Irresistible leading trio, empathic relationships, feminism-driven story but stereotyped characters and questionable production
One actress to rule them all, Sigourney Weaver. The more I grow up the more I'm into politics but without her I would probably have ignored the miniseries. Now that I've seen its pilot I won't say that not giving Political Animals a chance would be a foolish mistake because it has some flaws. Otherwise this first installment shined in many departments so in the end it's really about what you expect from a show and which mistakes you're not ready to forgive.
Lady Weaver is really the ultimate acting chameleon. She can become anyone and the characters she has played have become icons and changed the life of millions of people around the globe. Don't worry, she has plenty of scenes respectful of her inspiring talent. From thundering anger to contagious hilarity the palette of emotions she developed would make an interesting painting if you splashed all its dual colors on a canvas. Her character, Elaine Barrish, instantly grew on me because her profile felt realistic enough to make me care about her story. Contemporary and feminist. A valley of intelligence and beauty. Of course it's impossible not to compare her to Hillary Clinton but if you're interested by foreign cultures other names like Ségolène Royal should pop up in your head, and the reason will be obvious once you have seen the pilot.
Around Elaine gravitates plenty of other characters, some are perfect matches when others couldn't be more stereotyped. Among the last we have the gay son, addicted to drugs The list of clichés is long but he has an excuse, his twin brother. Seriously ? As for a blogger she reminded me too much of Willa from Dirt, played by the gorgeous Alex Breckenridge, so let's hope she's not just one dimensional. However their respective roles are minor so they shouldn't ruin your experience. In fact each time Carla Gugino and Ciarán Hinds enter the stage you instantly forget about what went wrong a second earlier. The first already had my vote because I found her quite convincing in Threshold. Here she's a reporter named Susan Berg and I absolutely loved her dynamic and chemistry with Sigourney. From their complex mind games to well designed costumes most of their scenes are televisual diamonds. Sadly the only one that disappointed me was their last as it featured majestic animals behind bars and I found Elaine's metaphora way too literal. There was definitely room for improvements in order to make it memorable because it's what all great pilots require. Still the truthful moments they share, the one on the plane felt like a self-help session, are what you will remember. As for Hinds, Julius Caesar in Rome, my heart balances between skepticism and subjectivity. In the one hand the character he portrays, Bud Hammond, made the episode more entertaining but in the other hand if it wasn't for Elaine I would have definitely thrown him into the clichés trash. However they made a believable couple and the part featuring the bodyguards was brilliantly staged and delivered exactly what you would expect from a miniseries titled Political Animals.
It leads us to the production quality because it's actually one of the show weakness. Apparently they didn't have the resources, time and budget, to polish all scenes as they would have wanted. Some are cinematographic when others, in the garage or at the zoo, are immersion breakers. Therefore it prevents the viewers from fully diving into their screen for more than an hour. Otherwise despite all these cons the pros should be numerous enough to convince part of the audience to watch all six episodes. I don't know yet if I'll be part of them but I'm sure of two things, Elaine Barrish's destiny intrigues me and Sigourney Weaver is an extraordinary womanimal !
Note : This review was first posted on Kritikenstein, my weblog.
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