- Special Features
- Log In/Register
Review – Political Animals
Rating: 3. The critics are mostly in agreement that this is more soap opera than drama but are mixed as to whether that is a good or bad thing. All agree that Sigourney Weaver gives a great performance.
The New York Daily News says that the show “plunges into the complex relationship between politicians and the media, the corrupting dynamics of the political process” and that the “dialogue can be crisp, sharp and witty…” while the “dramas come fast, furious and sometimes soapy.”
The New York Times is impressed with Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal, calling it “subtle and believable as she channels Mrs. Clinton’s improbable biography and even some of her real-life dialogue.” They are less impressed, however, with Ciaran Hinds’ portrayal of the “make-believe version of former President Bill Clinton,” saying that he does so, “so broadly, and with such a cartoonish southern accent, that Bud barely seems qualified to be sheriff of Mayberry, let alone commander in chief.” The paper goes on to note that “it doesn’t help that the writers strain for Aaron Sorkinish wit and sometimes badly overreach.”
USA Today says that “what you’re getting is what we’ve come to expect from USA of late: an easy-to-watch light entertainment that goes down relatively painlessly but that is nowhere near as sharp or as on-point as it needs to be.” That said, the paper does note that “if you stick with the show past Sunday’s sluggish start, the plot does pick up some momentum in the second episode.”
The Hollywood Reporter says that what the show “is trying to do is take The West Wing and turn it into Dallas. And if you don’t like Dallas, that can be a real letdown… Where you expect gravitas, you get little bubbles, which makes sense on blue-skies USA. But trying to make Animals significant by calling it a “highly anticipated Limited Series Event” doesn’t automatically make it All the President’s Men.”
The Huffington Post gave the show a positive review, saying, “”Political Animals’” forthrightness about examining the costs and exhilaration of political life is refreshing. It combines the sly wit of the viral hit Texts from Hillary with the old-fashioned pleasures of a night-time soap, and it’s anchored by terrific lead performances from Weaver and Carla Gugino, who plays theHammonds’ journalistic nemesis Susan Berg.”
The Washington Post says that “At its best, “Political Animals” delves deeply into the unknowable: Why would a first lady remain with her husband after his Lewinsky-like dalliances in the Oval Office lead to permanent shame?” and that Sigourney Weaver plays the role of former First Lady Elaine Barrish Hammond with “with delicious determination.”
The Los Angeles Times notes that the show “is a family drama, more “Dallas” than “The West Wing,” a high-class, relatively naturalistic, behind-closed-doors soap opera that plays in fairly obvious yet also fairly affecting ways with the space between public face and private pain and is made highly watchable by an excellent cast that finds the human among the hokum.
TV Guide calls the show a “raunchy fusion of Aaron Sorkin and Jackie Collins, merrily ensnaring its brainy power players in outrageously soapy scenarios and displays of bad behavior…” and says that the show “is high-minded, lowdown fun, way racier than the USA norm… [and] a fabulous showcase for Sigourney Weaver…”
New York Magazine says that Weaver’s performance “isn’t enough to save a likable but mostly mediocre program.” and that the show is “a domestically oriented, C+ version of The West Wing.”
Newsday did not like the show, writing, “Political Animals” is junk. Or, to elaborate, it’s a clanking, clattering collection of collagenous clinkers — of dialogue so inept, of acting performances so preposterous, of plot points so cliched that the only question worth posing is why someone of Weaver’s stature would be caught anywhere near a turkey like this.”
Entertainment Weekly calls the show “a well-acted, entertainingly soapy drama that might not crack theClinton code definitively but still offers a fun and credible look at the complicated intersection of love, gender, and politics” and notes that “after watching the first two episodes, I found myself eager for more…”
The San Jose Mercury News says that “”Political Animals” becomes an intriguing, even occasionally humorous, family soap opera about the snake pit of national politics, the expectations of women in power and the corrosive effects of personal ambition.” The paper does point out that “not everything in “Political Animals” works. Hinds (as the president), in particular, feels wrong as a twangy-voiced, potty-mouthed narcissist who comes across like a cartoon… However, “Political Animals” makes amends by giving viewers other well-drawn characters and by whipping up an addictive batch of dark secrets and sudsy melodramatics that make for an entertaining diversion from the real-life soap opera of an election year.”
The Boston Globe calls the show “flawed but addictive” and says that “in the middle of our real-life presidential campaign, here is an entertaining summer escape.”
