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Hercules Says Starz' BOSS
Is Fall’s Best New Series!!
What Say The Other Critics??

I am – Hercules!!

The “Boss” pilot has been online a week already, so I’ll my othoughts short.

Kelsey Grammer, who seems to be morphing into Fred Dalton Thompson these days, is terrific as a troubled and non-Frasier-y mayor of Chicago, but what really impresses me here is the script by Farhad Safinia (“Apocalypto”) and direction by Gus Van Sant (“Milk”).

The Wall Street Journal says:

... tightly written and intensely acted ... The good news, if you can ever call a true horror show good, is that by the time Mayor Tom Kane actually calls himself bad, we are already battered and reeling from the shock of how awful, or how destroyed, almost everyone here is. …

Time says:

... a swing-for-the fences drama that can be as reflexively cynical and brutal about politics as The West Wing was reflexively hopeful and earnest. It’s ambitious and operatic, certainly one of the most interesting and potentially promising offerings in a mostly cautious season of new fall shows. …

HitFix says:

... knowing the broad strokes didn't entirely prepare me for the intensity and magnetism of Grammer's performance. ... suffers a bit for having to remind people that they're watching a pay cable drama, with nudity and/or sex scenes so gratuitous as to be laughable. …

AOL says:

... The role of Kane lets Grammer present his dramatic bona fides and put his 'Frasier' (and, er, 'Hank') personas to rest, and he's so good as the driven politician that he alone is almost reason enough to tune in. The problem is, the show that's been built around the actor (who's also a producer on the project) isn't nearly as interesting as what Grammer brings to the screen, and the sluggish pacing and melodramatic excesses of 'Boss' could put off those drawn in by the actor's confident star turn. ...

The New York Times says:

… a smart look at political power brokers that gets silly on the subjects of sex and violence. ... …

The Los Angeles Times says:

… This ability to project opposing forces is one reason Grammer has been so successful in comedy — he can play the fool and still remain an alpha male. It's also why he is now able to breathe life into Frasier Crane's hard-hearted doppelganger, Chicago Mayor Tom Kane... if the writers have overly epic ambitions, they also have a collective eye for detail. The pilot, directed by Gus Van Sant, is visually rich and textured, opening as it does in an abandoned slaughterhouse. ...

The Chicago Sun-Times says:

... has my vote for the best new show of the season. ... “He understood something basic about all people,” Kane said of Cermak. “They want to be led.” They want to be entertained, too, and “Boss” gets the job done. …

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

... the best new fall series. It's a captivating political drama that contains echoes of "The Sopranos," "The Wire" and "Breaking Bad" … Kane is a fascinating TV monster, perfect for an era of political cynicism and disappointment. But TV viewers who watch "Boss" probably won't be disappointed and even those who are wary of latching onto a new series have reason to give the show a chance: Starz renewed "Boss" for a second season weeks before tonight's series premiere. …

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

... a stunning new dramatic series ... as big, bold and complexly two-fisted as the city it celebrates. It marks an obvious departure for Grammer after years of sitcom work, an expansion of Van Sant's interests to television and, most of all, a coming of age for the cable channel … When you have a story as thoroughly involving as this one, evoking both "King Lear" and "Citizen Kane," and when the performances are this good, "Boss" almost directs itself. …

The Miami Herald says:

... at once the most cynical and most captivating portrayal of American politics ever presented on television. ... If Boss has a television ancestor, it’s not the idealist-streaked-with-pragmatism West Wing but the dark and relentlessly cynical The Wire, in which self-interested urban politicians, cops and prosecutors were as corrupt as the drug gangs they pursued. …

The Washington Post says:

... works hard to resist the usual “this is how we do things in Chicago” nonsense and dutifully aims for a somewhat “Wire”-esque believability. Yet it can also feel like a burden to watch. Everyone here is pretty despicable, which gets old quick. ...

The Boston Herald says:

... Unlikable characters are practically the norm on cable dramas — shows from “Damages” to “Dexter” star monsters of one sort or another — yet they all have some element that draws viewers to them. Publicly charming, privately vile, Kane treats everyone in his orbit with everything from whiplash harangues to outbursts of violence. His illness is the only detail that might render him sympathetic, but his spitefulness prevents that. ...

