Louis-Dreyfus gets the vote for comic timing
VEEP: SEASON 2 (HBO)
WHO WOULD have thought that Julia Loui s - D r e y f u s would prove the most successful of the famous four from Seinfeld beyond “the show about nothing”? She was impressive as a single mum in the sitcom, The New Adventures of Old Christine, although that raised barely a ripple over here. It’s a different story with Veep, in which she plays gaffe-prone American Vice-President Selina Meyer.
In best-yet Series Three — currently being shown on Sky Atlantic — Meyer and her motley entourage of political geeks and spinners are on the presidential trail, replete with laugh-outloud moments of naked ambition and self-serving cover-ups. But for devotees and newcomers, the Series Two DVD shows Veep getting intelligently into its stride after a rather uneven first season. The slightly sluggish beginnings may have been partly attributable to director, writer and executive producer, The Thick of It’s Armando Iannucci, finding his way around the American political scene.
As with The Thick of It, Veep benefits from pin-sharp writing and characterisation. Dan Egan ( Rei d S c o t t ) a n d AmyBrookheimer (Anna C h l u msk y ) are the Ollie Reeder and Emma Messenger types; Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh) is Meyer’s hapless press man and Tony Hale — scene-stealingly brilliant as man-child Buster in Arrested Development — is the Veep’s desperate-to-please bag man Gary Walsh. And just as the prime minis-
AS WITH THE WRITING IS PIN-SHARP
ter is off-screen in The Thick of It, so we never get to see the president, subject of Meyer’s continuing ire.
There is no lack of shouty plotting, big-time fall-outs and recriminations, but nothing on the decibel or expletive scale of a Malcolm Tucker, leaving centre stage for Louis-Dreyfus’s exquisite comic timing. It’s never better illustrated than in the episode — directed by Chris “Ollie Reeder” Addison — in which Meyer is unwillingly despatched to a hog roast as part of a “listen to rural America” initiative.
As she attempts to quell breaking controversy over her daughter’s college review of a Palestinian film, those back in DC watching the TV news feed are mortified to see her “voicing solidarity with the Jewish people in front of rotating pork”. After beanpole White House liaison Jonah Ryan (Tim Simons) is instructed to drape himself across the offending carcass, the complaint from Washington is: “I can still see the pig’s arse.” Priceless.