First thing first: Kelsey Grammer is great in this role. He leaves Frasier Crane completely behind and looks to be having a lot of fun playing a bad guy. Some readers might snark that this is because he IS a bad guy (a philanderer with multiple marriages and a substance abuse problem who is also Republican), but we have a hard time judging him. He first began drinking at age nine. That’s the parents’ fault. We’ve never had to find solace or meaning in drugs, drinking, and women. We really can’t hate the guy. We certainly wouldn't marry him or anything, but we would watch a show with him.
Kelsey’s parents divorced when he was two, and he only saw his father twice after that before his father was shot and killed. Anyone who knows anyone without a father is aware that this alone does enough damage. Kelsey had a younger sister, but she was raped and murdered when he was in college, causing him to refuse to leave his dorm room and fail the semester. Then his two half brothers died in a scuba accident five years later. Fortunately, this means Kelsey has a lot of dark spots to draw from when he plays Chicago Mayor Tom Kane. Also, he seems happier now, so that's good.
Tom Kane is a Don Corleone type without the manners most of the time. He runs Chicago, but he recently found out that he has a degenerative brain disease. He only allows his doctor to know this, because he wants to keep doing what he’s doing. The character is fairly Shakespearean. We also love that Connie Nielsen is around. She’s the woman from Gladiator and the temptress from The Devil’s Advocate, two very decent movies. The show is a good character study, but we don’t think we want to watch it live this fall. Starz has already renewed this show for a second season, so we will get the first season on DVD after it all airs to see if we want to tune in regularly next year. We don’t really trust Starz, and our TV calendars are full.
Complaints- There is too much gratuitous sex. As we’ve said before, we don’t mind sexual content or nudity as long as it adds to the story or character development or tone in a way that is necessary. Here, it was just sex for the sake of spicing things up. Starz is the absolute worst culprit when it comes to this. HBO is usually more graphic, but it also uses sex better/more artistically. It's not just spice. Things need to be spiced up here, but with other elements. The show is too gloomy and slow. We don’t really care about what happens next. The show can also be preachy, which is a problem for some people, but we didn’t mind it here. We would have liked to see this be a two-hour movie. Sticking with this guy every week might depress us.
Episode grade: B-