A behind-the-scenes look at a former Michigan U.S. representative's campaign as he vies for his party's Presidential nomination.
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1  
1988  
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Jack Tanner (11 episodes, 1988)
...
 T.J. Cavanaugh (11 episodes, 1988)
Daniel Jenkins ...
 Stringer Kincaid (11 episodes, 1988)
...
 Deke Connors (11 episodes, 1988)
...
 Andrea Spinelli (11 episodes, 1988)
...
 Alex Tanner (10 episodes, 1988)
Jim Fyfe ...
 Emile Berkoff (10 episodes, 1988)
...
 Molly Hark (10 episodes, 1988)
Frank Barhydt ...
 Frank Gatling (9 episodes, 1988)
Sandra Bowie ...
 Stevie Chevalier (8 episodes, 1988)
...
 Joanna Buckley (8 episodes, 1988)
...
 Hayes Taggerty (7 episodes, 1988)
...
 David Seidelman (7 episodes, 1988)
Greg Procaccino ...
 Barney Kittman (7 episodes, 1988)
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Storyline

A behind-the-scenes look at a former Michigan U.S. representative's campaign as he vies for his party's Presidential nomination.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated

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Release Date:

15 February 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tanner: A Political Fable  »

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Runtime:

(11 parts) | (10 parts)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Jack Tanner: You know, T.J., just before you called me last spring, Lexy and I went down to the Democratic Leadership Conference in South Carolina. The last night, we were sitting aroud with Kirk O'Donnell, and Hart, and Biden, a couple of the other candidates, who were shooting the breeze about how much the party had changed since the Sixties. And suddenly, out of the blue, Lexy turned to Hart and she asked him who his favorite Beatle was. Now, at first, Hart laughed, and then he stumbled around trying to ...
[...]
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User Reviews

Only in America
17 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

During the 1988 presidential campaign, Democratic hopefuls spiritedly canvass the country and jostle for their party's nomination and the honor of opposing Republican Vice President George Bush when congressman Jack Tanner emerges from a long political hiatus to challenge such opponents as Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson. The Tanner campaign appears at all the events and interacts with many important figures. What no one seems to realize, or particularly care about, is that Jack Tanner doesn't even exist. Michael Murphy stars in this hilarious and biting satire of media-age politics - relevant now more than ever.

Renegade filmmaker Robert Altman and Pulitzer-winning Doonesbury cartoonist G.B. Trudeau created the Jack Tanner character, but they couldn't hope to predict the frenzy he'd create. Politicians were eager to meet him, and more than happy to pretend they knew him. If it would make them look good, of course. Everyone from Pat Roberston to Bob Dole happily talked to Jack and his crew, knowing he had a media blitz surrounding him. The catch is they didn't know why he had a blitz around him.

Altman and crew were constantly filming Michael Murphy as he took the Tanner role and ran with it, frequently improvising, as Trudeau couldn't keep up with the goings-on well enough to script half of what Murphy did. What Trudeau did script was the behind-the-scenes action of the Tanner campaign. Campaign Manager T.J. Cavanaugh (masterfully portrayed by Pamela Reed) and her slew of assistants hustled and bustled in their HQ, desperately trying to spin everything Jack did to make him look 'For real', so as to match his slogan. Unfortunately, as T.J. put it, 'things happen to this man'.

Tanner has a lot of problems both in front of and behind the camera. First there's the camera-man Deke, who reads Jack's diary and puts his personal thoughts into campaign commercials and, after being fired, joins the NBC news crew that is assigned to follow Jack, which gives Deke even more chances to ruin Jack's life. Secondly there's the fact that Jack has fallen deeply in love with Michael Dukakis' (fictitious) campaign manager, Joanna Buckley. Thirdly, Jack's daughter, Alex, bounces between free-spiritedness and megalomania, both of which make Jack look bad. Last, but not least, is the fact that Jack never takes a definite stance on anything except drug legalization. This makes him look like more of a hippy than a politician.

Over the course of six hours and eleven episodes, Altman and Trudeau use their characters and the real politicians to weave a brilliant fable about the state of politics in a world where image means more than qualifications and standards. Pathetic as it may be, it's true. In most of the encounters Jack has with politicians it is quite clear that these people have no idea what is going on, yet they still pretend to be completely in control. When we put them in the White House, do they know what they're doing or are they just pretending to be completely in control? "Tanner '88" is a mockumentary that actually has a point, and makes that point very well.


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