“I’d like to begin today…by saying a few words.” And with that telling statement, “Veep” is back. The Season 4 premiere of Armando Iannucci’s brilliant political satire was constructed around the first major moment of the newly-crowned President Meyer’s reign. Watching fake presidential staffs plan out the State of the Union speech has been enticing entertainment since Sam and Toby tortured themselves on “The West Wing,” but never has it been this tense, catastrophic and hilarious.
As Selina’s staff scrambled to create a vague, but not too vague, address to the nation, Jonah took on his new role assisting the VP’s office with his big balls and Amy tried to keep things humming on the campaign trail. Of course, it all came crashing down — literally, if we’re talking computers — during her time in the spotlight. Though the public embarrassment was minimal, reading an old, outdated draft could lead to trouble down the line for a President already struggling — as if anything else could have happened.
“Veep” and its leading lady often shine the brightest when called on to improvise, diegetically or literally. Though I wasn’t a huge fan of the backwards time jump to start the episode, “Joint Session” really took off when we got to the address itself. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Iannucci and the editing team managed to make Selina look appropriately awkward and angry, alternatively, without losing authenticity. I could see her getting away with that speech if I had been watching from home, unaware of the behind-the-scenes issues. But Louis-Dreyfus sold us yet again on her deservedness for one more Emmy. Her restrained anger mid-speech when reading the budget misinformation was a thing of beauty, and her fiery speech to the staffers to cap the episode left the season premiere on a high note.
Jonah Put-Down of the Week
Traditionally, Jonah is literally shot down quicker and more often than skeet at a firing range, but this week was a little different. Instead of subjecting Jonah to the typical onslaught of insults from each and every staff member, the “Jolly Green Gizz Face” was put in a singularly awkward position by the new VP’s Chief of Staff. Played by Patton Oswalt (who we’ll get to momentarily), Teddy Sykes cornered Jonad outside the VP’s office. After a brief, awkward talking to, Teddy said, “You’re a good man, Jonah. We need guys like you because this game takes guts. And it takes balls.” And then he grabbed his balls. “Woah. You’ve got ’em, buddy,” served as the cherry on top of Jonah’s torture sundae, as we could see the internal battle in Jonah’s sick mind between protecting his manhood and making nice with the higher ups.
Besides his unusual treatment of Jonah — I seriously can’t tell if he’s pretending to like him or already understands his incompetence enough to appreciate it — everyone should be able to get behind Patton Oswalt on “Veep.” I mean, the comic has already appeared on such classic modern comedies as “Parks and Recreation,” “BoJack Horseman,” “Modern Family,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Community” and many more. It was only a matter of time before “Veep” snatched him up, and we all are already glad they did.
“It’s a nice room — for a lonely suicide or an affair with your secretary.”
– Bill Ericsson
The beauty of this line lies in the oh-so-subtle destruction of not just the hotel room, but of secretaries, as well. Though Dan Bakkedahl (Roger Furlong) had his fair share of excellent attacks, we’ll give Week 1 to Bill for a surprise early lead. What? I’m sure even the characters keep score of who gets in the most, best jabs.
Many people may be concerned with the authoritative constructs of another show airing Sunday nights on HBO this spring, but true TV fans know the game of thrones is happening on “Veep.” Between a ravenously power-hungry Dan Egan to Amy’s constant martyrdom, the ex-VP’s campaign party is in a constant state of flux. Jobs are lost and gained. Trust is earned and tossed aside. Friends are feigned but never formed, all to have the ear of the President. So who’s looking up after Week 1 in office?
1) Ben Cafferty
– He’s the Chief of Staff and a proven talent at the tight-rope walk of balancing good advice with adequate sucking up. It’s his spot to lose, even if Selina doesn’t think of him as a man.
2) Amy Brookheimer
– She’s the campaign manager, which is the spot she always wanted…until Selina became President. Now, she’s certainly gunning for Ben’s job, but it’s a long way off.
3) Mike McClintock
– I love Mike, so he’ll get the benefit of the doubt until he truly messes up.
4) Sue Wilson
– Sue is right where she wants to be. You get the impression she could move up if she wants to, but isn’t making it a priority right now.
5) Dan Egan
– Dan’s still recovering from his catastrophic slide last season, so he’ll be hovering near the bottom for a bit. But his cut-throat mentality keeps him in the mix for a quick move up (or down).
6) Bill Ericsson
– He quit Joe Thornhill’s campaign and is now gunning for Amy’s job. Selina offered him the job last year, but he’ll have to earn it back now…which he’s plenty capable of doing.
7) Kent Davison
– Kent is…Kent (though “Gray Elvis” is also 100 percent accurate). He’s a robot, reliable numbers guy, but seemingly incapable of moving up. Plus, Selina does not like him.
8) Gary Walsh
– Gary is in exile! Between his shoulder issues last year and now this, Gary might need to make a move if he wants to stay in the mix.
9) Jonah Ryan
– Jonah will always be at the bottom, if only because he is the embodiment of that position. It would take a monumental collapse for someone to drop beneath Jonad.
Oh, Kent. You’ll always be my favorite, in part because you’re the only one who really wants out.
So glad to see Sam Richardson as a series regular this year. Great character, terrifically portrayed.
If Jonah ever scared me like that, I’d use it as an excuse to physically attack him.
READ MORE: 8 Things You Never Knew About the Supporting Cast of ‘Veep’