The first season of Veep was a nice change of pace for a familiar face or two and in its second season it upped its game quite nicely. And considering the character and the ground that was trod beforehand, there was a natural spot for it to go, right?
For those who don't know, the titular character is Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus ,The New Adventures of Old Christine). Yet the show not only enjoys the chance for its ensemble to become more involved and engaged with its characters but somewhat subtly expand the universe of politicians and staffers while moving stories forward, and the overall product is fantastic.
For those unfamiliar with the show, the brainchild of Armando Iannucci (In The Loop) focuses on Dreyfus as the eponymous Vice President Selina Meyer. Her Chief of Staff Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky, My Girl 2) and Deputy Communications Director Dan Egan (Reid Scott, Amusement) are vying to be the manager of her aspiring campaign for the Presidency. Communications Director Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh, Ted) is still around and is getting married, and Selina's personal aide Gary Walsh (Tony Hale, The Informant!) is trying to find ways around being just a "body man." Selina's secretary Sue (Sufe Bradshaw, Star Trek) has returned, and a quietly intriguing but funny subplot is the romance between her and Kent Davison (Gary Cole, Pineapple Express), a Senior Strategist. Ben Caffrey (Kevin Dunn, Transformers), and his big ass coffee mug return as well, this time to handle the White House Chief of Staff.
What's that, I didn't mention White House aide Jonah, played by the hilarious Timothy C. Simons? Well, sure, Veep is a sitcom, but Jonah's character arc in Veep goes through several highs and lows, all of which are not without a ton of chuckles. Now, I will presume that someone in Washington can find these jobs like Jonah does with relative ease, but also Simons' work in the show (and this possibly being his best to date in the show) to warrant such attention, well, any time Jonah comes on the screen you are liable to crack up.
Season Three of Veep finds Selina flirting with before transitioning to campaigning for President in the wake of the incumbent deciding to resign after one term. And putting Selina and the staff out on the road provides a lot of the reactions and moments that one would expect. There is the introduction of a couple of folks into the universe, some more familiar, others not. Christopher Meloni (42) plays Ray, an exercise instructor who becomes a sexual dalliance for Selina in the season, stealing more than a moment or two in scenes he's in. On an anonymous note, Sam Richardson (We're The Millers) plays Richard, a temporary aide while Selina is in Iowa, and he's a quiet and pleasant surprise in his scant moments. Kudos to HBO and the show for promoting him to series regular in Season Four
While the guest stars and cast of Veep acquit themselves well in Season Three, some of the events during the season leave something to be desired. At one point, there is a presidential candidate debate, featuring some of those who you may know from previous episodes of Veep like Governor Danny Chung (Randall Park, Larry Crowne) and Secretary of Defense General Maddox (Isiah Whitlock Jr., The Wire). But when it comes to the debate, a presumed tentpole moment for Veep in the season, it seems to come up a little flat. The staffers for the campaigns have more fun with this than those onstage do, and while it is enjoyable, it tends to go away from the unintentional hilarity in front of the camera that Selina Meyer experiences and the many different ways to swear and/or threaten someone behind it in the office.
If there is a larger concern about Veep is that it seems that the space with which to evolve the Selina character is going to get gradually reduced to the point where is loses the wit that it is known for. There are still a lot of great moments in Veep and seeing the season again (after seeing the episodes as they aired) clued me in to jokes I missed before and more subtle ones that are worth a laugh. And these moments are cute, but hopefully they do not become the main gags.
I still enjoy Veep and I look forward to Season Four when it airs (as of this writing) next month. But as watching the third season, I cannot help feel that there is an unknowing transition into a new incarnation of Veep that I am not sure I want to experience. It still remains a funny show, but there is a foreboding I cannot help get over with Season Three. I hope it realizes this and plans accordingly.The Blu-rays:
The third season of Veep gets ten episodes again, and again they are split evenly onto two discs, and again they are presented with the AVC encode in 1.78:1 widescreen. On the whole, there seem to be not as many second unit shots of Washington and that things are a little more focused on sets this season. It is OK as the colors are replicated accurately in Selina's various outfits, and image detail whether in Dan's beard or in facial poring and blemishes is not bad. Complaint-free viewing with a nice high-definition transfer.Audio:
DTS HD-MA 5.1 lossless surround rules the day on the show and it is without complaint like the other seasons. Dialogue is clean and the first episode shows off the cheesiness of the PA during Mike's wedding, flirting with dynamic territory. But the show does not do a lot with surround effects or channel placement, and the low-end fidelity for the subwoofer does not get a chance to do any heavy lifting. I am sure that it probably could, the source material does not allow for it, that's all.Extras:
Commentary tracks on the last four episodes of the season are included, all include Dreyfuss and two or three members of the cast to go with a crew member or two. The dynamics of the tracks fluctuate and save the first track (Episode 7) that gets into the editorial process, nothing of note is really gathered from these. Deleted scenes appear on nine of ten episodes and are mostly quick hits, the nearly 50 scenes run less than 20 minutes (18:18), but have some jokes here and there. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley visited the set and it is chronicled here (2:56), serving as a PSA of sorts for Maryland productions. There is also a code for digital copies via iTunes and/or Ultraviolet.Final Thoughts:
The third season of Veep still brings the funny, more than a lot of shows have been doing consistently. But there are some wrinkles where it does not measure up to Seasons One and Two, perhaps because of the increasing amount of eyes on Selina's character. It may be a prototypical case of being good, but not great. Technically, the show still delivers the goods from sound and vision angles, and the extras are decent, albeit scant and bland. Definitely worth checking out if you have not yet, but for fans of the show that haven't seen it, you may be slightly disappointed.