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REVIEW: Boss “Listen” Pilot S1 E1

23 Oct

I was always planning on watching Boss, but as soon as it was renewed for a second season, I knew I had to watch this show.  I never really understood how shows got renewed before a season airs.   It happened with Glee when 2-3 episodes into Season 1, it was renewed for two seasons (and we all know how disastrous that was.)  It happened last season when How I Met Your Mother (who had been a perennial bubble show) was renewed for two seasons.  Not that I am complaining because I LOVE HIMYM, but it was odd.  So imagine when a brand new show that has never aired ONE episode, get renewed for a second season.  Can you explain that to me?   It’s like ordering a show to pilot and canceling it before it airs once.  It makes no sense.  What if this show tanks?   We could spend all day on that analysis but I will save that for another post at another time.

Right away after watching one episode, I think I can safely prognosticate that Kelsey Grammar will be nominated for an Emmy for his performance as Tom Kane.  He is dynamic on-screen and he completely carries the show.  The show starts off with Tom Kane in a warehouse with his doctor.  She is giving him horrific news…he is diagnosed with a degenerative, terminal neurological condition that sounds a little of a cross between ALS and Parkinson’s.  This one scene alone, Grammar should be nominated for the Emmy.   He sits there stone faced taking in the news. He grills the doctor on treatments, medicine, the prognosis with an efficient precision that instantly showcases his character as a powerful, no-nonsense man.  Later, we learn just how powerful a man he is….the mayor of Chicago.  But every once in a while, you see how painful this news is for him to take yet he does his best keeping his composure.  After the doctor leaves and he calls his cronies to pick him up, he has a brief period of time in which he loses it and he allows the grief of what he just learned, to take over.  But he can’t let it consume him for long because he needs to pull it together for a speech supporting the re-election of the Governor of Illinois.

While Grammar certainly carries the show (for now) there are two notable performances alongside him along with two potential gems.   Meredith Kane (played by the wonderful Connie Nielson)….”He was a soldier of Rome.  HONOR HIM!”   Sorry, needed to throw in the Gladiator reference.  I love that movie!   Anyhoo, Meredith is Tom’s wife.  To say their marriage is chilly, would be a massive understatement.  We learn her family comes from a political background and whether this is a marriage of political convenience and power or a once happy marriage that was destroyed somehow, we don’t know yet.  But Meredith seems to be a very powerful woman in her own right.   Ezra Stone (played by Martin Donovan) is another strong character as the mayor’s closest advisor.  Ezra, it would seem at least on the surface, a huge supporter of Kane and will have his back no matter what.  He seems to be the one person Kane can trust.  Will he remain that way throughout the course of the series?   We will see.

The other two potentials are Ben Zajac (played by Jeff Hephner) who is the young, cocky politician who Kane wants to enter the gubernatorial race against Mac Cullen (played by Francis Guinan) and will throw his support behind and the other is reporter Sam Miller (played by Troy Garity) who is looking into Tom Kane and looks to be the only person who knows about Kane’s doctor visit and who that doctor is.  He is digging for dirt but we don’t know why.  Is he doing it on someone’s orders or is he trying to become the next Bob Woodward?  I really enjoyed both performances and think they have decent potential.  I’ve seen Hephner in other shows and always enjoyed his performances so I have no doubt he’ll be solid here.

As for the rest of the cast, they didn’t do much for me.  Personally, I’m not a fan of Kathleen Robertson.  I will always remember her as Claire Arnold, the dean’s daughter on the original 90210 and I HATED her character.   She was one of the most annoying people on the show.  She also seems to play the same type of character all the time.  But the role of Kitty O’Neil, the mayor’s aide, could be a step up for her.  Right now the only interesting thing about her is that she like to have sex in stairwells with Zajac.  So there is a history between her and the mayor’s new boy toy for Governor.  But we’ll see where her character goes.  One character I have NO interest in right now is Kane’s daughter Emma (played by Hannah Ware) whose storyline always brings the show to a screeching halt.  She appears to have no relationship or a bad one with Kane right now (there was no indication either way with her and Meredith, who I assume is her mother) and she appears to be a minister with a drug problem.  Boring and dull is what that is.  Not to mention, everything and everyone revolving around Emma was very slow.  I’d rather there be more plot line development with the main and secondary characters…Kane, Meredith, Stone, Zajac, Miller, and even Kitty to some degree.  Even Gov. Cullen was more interesting in the brief time he was on the screen than she was.   So if she and her storyline were to go away completely, I would be ok with that!

I would recommend checking out Boss.  The pilot wasn’t as strong as it could have been but sometimes these shows need time to build momentum.  Unfortunately, this show on has 8 episodes this season to do that.   However, like I mentioned in the beginning, it has already been renewed for a second season, so it has plenty of time to build momentum, story lines and characters.

If you watched Boss, what did you think?  If you didn’t, check it out on demand or Starz will be running reruns until the second episode which airs Friday nights at 10pm.

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