. The various components mesh to move along narrative elements and toss out the usual laughs.
Storms and Pancakes: “Selina tries to match her running mate’s effortless charm at a fundraiser, while an impending hurricane looks like it could be good news for her image.” The interjection of VP candidate Tom James (Hugh Laurie) adds some spice to the season, mainly because he’s so much better at campaigning and politics than Selina. “Storms” sputters a bit at times, but it still delivers the goods, especially when we see the fallout of Jonah’s (Timothy Simons) quirky sexual harassment issues.
Mommy Meyer: “A dramatic incident leaves the president shaken, while Mike (Matt Walsh) tries to sell the Families First bill to the press.” Another good addition: Sam Richardson’s Richard Splett, Jonah’s assistant. The two show great chemistry and always amuse. Other parts of “Mommy” seem a bit erratic, though – it’s not a bad show but it’s a bit weaker than usual.
B/ill: “While Selina is sick with the flu, her staff works behind the scenes to kill the Families First bill.” Maybe the “Families First” bill dented S4, as “B/ill” continues the relatively weak trend from “Mommy”. Like that show, it’s not a poor episode, but it lacks a lot of energy.
Testimony: “Selina and her staff field questions about the Families First vote – and the source of the data breach.” “Testimony” offers an unusual structure, as the entire episode depicts either video depositions or Congressional hearings. That choice gives the episode a charge and helps it rebound from the last couple of less than great shows.
Election Night: “Selina and staff endure the ups and downs of the election night results.” S4 ends with a cliffhanger – and that’s a disappointment. Not a terrible letdown, but a more concrete finale would’ve been better. That’s a minor complaint about a mostly very good season, though, and I look forward to Season Five.