Political Animals on USA Network

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Chuck Anstey, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    Wow. I had no idea that the show was going to be a real world "what-if" scenario of if Hillary Clinton had divorced Bill after losing the primary and then ran for office against Obama after the first term. I have no idea if the real people they represent feel that way but I as a citizen sure wish they did. Best line (as best I can remember) "I would like to start working for the man that beat me." I think I'll be watching just to see where this goes.
     
  2. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    I really enjoyed it. It's basically "Dallas" with a more talented cast and Washington politics substituting for Texas oil. Incidentally, I think that scenario runs closer to the reality than the wonkian utopia of "The West Wing."
    I thought they did a really nice job walking the line on that one. While the scenario is obviously identical -- the former first lady of a wayward husband defeated in the Democratic primary and then appointed Secretary of State -- there were enough differences that I didn't feel like I was watching an allegory with substituted names. It gives them license to do things with the characters that Hillary, Bill et al would not do without feeling exploitative of their images.
    Signorney Weaver and Carla Gugino have to anchor the show as the focal points of the political world and the subculture that reports on it, and both fill the bill. Signorney Weaver dominates the screen whenever she appears, and makes this very challenging role seem effortless. Gugino isn't as stellar, but she does a lot better than most of the USA acting talent. And incidentally, I've known several public affairs reporters, based out of the Massachusetts state house and the New York Capitol, and she's pretty close to the mark of most of them. There are still lines they won't cross, the goal posts have moved a lot since Nixon, but children and family members are still pretty much off limits. If Elaine's straight son had tried to kill himself, that would be a legitimate story because he's the chief of staff for the Secretary of State and his input affects policy.
    I also liked that the gay son's issues had nothing, at least directly, to do with him being gay. If he were straight, he'd be just as much of a liability because of his other issues. Would he have had those other issues if he'd grown up straight in the media's harsh glare? Elaine likes to think not, but the show strongly hints that he would.
    I believe this is the first time Greg Berlanti's written for TV since "Eli Stone." He executive produced on "No Ordinary Family", but I don't think he did any writing for it. His theatrical output has been a mixed bag, to say the least, but I loved "Everwood" and enjoyed "Jack and Bobby" so I'm happy to see him back with a hands-on role with this.
     
  3. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    If the remainder of the episodes they spend more time as a soap opera with this one sleeping with that one, the fiancee having bulimia, and lots of over the top problems instead of focusing on the difficulties of politics for families with realistic problems then I will probably tune out before the end.
    I think Carla Gugino's character should have been far more upset about her boss printing the story. Cheating on her is about his reputation but the story is about her's and her reputation is far more important because now people know her word means nothing.
     
  4. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    I only watched bits and pieces of this. Most of what I saw had me in hysterics, and I'm not sure if any of it was intentional. Holy overblown melodrama, Batman! :) When Sigourney Weaver was tearfully screaming at Carla Gugino about The First Openly Gay First Family Child I could almost see the words "EMMY CLIP" flashing across the bottom of the screen.
     
  5. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    I just wish they'd say "Mini-Series" rather then a "limited edition television series".. I mean, come on.. does Mini-Series have that much stigma attached?
     
  6. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    When I here the term mini-series, I think of 3 nights in a row of 2 hours and it is more of an extended movie, not a 6 episode once a week show. Actually the length they have would be a normal British series. I see your point in that the total will be 6 hours, i.e. a mini season / series and will be clearly serial but so are other series with much fewer than normal episodes per year.
     
  7. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Enjoyed most of it and will continue watching. Will every episode be this extended length or was it just the pilot that will be that long?
     
  8. Greg Kettell

    Greg Kettell Screenwriter

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    Weaver is great in this, and like most of the rest of the cast, but greatly dislike the guy playing "Bud", the former President. Horrible, zero charisma & can't buy that he was ever a popular two-term President.
     
  9. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Maybe because Ciaran Hinds is Irish (or Brit) so the accent comes off as being slightly forced, which complicates matters. He played Julius Caesar in Rome, and despite not being close to Caesar in terms of physicality, IMHO he did a great job in portraying Caesar, including exuding the charisma that made Caesar so beloved and revered by the people of Rome. For Rome, he just used a Brit accent, which might be his natural accent, and perhaps that's why his acting wasn't as compromised.
     
  10. Joe Bernardi

    Joe Bernardi Supporting Actor

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    They should have hired Darrel Hammond to play the not-Bill-Clinton character.
     
  11. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    They did a good job in the last couple episodes showing a) how Ciaran Hinds's former president got elected president, and b) why Elaine is still loyal to him after all of these years. He's still a philandering piece of shit, but at least that's not ALL he is. The revelation that he tanked his own reputation in order to provide cover for Elaine once it became clear that she couldn't win was just a great piece of television.
     
