The Show (5/5)
After the first four seasons, I wasn’t sure that Veep could go any lower; I’m of course, not referring to its overall quality, but in terms of the increase in abrasive narcissism and ferocity that the show has always brought to the table. Somehow, through the ten episodes of season five of the program, which managed to award the program 3 Primetime Emmys, everyone manages to get nastier and more vicious. It’s like an evolution straight into the bowels of moral hell. Spoiler alert; it’s brilliant.
Veep: The Complete Fifth Season follows the aftermath of the tense election cycle that wrapped at the end of Season Four in a tie for President Meyers. Grasping for a chance to keep hold of the power she possesses as president, Meyers and her team begin a massive effort to try and break the tie. They go to great lengths to push for a special recount in Nevada, and to get resident moron Jonah elected to Congress in order to strengthen Meyer’s hold on the House of Representative vote after the recount fails. Things boil to a head for the Meyer team as the fate of country hangs in the balance of their efforts to scrounge up any last drop of support they can find in a country that quickly tires of their unorganized controversial presidency.
Full disclosure; Veep is probably my favorite HBO original series currently on air. It’s like someone decided to mix The West Wing with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but also threw shards of broken glass into the mix. The trials and tribulations of the Meyer campaign come to a head as almost all of the major players attempt to stab each other in the back, manipulate each other, or unintentionally undermine the integrity of the American political system as they desperately try to stay above water in Washington. Especially in Season Five, as Selina and company attempt to maintain a hold on the White House, events play out in a way that is truly spectacular. Over the course of ten episodes, things fall apart for everybody in a way that can only be described as televised catastrophe.
Nothing is sacred in Season Five of Veep, as we tackle such topics as the death of Selina’s mother and her overwhelming indifference, her continually expressed apathy for her daughter’s existence, and her willingness to ruthlessly destroy her friends and colleagues to get what she wants, all for laughs. Other poignant topics covered are the exploitation of the adoption of Chinese babies for political gains, the manipulation of voters, the use of sex to make career advances, and the overall incompetency of our election process in general. It’s satire of the sharpest kind, as the show’s writing staff uses a healthy amount of profanity and volume to deliver a sharp critique of their views on the nation’s political system and the people who dwell in it, abusing it to meet their own gains.
Centered at the middle of all of this insanity is an incredible performance by Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, and one of the best supporting casts currently working in television today. As her character sinks to new lows in order to soak up as much political power as possible, Dreyfus’s performance manages to easily win viewers over as she plows through the season like a political wreckingball. She is one of the few actresses in the business who can play a character so unlikable, and yet still manage to be so enjoyable and goofy in delivering the lines of Selina Meyer. She walks that fine line so gently that it’s no wonder she walked away from the Emmy Awards with another Emmy statue in hand. She is rejoined by rest of her motley crew, including Anna Chlumsky as Amy, Tony Hale as Gary, who has an especially brilliant outburst late in the season, Reid Scott as the ever manic Dan, Timothy Simmons as surprise Congressmen Jonah, Matt Walsh as the hopelessly incompetent Mike, and many more. Their performances are grounded and convincing, as they come to terms with the natural evolution of and consequences that are involved with being associated with Selina Meyers.
Veep continues to scream forward at full throttle in Season Five, with the perfect balance of chaos and comedy mixed together to form a sharp, biting blend that never truly stops being funny, or frightening depending on how serious you believe the parallels to real life are. I found myself more in love with this season of Veep than the previous four, as the melodrama that is the Meyer presidency comes crashing down for all to see. It ends on a surprisingly sobering and ambiguous note, leaving me curious as to how to the show is going to continue moving forward. Season Six has a lot to live up to, as I absolutely loved Season Five.
The Video (4/5)
Veep: The Complete Fifth Season was shot using the Arri Alex in 1080p ProRes mode and mastered in 2K according to imdb, which seems to be the norm for most HBO productions. The program is presented on home video in 1080p, in the standard 1.78:1 widescreen television aspect ratio.
Veep is a cheerfully color timed program, filled with busy sets that are fairly standard across the board for DC political programs. Season Five is pretty much on par with previous Blu-ray presentations of the program, delivering an image that is sharp, moderately but not extremely detailed, and somewhat noisy. It’s a pretty standard styled political program, shot without much fanfare as the program is so heavily focused on dialogue and character interactions. It’s perfectly adequate, just don’t expect it to push your TV to its limits.
The Audio (3.5/5)
Veep: The Complete Season Five is presented on home video in 5.1 DTS-Master Audio surround sound, mirroring how it was broadcast on HBO.
Veep is a show about dialogue, first and foremost. As a result, the program is mostly a front focused program, with minimal flashy sound effects or low frequency action. The program’s score occasionally bleeds into the surround channels, but this is mostly a workout for your center channel. The rest of the ensemble mostly serves to convey crowd depth and natural ambiance. Much like the visual presentation, it isn’t crazy, but it most certainly gets the job done.
Special Features/Packaging (3/5)
Veep: The Complete Fifth Season has been to released to home video by HBO Home Entertainment in a standard Blu-ray keepcase and accompanying slipcover. The front artwork, identical across the slipcover and case features a drawing of Selina Meyer on a campaign poster looking mildly pained and uncertain in the style of Obama’s famous Change poster, instead accompanied by the amusing phrase Maybe! The back of the two features a review quote in the middle of an American flag, a couple paragraphs about the show next to a picture of Dreyfus as Meyer, a list of features, a wonderful collage of all of the show’s supporting cast members, and a list of technical specs for the release. Inside the case is a wonderful collage of the cast members, and a list of the episode titles. It’s colorful and amusing, two words I could definitely use to describe the show as well. It’s fitting.
Onto the features:
Deleted Scenes – scenes excised from the finished cuts of each episode, mostly minor, but amusing character interactions and tossed out improvisations. 11 minutes of scenes on disc 1, and 22 minutes of scenes on disc 2. There are extra scenes for all ten episodes.
Audio Commentaries – audio commentaries for episodes 1 and 4 on disc one and episodes 6 and 7 on disc two. Featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Timothy Simmons, and other crew members.
With over a half hour of extra scenes and 4 episode length commentaries, Veep isn’t crazy in the extras department, but isn’t completely devoid either. The packaging is pretty pleasing though.
Technical Specs (click for technical FAQs)
Region Coding: Region Free
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
DTS-Master Audio 5.1 (English)
DTS 5.1 (French)
DTS 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Runtime: 285 minutes
At this point, I was worried that Veep might have softened with age, but it’s fifth season proves that it is still firing on all cylinders, delivering some of the most biting political comedy out there today. It manages to build up tension in such a ridiculously satisfying way that when it all falls apart over the course of ten episodes, it leaves you anxious for what’s on the horizon in Season Six. HBO has delivered Veep: The Complete Fifth Season with decent video, adequate audio, and a couple of interesting extras and decent packaging. The show itself is where the magic is, and as a result, this release is RECOMMENDED.