Reagan: Let's Finish the Job (1986)

TV Series  |  Comedy, War
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Four part comedy satire about President Ronald Reagan, his wife Nancy and his son Ron who is coping with an inferiority complex.

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1  
1986  
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Cast

Series cast summary:
Ton van Duinhoven ...
 Reagan (4 episodes, 1986)
Henny Orri ...
 Nancy (4 episodes, 1986)
Sjoerd Pleijsier ...
 Ron (4 episodes, 1986)
Wim Van Der Grijn ...
 P.A. (4 episodes, 1986)
Bart de Vries ...
 Lijfwacht (4 episodes, 1986)
Frans Heinsius ...
 Lijfwacht (4 episodes, 1986)
Guus Hoes ...
 James Greeves (3 episodes, 1986)
Hans Kemna ...
 Coach (3 episodes, 1986)
Netty Rosenfeld ...
 Journalist (3 episodes, 1986)
Nelly Frijda ...
 Winnie (3 episodes, 1986)
Moniek Kramer ...
 Karen (3 episodes, 1986)
Hedda van Gennep ...
 Journalist (3 episodes, 1986)
Eugenie Herlaar ...
 Nieuwslezer (3 episodes, 1986)
Tom Jansen ...
 Lijfarts (3 episodes, 1986)
Emile Fallaux ...
 Journalist (3 episodes, 1986)
Henk van Hoorn ...
 Journalist (3 episodes, 1986)
Johan Sirag ...
 Westend (3 episodes, 1986)
Carol van Herwijnen ...
 Bennie Bourbon (3 episodes, 1986)
Carla Hardy ...
 Jane Fischer (3 episodes, 1986)
Theu Boermans ...
 Sheriff (2 episodes, 1986)
Eric Schneider ...
 Rimboo (2 episodes, 1986)
Jerome Reehuis ...
 Dime (2 episodes, 1986)
Dick Scheffer ...
 Guild (2 episodes, 1986)
Peter De Wijn ...
 Brzovski (2 episodes, 1986)
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Storyline

Four part comedy satire about President Ronald Reagan, his wife Nancy and his son Ron who is coping with an inferiority complex.

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Genres:

Comedy | War

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Release Date:

7 September 1986 (Netherlands)  »

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User Reviews

 
Quite a nasty view of American politics in the Eighties
15 May 2009 | by (Rijswijk, ZH, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

More than any other statesmen, American Presidents are always ripe for lampooning. Ronald Reagan, beloved though he seemed to be, was an especially easy target considering both his age at the time and his background as an actor. In 1986, when Reagan was in the middle of his second term, Ronald was probably one of the most impersonated people on Television. In England, Spitting Image was at the height of it's popularity and in the Netherlands the VPRO commissioned writer/director Edwin de Vries to come up with a satire of their own. But while Spitting Image took aim at a much broader range of celebrities and was equal parts funny and disgusting, this series only picks on the Reagan family and on the whole comes over as just plain nasty. Though based on the actual Reagans, the series concentrates on only three members: Ron (Ton van Duinhoven) , Nancy (Henry Ori) and Ron Jr. (Sjoerd Pleysier). Strangely enough, this Ron Jr. is the son of Reagan's first wife Jane Wyman (called Jane Woman here) and his life runs parallel to his fathers. He is a failed actor (his part as the second presidential candidate in "Taxi Driver" having been cut) and is divorced by his actress wife Jane Fischer (Carla Hardy).

The four part serial was performed in Dutch with a lot of English sentences sprinkled into the dialog (especially when people express their anger). In fact, as the series progresses, more and more English lines are incorporated. This was done without the usual benefit of subtitles, depriving viewers who are less familiar with the English language of the full experience. Notice that at one point Pleysier as Ron Jr. is watching a video tape of "Taxi Driver" that does have subtitles. He attempts to interact during the famous 'Talkin' to me?' scene and while improvising, his grasp of the Enlish language slips a bit. The entire production was staged on studio sets, and no effort is made to disguise the fact that the establishing shots of Washington landmarks such as the White House and the Captitol building are models.

The main trust of the series is a rift between father and son Reagan. Having just been left by his wife and feeling overshadowed by his father, Junior takes the high road and ends up at a gas station where he is picked up and detained by the local sheriff. Meanwhile Senior is having problems with his health. Just like in Spitting Image, Nancy Reagan appears to be running the show behind is back, with some help from seedy (and fictional) cabinet members. Reagan is often seen having nightmares (usually at the end of each episode) while lying in a preposterous and enormous bed featuring the star spangled banner as cushions and a giant eagle towering over it's inhabitants. In a typically tasteless (not to mention drawn out) sequence of events in episode two, Reagan learns after the fact that a cancer tumor has been removed from his body. He then reluctantly goes public with it and appears on a tacky late night show hosted by 'Bennie Bourbon' (Carol van Herwijnen) where he proclaims the dreaded decease is no longer to be afraid of. Honestly, I've never heard the C-word used this much in a row during a non medical program before.

Having no further use for his son, Reagan orders his underlings to 'get rid of the bastard'. However, they they begin to brainwash the younger Reagan into being a good Republican and a prospective successor to his father instead. The final episode features a grand gala celebrating Ronald and Nancy's 35th wedding anniversary (it later turns out it was really their 34th) held in the famous Lincoln Theater. Well, there's a dead give-away if ever there was one. It all ends in a bloodbath for the fictional first family but again writer director De Vries fails to strike the right balance between comedy and tragedy. One thing that is makes this sequence even more surreal is that the big backdrop of Ton & Henry as Ron & Nancy decorating the stage makes them look more like ex-queen Julia and her husband Bernard to Dutch viewers.

Too much time and effort is spend on the musical numbers and impressions. Willem Nijholt performs an entire song as Frank Sinatra, John van Dreelen does an ineffective Jimmy Stewart impression, but Sylvia de Leur is made up to look quite a lot like Liz Taylor circa '86. There's even a Mr. T look alike (credited as Mr. T. no less). It's like De Vries decided to save up most of his resources for the final episode. It certainly is a daring piece of television. Watching it twenty years after the fact one is amazed this was ever screened at all. You certainly get the feeling it couldn't be done nowadays in the touchy-feely society we live in now. However as a comedy satire it fails to deliver. It's just too pleased with itself and trying to shock instead of entertain.

5 out of 10


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