Tenshot: Battleground (Hulu)
- Not sure exactly where this came from, as it just kind of slipped onto the Hulu radar. But hey, politics! The plot revolves around a team of mostly young staff for a senate race in Wisconsin that follows the race through the primary to the general. My short view is that it is good enough that I will try to track down the podcast sequel, but don’t necessarily universally recommend it unless you can’t get enough politics/entertainment, are from Wisconsin, or both.
- My main criticism is with the lead character. There is a thing sometimes where they try to make a character complicated and nuanced and end up accidentally putting too much on the dark side of the ledger. They did that here.
- I accidentally watched the last episode first, thus revealing whether they won or lost. It turned out not to diminish my enjoyment all that much. A couple other spoilers might have, though even then you get the experience of watching the ending unfold. Chronology is overrated in narrative. (Not just things being in order, but also being set out of order a la Pulp Fiction et al.)
- The episodes are a half-hour, and there is a lot here that acts like a comedy. The main thing is that it’s not funny. At all. It’s a drama. There aren’t many half-hour dramas out there. Wonder Years and…?
- The format of the show is mockumentary. Which, of course, has been done to death. But it works here, despite falling into some of the same traps (wait, the cameraman was where again?). They did one thing kind of cleverly: All of the interviews take place well after the events in question. The rookie intern is a man who apparently who had been a political operative and left the life in between the footage and the interview. And they did some clever things with it beyond that. Pursuant to the second item, two of the characters are married and though you know that’s going to happen you get to watch it happen, which is neat. One of the characters is obviously being interviewed from jail. Why is he in jail? Don’t know. Another character is in the breakroom of a retail store. name badge and all.
- That’s almost enough to make up for their failure to recognize the limitations of the format. Sorry, if you do this you can’t do flashback episodes no matter how much you want to. (In this case they did an MTV-like report on a previous Wisconsin senate race. It was interesting background, but was such a stretch. Not the least of which the coincidence of the same guy being in two of these things after a bad experience with the first one (so it wasn’t like he sought them out. They did do a good job of making the main guy look different ages.
- The protagonist’s complete absence from the mockumentary is ominous. Could explain the previous point, though. (Insufficiently, in my opinion.)
- The lead’s dad is played (uncredited) by Ray Wise. He is the only recognizable person in the cast (though one of the opposing campaign managers had an intermittent part as a cop on The Shield). That sort of thing helps the documentary feel, but Wise’s presence kind of tears you out of it because he’s not a dad he’s a recognizable actor.
- For the most part, the characters take on a name similar to their actors. I find this to be an odd artistic choice, though I guess it doesn’t matter too much.
- Waukesha County came up! Not for being crucial, alas, but as the site of a (fictitious) shooting prompting a gun control discussion.
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