On January 19th, 2008, Bryan Cranston had one claim to fame, Malcolm in the Middle. Certainly not a bad role, but it did place everyone’s opinion of what Cranson was capable of into a box. That all changed on January 20th, 2008. Breaking Bad transformed his career and made people realize that Cranston was more than a wacky dad on a FOX sitcom.
Since 1984, Kelsey Grammer has had exactly one claim to fame, his famous role as Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers and the spin-off Frasier. Much like Cranston, it’s a role that has come to define Grammer’s career and has allowed, like Cranston, for people’s opinion of the man’s ability to be put into a single box…
That will all change this Friday thanks to the new Starz series, Boss.
Boss follows the journey of Chicago mayor Tom Kane who, after being diagnosed with an neurological disorder, decides to hide it from his colleagues who are busy with their own issues in attempting to run the city. In order remain in charge, Kane will lie, cheat and steal from anyone who gets in his way, even those closest to him.
It’s ironic (or possibly even intentional) that Tom Kane shares his namesake with arguably one of the most dynamic characters in the history of cinema. And more than that, an attitude. Charles Foster Kane was a self-aware bad man, who just wanted to make the world fit his own view of it. Tom Kane is not only self-aware, but also self-admitted. Throughout the pilot, Kane pulls every dirty political trick in the book to get what he wants, no matter who suffers for it.
Grammer is a power house in this show, and the Breaking Bad comparison is more than just hyperbole. Grammer plays Tom Kane as a soft-spoken man, only raising his voice when absolutely necessary. Much like other characters introduced to the public this year, Kane isn’t soft spoken because it’s cool, he’s soft spoken because it forces you to listen to every conniving word that comes out of his mouth.
And when the moments come where Grammer has to deliver an audibly loud moment, he becomes scary. Through his stature and just overall screen presence, when Kane raises his voice, you imagine yourself in the room too scared to move. There’s a moment like this in the pilot and thanks to the absolutely brilliant direction of Gus Van Sant, it not only does its job but also cements the series as something you’re going to want to keep tuning into every week.
At the start of the series, Kane is the broken shell of where a man once stood. And it’s thanks to a clinic of acting chops from Grammer that the audience is sucked into watching every son-of-a-bitch move he makes.
It’s impossible to say where Boss is going to go after the pilot, but with an already guaranteed season two from Starz, there’s going to be plenty of time for the writers to flesh it out. Boss is a show that comes around once in a blue moon and the last time it did, Bryan Cranston won an Emmy. This is a show you’re not going to want to miss.
In fact, you can watch it right now. Here’s the first episode:
To listen to the latest episode of Merrill’s TV Podcast, The Idiot Boxers with Kevin Carr, head over to Fat Guys at the Movies.