Review: ‘Veep’ – ‘Testimony’: Deposition day

A quick review of last night's “Veep” coming up just as soon as I put on a very uncharacteristic dress so you won't think I'm shrill…

“Veep” has been having a fantastic season, and one I haven't had time to write about until now, unfortunately. (Ditto “Silicon Valley,” though at least there I wrote something before its premiere.) I'll have a lot more to say after next week's finale – and may include in that review highlights of the Emmy FYC panel I'm moderating with the cast in a few days (a follow-up to this one from the start of the season) – but “Testimony” was so wonderful, and unusual, that I wanted to at least make note of it.

Format-breaking episodes of comedies can be a great change of pace, but one like this – presented as a mix of C-SPAN footage and videotaped depositions – brings with it a high degree of difficulty, because it forces the characters to talk and act so unlike themselves. They are being watched, and judged, and they can't afford to slip up or try to escape a conversation with the usual torrent of creative obscenity. But the show and the cast had a lot of fun with putting these guys back on their heels, finally being called to account for their large and varied group of screw-ups this season. The Amy/Dan/Jonah/Richard combo was a particular comic delight – and not just because Jonah and Richard's scenes throughout this season have felt like a brilliant mini-spinoff embedded into the main show – but I also loved seeing the usually depressed Ben rise to the occasion for a few moments during his testimony. Similarly, it was a nice change of pace to see Sue mess up, even a little, in her testimony, since she's usually the most competent occupant of this particular clown car.

Making Bill the scapegoat for the whole mess seemed a bit easy, and not just because Diedrich Bader isn't a cast regular. The great thing about making Selina president is that her administration's mistakes become a much bigger deal than when she was only the VP. The flipside, though, is that those mistakes have to have more lasting consequences, even completely comic ones, and setting Bill up to take the fall for this whole mess doesn't feel like enough. Then again, we have to see what happens in the election, and exactly how the producers (minus Armando Iannucci, who's stepping down as showrunner after this season) intend to either keep Selina president or keep doing the show if she loses the election.

But this year's been a damn delight, and not just because Hugh Laurie has fit in so seamlessly as Tom James.

What did everybody else think of “Testimony,” and of the season so far? And any theories on exactly what Catherine is on at the moment?