‘ Veep’ is back and, somehow, it’s better
BY VERNE GAY
NEWSDAY A year out of office, Selina Meyer ( Julia Louis- Dreyfus) has moved to New York to run a nonprofit foundation, with Gary ( Tony Hale) in tow — or on a leash. Richard Splett ( Sam Richardson) is helping to run the foundation, too, while Selina’s ex ( David Pasquesi) turns up briefly to lend a hand.
Meanwhile, Selina’s daughter Catherine ( Sarah Sutherland) and Marjorie ( Clea DuVall) are happily, legally married. Dan ( Reid Scott) has a TV news job. Amy ( Anna Chlumsky) is still in politics. Mike ( Matt Walsh) is a dad. Jonah ( Timothy Simons) is still a congressman fromNew Hampshire. And Ben ( Kevin Dunn)? Well, Ben’s learning what an “Uber” is.
As usual for “Veep,” the sixth season, whichpremieres at 10: 30 p. m. Sunday on HBO, also promises lots of memorable star cameos, including Amy Brenneman, Stephen Fry and Margaret Colin ( who playsDan’s co- anchor).
“Veep” long ago became acclamation- proof because there was almost no more acclaim to give. The Emmys followed the raves, then the records beganto fall. Last September, Louis- Dreyfus won her record fifth- straight outstanding lead actress award, each of those deserved. Show creator Armando Iannucci left before the fifth season ( he remains as a consultant), which could have portended the inevitable start of the inevitable decline. But oh no: The fifth was great, too.
So all of this leaves devoted fans where exactly? Could “Veep” get any better ( they wonder)? How is that even possible ( they conclude)?
Here’s how: Set the showin New York. Here’s another way: Scatter the gang. Have Dan become a morning news anchor on “CBS This Morning.” Make his co- anchor Atilla the Hun. Turn Mike into a manny who— like that beset lady in the shoe — has so many children he doesn’t know what to do. Leave Amy in Nevada to run another hopeless campaign for another inept candidate. Keep Jonah inWashington, which deserves him ( and vice versa). MakeBena consultant, but do keepthewhiskey bottlehandy.
Gary naturally will remain at Selina’s side, or at her feet. But what, oh what, do you do with a problem like Selina? As the lioness in winter, she must crave the crown she so recently lost. To whet her appetite, pile on the indignities of a commoner’s life— her foundation’s headquarters remind her of “the Triangle Shirtwaist factory,” for example — and also pile on the complicating factors of another race.
Everyone does remind her that upon leaving office, she pardoned a felon whose crimes were Madoff- like in scale. But ever the pluckyoptimist, Selina remindsher skeptics that JFK didn’t finish a full termeither. She can come back. She must.
In TV terms, we call this a re- set, but in“Veep” terms, it’s genius. HBOoffered three episodes for review, which seen together play like a movie— the funniest movie you will have seen all year, maybe next year, too. One of the showrunners, Lew Morton, wrote the opener, “Omaha,” which — line for line, joke for joke, gag for gag — ranks among “Veep’s” best. Ben has some of those lines that ( as usual) will leave you gasping for air, while Selina’s archenemy Roger Furlong ( the brilliant Dan Bakkedahl) has some that will have you choking. I’m talking laughter here, not a medicalemergency. Butwho knows? They are that funny.
In the meantime, yes, “Veep” has had enough acclaim already. Share the wealth. Let another show bask in the glory, and let another great actress besides Louis- Dreyfus step up to the podium for a change. But based on these first three episodes, that change could be a long time coming.
Julia Louis- Dreyfus stars in the HBO series “Veep,” which premieres its sixth season at 10: 30 p. m. Sunday.