Veep: “Morning After” Season 5 Premiere Review

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Veep returns under new management, but is still as sharp and funny as ever.

A series losing its original showrunner is a nerve-wracking situation. There’s always the concern that the new person in charge won’t be able to effectively capture the spirit that the show has cultivated thus far. Well, fear not Veep watchers. Armando Iannucci may have stepped down at the end of last season, but, if “Morning After” is any indication, new showrunner David Mandel has kept this show’s acerbic wit and sharp-tongued spirit well intact. The season five premiere plays out like a very typical episode of Veep, by which I mean, smart, fast, and funny as hell.

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about this show is its ability to mine humor from both eloquently written zingers and simple sight gags. Season five continues with this trend, having the premiere filled with some excellent one-liners as well as the great running joke that is Selina’s stress zit. The fact that it single-handedly causes the Dow Jones to drop during a press conference is absolutely hysterical. I have to wonder why Selina wouldn’t have called her in-house doctor first before resorting to Gary’s home remedies, but honestly I’m glad she didn’t. “Zitzilla” was fantastic.

In the wake of her surprise tie with O’Brien, the Meyer staff is desperate to ensure that she remains in the White House. The episode makes a smart decision to immediately start rounding up the troops and have everyone on the same team once again. By the end of “Morning After,” Dan, Amy, Jonah, and Richard are all back working for Selina. The series has been able to find interesting side plots for these characters outside the White House, but with so much at stake, it just makes more sense to have everyone under the same roof.

Selina does a lot during the episode to appear as presidential as possible, leading to a slew of funny, botched public appearances. The best of these is, of course, the terrible symposium on race which ends abruptly when the President’s security detail almost arrests Sue. The fact that this is tied in to Mike and Sue’s FitBit competition—which, to be honest, would’ve been a pretty boring subplot were it not for Matt Walsh and Sufe Bradshaw’s winning performances—is a bit of genius plotting. The buildup from the awkwardness of the all-white panel to an officer pointing a gun at Sue is excellently paced, making it all the more biting and hilarious.

The most entertaining parts of “Morning After,” though, occur when Selina interacts with Tom James. Now that there’s a possibility that she might become his veep, the thinly veiled contempt they have for each other is totally engrossing to watch. Both Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Hugh Laurie are at the top of their game, and seeing them offer each other false niceties and then full-on spar with each other is absolutely fantastic.  Selina’s idea to have him become the “Economy Czar,” and essentially take the fall for the failing Dow Jones, leads to what is perhaps the episode’s best line when she proudly proclaims, “I’m the L-BJ queen and you are Sargent ‘suck it’ Shriver!” I like the idea that she’s not going to pretend to be polite around him for the rest of the season, and I can’t wait to see them in more scenes together.

Selina might have a tough road ahead of her, but it looks like Mandel will have no problem making sure every turn she takes is filled with the sharp comedy that viewers have grown accustomed to. “Morning After” served as a great welcome back to the world of Veep, and got me excited at all the wonderful chaos that’s likely to occur this season. The Meyer staff makes a lot of mistakes, but this cast is a well-oiled machine, and I can’t wait to see what kind of messes they’ll have to fight their way out of this year. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Of all the subplots this week, my favorite is Jonah and Richard switching places. Sam Richardson is one of Veep‘s secret weapons, and his earnest line delivery was once again totally on point. Also, Jonah’s Harry Potter rant, though inaccurate, made me laugh out loud.
  • Another sight gag that I enjoyed in this episode is Catherine lurking around corners with her video camera. I hope this carries over into future episodes.
  • Diedrich Bader has been a welcome presence on this show and it’s a bit sad to see him go. Still, gotta love that last-minute scapegoating. So very Veep.
  • Gary literally blowing on Selina’s face to get rid of her zit is literally the best.
  • In case anyone was wondering, Dan is still an asshole.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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