TV Review: ‘Tanner ’88’

Dennis suggests “Tanner ‘88” (in the Criterion Collection). Back in the days before HBO could boast oh, all the best TV shows ever, (their original series output basically consisting of “Dream On” at that point), it (they?) gave us a hint of the great things to come by tuning over the screen, not to reruns of Mannequin, but to satirical geniuses Gary Trudeau and Robert Altman as they teamed up to present this predictably-trenchant political series about Democratic presidential hopeful Jack Tanner. Altman regular Michael Murphy brings his signature combination of bland handsomeness and genial untrustworthiness to Tanner as he navigates the political and personal landmines of the American political process, seamlessly interacting with his supporting cast (Pamela Reed, O.C. and Stiggs’ Daniel Jenkins, Kevin J. O’Connor, and a pre “Sex and the City” Cynthia Nixon) and real life politicos, all the while allowing his two creators ripe opportunity to lay bare the duplicity, pandering, and blatant absurdity of politics in an election year. In eleven sterling episodes, the show swings effortlessly from biting satire, to wacky comedy, to, on occasion, devastating drama (the shocking ending to Tanner’s campaign stop in an inner city neighborhood wiped me out at the time…and introduced me to rap music). A challenging, hilarious, thought-provoking series. (Also check out Tanner on Tanner in Feature Drama where the creators and cast reteamed fifteen years later to catch up with the characters, and see what the political life has done to them).

Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 12:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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