The Boston Globe says:

… “Boss’’ is so hard-hitting and so willing to challenge viewers, it begins to put Starz in another league of cable identity, alongside AMC, FX, HBO, and Showtime. One or two more similarly ambitious series and Starz will be remade. … It is not an optimistic hour of TV, so much as a strong, cool rebuttal to “The West Wing.’’ …

TV Guide says:

... I kept hoping would get better or more interesting the more I watched. No such luck. This series is most notable for giving Kelsey Grammer (Frasier who?) a wonderfully meaty dramatic workout. ...

USA Today says:

… Boss does have one big card to play in its favor, and that's the Boss himself, Kelsey Grammer, in his first dramatic series starring role. Playing Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, Grammer proves what we should have known from all those Frasier Emmys: He's not just a great comic actor, he's a great actor, period. ... Some of the intrigue is cleverly done, but none of it connects to characters we care about. ...

Variety says:

... certainly creates a showy role for star/producer Kelsey Grammer as a ruthless Windy City mayor diagnosed with a debilitating disease, adding a "Breaking Bad," nothing-to-lose quality to his serialized story. Still, the show labors under the weight of familiar political-movie cliches, offsetting its polished look -- and Gus Van Sant's unorthodox direction of the pilot -- with a been-there, seen-that feel. …

The Hollywood Reporter says:

... For HBO, it was The Sopranos; for Showtime, it was Dexter; for FX, it was The Shield; and for AMC, it was Mad Men. … those were game-changers. And now Starz has its channel-defining series in Boss, a wholly impressive new drama that comes out of the gate with gravitas, swagger, originality and intrigue. ...

10 p.m. Friday. Starz.

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Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 21, 2011, 7:06 p.m. CST

    Great show. Looking forward to more!

    by Gene Cowan


  • For me, Homeland is just fantastic all-around. This might take 2nd. Loved Grammer in ep one. Apparently it's been renewed for S2 already, so we know we can hop on the train without getting dropped in a field wanting a longer ride.

  • Oct. 21, 2011, 7:11 p.m. CST

    Herc, just curious: have you seen any more eps?

    by Gene Cowan

    I'm just wondering how the next couple eps compare to the pilot in terms of script, story, etc.

  • Oct. 21, 2011, 7:12 p.m. CST

    Starz is pay cable, right?

    by OutsideChance

    If so, I'll have to wait until its on DVD.

  • Oct. 21, 2011, 7:22 p.m. CST


    by Hercules

    Homeland is my #2; I am working to get screeners of the first four Boss episodes.

  • Oct. 21, 2011, 8:13 p.m. CST

    Great! But who the fuck has Starz?

    by Judge Briggs

    Hopefully we can get some replays on Netflix?

  • Oct. 21, 2011, 8:28 p.m. CST

    eh it was dec

    by jsfithaca

    this and homeland are the only new shows i started watching. i like homeland better but i don't think either should be considered for emmys or anything like that. at least not yet

  • Oct. 21, 2011, 9:18 p.m. CST

    Was this tonight?

    by carey adams

    The finale for Strike Back is tonight too. I've really enjoyed it.

  • Oct. 21, 2011, 10:50 p.m. CST

    Eh it was ok, Homeland alot better

    by AshokForgiven

    SHO wins.

  • Oct. 21, 2011, 11:48 p.m. CST

    90210 Titties

    by Loosejerk

    Man. Clare from Ye Olde 90210 is looking good. I probably prefer her a little thicker from when she was younger, but she's looking good in the here and now!

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 12:32 a.m. CST


    by TopHat

    The "nudity and/or sex scenes so gratuitous as to be laughable" statement is untrue... ...yes, there is a sex scene, BUT, its in artsy fartsy slow-mo with operatic music playing on the soundtrack. It is NOT "gratuitous" at all. Unfortunately.

