Armando Iannucci’s Veep: What Did America Think?

Veep, the HBO comedy inspired by the BBC’s The Thick Of It and helmed by comedy-laureate Armando Iannucci debuted on American television this weekend, but what did our friends across the think of it?

Well we’ve been scanning through some of the early reviews and copy-pasting like our lives depend on it. That in itself is nothing new of course, but this time we’re actually crediting people.. (We’re totally joking).

The first name that comes up in a quick internet search is Paste Magazine and their reviewer (one Garrett Martin) explained that although he hadn’t seen the original series, he couldn’t help but think that something had been lost in translation.. “Based on the generally funny but unexceptional first few episodes of Veep, I’m wondering if a little something got lost en route from the UK. It’s more clever than hilarious.. It doesn’t have is a distinctive voice.”

Distinctive voice? Well only one man springs to mind in such a scenario. Malcolm Tucker, a man who we’ve dedicated more column inches to than Simon Cowell and Don Draper combined. We’ve seen quite a few clips for Veep and we have to say that there does seem to be a big sweary Capaldi-shaped hole in the show. Maybe his character was imply too blue for the Yanks?

It’s a point that others – like Entertainment Weekly’s Tim Goodman pick up on despite a very positive review.. “For Iannucci, Veep is just different enough from The Thick of It and In the Loop to not be seen as a remake but a fresh shot at the ripe target of American politics… Every actor nails their lines, which keeps Veep moving at a brisk pace. In fact, the episodes seem to end so quickly, you’ll wish they lasted an hour. Iannucci hasn’t quite created a character as momentously awesome as The Thick of It’s angry, foul-mouthed buzzsaw Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), but Veep hits on all cylinders.”

Troy Patterson of Slate HAD seen the BBC series and suggested a subtle difference here.. “Where Iannucci’s earlier comedic explorations of government (BBC’s The Thick of It and its big-screen spinoff, In the Loop) directly concerned themselves with the substance of politics, Veep focuses on style, on mangled image-management and interpersonal bumbling.”

He also praises Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays the hassled Vice-President in question.. (“As any random rerun of Seinfeld will remind you, she is a veritable poetess of neurotic vanity.”) and The Hollywood Reporter even goes as far as describing it as “..perhaps her best post-Seinfeld role..”

Louis-Dreyfus received great reviews across the board and even David Hinckley of The New York Daily News, who gave the pilot just two our of five, praised her. He was less kind about Iannucci’s writing though..

“Somehow, though, Veep starts to feel tired way before bedtime. Louis-Dreyfus is never uninteresting to watch. But in Meyer she’s stuck with a character who seems to have fewer dimensions than Louis-Dreyfus’ energetic portrayal at first suggests… What it doesn’t address is the larger question of how a woman given to frequently blurting out incorrect remarks got elected to the Senate in the first place. It’s not that she can’t say funny things. It’s just that if we believe she’s politically inept, the character doesn’t work.. It’s too easy.”

Roberto Bianco of USA Today also put the show’s star on a pedestal, but was even harsher in his criticism of the writers, although it should be known that he writes for a leaflet rather than a paper *gets tin hat*.. “Unfortunately, what British creators Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell seem to be proving with the first three episodes of this D.C.-set comedy is that they’re not up to writing a show that’s worthy of its star’s talents or of serving as a lead-in for HBO’s much more promising comedy, Girls,” he wrote. “What few laughs there are represent a triumph of acting skill over authorial sloth in a show that is more silly than funny — and more dull than silly.”

Slant magazine went even further.. “FDR’s vice president, John Nance Garner, famously said that his office wasn’t worth “a bucket of warm piss.” So it’s perhaps a sign of Veep’s realism that the new HBO comedy feels a lot like a receptacle. Sloshing with warmed-over jokes about Washington politics seemingly written by a New Yorker cartoonist.. Veep is certainly a warm bucket of something.”

Whoa there! Thankfully Collider restore the balance for us.. “If Aaron Sorkin was a little more of a natural comedic writer, he would have written Veep instead of The West Wing.. With overlapping dialogue, and phenomenal chemistry, the writing feels completely natural and thus the jokes are inherently funny, rather than being set up and waiting for a punchline… Iannucci proves that he has a gift for snappy and smart dialogue, and a fast-paced comedy that almost rivals the speed with which 30 Rock fires off jokes. It’s not as nonsensical and makes more out of subtle humor than silliness, but this spectacular comedy should be around for awhile.”

Now we’re off to get our left hand massaged. It seems to be stuck in the ‘Ctrl – C’ position..

Veep comes to Sky Atlantic in June. Watch clips from the series here..

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