Review: Starz’s Strong and Commanding Boss

Starz found a winner with Spartacus. The network did well with Pillars of the Earth, Torchwood, Camelot and their first original drama series Crash.

But it is their newest original drama, Boss that really serves to leave a mark and herald Starz’s inclusion with the other cable heavy hitters.

It is amazing. A simply stunning hour of drama that throws punches and isn’t afraid to land them.

Kelsey Grammer in what could easily be the dramatic performance of his career is Tom Kane, the mayor of Chicago. He learns that he has a rare degenerative neurological disorder similar to Alzheimers or Parkinsons, but he decides to keep it to himself to enable him to continue wielding his immense power not only in the city, but the state as well.

The governor currently running for re-election goes to him for the assurance. Community power organizations bow at his feet (or twist by their ear).

Tom Kane mentions to the young state treasurer, Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner) who he is readying to challenge the incumbent governer, that it is important to have heft if he wants to win the top spot.

And heft is exactly what this series has. The word “gravitas” comes to mind. From the direction of Gus Van Sant to the performance of Kelsey Grammer and the rest of the cast. It is strong and forceful, much like Tom Kane’s hold on the minions of Chicago and Illinois it seems.

Connie Nielsen as Meredith, Kane’s wife of convenience (at least from what we see so far) equals Grammer’s Tom Kane and brings me memories of the equally powerful performances of Ian McShane and Susanna Thompson in NBC’s Kings.

Both powerful couples, each with questionable morals, mysterious motivations, but with strong, unwavering personalities. “Heft” comes to mind again.

And getting dropped by The Playboy Club was a blessing in disguise for Jeff Hephner since he instead gets to play a meatier role as the young, charismatic upstart.

Boss, like Kings, mixes political soap opera, familial drama, personal dilemmas both with the backdrop of a large, gray city. Though there are no butterflies and biblical mythology, Boss is still equally engaging and its forceful hand is unlike anything you see on TV today.

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