Third-episode verdict: Boss (Starz)

The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 2

In the US: Fridays, 10pm ET/PT, Starz

Not much to add on the subject of Boss since the first episode. Boss has been very consistent in being very well-made and in being hard to watch. I don’t mean hard to watch in just the metaphorical sense that it deals with tough issues and is quite unrelenting. I mean literally it’s hard to watch thanks to the shaky cam and general direction, which made the first episode in particular hard to follow.

It has settled down now and while Gus van Sant was the director de jour for the first episode (and executive producer for the whole series), Mario van Peebles himself turned up to do the duties for episode three, producing something that while still riddled with shaky cam and visual metaphor, still managed to have a coherent narrative and a sense that there was a story that needed to be serviced.

I think there are a few things things that need mentioning here:

  1. Kelsey Grammer is absolutely phenomenal in this. It now fills me with rage that he’s been slumming on shows like Hank and Back To You for the last few years, when he could have been acting his socks off in proper drama. What a waste.
  2. The show has now largely settled down on two storylines: Grammer’s dementia and its effects on his job, his relationships and, well, almost everyone in fact; and Jeff Hephner’s bid for governorship. The two intermingle as well, which is a good thing, given how bitty the first episode was.
  3. Women apparently don’t need foreplay any more. And about a minute’s enough for y’all. Homeland appears to have come to the same conclusion as well. One more and it’s official. At least in America.

Episode three has definitely been the best of the episodes, despite The Carusometer’s suggestions to the contrary, and that might well be because Farhad Safinia didn’t write it. However, despite the slight uptick, it’s still not enough to qualify it for a "1" rating for the simple reason that there aren’t any characters you can really root for. Everyone is just a vile and nasty politician or the kind of person who hangs out with vile and nasty politicians, and while there might some enjoyment in watching their downfall say, the show really isn’t focused on that angle. It just wants us to know that law-making is a dirty business and politicians can be pretty dirty, too. Well, duh.

So while this is a well-made, quality product with Grammer doing some of the best acting on TV at the moment, can I really tell you all to run off an watch this immediately, you going off with the expectation you’ll be having an enjoyable hour of TV viewing? No. But if you don’t mind something that’s quality, that’s about something a bit more real than air hostess fantasies and fairy tales, and both metaphorically and literally hard to watch, then go off and watch Boss.

Carusometer rating: 2
Rob’s prediction: Already picked up for a second season, but I’m not predicting a third.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.