The Thick Of It Seasons 1-4 DVD Review
Fans of “The Thick Of It” will want to pick this set up.
For those that don’t know, “The Thick of It” is a 23 episode British comedy series that takes a satirical look at the British Government (more specifically the made up Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship).
In season 1, viewers are introduced to the bumbling Minister (Hugh Abbot), the press secretary (Terri), the junior policy adviser (Ollie) and senior special adviser (Glenn) over plots involving new policies and a botched press conference.
Season 2 finds the Minister accidentally sending an email, Hugh having problems with the public, Terri on leave, Robyn taking over Terri’s duties, and a new PM adviser (Julius).
In 2007, there were 2 specials that deal with the troubles that cause Hugh Abbot to resign and the fallout of his resignation.
Season 3 brings about change as Nicola Murray is appointed as the new Minister. Stories involve the usual publicity and press issues, the social affairs minister Peter Mannion, new campaigns and trouble for Malcolm Tucker, elections, and Steve Fleming taking over Malcolm’s job.
Finally, season 4 (which is the most boring and political of the lot) focuses on the DoSAC, the coalition, the opposition, Peter Mannion and Jr. Minister Fergus Williams working together, Nicola resigning, Dan Miller replacing Nicola, Malcolm, a scandal, and a death.
Since the world is already brimming with far too much real political news, political comedies are not something I get excited by. Sure, they can work sometimes, but, more often than not, they’re a mixed bag. That is essentially what “The Thick Of It” is.
I should start off by saying there’s no denying “The Thick of It” is clever. In fact, I’d say it’s more clever than funny which is part of the problem. Instead of being its own show, “The Thick of It” tries a little too hard to be “The Office” both in style and comedic delivery. Granted, there have been MANY imitators over the years, but when it’s such a blatant copy, it’s hard to look past that.
Another turn-off here is the characters. Aside from Malcolm Tucker (who I will get to shortly), the characters are largely unlikable politicians (what else is new?) who constantly jabber, shout, and stab each other in the back. They speak in a manner that no one talks like which becomes very grating after awhile. At times, it begins to sound like background noise as you find yourself tuning out the droning conversations.
Going back to the character of Malcolm Tucker, he is the show’s saving grace. Actor Peter Capaldi (who is currently the Twelfth Doctor on “Doctor Who”) carries the show on his back as the foul mouthed enforced. He steals every scene he is in and owns the screen.
Presentation: Widescreen. How does it look? The shaky cam cinematography in seasons 1-2 and the specials look cheap, nauseating and generally poorly framed. Thankfully, seasons 3 and 4 look significantly better.
Audio Track: Dolby Digital Stereo. How does it sound? A little low, but satisfactory.
* Trailers for “The Office,” “Little Britain,” “State of Play,” “The State Within,” “Copper,” and “Sherlock.”
* Deleted scenes for the first 6 episodes, the 2 specials, all 8 episodes of season 3, and all 7 episodes of season 4.
* Behind the scenes stills and production still galleries from season 1, Peter’s Photos and production stills from season 2, production stills galleries for both specials and a behind the scenes still gallery for the second special,
* “Script To Screen”- A season 1 featurette narrated by Armando Iannucci.
* Commentary on season 1 episode 1 by Armando Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Joanna Scanlan, and Tim Bentinck, commentary on season 1 episode 2 by by Armando Iannucci, Joanna Scanlan, Billy Sneddon, and Simon Blackwell and commentary on season 1 episode 3 by Armando Iannucci, Chris Addison, Adam Tandy, and James Smith. Honestly, I find the commentary tracks more entertaining than the show itself. Armando is quite the character.
* Commentary on season 2 episode 1 by Jesse Armstrong, Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison, and Polly Kemp, commentary on season 2 episode 2 by Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, Simon Blackwell, and Peter Capaldi and season 2 episode 3 by Armando Iannucci, Joanna Scanlan, Polly Kemp, James Smith and Adam Tandy.
* “Newsnight- Paxman” and “Newsnight- Crick”- A mock Newsnight segment and a behind the scenes segment.
* “Opposition Extra”- A 14 ½ minute Peter Mannion centric story.
* Commentary on “Rise of the Nuters” special by Armando Iannucci, Adam Tandy, Chris Addison, and Peter Capaldi and commentary on “Spinners and Losers” by Armando Iannucci, Polly Kemp, James Smith, and Chris Addison. Other commentators make special appearances later in both commentary tracks.
* Commentary tracks on season 3 episode 1 by Armando Iannucci, Roger Drew, Anthony Boys, Tony Roche, and Sean Grey, season 3 episode 3 by Adam Tandy, Joanna Scanlan, James Smith, season 3 episode 5 by Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, Will Smith, and Roger Drew, season 3 episode 7 by Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Jesse Armstrong, and Anthony Boys, and last, but not least, season 3 episode 8 by Armando Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Will Smith, Sean Grey, and Adam Tandy.
* “Out of the Thick of It”- 8 webisodes connected with season 3. The webisodes also include deleted scenes, cast and crew interviews, etc.
* Commentary tracks on all 7 episodes of season 4 by the likes of Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Simon Rogers, Chris Addison, Rebecca Gethings, Peter Capaldi, Adam Tandy, Will Smith, Olivia Poulet, Natalie Bailey, Sean Grey, Geoffrey Streatfeild, and Joanna Scanlan.
* An alternative commentary on season 4 episode 1 by Vincent Franklin, Roger Allam, Will Smith, and Joanna Scanlan.
Overall Thoughts: While “The Thick of It” has garnered a devoted fanbase, I found it to be severely overrated. Rent it to see if it’s up your alley.
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