The Wall Street Journal says that the show “is among the most bizarre, if tasty, concoctions ever presented on mainstream television” and that “Sooner or later, every hint of real tension or emotion will be punctured by the dramatic equivalent of a whoopee cushion. The result is an often silly, lewd, crude, crazy and preposterous series that’s about as entertaining as a fat paperback on a hot beach—which is to say, impossible to look up from once you get into it. Part of the fun is never being sure whether the writers and producers intended to blow our minds quite this way or how many of the laughs come on purpose.”
Time Magazine says that “Political Animals, an inconsistent, sometimes ludicrous, but also juicily fun political soap, is about something that ultimately makes for better TV: the idea of Hillary Clinton” and that “The show is well-cast top to bottom. Weaver in particular is excellent…”
Variety says that the “conceit was to take lots of political stories with which we’re all familiar — philandering husband, suffering political wife, troubled kids of the rich and famous — and use them as a high-profile jumping-off point. Yet while Aaron Sorkin brings a similar approach to “The Newsroom,” where that show becomes a surrogate for the writer’s ideal worldview, “Political Animals” employs hostage crises involvingIran as little more than a showy backdrop for salacious family drama.” The paper goes on to note that “No one associated with “Political Animals” needs to hide under the covers, exactly, but nothing here qualifies as a game-changer, either.”
The New York Post sums it up by saying, “The actors are great, but the show isn’t.”
The Boston Herald writes, “It’s not a Comedy Central spoof, but it skews ridiculously close to one.”
The Philadelphia Daily News notes that “this is more soap opera than satire, an intermittently entertaining but not exactly subtle look at the private and public lives of one extremely colorful family.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says that “”Political Animals” gets bogged down in exposition throughout its 75-minute premiere … The problem is not the concept, it’s the execution.”
The San Francisco Chronicle calls “Political Animals” “an unsavory and silly miniseries… [that] can’t make up its mind whether it’s a satire on American politics, an occasional dramatic riff on the marriage and political partnership of our current secretary of state and her husband, or a third-rate soap opera in the mode of a “Dynasty” knockoff with one preposterous situation after another.” The paper goes on to note that “Weaver is convincing and even appealing in the role. She’s good enough, in fact, to make you think about how much potential Berlanti has squandered here.”
The Orlando Sentinel says that Political Animals “is trashy fun. This TV equivalent of a big beach book meanders and begs credulity. Yet a first-rate cast helps sell creator Greg Berlanti’s melodrama” and notes that “The cast has more depth than the writing.”
Get Our Free Newsletter
What can we say, we're suckers for the lovable little loser. Our daily TV show pick for tonight, Sunday, April 20, 2014 is "It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown," on ABC at 7:00.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- Game of Thrones
- True Detective
- Orphan Black
- Breaking Bad
- True Detective
- Real Housewives
- Reality TV
What I'm Watching - Graham Yost
Justified creator/show runner/writer Graham Yost has more than enough to keep him busy, But, when he does manage to find some free time to watch TV, here's what he sits down to view:
Check out our interview with Graham to learn more about this very talented writer.
When he's not busy portraying bad guy Darryl Crowe Jr. in this season of Justified, here's what Michael Rapaport likes to watch on TV:
Check out our interview with the actor to gain more insights into Mr. Rapaport.
Featured TV Reviews
TV Show Review – Salem
Rating: 3 (out of 5). WGN launches their first original TV series tonight with Salem which brings us back to the 17th century and the notorious Salem witch trials. At the center of the show is Mary Sibley, played by Janet Montgomery, and John Alden, played by Shane West. The two shared a secret tryst [...]
TV Show Review – Fargo
Rating: 4 (out of 5). FX’s “Fargo,” based on the Coen Brothers’ 1996 movie “Fargo,” is a 10 episode series with a new case and new characters, but one that “channels” the original film. The series stars Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo, a drifter who runs into insurance salesman Lester Nygaard, played by Martin [...]
TV Show Review – Years of Living Dangerously
Rating: 4 (out of 5). Showtime brings together big names such as James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Harrison Ford to make “Years of Living Dangerously” a documentary about global warming. These celebrities travel to different locations around the world to investigate what is happening and to talk about what we can do to solve the [...]
TV Show Review – Silicon Valley
Rating: 5 (out of 5). The center of HBO’s new comedy, “Silicon Valley,” is Richard, played by Thomas Middleditch, a shy, mousy programmer who finds himself in the middle of a bidding war between two tech companies who want the algorithm that he created. Rather than sell the code, Richard, along with his friends and [...]
- TV Show Review – Salem
New on VOD
Here are the new VOD films for the week of April 15, 2014. Click on a movie title for more information, trailers and reviews.
Philomena. Rating: 5 (out of 5). A political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago, after she gave birth and was forced to live in a convent. The film, based on a true story, will be available on VOD starting Tuesday, April 15. The critics are enamored with this film with New York Observer saying, “Philomena is not only my favorite film of 2013, but one of the most eloquent, powerful and perfect movies I have ever seen.” Reviews, video and more.