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 2:14 a.m. CST

    Looks interesting

    by ides

    But Starz without Netflix isn't an option at this point.

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 2:16 a.m. CST I’ll my othoughts short.

    by SutureSelf

    And so continues AICN's tradition of top-notch copy editing.

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 8:27 a.m. CST


    by TV

    Good show, and Kathleen Richardon doing the hot librarian look...excellent. No such thing as gratuitous nudity, by the way....especially when it comes to HER.

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 8:27 a.m. CST


    by TV

    Good show, and Kathleen Richarson doing the hot librarian look...excellent. No such thing as gratuitous nudity, by the way....especially when it comes to HER.

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 12:37 p.m. CST

    Really rather looking forward to seeing this

    by JaNath

    Right up my street by the sounds of it. And it'll be good to see Grammer flex his chops on it. But I only really logged in and commented to say, gene_the_cows_lsd_milk - loved your "so we know we can hop on the train without getting dropped in a field wanting a longer ride." metaphor. Shall steal, and use, and not credit. Dude!

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Slow Mo

    by Tigermyth36

    The slow mo sex scene was laughably bad. I'm surprised that scene was directed by a veteran director like Van Sant. Overall I give the show high marks, but that one scene was silly. Also a little more than cliched for the clean image politician to be off humping random chicks at the drop of a hat.

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 7:09 p.m. CST

    I guess I'll keep the faith...

    by thedottedlion

    I thought it was boring. Maybe it gets better.

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 7:57 p.m. CST


    by Tigger Tales

    I hardly know her!

  • Oct. 22, 2011, 11:33 p.m. CST

    Shaky camera work

    by FrodoFraggins

    Throwing me way off for some reason. I'm only in the beginning but it's driving me crazy.

  • Oct. 23, 2011, 8:39 a.m. CST

    I liked it despite...

    by WarrenSmooth

    Gus Van Sant's, silly, artsy fartsy direction. Just tell the STORY, Gus... no one cares about your pretentious camera angles and jump-cuts!

  • Oct. 23, 2011, 9:24 a.m. CST

    Homeland is dumb

    by Jerry

    I like the idea of a double agent, but they tortured him into a Muslim? How can no one else find this insanely retarded? And another thing I noticed is Showtime has racist depictions of Arabs in almost all their shows.

  • The early previews they showed after Spartacus GOTA had me thinking this was going to be STARZ version of a mob series. I'm glad it's not, showing the life of a Mayor of a major city is way more interesting and should be just as good as showing the life of yet another crime boss.

  • Oct. 23, 2011, 3:03 p.m. CST

    Of course nudity and sex scenes are gratuitous...

    by grendel69

    .....when its women who are nekkid. If its men, thats ok.

  • Oct. 23, 2011, 5:04 p.m. CST


    by Marc Cerasini

    Those are the folks who don't have STARZ.

  • Oct. 23, 2011, 11:35 p.m. CST

    Lots of porn from the US...

    by Gezoes

    But show a primetime nipple... and they go nuts. Silly people. High hopes though, Kelsey did great.

  • Oct. 24, 2011, 12:02 a.m. CST

    The showrunners have already left...

    by Simpsonian

    Deadline: Boss executive producers/co-showrunners Richard Levine and Lyn Greene are exiting Starz’ new drama series, which was renewed for a second season last month ahead of its premiere last night.

  • Oct. 24, 2011, 12:17 p.m. CST

    Those weren't really the "runners"

    by Batguy

    Farhad Safinia has a lot of creative control. From what little I saw, he spends a great deal of time on set.

  • Oct. 24, 2011, 12:43 p.m. CST

    You don't need STARZ!

    by ZodNotGod

    Get on a bit torrent and download, crackbabies!

  • Oct. 25, 2011, 2:28 a.m. CST


    by MegaBeth

    I will give it a whirl.. Sounds pretty realistic considering Obama came out of the corrupt Chicago political system.

  • Oct. 26, 2011, 12:14 p.m. CST


    by Rebel Scumb

    Just watched the premiere, I thought it was really solid, Homeland is good to, but I think this has me more excited at the moment