Graves: Season One DVD Review

  • Actors: Nick Nolte, Sela Ward, Skylar Astin, Heléne Yorke, Chris Lowell
  • Directors: Joshua Michael Stern, Bob Balaban, Robert Weide, Iain B. MacDonald, Frank Coraci
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • DVD Release Date: February 7, 2017
  • Run Time: 300 minutes

        If the last election period was an indicator of any one thing, regardless of party lines, it was frustration by the American people of politicians and their double-talk. It has gotten to the point that you can no longer ever trust what a politician says, as they seem to say whatever is necessary in order to win elections. This is why the television show “Graves” may be the timeliest of the political satires to be released in recent years. And calling it a satire may not even be completely accurate, because there is a level of sincerity in the show’s writing that is more optimistic than one might anticipate. Even while there is obvious criticism of the political system, the emphasis remains on hope rather than cynicism.

        Nick Nolte gives a Golden Globe-nominated performance as former two-term president, Richard Graves, a man whose legacy has taken a beating since leaving office. Despite being a Ronald Reagan-level icon for the Republican Party, Graves begins to see the damage many of his policies did to average Americans, and sets out to repair these wrongs. Even without the power of having a position in office, Graves uses his influence to voice concerns and take action. In many ways, this show is merely a liberal fantasy, imagining a world in which a conservative politician might open his eyes to the hypocrisy and act like a decent human being. It may not be realistic, but it also feels like the type of show many Americans long for in the face of the current administration.

        While President Graves is going through his own personal midlife crisis, his wife (Sela Ward) pursues political aspirations of her own. The hijinks of the former president threaten to damage her own campaign to run for Senate, which often takes backseat in the storyline as well as their marriage. The former president and first lady also must deal with their two emotionally unstable children, presumably damaged from the neglect and public scrutiny they felt growing up in the White House. Olivia (Heléne Yorke) is recovering from a public divorce with destructive behavior, which includes a relationship with a Mexican drug trafficker, while Jeremy (Chris Lowell) returns from serving in the military to become an unfiltered political commentator.

        Even though the Graves family is the focus of the show, we experience their dysfunctional behavior through an outsider when idealistic conservative Isaiah Miller (Skylar Astin) takes a job as the former president’s assistant. Forced to endure the chaos of their family dynamic, this character is also often the only voice of reason. At times his involvement can feel somewhat shoehorned into the rest of the plot, including the addition of a romantic interest that also has a bizarre connection to both the former president and his son. The saving grace of the show’s faults is the sincerity of the performances and the strength of much of the dialogue given to the actors.

        All ten season one episodes are included in this three-disc set, along with a few special features on the last disc. Along with a typical making-of featurette, there is also a brief look at the ensemble cast and a gag reel from the season one footage.

Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance:  6/10
Special Features: 5/10

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