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Veep: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

11 Apr, 2013 By: John Latchem

$39.98 two-disc DVD, $49.99 three-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo
Not rated.
Stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Timothy C. Simons, Sufe Bradshaw.

Why make a show about the powerful and influential members of the Washington, D.C., elite, when it’s so much more fun to focus on how the vice president is neither of those things?

And thus we have the hilarious “Veep” from creator Armando Iannucci, drawing inspiration from his BBC show “The Thick of It” and his Academy Award-nominated film In the Loop.

The show cuts to the chase of what makes everyone hate Washington politics: a cesspool of negative morality and perversions of common sense.

The title veep is Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a former senator who, after a failed presidential bid, accepts the vice-presidency and learns it’s a quick path to irrelevancy, so that her only job is to stay visible enough so she can hopefully one day run for president again. This is a role well within Louis-Dreyfus’ wheelhouse (and not a major surprise she won the Emmy for it).

The best part about the show is that it’s non-partisan, focusing on tactics rather than policy, and how it turns the vice president’s office into the kind of callous, cynical workplace you’d find anywhere. Like any workplace comedy, the show’s effectiveness is fueled by the flawless interaction of the cast.

Standouts include Tony Hale of “Arrested Development” as Selina’s lapdog body man, Gary; former child star Anna Chlumsky as chief of staff Amy; Matt Walsh as incompetent communications director Mike; Reid Scott as Selina’s Machiavellian douchebag adviser, Dan; Sufe Bradshaw as secretary Sue; and Timothy Simons as Jonah, the White House liaison who’s trying to bang every woman in the veep’s office by bragging about how he works at the White House.

The result is a head-spinning juxtaposition of political power versus public good, so robbing the characters of any guiding compass that at one point Meyer actually has to ask her staff which way the political winds should guide her “principles and conscience.” When she has to cast a tiebreaking vote in the Senate that forces her to choose between her signature legislation or showing solidarity with the president, her advisers to urge her to take a position opposite to their own personal ideals.

This satirical knife makes “Veep” a far more effective glimpse at federal politics than overwrought fare such as “House of Cards.”

The Blu-ray offers about a half-hour of deleted scenes, several commentaries and a behind-the-scenes featurette, in addition to a few other surprises.

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