A quick review of the “Boss” season finale coming up just as soon as I inhale a bottle of computer duster…
My interest in “Boss” dropped precipitously after the first few episodes, once I realized that Kelsey Grammer’s performance on its own wasn’t enough to make me overlook the over-heated ludicrousness that made so much of the show around him (and even some of his own moments) feel like instant self-parody. I actually stopped watching for a few weeks, and spent a recent afternoon catching up, including last week’s memorably vicious episode where Tom Kane sold out his daughter to save his own image.
And in watching 3 or 4 episode in a compressed time period, I realized – well before one of the rebel ward bosses spelled it out in the finale by saying, “This isn’t the 15th century and we’re not in fucking Florence” – that the only rational way to view “Boss” is to imagine that it’s a Renaissance drama in modern drag, in the same way that NBC’s short-lived “Kings” tried to tell Bible stories about characters in a world resembling 21st century America. (Or in the way that various modern dress Shakespeare adaptations have worked.) Everything’s enhanced, everything’s melodramatic and eloquent and protracted and bloody. You cannot apply the logic of either modern life or the modern TV drama to it, because it will not stand up to that type of scrutiny. Looked at through a usual lens, this is a profoundly silly show with a kick-ass central performance and an eyeball fetish to put Tarantino’s foot fetish to shame.
Looked at as a grand experiment to try an older style of drama in a familiar context, though? Well, it’s not Shakespeare, or even “Kings,” but it’s also not exactly dull, and the season was relatively short.
I’ll be curious to see if this is the overall tone of season 2. Starz can’t be happy with the ratings (and may not have renewed the show had Chris Albrecht done it before the show even premiered), nor with the rising level of critical apathy as the season went along. Yet this flowery, ripe style has so defined the show this year that it would be strange to see it go for a more realistic style next year.
Grammer’s good enough that I’ll come back, either way, at least for a little while. But I’m curious to hear opinions from those of you who stuck it out through eight increasingly baroque plotting, violence, sex, betrayals and hallucinations. Are you happy with how things played out? Are you excited to see what happens once Meredith gets that door open? Do you want the show to change notably for season 2?
What did everybody else think?