TV gets Thick – and more – this fall

The BBC series ‘The Thick of It’, which satirizes a department of British government, comes to HOT.

August 22, 2013 16:23
3 minute read.

Courtesy 370. (photo credit: courtesy)

Although the new version of Yes, Minister has drawn mixed reviews, people who love satirical comedy and British humor will be happy to hear that HOT VOD will be running the BBC series The Thick of It starting on August 28, and all episodes of the past and present seasons will be available.

The series, which started in 2005, is like The West Wing set in a darker and much funnier parallel universe.

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Created by Armando Iannucci, The Thick of It satirizes a department of the British government, the Department of Social Affairs, which is later changed to the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, a so-called “super department” that oversees many others. The characters are politicians, advisers and office staff, and most of them are extraordinarily quick-witted, funny and profane.

Iannucci, who also created the similar HBO series Veep, which stars Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the vice president (and aired on YES Oh), describes The Thick of It as “Yes, Minister meets Larry Sanders.”

As in Yes, Minister, the specific political parties are not named, and it’s much more than a satire on any particular politicians. More than Yes, Minister or even The West Wing, it focuses on the interplay between the media and politicians.

The hero, or rather anti-hero, of the show is Malcolm, the spin doctor for his political party, played by Peter Capaldi, who recently scored the title role in Doctor Who and can currently be seen on the big screen as a World Health Organization doctor in World War Z. Malcolm is constantly angry, blunt and a consummate political player, manipulating the politicians so brilliantly, that they have no idea they are being played.

The rest of the cast, which features such veteran British character actors as Chris Addison, Roger Allam, James Smith, and Joanna Scanlan, is also wonder fully believable. There is a hard edge of self-interest to the characters, and that goes a long way toward explaining why so many aspects of public life and government are such a mess.

Speaking about Veep, Iannucci says, “Watching the political process at the moment, one’s instinct is to laugh because the alternative is to cr y. That’s where I come from, really. I believe people today are genuinely frustrated because they don’t understand how so many clearly able people, concentrated in one locale, can’t sort things out.”

The Thick of It will help you understand this. It was also the basis for a feature film, In the Loop, which came out in 2009.

THE END of the summer is generally a quiet time in the broadcast universe, but things will get busy fast in the fall. That should be good news for fans of Homeland , the Emmy-winning Showtime series based on the Israeli show Hatufim (Prisoners of War). It stars Claire Danes as a CIA agent and Damian Lewis as the recently released POW who has gone over to the enemy.

When we last saw Carrie and Brody . . . well, I won’t say anything, on the off chance that someone may not have caught the last few episodes of Season 2 yet. A few details of Season 3 have leaked out, but a lot is still up in the air.

Executive producer Alex Gansa says there will be more of a John LeCarre feel to the season, meaning, I imagine, that the story will focus on the intricacies of investigation and loyalty rather than preventing any specific upcoming attacks. Season 3 will begin on September 29 and will be broadcast on YES Oh just a few days later.

The next season of Glee will be starting on September 26 and will come to YES Drama right after wards as well. This will be the first season since the death of Glee star Cory Monteith, who played Finn on the show. Series creator Ryan Murphy has said that Finn’s death will be discussed in the third episode but has not revealed how the character dies.

For fans of award shows, YES is broadcasting the Emmys live on September 22.

And just in time for Halloween, The Walking Dead will come to haunt us just after its US debut on October 13.

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