The Invisible Woman. Rating: 4 (out of 5). A happily married mother and schoolteacher, Nelly, is haunted by her past, when she had a complicated and fragile, yet exciting, relationship with Charles Dickens. This period drama premieres on VOD on Tuesday, April 15. The critics are impressed with the film and especially the acting though some note that it has a "leisurely pace." As Variety says, “So tastefully mounted and brilliantly acted that it wears down even the corset-phobic’s innate resistance to such things.” Reviews, video and more.
Patrick: Evil Awakens. Rating: 3 (out of 5). A young nurse, who just started working in an isolated psychiatric ward, takes an interest in Patrick, a seemingly comatose patient who is actually a subject of a mad scientist’s experiments. Her innocent fascination turns sinister as Patrick begins using his psychic powers to manipulate her every move, sending her life into a terrifying spiral. Watch for it on VOD starting Tuesday, April 15. Most of the critics enjoyed (though did not love) this remake of the 1978 movie, and FearNet calls the film "a good example of how to remake an obscure but admired horror flick." Reviews, video and more.
Wolf Creek 2. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Another tourist becomes the prey for the serial killer Mick Taylor. The critics have given mixed reviews to this horror film that comes to VOD on Thursday, April 17. Reviews, video and more.
Beneath The Harvest Sky. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Casper and Dominic have been best friends since childhood. Wanting to get out of their quiet hometown on the Maine-Canada border, the boys make a pact to pool their earnings on a car and hit the road. But when Casper is drawn into drug smuggling with his outlaw father to pay his share, their friendship gets strained and both are forced to make adult choices too soon. The film premieres on VOD on Tuesday, April 15. There were more positive than negative reviews on the film and according to Variety, “”Beneath the Harvest Sky” offers a heartbreakingly authentic, vividly realized account of adolescent frustration and yearning.” Reviews, video and more.
Small Time. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Freddy Klein decides not to go to College, and instead joins his father in his used-car business. Premiering on VOD on Friday, April 18, The Village Voice thinks, “The film isn't without mirth and charm: Norris steals a number of scenes as the charismatic Ash, and the banter between Norris and Meloni is charmingly convivial. But as Surnow steers into serious waters, the direction of the storytelling becomes increasingly misguided.” Reviews, video and more.
Ride Along. Rating: 2 (out of 5). Ben, a security guard, joins a cop, James, on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta in order to prove himself worthy of marrying the latter’s sister. Premiering on VOD on Tuesday, April 15, most of the critics are not impressed with this one. New York Magazine (Vulture) is one of the better reviews when they write, “It all mostly works, but you can’t help but wonder at times if it could have been a lot funnier if it had just a bit more edge.” Reviews, video and more.
The Nut Job. Rating: 2 (out of 5). Surly is banished from the park he lives in, and is forced to live in the dangerous city. Lucky for him, he comes across the only thing that can save not only his life, but the rest of the park community as well as winter approaches: Maury’s Nut Store. The film premieres on VOD on April 15. Most of the critics were unimpressed with this animated film, as The Arizona Republic says, “Ever had one of those artificially sweetened candies that taste OK at first but leaves a lingering, bitter aftertaste? That’s sort of how it goes with “The Nut Job.” Reviews, video and more.
A Promise. Rating: 1 (out of 5). Adapted from Stefan Zweig’s Journey into the Past, this film by French director Patrice Leconte centers on the affair between a handsome male secretary and the wife of a wealthy industrialist. Coming to VOD on Friday, April 18, this film has not won the heart of the critics, and IndieWire (The Playlist) thinks, “Leconte’s never been the edgiest of filmmakers, but “A Promise” is so free of anything close to an edge that it’s like watching a beige sphere for ninety-odd minutes—and it feels much longer.” Reviews, video and more.
Kid Cannabis. No rating. A dramatic film that tells the true story of a teen dropout based in Idaho, who builds a multimillion-dollar marijuana ring by trafficking drugs through the woods across the Canadian border. But his many vices may just leave this kid in way over his head. The film comes to VOD on Friday, April 18, the same day as its theatrical release, and no reviews are available as of writing. Video and more.
Bright Days Ahead (Les Beaux Jours). No Rating. A recently retired woman, eager to devote some free time to herself, begins taking part in some events at a local seniors center. When she becomes involved with a man decades younger than herself, she keeps this from her husband, and she soon begins to experience life in ways that she has not in a long time. The film premieres on the same day as its theatrical release, April 15, in French with English subtitles. No critic reviews are available as of time of writing. Video and more.