It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of all things White House/American President related. It mainly manifests itself in being obsessive about television shows and films that focus on the staff and residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, though I do have a healthy interest in the real life happenings of Obama and the fucktards that are challenging him for the presidency at the end of the year.
It’s also no secret that I am a bit of an Aaron Sorkin fan. Whilst it’s true that most of this love stems from a love of a rather well known television series (The West Wing falls in the middle of the Venn diagram entitled “Things Jane Loves and Is Discussing in this blog post), I am also a fan of Sports Night and The American President. I very much enjoyed A Few Good Men and Charlie Wilson’s War. For some unknown reason, I have not yet watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or The Social Network. Despite this, I think it’s fair to call myself a Sorkinite. (I think I just sort of made that up. Let’s pretend it didn’t happen.)
So, when it comes to television, if your show is a) about the White House/presidency/staff etc., and set in Washington D.C., or b) made by Aaron Sorkin, there’s a good chance I’ll be interested. This year sees the advent of four shows, all of them falling into one or the other of these two categories (some more tenuously than others).
First up, we have Veep, which is premiering on HBO on April 22nd (and on Sky Atlantic in June).
Veep doesn’t quite satisfy the White House/Presidency category, because it is about the Vice President of the US. But I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty darn close, and my love for this kind of thing really encompasses the whole of the federal government of the US, so I know I’ll love this. It’s been created by Armando Iannuci, who is best known for The Thick of It. (which I hear nothing but good things about, but haven’t watched. Yet.) An American version of The Thick of It was actually played around with back in 2007; it was due to be based on a member of Congress and employ the same style as the original show. It was an ABC pilot, and didn’t work, so was never picked up. Now HBO are involved, which is obviously a much better fit, and the action has moved to the VP’s office, and, judging by the trailer, it’s going to be really funny. Julia Louis Dreyfus stars as VP Selina Meyer, with Tony Hale (Buster Bluth), Matt Walsh and Anna Chlumsky as members of her staff. Check out the end of the trailer, when Meyer tries and fails to keep a massive smile off her face when she is informed that the president is experiencing chest pains. It’s amazing. I’m super excited for Veep.
1600 Penn is the other presidency-based show that could be airing this year. I say could be, because at this stage it is just a pilot, and we won’t know until May if it has been picked up for a full series. The basic premise is that the comedy follows a dysfunctional family that just happens to live in the White House. Bill Pullman is playing the president, husband of Jenna Elfman and father of four (as far as I can tell). It’s being executive produced by Josh Gad and Josh Winer (who has directed quite a few episodes of Modern Family), with Gad also writing, along with Jon Lovett, a former Obama speechwriter.
I want to love this. If it gets picked up for a full series, I will watch it. At least, I will give it a chance, because I want to love it so much. But I have to say that I don’t really hold out a great deal of hope for it. I am not sure why, but I’ve got a really bad feeling.
The last of the Washington-based shows is Scandal; a new drama series from Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.
This one is airing much sooner than the others, it starts on ABC tomorrow night. It stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a former Toby Ziegler (or White House Communications Director, to use the technical term) to Tony Goldwyn’s president. Olivia is a ‘crisis management consultant’, she has a team of investigators whose job is to avert crises affecting the Washington D.C. elite. Other cast members include Joshua Malina, Henry Ian Cusick and Liza Weil, along with former Grey’s Anatomy stars Jeff Perry, and Kate Burton (playing the Vice President – yet another female VP on television).
I do kind of like the look of this, because I am a fan of Grey’s and Private Practice, and therefore Shonda Rhimes, and the promise of some presidential action is definitely enticing. I’m not a big fan of how Olivia is being portrayed in the trailer; anyone who is being shown as that amazing at their job is likely to get on my nerves somewhat. But I think that this is possibly just a trailer problem rather than a show problem. There’s no news on a UK airing for Scandal yet.
Lastly, we have The Newsroom.
The Newsroom Trailer
Sadly there is no president or White House to be found here, but instead, we do have copious amounts of Sorkin. I talked a little about The Newsroom back in January, when I was previewing 2012’s television, but I didn’t have a trailer to get excited about then. The trailer was released a couple of days ago, and I’ve watched it about eight times since then (mostly in the name of research for this blog post, but partly for fun at hearing Jeff Daniels say “Progress is slow but I’m in it for the long haul!”).
Originally called More As This Story Develops, it takes place in, you guessed it, a newsroom. A busy cable news channel, to be exact, with Jeff Daniels playing Will McAvoy, anchor of the show-within-a-show, News Night. Emily Mortimer plays his new executive producer, and Dev Patel, Olivia Munn and Sam Waterston round out the cast as various staff members. Jane Fonda plays the recurring role of the CEO of the network.
I think, if you are a Sorkin fan, and you watch the trailer, you’ll see why I am excited. If you aren’t a Sorkin fan, you should still be excited having watched the trailer. There isn’t much more to say than that, really. I think, even if you didn’t know, that you’d guess that this is a Sorkin show from the trailer. There are plenty of identifiers in there. I know that I am kind of biased towards anything he creates because of my love for The West Wing, but despite that, I genuinely think this looks as though it is going to be very good. It premieres on June 24th in America. No news as yet as to when or where it will air in the UK, but I’d be very surprised it if doesn’t follow fairly quickly on Sky Atlantic.
These are just four shows that I felt worthy of mention (for reasons good and bad), that are coming this year. As I mentioned previously, in May, Upfronts take place, and a plethora of pilots will either live or die. It’s all terribly exciting if you are a geek about television, like me, and at some point (probably in September again), I’ll be sharing some of my favourite new shows with you. If you want to look at some of the shows that are currently waiting for their chance, take a look at TVLine’s comprehensive list.
What are you looking forward to?