Wednesday, March 26, 2014

VEEP: The Complete Second Season Blu-Ray Review

Reviewed by Aaron Nuewirth
With the third season of the Emmy award-winning series VEEP about to debut on HBO, the second season has now been released on Blu-ray. Continuing with what made the first season so hilarious, with an added bit of confidence, given the bump up to ten episodes and some added talent, VEEP continues to be one of my favorite TV comedies currently airing and this was another very solid set of episodes to dig back into. Julia Louis-Dreyfus continues to lead a great cast of comedic talent in Armando Iannuci’s very witty and very funny take on the life of the Vice President and the silly people that work with her. Read on to learn more about this series and what this package has to offer.

Show (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
HBO provides a fine summary of the second season’s basic arc: Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns for a second season in her Emmy-winning roles as Vice President Selina Meyer in VEEP, the hilarious political comedy created by Oscar nominee Armando Ianucci. As midterm elections loom, Vice President Meyer is scoring higher ratings than the president in several popularity polls, which she hopes will boost her influence and help her curry favor with the chief executive. But despite her best intentions, even the most banal actions can set off unexpected and often disastrous consequences. The ensemble cast also stars Emmy-winner Tony Hale (Arrested Development), Emmy-nominee Anna Chlumsky (In the Loop), Matt Walsh (Hung), Reid Scott (My Boys), Timothy Simons (Days Together), and Sufe Bradshaw (Overnight).
This “Complete First Season” package includes all 10 episodes:
  1. “Midterms”
  2. “Signals”
  3. “Hostages”
  4. “The Vic Allen Dinner”
  5. “Helsinki”
  6. “Andrew”
  7. “Shutdown”
  8. “First Response”
  9. “Running”
  10. “D.C.”
Having just gone over the first season, it is hard to really expound more about something I already covered. VEEP is still an immensely funny series. It is also very clever and has one of the best casts of any show. I am not huge on the traditional sitcom these days and while I am not faulting anyone who does, it is something like VEEP that grabs my attention and holds onto it, given the style in which it conducts its humor and the layers that come along with it. I am not saying it is a show for smart people, especially since it combines clever vulgarity with a scene involving a character running into a glass door, but there is something to appreciate about a series that does not pander to audiences either.

The cast continues to be excellent. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale managed to win Emmys this past year for their work, but the whole team deserves praise. Given that this is the second season, everyone is basically just more comfortable in their own shoes as the people they are playing and it is wonderful to see. The additions of Gary Cole and Kevin Dunn to the season are great as well, given that they are veterans in the acting game and provide another fun dynamic for the series.

There are 10 episodes this time around, which was a great way to stretch out the show, without going to long with the amount of story they had for the arc. I could honestly still use another few episodes for each season, but I am happy with having what I get, as it is really tight and focused. The plotting is quite strong too, as it has a number of aspects that ground the series, despite being a hilarious comedy show. There are things that carry over throughout the season and even make for strong setup for the upcoming season.

I am a huge fan of VEEP and nothing has changed in between seasons, beyond having more appreciation for what Iannuci, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and everyone else brings to the series. It is a lot of fun to watch and one of the shows I have been looking forward to most, as far as returning series go.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Similar to the first season, while the Blu-ray presentation brings out the best in what VEEP has to offer visually, the show still looks about as good as an office-based comedy can. That said, each episode is presented in 1080p and there are minimal issues to take with the look of this show, based on this disc. Colors do not populate this series, but they look good when they arise. The textures are quite smooth. The clarity and detail of each episode is always quite satisfying, as the smaller and larger elements all register as clear as they need to. It is a quality video presentation.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
As this is a very dialogue-heavy show, not a lot is needed to really deliver, but this Blu-ray does manage to provide what it needs to satisfy. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks are well-balanced and perfectly suitable for hearing actors talk, bicker, and shout at each other. The sound design in this series does not really ask for much punch for a Blu-ray audio track, but every episode still sounds great, as far as really getting a feel for what is going on in an auditory manner.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
VEEP’s first season had a lot of extras, including commentaries on every episode and then some. I am not sure if it was due to cutbacks or bad sales of the first season, but the second season is pretty disappointing in its amount of extra content.

Features Include:
  • Audio Commentaries – This time there are only 4 audio commentaries, which has all the usual players – producers, writers, and stars, but I still wanted more, given how generous the season 1 Blu-ray was.
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Digital Copy of the series
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

I continue to be a huge fan of VEEP. I wish this Blu-ray packed was so disappointing in the extras department. The Blu-ray’s audio and video presentation are pretty great, given how minimal this series is compared to something like Game of Thrones. Really though, the show is great enough on its own and I completely recommend checking it out, especially with the third season on the horizon. Go for it and Vote Meyer!

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