BOSS “Listen” Review

BOSS “Listen” Season 1 Episode 1 – There’s this thing Hitchcock pointed out in his interviews with Truffaut when discussing his movie Confessions. The whole plot hinged on the fact that you can tell a Catholic priest anything, you could tell them you shot the president or you molested a child, yet they were bound by the Seal not to report what you told them in confession to the authorities. Now, this is perfectly true, but it seems so ridiculous that when Confessions first premiered, it flopped and Hitchcock theorized it flopped because audiences thought this concept was unbelievable. Boss runs the same risk. I have no doubt in my mind that politics is a crazy world, that the smiling “honest” faces in front of the cameras makes an absolute mockery of the likes of Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep’s so-called “talent”. But you have to been weaned into that world slowly, and this pilot lost a lot of believability once Mayor Tom Kane has his doctor injected with some sort of paralysing agent as a warning not to leak info to reporters.

The show is a little too eager to embrace the ear slicing moments, and when you don’t have a decent build up the payoffs have a lesser impact than, say, Damages, where at the end of that first episode when Patty Hewes threw the dog collar into the river my jaw was on the floor and my fist was in the fucking air.

On the other hand, the story itself is just mouth watering. I love these sorts of dark forays into the lives of these benevolent maniacs, see what makes them tick and the destruction that their own narcissism and egoism and ambition has on those around them. In this episode we were treated to a taste of Tom Kane losing his shit as he has a dude by the ear kneeling on the floor and squealing. It’s powerful stuff and fleshes out the characters of both his wife and daughter, who are clearly shell shocked from the experienced of living with this maniac for years.

Kelsey Grammer is brilliant and it’s going to be a three way race between Grammer, Hamm and Cranston for the Emmy next year (and if the series gets better, The One Who Knocks might just be in trouble). It’s a dream role for an actor: medical issues, maniacal personality to begin with, ruthless ambition, family shit he feels kinda guilty about, two-faced political speeches, charismatic politician, violent backroom dealings, righteous, grandiose monologues. And Grammer pulls no punches and is just mesmerizing in the role. If the show can keep up with Grammer’s Kane, it could be great, but it seriously needs to give the people around Kane some amazing material or else Kane will swallow the whole thing up.

Gus Van Saint directed the episode and I love his directing style, most specifically the lack of music. There are I think about two or three instances where music is used, but it’s during something like the sex scene in the stairwell (which was a totally watered down rip off of Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist but was enough of its own thing that, with the music, worked despite itself) but for the most part the show resisted the use of a score and I am so grateful because I am sick and tired of having a bullshit score dictate how I’m meant to feel during a scene. The extreme close ups weren’t overused and provided the exposition a pilot needs without resorting to stupid lines of dialogue.

On the whole, I’m in for the long run with this show. I thought it was pretty brilliant. What did you think? Sound off in the comments below.