Can having a large amount of power truly corrupt a man’s soul from the inside out? What happens when there are consequences to having so much free reign over everyone else? That’s the premise of the new Starz show Boss which showcased a darker side to political power with devastating results.
Boss followed Chicago Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) who ruled the city with an iron fist, except when it comes to his political marriage to wife Meredith (Connie Nielsen) and his estranged daughter Emma (Hannah Ware). His empty marriage to Meredith and his estrangement from Emma make it impossible for Kane to reveal that he was just diagnosed with a brain disorder that threatened to destroy everything he worked so hard for. He had to hide his illness from his family, colleagues and very intrusive reporter named Sam Miller (Troy Garity) keen on exposing the Mayor’s dirty laundry. While the Mayor dealt with his political agendas, he was blissfully unaware that Emma, a Church Pastor, had a possible drug addiction and a growing involvement with the mysterious Darius Morrison (Rotimi Akinosho) who could lead to her undoing. Kane’s political circle is filled with his Senior Advisor Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan) and his Assistant Kitty O’Neil (Kathleen Robertson) who both helped the Mayor stay ahead of the political learning curb. The Mayor is also grooming City Treasurer Ben Kajac (Jeff Hephner) to be the new Governor, which could be a good or a bad thing for Kane depending on what Kajac’s true motives are. Will Kane survive the professional and personal wars brewing around him?
In terms of plot and acting, Boss‘ material is plentiful and diverse starting from the political subtext to the downright personal. The premiere’s true material so far was the cold distant relationship between the Mayor and his wife. It was the perfect example of a showmance. They only acted loving and supportive in front of the press, but they were nothing of the sort behind closed doors. Meredith looked at her husband as a means of public respect and no longer loved him in any way. She was like a female version of the Mayor: calculating and always full of an ulterior motive. The Kanes made the Macbeths look like the Cleavers in comparison. The subplots involving Kitty, Ben, Emma and Darius seemed to be second hand in comparison to the Kanes’ meatier material. The only way those plots will work are if they’re better tied in the Mayor’s dealings. Boss‘ real revelation so far was Grammer’s career changing performance as a man very removed from his beloved Frasier Crane. Still a head case, minus the humor and any sense of joy. Tom Kane is the exact opposite of Dr. Crane. The only problem with Grammer’s performance is that he could possibly go too over-the-top in future episodes. Hopefully, he’ll tone down the hysterics when the time is right. A close second would Nielsen’s First Lady who was perfectly made up on the outside and completely hollow on the inside. Boss has the potential to have some longevity if the writers and cast members play their cards right.
Boss premieres on October 21st and airs Fridays at 10:00 pm on Starz.
Verdict: A decent premise and two white hot leads that make up for some of cosmetic flaws.
TV Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)