This is the fourth time I've reviewed Veep for the folks at DVD Talk (you can read the reviews of Season One, Season Two and Season Three), and it continues to be a pleasure to do so, with this one being particularly special.
In Season Four, Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus ,The New Adventures of Old Christine) is, um, no longer Veep, now taking over as President after the resignation of her boss. We see her enjoy the Presidential comforts before being forced to run for re-election after only six months. The gang is still here, Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky, My Girl 2) and Dan Egan (Reid Scott, Amusement), Communications Director Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh, Ted) is now the White House spokeman, though Gary Walsh (Tony Hale, The Informant!) has been shunted to the side in the new office. Sue (Sufe Bradshaw, Star Trek) has her position, as does strategist Kent Davison (Gary Cole, Pineapple Express) and White House Chief of Staff Ben Caffrey (Kevin Dunn, Transformers). Jonah, (Timothy Simons, Inherent Vice) returns, and Sam Richardson (Spy) joins the fold as Richard Splett, a campaign assistant, now part of staff. Along with Richardson's promotion to full-time cast is the addition of Diedrich Bader (Napoleon Dynamite) as Bill Ericsson, a campaign manager for a former candidate who joined Selena in the White House.
For as much as Veep built up in its universe over the course of three seasons, seeing them almost reboot Selena Meyer and the Meyer staff in Season Four seems to have upped their already strong game. The gradual transition of Selena from one who enjoys this promotion to almost dreading re-election is quietly a great choice from Dreyfus. Over a season with many laughs from a show with a fair amount of improvisation, if one were to develop a power rankings for the cast, Walsh would have been at the top of most of those lists. Those who steal the show in this season are Simons and Richardson. Richardson's character is simply not capable of anything. He starts the season as Amy's assistant and becomes Jonah's, and the two's riffing off one another makes for some great moments. Amy's far more competent than Jonah, and seeing Jonah and Richard bumble around on their adventures, man alive I've never wanted to see a spinoff more in my life.
The show isn't afraid to bring in new blood either; Selena's Vice Presidential nominee is Tom James, in a sly bit of casting by landing Hugh Laurie (House) for it. James is a charismatic politician, but also had a tryst with Selena back in the day, and their chemistry onscreen is great to take it. In a smaller guest role is Patton Oswalt (Big Fan), who plays the current Vice President's Chief of Staff, and a man with his hands on Jonah, literally.
Veep was on such a roll this season, with three installments being among the best in their series thus far; episode 3's "Data," episode 8's "B/ill" and episode 9's "Testimony." The first one moves character developments forward rapidly, emphasized by the funniest 15 minutes of comedic television that I recall, by everyone involved too. "B/ill" puts Dreyfus in bed from the flu and gives Laurie the first chance with the ensemble and he delivers, and "Testimony" takes the cast and deposes them. The change in format still delivers exceptional results, including a supercut of various uses of Jonah's name that are amazing.
If there is a small amount of concern about Veep is that its creator and show runner Armando Iannucci left after the end of the season to maintain a level of personal sanity as the London-Baltimore commute was a personal strain. David Mandel has since taken over, but even with the former Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm man is probably up to the challenge, but the problem is Season Four of the show has set such an impossibly high bar it's hard to wonder if anyone could clear it. But it should be fun to see.The Blu-rays:
Season Four of Veep is another ten-episodes of fun, split equally over two discs, each with an AVC encode for the 1.78:1 widescreen episodes. The quality is consistent across from the show's original broadcast airings. On disc, there seems to be some image softness in parts and some scenes in shadow involving Dan tend to have some crush in them. Nevertheless, this is a straightforward reproduction of the show on disc.Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround for these episodes which at first glance you may not think you'll need but they come in handy. There are a couple of moments where there is some range expressed in the soundstage (first from a Police song over the PA, the second from a fireworks display outside as Selina is talking). The show sounds clean with directional effects present and effective, just not abundant. But considering it's a TV comedy, source material is done justice here.Extras:
The thinnest of the seasons yet, with deleted scenes for each episode (31, 15:56), which are met with varying degrees of laughs.Final Thoughts:
The fourth season of Veep from beginning to end may have been its best yet, and if you have not seen the show at this point you should do yourself a favor and jump in before Season Five airs on HBO soon. You don't need to watch chronologically which also helps, but if you were going to jump in anywhere, this is a great place to start. Technically it's fine, even as the extras have gradually diminished each season. But I've seen these many of these episodes multiple times and will see them again now, as you should.