  12. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Quite the way to set up a second series/season, eh? But is a second series/season coming at all, or is that it?

    If anything, the way it's set-up now, it's almost certain that Elaine could win, since she won't come across as hypocritical in now saying that she disagrees with the new president's agenda (assuming that Garcetti is in fact dead and the VP becomes POTUS) and resigns, which was supposed to have been the biggest risk of her challenging Garcetti in the first place. Then somewhere along the line it could be subtly leaked that the VP was involved in blackmailing TJ's Congressman lover and the fallout resulted in TJ's suicide attempt, although having said that, that could suggest she was challenging the (former) VP as a vendetta.
     
  13. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    The season finale threw in quite a twist that caught me completely by surprise.

    I'm not getting my hopes up for a second season. Though the ratings did improve a bit by the end, they were not stellar, and the show must cost a pretty penny with this star-laden line-up.
     
  14. Stan

    Stan Producer
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    I'm only now watching episode three, and haven't read this thread beyond Aaron's #4 post, but Emmy definitely comes to mind with Sigourney Weaver's performance so far, even though it is a bit over the top, she is a very good actress. Although the timing seems odd because it won't even be considered until the 2013 Emmy's a year from now.
    Don't care for the gay/straight son story right now, maybe it improves. It's just so stereotypical that the gay son is suicidal, drug addicted, a thief, etc. while the straight son is the angelic perfect child.
    Still fun to watch and am looking forward to finishing the series in the next day or two.
     
  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Well, as you watch, you'll see that he's less than angelic. They both have serious problems from the life-in-the-headlines existences they've endured.
     
  16. Stan

    Stan Producer
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    Did jump forward when I saw your reply, but haven't read anything beyond post #4. Looking forward to the last few episodes. Have always liked the actor playing the straight son, other than that awful thing a few years ago with Jon Voight that lasted two episodes before being cancelled. Trying not to bump into spoilers but "The Huffington Post" ruined that when I did a quick search on something related. Never even went to the site, but the info in title, saying the president had been killed kind of ruined that surprise.
    Still looking forward to the rest of the series, but that info wasn't necessary. Understandably the finale aired nine days ago, but you'd think they could have said something more generic like "Shocking Ending to Political Animals". Also read some little blip about this coming back for a second series, but maybe just a rumor. Would like "Veep" to return, great show, similar in ways, but obviously much more satirical.
    Haven't even started HBO's "The Newsroom". Guess I'll be even more careful to avoid any possible spoilers to that series.
    Always liked these short, almost mini-series type of shows. Especially with DVRs now, it's fun to record the entire thing and spend a quiet day watching everything at once. Even though the rule here is that once it has been shown, read at your own risk, it's easy to avoid threads until you've seen the show and threads don't have major spoiler info in their titles. As for the rest of the net, anything is fair game, so beware.
     
  17. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Yes, I have to be very selective in sites that I read when I'm really busy and don't always have a chance to see a show on the night it's telecast. It took me three or four days sometimes to catch up with the previous Sunday's Political Animals broadcast.
     
  18. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Although it's a little unlikely on this show vs something like Revenge--they did make somewhat of a point of showing the tail and aft part of AF1 stickiing out of the water intact....
     
  19. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    All in all, I thought it was very enjoyable. I really enjoyed the way they developed the relationship between Weaver's secretary of state and her ex-president ex-husband. Certainly he deserved the divorce, but he was also in her corner when nobody else was. In Sigorney Weaver and CiarĂ¡n Hinds, you have two top-shelf actors bringing their talents to bear. There was a wonderful sense of history between them; lots of love, a good deal of hate, but mostly the weight of decades of a shared life together. I don't expect it to come back, given the ratings, but I'd be happy if it did.
     
  20. Stan

    Stan Producer
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    A second season does seem unlikely, but you never know. These are portions from an article on Zimbio (which I'd never even heard of until I read the article) about the season finale.
    After a mere six episodes, the USA Network's limited-run series ended its first season with a bang on Sunday night.
    The episode ends with Bud asking, nay imploring, Elaine to run for President. Her reply? A steely Mona Lisa smile before we fade to black on the season.
    Political Animals hasn't generated the kind of critical and ratings buzz that USA probably wanted, but the bold season finale certainly makes the case that it deserves a second season. The performances are uniformly excellent, with Carla Gugino, Sebastian Stan, Ciaran Hinds, and Ellen Burstyn all doing first-rate work. Sure, it hasn't been a perfect season. Political Animals stumbles into over-the-top soapy territory and has a tendency to be a bit too on-the-nose with its observations about political life. But it also takes chances and it aspires to greatness. There are worse things a show could do.
    Granted, this is a story from one writer, but I've come across many others with similar opinions.
    Season 2?
    Maybe.
     

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