Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 12, 2017)
Less than six months after Season Five hit shelves – and on the verge of Season Seven’s debut – we get Season Six of Veep. The two-disc Blu-ray set includes all 10 of Season Five’s episodes across two discs. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray menus.
Omaha: “Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) procrastinates on writing her memoir. Dan (Reid Scott) tries to charm his co-worker. Amy (Anna Chlumsky) is out of place.”
As Season Six starts, we find Selina and company out of office for the first time, a factor that sets up an intriguing dynamic – how do you have a series called Veep when the title character doesn’t occupy an elected position?
This makes “Omaha” a transitional episode, though one that remains oriented toward the political realm, with hints of Selina’s return to the campaign trail. Because it needs to throw out lots of exposition, “Omaha” can feel scattered, but it still starts the season pretty well.
Library: “Selina and her team visit Hughes’ presidential library.”
The titular aspects of the show work moderately well, but Jonah’s pursuit of a wife fares best – his date scenes could fill a whole episode and make me happy. Other parts of the episode seem more up and down, but this is still a largely positive program.
Georgia: “Selina helps monitor a Eurasian country’s first democratic election. Mike (Matt Walsh) and Gary (Tony Hale) cover up a major mishap. Dan helps out Amy.”
In a strong cast, Sam Richardson becomes the unsung hero, the series’ only cheerful, non-profane regular character. The scene in which he remains chipper and oblivious to Jonah’s taunts becomes a highlight. Other aspects – like some voting shenanigans and Stephen Fry’s disfigured politician – turn this into a winner.
Justice: “Selina attends a Supreme Court justice’s funeral. Amy works on Selina’s library. Jonah (Timothy Simons) embraces an issue.”
A new castmember for S6, Margaret Colin delivers a delicious take on a catty TV news anchor. She adds spark to the series and becomes another standout aspect of this amusing episode.
Chicklet: “Selina finds a library location. Dan lands in a gossip column. Mike and Selina work on her book. Jonah tries to cement a big donation.”
Once again, Richard delights, as his recruitment to be a sperm donor amuses. Reflections on Selina’s bizarre youth also add mirth to the show, so it goes down fun paths.
Qatar: “Selena visits Qatar. Jonah has dinner. Dan gets a visit from HR.”
Despite Selina’s standard lack of ethical foundation, “Qatar” pushes this a little too far, as her craven self-interest takes her to a new low. That factor brings a drag on the episode and makes it one of the weaker programs this year, though it still musters some laughs.
Blurb: “While her staff prepares for her portrait unveiling, Selina and Mike try to finish her book.”
After the spotty “Qatar”, “Blurb” rebounds – but not wholly. The show manages amusement via Jonah’s Ted Cruz-style assault on congressional norms, but it ends up as a show that’s below the series’ usual standards.
Judge: “Selina takes a trip. Dan woos Jonah to get a coveted interview. Amy convinces Selina to put her in charge of a very disorganized Mike.”
A guest spot from Stephen Root as Gary’s father adds spark to “Judge”. Add the sight of Jonah on a power trip and this turns into an effective episode.
A Woman First: “Selina's book finally arrives. Jonah has a big meeting. Dan, Ben (Kevin Dunn) and Kent (Gary Cole) grab a drink.”
If nothing else, “First” benefits from the return of Peter MacNicol as Jonah’s uncle – he brings a cruel zing to the show. Jonah’s comeuppance also entertains, and other elements coalesce to make this a good lead-in to the season finale.
Groundbreaking: “Selina and her team prepare for the long awaited opening of her library.”
I have to admit that S6 lacks some focus due to the absence of a really strong overall narrative. Whereas prior years looked at political campaigns, this one concentrates on Selina’s library, and that emphasis seems less compelling.
“Groundbreaking” ties up that narrative but acts more to push us toward Season Seven. This makes the episode a little bit of a tease – it still entertains, though, and makes me look forward the series’ final year.